Soccer moves into NSIC playoffs after key win against Upper Iowa

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Nathan Kronbeck

Defender Hannah Dunlavy with the ball in the game against Upper Iowa University.

Kailey Doeseckle, Sports Reporter

The Winona State University women’s soccer team hosted Upper Iowa University for their final 2022 regular season game on Thursday. Heading into the match, Winona State was among five teams fighting for the four remaining NSIC playoff spots, and this win would certainly secure their position in the top eight, signifying their qualification for the NSIC postseason.  

In other words, it all came down to this.  

Winona State would score first in this match, with Ellie Wardell sending in an inch-perfect cross to Madelynn Drasher in only the third minute for a 1-0 Warrior lead.  

However, Upper Iowa University responded just seven minutes later with a goal of their own, as Chloe Jarosz eluded the Warriors’ defense to tie the game. 

Several chances arose for both teams throughout the first half, beginning with Winona State’s starting goalkeeper Alyson Jumper who made a key save on a UIU shot. Winona State also saw a few of their efforts on set pieces go just wide of the opposing net as the clock wound down.  

It was fourth-year Ellie Wardell, a standout player from Midland, Mich., who scored perhaps the most important goal of the 2022 Warrior season eight minutes into the second half to break the 1-1 deadlock.  

Now at 2-1, Winona State would then add an insurance tally at 57:49 when Reanne Weil’s corner kick reached Riley Harmon in the penalty area, who would go on to bump the score up to 3-1.  

“Personally, my goal for myself this season is to end my soccer career on a high note,” Harmon said. “We are approaching the half end of our conference season, and I want to leave everything I have out there.” 

Harmon is certainly leaving her mark on the field as she tallied her team-leading seventh goal of the season just this game, and with more to come, Harmon has very high potential to lead the team, alongside her fellow captains, to success. 

Just past the 80-minute mark, fourth-year goalkeeper Yanel Ortiz replaced Jumper in the Warriors’ goal and held Upper Iowa in check the rest of the game, maintain their 3-1 score for an exciting Warrior win. 

Midfielder Katie Timmons carrying the ball up the field against Upper Iowa State. (Nathan Kronbeck)

This successful match moved Winona State to 25 points in the league standings, and combined with previous victories, Winona State was vaulted into the top eight, officially stamping their ticket to the NSIC Tournament.  

“We have a great team chemistry this year and continuously work to stay positive no matter what,” Weil said regarding motivation while overcoming loss. “We make sure to know that our losses are put behind us and we strive to keep improving with every day.” 

Despite their previous loss to Augustana University, the Warriors certainly applied this mindset coming into this week’s game, holding strong for a comeback, and securing their spot in the NSIC playoffs. 

The official NSIC Soccer Tournament bracket, times and opponent pairings were announced following the conclusion of play around the league and as the sixth seed, Winona State will travel back to Augustana University on Monday, Oct. 31 for their first game as part of the NSIC Tournament.