HILLSBORO, Ore. -- The Northern Colorado soccer team was more than ready to face Big Sky foe Portland State for a second time, hoping to get revenge from the loss first served to them in late September.
Like September's game, Thursday night's 2-0 final came down to ball control and shot production. The Bears were unable to lead in these areas, which led to the win for the Vikings in Hillsboro Stadium. Portland State will now play Weber State on Saturday in the Big Sky Championship final.
"Portland's a good team. There's a reason they're undefeated in the league," head coach Tim Barrera said. "The kids fought hard and fought to the whistle and I'm proud of that. One of our goals was to make the conference tournament so it was still a good year and the kids played hard and played well. I'm really proud of that."
Recent scoring machine Juliana Grover (Littleton, Colo.), scoring a goal in the past three games, was only able to put up one shot on the night, coming in the 83rd minute. Six Bears in total took a shot with two taking two shots each. The total could not keep up with the pace of the Vikings who took 16 shots in total, six on goal.
The Bears opened up the match with strong shot opportunities, taking the first three shots of the night, which all came on goal. Alexsys Tamayo, a native of Aurora, Colo., set up a corner kick opportunity in the 19th minute from the left side of the field. Tamayo sent the ball into play and found the tall Paige Morris, a Gilbert, Ariz., native, ready to head in the ball. The Vikings' keeper Caitlin Plese was left of the ball, but a fellow defender showed up at the last minute to kick Morris's header away from the net. The header would be the final shot of the period for the Bears.
UNC keeper Natalie D'Adamio (Littleton, Colo.) made a punch on an incoming free kick to clear the ball in the 35th minute, but disaster struck after the ball left her fist. Vikings defender Kayla Henningsen found the ball and sent it towards the net through a crowd, and put her team on top, 1-0.
"It's just one of those games. It hinges on a couple things," Barrera said. "We had a corner [and got a header] and they saved it. They got a free kick and got it in. The wind was kind of swirling around and Natalie got a glove on it and knocked it out, but they got on the end of it and put it away. From there we were chasing the game. We had the ball more in the second half but it was just kind of off."
The Vikings continued ball control through the second half until the final goal of the night was scored. Forward Eryn Brown controlled the ball after it was deflected off the post from a Bears defender. She then put the ball up and scored the second goal of the night from 12 yards out in the 71st minute. The Vikings then had plans to run down the clock as much as possible.
The Bears created shots throughout the final 20 minutes, but none that would swing momentum onto their side. Three of the Bears' final four shots missed wide left while one was saved by Plese. The Vikings were able to clear the ball away from the Bears to run down the clock and earn the 2-0 win to advance to face Weber State.
"[I told the team] it's one of those days," Barrera said. "It's a knockout tournament and someone's got to win and someone's got to lose."
The Vikings' 16 shots doubled the Bears' total of eight, although the home team had just one more shot on goal than the visitors (6-5). UNC held the advantage in corner kicks, 3-1, although none led to a score.
The loss finishes the Bears' season who end with a 9-6-5 record overall and a 5-2-2 record in the Big Sky.