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Eric Peterson, Published October 31 2012

Cobbers edge St. Benedict, advance to MIAC championship

MOORHEAD – Libby Fransdal was looking to set up a teammate as she lined up a free kick from 45 yards away from the goal.

Instead, the Concordia sophomore defender found the back of the net.

Fransdal’s long-range score proved to be the difference Wednesday at the Jake Christiansen athletic complex. Her goal lifted the Cobbers to 1-0 victory against St. Benedict in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference women’s soccer semifinals.

“I was very surprised because usually those ones don’t go in for me,” said Fransdal, who also added she had never scored a goal from that far out in her soccer career.

The Cobbers (15-3-1) host Augsburg (12-5-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday for the MIAC tournament title. Saturday will be Concordia’s eighth appearance in the MIAC championship game in the past nine seasons.

“The girls, they wanted to win the MIAC this year, and the second part of that is to go to the playoff title (game),” said Cobbers head coach Dan Weiler, whose team won the MIAC regular-season crown. “We have a lot of experience in these situations.”

Less than 14 minutes into the game, Fransdal set up for a free kick near the center circle. She lofted the ball toward the front of the net as Concordia players made runs to the goal.

The St. Benedict goalkeeper had the ball sneak through her hands as she attempted to make a play.

That gave Concordia a 1-0 lead at 13 minutes, 57 seconds.

Fransdal felt Cobbers senior Sarah Rounds played a role in the goal.

“I think the reason that it went in was Sarah Rounds followed it and made her have to make a judgment call,” Fransdal said. “I think she was nervous about that runner coming in.”

That proved to be all the scoring Concordia would need as its goalkeeper Ali Nelson made three saves to record the shutout.

“That’s playoff soccer,” Weiler said. “Sometimes you give up the big mistake and fortunately for us it was on their end. … Their goalie did fine after that point, but certainly it’s a moment that she would want back.”

Nelson was on point when she was challenged.

Blazers sophomore Alli O’Brien nearly tied the score late in the second half. O’Brien got free in front of the Concordia net before firing a shot on net. Nelson made the diving stop with just over 13 minutes remaining to help preserve the shutout.

“A lot of times when I make a save I don’t really think about it until it happens,” Nelson said. “I just read the ball the whole time and I didn’t take my eye off the ball. I think the adrenaline I had going helped me, too.”

Fransdal is thankful that Nelson is the last line of defense for the Cobbers.

“I don’t think she gets the recognition she deserves,” Fransdal said. “She’s one of the greatest keepers I have had behind me.”

FIRST HALF: 1, CC, Fransdal 13:57.

SECOND HALF: No scoring.

SAVES: SB, Favorite 6. CC, Nelson 3.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com