In a match with playoff implications, the Minot State University women's soccer team turned to its trademark stingy defense to remain in control of its postseason destiny.
Sophomore midfielder Emilie Rebelo scored in the 65th minute and the Beavers held off Northern State 1-0 Friday at Herb Parker Stadium.
If MSU beats winless Minnesota State-Moorhead (0-16) on the road Sunday, the Beavers automatically qualify for the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament. MSU (6-7-3 overall, 6-6-2 NSIC) entered Friday's Senior Day match just a point ahead of Northern State (8-8-1, 5-8-1) in the conference standings.
Minot State University junior forward Zoe Fisher pauses before making a move around a Northern State defender Friday at Herb Parker Stadium.
"We really needed to come out and get this win so we can hopefully go on further," said freshman forward Chloe Melton, who assisted on Rebelo's goal. "Our last home game - it was a great day."
MSU coach Jason Spain said he wanted his offense to attack using quick ground passes rather than long air balls. Though the Beavers often strayed from that game plan, quick-touch passing yielded the match's only score.
Junior striker Zoe Fisher threaded a pass into a congested box to Melton, who held off two defenders before sliding a soft, quick feed to Rebelo. Rebelo one-timed the ball with her left foot from close range, giving Wolves goalkeeper Brittany Tietz no chance to make a save.
"I just had to hold it for a few seconds, let Em get her space," Melton said. "It was just a simple slot-through and she finished it really, really, really good."
The Beavers made the goal hold up, but not without some tense moments.
With 15 minutes, 30 seconds remaining, Northern State midfielder Anna Bondy collided with MSU sophomore goalie Gemma Biasetto as both players pursued a pass in front of the net. The deflected ball caromed just wide of the right post.
With 5:27 remaining, MSU senior defender Jazmine Whitlock was forced to make a tough clearance after the Wolves strung together a few passes inside the box.
"I think they just do a great job of getting numbers behind the ball," Northern State coach Steve Kehm said of the MSU defense. "We had a few opportunities that we probably should've capitalized on but we didn't, but that's the game. They had some opportunities they could've capitalized on today, too, so 1-0 is a fair score."
The match became chippy after MSU's goal, with several hard collisions resulting in fouls and a few others left uncalled. Kehm received a yellow card for voicing his displeasure to the officials.
"I don't think the referees influenced the outcome of the match," Kehm said. "I just think they lost control and put too many players at risk for an injury and that's what I was upset about. Minot won the game fair and square. They were one goal better and hats off to them."
Biasetto recorded two saves for the shutout. Fisher and Rebelo tied for a match-high four shots. Rebelo put two on goal and Fisher one.
The Beavers play at Moorhead at 1 p.m. Sunday in their regular-season finale.
Daniel Allar covers Minot State University athletics. Follow him on Twitter @DAllar_MDN.