Early deficits proved to be no problem for the University of Mary women's soccer team this week.
For the second time in three days, the Marauders fell behind 1-0 before rallying to win, this time 2-1 win over rival Minot State to finish unbeaten in Bismarck (6-0-2) during the regular season.
"I guess we like to make things interesting. We really tested ourselves this week," joked U-Mary head coach Sarah Cook. "Those things are going to happen late in the season. Everybody is fighting for goals. We did learn we can come back."
Tied 1-all, Emma Davies netted the game-winner early in the second half, punching the ball home off a scrum in front of the net following Malia Brudvik's corner kick.
"I was in the right place at the right time," said Davies, following her third goal of the season. "I really owe it to Malia. She always puts amazing services in. People were putting their bodies on the line and the ball fell to me."
As usual, the Marauders' suffocating defense took over from there. In 17 games, U-Mary has allowed just nine goals. The Marauders will take an 11-4-2 record to Mankato (Minn.) for their NSIC quarterfinal playoff game on Wednesday at 1 p.m. The Marauders defeated Mankato (15-3) 2-1 in Bismarck on Oct. 4.
"It's on to the fun part," Cook said. "Records don't matter anymore."
Friday's game at the Bowl had playoff-type intensity. Minot State, struggling through a 3-12 season, got the first goal at the 35:17 mark by Melanie Van Waltstijn.
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Less than three minutes later, Davies sent a perfect cross into the 18-yard box. Maureen Sullivan was on the other end and fired it back across the goal into the right-hand corner of the net.
"To beat our rivals in the last game before the playoffs is a big confidence booster for us," Davies said.
The Marauders held a 10-3 advantage in shots on goal in the physical affair.
"It's the last game of the year. It's Mary/Minot, it's always something like this," Cook said. "I'm proud the girls kept their heads, persevered and found a way to come back and get the win."
The Marauders head into the playoffs fully expecting another strong postseason run.
"One hundred percent, we're gonna kick butt," Davies said. "The big thing for us all season has been our preparation. We're so good at knowing our opponent, knowing the players, their formations, all of that information. We put a lot of time and work in outside the field so we feel really prepared when we get on the field."
The Marauders have advanced to the NSIC semifinals each of the last two seasons.
"That's kind of what this program is built on is that our expectation is getting to the final," Cook said. "We're striving to play as many more games as we possibly can."