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Cougars fall short in women's championship

The University of Minnesota, Morris women's soccer team's season came to an end today Saturday in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Tournament Championship, as the Cougars fell 2-1 to top-seeded St. Scholastica.

Morris, at 11-7-1 overall, finished as UMAC runner-up to regular season champion St. Scholastica.

The Cougars had the high powered Saints on their heels, sitting tied at 1-1 in the final 20 minutes. However, at the 74:24 mark, the Saints' Taylor Cunningham scored her eighth goal of the season for the game-winner.

The Cougars took advantage of a rare Saint error just 20 minutes earlier to get on the board. Zoe Bergstrom lined up one of the Cougars' three corners of the match at the 60:02 mark, and before the Cougars could get a shot off, the Saints took care of it for them, knocking it in their own net for an own goal to tie the game.

With the Saints controlling the ensuing possession the Cougars were unable to get a shot off before the Saints went back on top later in the half.

After the first 45 minutes were scoreless, the Saints got on the board at the 51:08 mark, scoring on a header off one of their six corners in the match.

St. Scholastica outshot Morris 12-3 in the match, including a 5-0 mark in a defensive first half. Rachel Berns, Katie Kestner, and Leah Parker all took shots for the Cougars, with each landing on goal.

Berns fired off her shot just after the Saints went up 2-1, taking the ball down just 30 seconds after, with her shot from the top of the box saved by Saint keeper Bailey Mahlum.

Then in the 86th minute, Bergstrom lined up her final corner kick attempt, but again the Cougars came up empty as they were unable to get a shot on the possession.

The loss snaps the Cougars' season-long four-game winning streak, that started on Oct. 22 when the Cougars won in overtime, 1-0 over Crown.

Morris seniors Cree Foster, Parker and Crystal Zastrow all wrapped up their careers, as the Cougars missed on their attempt at their third UMAC Tournament title, and first since 2006. The Cougars also lost to St. Scholastica in the 2007 championship game, as the Saints have ended their season in each of the last five years.

Parker finished as the team leader with seven goals, while tying for the team lead with 15 points. Foster and Zastrow each paced a defense that pitched nine shutouts on the season, which included four straight before their loss Saturday.

With the Cougars just missing out on their first NCAA Tournament berth, St. Scholastica will now move on to represent the UMAC at the National Tournament, which begins this weekend