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Troy Maroney / Special to The Forum, Published November 08 2010

Summit League women's soccer championship: NDSU earns berth into NCAA Division I tourney

BROOKINGS, S.D. – The North Dakota State women’s soccer team made the Summit League Tournament championship game somewhat anti-climactic following Friday’s semifinal win over South Dakota State in a penalty kick shootout.

The third-seeded Bison beat No. 2 seed Western Illinois 3-1 on Sunday at Fishback Soccer Park in Brookings to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I women’s soccer tournament.

North Dakota State improves to 12-5-5, while Western Illinois ends it season with a 10-6-5 mark. The NCAA women’s soccer selection show airs live on ESPNU at 3:30 p.m. today.

Holly Christian scored in the 30th minute off a Michelle Gaffaney assist to stake the Bison to an early 1-0 lead.

Quin Ryan found the top left corner of the net open on an unassisted bender from just outside the box in the 59th minute to put NDSU up 2-0.

A Leatherneck foul in the box led to a penalty kick opportunity and the Bison’s Marissa Wolfgram, the Summit League tournament’s most valuable player, made the most of it as she beat Western Illinois goalkeeper Laura Atkinson to make it 3-0 in the 73rd minute.

The Leathernecks finally got on the board in the 82nd minute when Kelly Diershow took a pass from Ali Smith and raced down the left side before sending a shot past Bison goalkeeper Kalani Bertsch that glanced off the far post and slid in.

But that would be the last challenge that the Leathernecks would make as NDSU kept the offensive pressure on as time ran out.

“I’m really proud of the effort,” North Dakota State coach Pete Cuadrado said. “We came out with a lot of energy and effort and played 90 minutes and I was really happy with that.

“Getting the wind in the second half was huge; being able to get a goal against the wind was big.”

The Bison held an 11-7 edge in shots, including a 5-2 advantage in shots on goal. NDSU also had seven corner kicks to Western Illinois’ two.

Bertsch finished with one save while Atkinson had four and backup Jessica Walsh had one for the Leathernecks.

FIRST HALF: 1, NDSU, Christian (Gaffaney), 29:35.

SECOND HALF: 2, NDSU, Ryan, 58:15. 3, NDSU, Wolfgram (penalty kick), 72:57. 4, WIU, Diershow (Smyth), 81:05.

SAVES: NDSU, Bertsch 1. WIU, Atkinson 4, Walsh 1.