The Washburn soccer team notched two goals in the first 10 minutes and held off Northwest Missouri late to clinch a spot in the MIAA Tournament with a 2-1 win Sunday at Yager Stadium.
Kelsi Smith and Kelly Schunk staked the Ichabods to the early two-goal cushion, but Washburn had to sweat out the final moments after Northwest got a goal from Izzy Romano goal in the 72nd minute.
The Bearcats put a free kick from 40 yards out on goal in the closing seconds but goalkeeper Kaitlin Minnich leaped up to knock it over the post before time expired.
“I was just thinking, ‘I do not want to go to overtime. I want to win this game,’ ” Minnich said. “I was just going to do anything not to let it go into the goal.”
Washburn (9-6-1, 5-4 MIAA) got on the board 5:36 into the game when Smith scored off a cross from Emily Stauffer. WU’s Schunk then fired in a free kick from 30 yards out at the 9:53 mark.
“We really made a point in getting numbers, running through their back line and making passes that penetrate the back line,” WU first-year coach Davy Phillips said. “We started the game brilliantly doing that. Going up 2-0 is much better than going down early, which we’ve done recently. It felt good to play with the lead.”
Washburn had chances to put away the Bearcats (6-9, 3-6) with another goal but couldn’t finish off the opportunities.
“There were times when it was three versus a goalkeeper and we couldn’t get a legitimate shot off, and that’s the difference between being in a battle for 15 minutes and going on to win three or four to zero,” Phillips said. “The game turns. If you can bury three of four, the other team stops working and stops believing. We’ve got to do a better job of being clinical in front of the the goal and putting games away.”
Minnich was credited with nine saves.
“She’s been fantastic all year,” Phillips said. “She’s a big-time goalkeeper for us and it’s nice knowing if we do break down a time or two that Kaitlin’s capable of coming up with a big-time save.”
With the victory, Washburn matched its win total from last year when the Ichabods went 9-9-1 under Chris Jones. The Ichabods are still in the mix to host a first-round game in the MIAA Tournament. They will face Emporia State on the road on Friday before closing the regular season on Sunday against Fort Hays State at home.
“I think we’re pretty confident,” Minnich said. “This year’s completely different. We actually have a chance to make it past the first round, whereas the past two years we’ve been the eight (seed), so it’s hard to make it past that first seed. I think there’s a lot of potential for us and I’m excited to see where it goes.”
Northwest Missouri … 0 … 1 … — … 1
Washburn … 2 … 0 … — … 2
Goals — NW: Romano. WU: Smith, Schunk. Assists — NW: Samudzi. WU: Stauffer.
Records — NW: 6-9-0, 3-6 MIAA. WU 9-6-1.