The Minot State University women's soccer team is regaining its feeling of invincibility, similar to the one that carried last season's defensive-minded group to the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament championship.
With the Beavers' 1-0 win over Wayne State on Sunday at Herb Parker Stadium, MSU has won three consecutive matches and four of five.
"We're not afraid going into games," senior sweeper Taylor Carlstrom said. "We just know we're gonna win. We're gonna get our one goal and shut 'em out now. We haven't been able to do that since last season, and we just have that mentality back."
Minot State University sophomore midfielder Kayla Schlittenhart (19) beats Wayne State’s Alex Mathers to the ball Sunday at Herb Parker Stadium.
Sophomore midfielder Emilie Rebelo gave MSU (5-6-2 overall, 5-5-1 NSIC) the only score it needed in the 37th minute.
Freshman forward Jayden Montejano drew a foul in a one-on-one battle against a Wayne State defender, giving the Beavers an indirect kick at the edge of the 18-yard box. Junior striker Zoe Fisher made a quick tap to Rebelo, who scorched a low shot through the Wildcats' line of set defenders and into the bottom right corner of the net.
MSU had several scoring opportunities it didn't convert, and held advantages in shots (17-8) and shots on goal (6-1).
Beavers sophomore goalkeeper Jimi Guibor wasn't tested as she recorded her first shutout in three career starts.
"We didn't play our best game, but I thought we did a good job of keeping them from getting any kind of massive runs at the goal," MSU coach Jason Spain said. "They're pretty good at getting forward, and we kind of kept stalling the game on them."
Wayne State coach Tom Cliff said his squad normally plays more of an attacking style, but a lack of depth harnessed their aggressiveness. The Wildcats typically play up to 24 players, but only 16 traveled to Minot.
"Outside of those first few minutes we were really in a defensive posture the whole game," Cliff said. "Anytime you have the two attacking players like Minot has up top, they deserve a lot of attention. Maybe we paid too much
attention to that and not so much where we should've been going offensively."
Although the Beavers scored just one goal, Spain was encouraged by how many of his players posed threats. Fisher and Rebelo finished with four shots each, junior defender Taylor Bachman-Williams nearly converted a header, Montejano drew the foul that led to the goal and freshman midfielder Kelli Creese hit the post with one shot and blasted another off the goalie.
"It feels good just to get everyone kind of involved offensively," Spain said. "You start going two, three, four games without a shot, it tends to be frustrating for an attacker. ... For the most part all of our attack was involved."
The Wildcats (1-12-1, 1-9-1) had one good chance in each half.
With 7 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the opening stanza, Guibor ran into an MSU defender as she attempted to haul in a long ball into the box. The collision caused the goalie to drop the ball near a Wayne State player, but Guibor recovered and fell on the loose ball in heavy traffic.
With less than a minute remaining in the game, Wildcats forward McKenna Adams roped a shot from 20 yards out but missed wide left.
The Beavers travel to Minnesota Crookston and Bemidji State this weekend.
Daniel Allar covers Minot State University athletics. Follow him on Twitter @DAllar_MDN.