Despite a 1-0 loss in the semifinal round of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Shootout to the Colorado School of Mines, Metro women’s soccer earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
In the 63rd minute, Oredigger midfielder, Aubrey Bagley split Metro defenders Haley Renko and Brittany Cito just inside the penalty area to score the lone and deciding goal. It was Bagley’s first goal of the season.
The Roadrunners subsequently pressured Oredigger’s goalkeeper Jalyn Yates. Junior midfielder, Nicole Pollack, sophomore forward, Brandi Farley and senior defender, Kelci Newlin, all had good looks at Yates after Bagley’s goal, but the freshmen ’keeper closed the game her eighth shutout this year.
Maybe it was the artificial turf — Metro is 3-9-1 over the least 13 games on fake grass — or maybe CSM was due; Mines had lost both regular season games to Metro. Either way, CSM went on to win the RMAC championship and is in the same bracket as the Runners in the NCAA tournament.
The Roadrunners were selected as a No. 3 seed to their 11th consecutive NCAA tournament but the Runners have looked for results that have eluded them since 2006, when they won their second national championship.
They will have a chance to exorcise the turf demon in Austin, Texas, Nov. 9 when they play 6 seeded West Texas A&M University.
“At the end of the season, I don’t see myself without a ring on my finger,” said Metro sophomore defender Shelby Stephenson, “not a wedding ring, a national championship ring.”
Stephenson is part of the deep MSU bench. Her minutes have been limited due to a position change from high school and the talent of Renko, Cito and Newlin.
West Texas finished the season 13-6-1 and are led by forward, Leslie Briggs. Briggs has 45 points on the season and is averaging two goals per game. The Buffalos finished the season as Lone Star Conference Champions and have won six of their last seven games.
Last season MSU had a first round exit after losing to Minnesota State University 1-3 and have been bounced out of the tournament within two rounds for the past three seasons.