Women’s Soccer Is Going Dancing
After beating the University of Minnesota-Morris 3-0 on Thursday, the College of St. Scholastica traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota to take on the top ranked University of Northwestern Eagles. The Eagles won their semi-final game as well, beating Northland College 2-1 in double overtime. After being bested the year before in the UMAC tournament, the Saints were looking to go back to the tournament after missing it for a year.
It was a chilly start with the game being at 4:30 and it would not get warmer as the sunlight faded and the lights came on at Reynolds Field at UNW. CSS came out of the gates as the early aggressors, getting shots off early and forcing the Eagles to play on the back foot. Northwestern could not be held down long, as they quickly went back on the attack. Roni Rudolph was up to the challenge, however, easily saving the oncoming shots. Minutes ten through thirty were dominated by the Saints, creating opportunities on corners and crosses. It was in the twenty-ninth minute when Kailee Katt had a corner which did not result in a goal, but was a key factor in setting one up. It was thirty minutes and seven seconds in when Cali Marsa found Janelle Rouillard, who beat the goalie for the first goal of the game. The end of the first half could not come soon enough for the Saints after the goal though, as the Saints were on the defense for the most part trying to keep the one goal lead. After fending off the Eagles attack, they were able to enter halftime up 1-0.
The second half was the big one as it would decide who’s season continues and who will be going home. Northwestern came out on a mission, getting four shots in in the first ten minutes, with the third one sneaking by Rudolph and rolling into the back of the net. Scholastica then turned it on. They were clearly the aggressors, firing shots and even getting a little too aggressive with a foul mixed in. The sixty-second minute was the most exciting moment of the Saints season so far as Rouillard again was in the middle of the action, but this time she was on the passing end by finding teammate Rachel Dixon for the goal and giving CSS a 2-1 lead. From then on the Eagles were only able to get off three more shots with only one of them being on goal which was saved by Rudolph. As the game was taken later, the Eagles were more desperate and committing more fouls, but the Saints kept their composure and milked away the clock coming out victorious 2-1 and punching their ticket to the National tournament.
Senior leader Taylor Kunkel, who has been to the tournament before, credits the opportunity to go back to all the hard work this group has put in.
“It’s an amazing feeling. To be able to start my freshman season attending the national tournament and ending my career on the team at the national tournament is unbelievable,” said Kunkel. “It’s the moment we have put endless hours of work in everyday to prepare for and as for my team, I would not want to take on the tournament with anyone else,” finished Kunkel.
For other members of the team it will be their first trip to the tournament, like sophomore Emily Olson.
“The feeling of going to nationals is unreal. It is hard to choose the right words to describe the feelings because there are too many. We have worked so hard for this moment to happen this season,” stated Olson. “When the ref blew his final whistle and everyone ran to each other cheering it was such an amazing feeling. I am so happy we could make this happen for our seniors and make their last year a good one. Seeing everyone with that much excitement was a sight I will not forget,” concluded Olson.
Kailee Katt, a starting defenseman and junior on the team, also has never been to the tournament and for her it is a dream come true.
“It feels absolutely amazing making it to the tournament. I have always wanted to go and could not imagine going with any other team,” said Katt. “We have all
worked so hard for this and are now able to see all the hard work paying off. We play for each other and our sacrifices for one another shows by our success this season,” ended Katt.
Looking ahead to the tournament, CSS will take on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Eagles Saturday morning at eleven in La Crosse. The Eagles come into the game with a 17-1-3 record, winning the WIAC, and ranked fifteenth in the nation. A Saints win will see them play again on Sunday with the team and time to be announced.