Augie women's soccer moves to NSIC semifinals

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Cold winds and sub-freezing temperatures at Morstad Field were not enough to cool off the Augustana women’s soccer team (15-3-1) on Wednesday afternoon. The Vikings defeated the Mustangs of Southwest Minnesota State (11-7) 3-1 to advance to the NSIC Tournament semifinal match on Friday against Minnesota State in St. Paul, Minnesota.

After a first half that featured few scoring opportunities, the Vikings came out of halftime determined to pick up the pace offensively. They did just that seven minutes into the second half when senior forward Grace Behm overtook the team lead in goals (again) and more importantly put Augustana up 1-0. Behm corralled a ball that was touched on by senior midfielder Peyton Stenzel and freshman forward Sylvia Fehr and sent it off of the SMSU goalkeeper for her eighth score of the season.

Seven minutes later, the Mustangs had their best scoring opportunity of the game as junior defender Olivia Harriger lined up for a penalty kick after a flurry of Mustang shots. Harriger sent the ball wide right of the goal as sophomore goalkeeper Claudia Pueschner read the play perfectly, diving to her right. The missed penalty kick kept the game at 1-0 and the Vikings have not allowed a goal on any of the three penalty kicks that they have faced this season.

After the Mustangs missed opportunity, the floodgates opened for the Vikings. Sophomore forward Morgan Keirstead collected a pass from fellow sophomore forward Alexis Legg and sent a rocket to the left side of the net to put Augustana up 2-0. The goal was Keirstead’s fourth in three games. Sylvia Fehr cashed in on the secondary assist to give her two on the day.

Less than two minutes after Keirstead’s goal, the Vikings ballooned their advantage to 3-0 when freshman forward Josie Arduser found a loose ball in front of the net and went bar-down for the score. Arduser’s goal was her third of the year and the Vikings third score in less than 15 minutes of game time.

With less than 10 minutes to play, the Mustangs got on the scoreboard off of a breakaway goal from freshman forward Alex Lotts. The goal would be the last threat the Mustangs would mount as Augustana took the match 3-1 to advance to Friday’s NSIC Tournament semifinal.

Overall, Augustana outshot Southwest Minnesota State 24-15 and placed eight of its shots on goal. Claudia Pueschner made six saves in the win.

Looking Ahead
The first seeded Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bears won its matchup against Wayne State on Wednesday afternoon so the NSIC Tournament shifts to St. Paul, Minnesota, for the weekend. The Vikings will take on the Minnesota State Mavericks at 11 a.m. on Friday at Sea Foam Stadium in the first semifinal match of the NSIC Tournament. St. Cloud State will face the Golden Bears at 2 p.m. in the second semifinal match.

While the Vikings were battling Southwest Minnesota State, the Central Region rankings kept Augustana in the No. 4 spot for the second-consecutive week. The top seven teams in the Central Region earn automatic berths into the NCAA Tournament and Augustana could cement its spot as a participant or possible host depending on the outcome of the NSIC Tournament.