GREELEY -- The Northern Colorado soccer team shot out of the gates early with a goal less than two minutes in, but the hosts of Friday night's match at Jackson Stadium were matched later by Weber State in front of a crowd of 412. The Bears and Wildcats, sitting in a tie for third in the Big Sky standings coming into the match, are now part of a three way tie for third with Idaho State after a 1-1 tie in Greeley, Colo.
"Got to win to get in. The playoffs start early," head coach Tim Barrera said. "We came into tonight knowing you've got to win Friday or Sunday. When we still get to Sunday, tie or lose (on Friday) it doesn't really matter. We've still got to get a win. It just means the first round of playoffs starts Sunday."
The start for the Bears could not have been hotter, as junior Juliana Grover put the team up one minute and 35 seconds. Freshman Paige Morris and sophomore Adrienne Jordan both controlled the ball before Jordan passed the ball up to Grover near mid-field. Grover drove the ball up the field, moving to the middle of the field, and put up a far shot that landed in the net to get the lead, 1-0.
After the opening shot goal, Weber State outshot Northern Colorado 6-2 to go into halftime. Sophomore Marissa Cooper, starting at goalkeeper in place of Natalie D'Adamio, made two saves during that span. Coming out of halftime, though, the Bears shooting opportunities were lacking.
"Marissa did a pretty good job in there," Barrera said. "It was her first time starting a regular season game, a pretty big game. That's hard stuff sometimes.
"We came out (after halftime) and we didn't play very well during the first couple of minutes. We settled down a little bit after giving up the goal and I think that put them back on their heels a little bit."
The goal from Weber State came 15 minutes after halftime as the conference's leading scorer, Mackenzie Harrison, totaled her eighth of the season. Brecken Holbrook placed a pass from past midfield to the center of the penalty box. Goalkeeper Cooper ran up to grab the ball, but over shot it. Harrison was following the pass and was able to put the chip shot in from in front of the goal to tie the match, 1-1.
"Weber State's a very good passing team so one of our focuses early on was to get the ball if we can because if we give it to them they are going to knock it around," Barrera said. "We scored that early goal and I think it made us more defensive. It was just one of those things where the tides changed and we didn't deal with it as good as we could have."
The Bears had their chances to score later in the game, but couldn't time passes well enough to take advantage. With 20 minutes remaining in regulation, freshman Shanlie Anderson had a breakaway chance to pass the ball forward near the net, but kicked the assist wide. Grover had her shot to add an assist on the night in a similar situation as Anderson, sending a pass wide of the oncoming sophomore Essence Ortiz-Laneir.
Both teams took just three shots over both overtime periods. Only the Bears took one shot on goal, which was saved by the Wildcat's keeper, Ryann Waldman. With desperation time coming to an end, Weber State put up the final two shots of the night, proving to be meaningless in the 1-1 double overtime tie.
Weber State led in shots on the night with 20 compared to Northern Colorado's nine. Both keepers made three saves. The Bears played more corner kick pieces than the Wildcats, 6-2.
Sunday is win or stay home for UNC as they host Idaho State at 1 p.m. The two teams, along with Weber State, are 4-2-2 in the Big Sky and are fighting for the final two spots in the Big Sky postseason. The Bears are feeling confident, though, any time they step on the field of Jackson Stadium.
"(Idaho State) is a real hard working team," Barrera said. "They're physical, they're defending champs and they have a lot of those same players back. It should be a good match. We'll be ready for them."