Lady Vikings reach HAAC finals
BALDWIN CITY, Kan. — The 23rd-ranked Missouri Valley College women’s soccer team traveled to Baldwin City, Kan., Wednesday for the semifinal round of the Heart of America Conference Post-season Tournament to take on No. 19 Baker.
The Lady Vikings scored an early goal, and padded their lead in the second half to earn a 2-0 victory and advance to the championship match. The team also clinched the program's second-ever appearance in the NAIA Women's Soccer National Championship.
The game started with Valley taking an early lead, as the very first shot in the contest came from senior midfielder Nicole Rubio of Barcelona, Spain, with nearly three minutes played and went into goal to give the team a 1-0 advantage.
Baker bounced back with its first quality chance just over two minutes later, but sophomore goalkeeper Marina Barneda Massaguer of Palamos, Spain, came up with a save. The Lady Vikings followed with pressure, and put a series of shots on goal through the 16-minute mark.
Senior midfielder Emily Rodriguez, Rubio and senior forward Paula Inclan all had shots, but each attempt was saved. The two teams traded possession over the next stretch, but neither could produce a chance on goal.
Valley was unable to create a shot until late in the half, but the attempt from freshman defender Nekane Morales was stopped with four minutes to play before the break and MVC went into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
The second half started with early chances for MVC, but a shot from Rubio was saved in the fifth minute. Barnada Massaguer made another pair of saves over the next seven minutes to keep the Lady Wildcats (10-5-1) scoreless. The Vikings eventually produced the next chance on goal, with nearly 12 minutes gone in the half. Inclan put a shot past the Wildcat keeper and extended the advantage to 2-0.
Baker had the better of possession over the next stretch of play, but could only produce one more shot on goal in the contest. With just over 15-minutes to play Barneda Massaguer made another save. Missouri Valley worked back to create chances, with shots from Inclan and junior midfielder Paola Ochoa thwarted. The Vikings held Baker without a shot over the final 15 minutes.
Rubio scored her sixth goal of the season, and her fourth game-winning goal. Inclan added her sixth goal. Both are tied for the team lead in goals in the season. Barneda Massaguer made four saves to earn her fifth shutout this season.
Valley (12-6) advances to the final, Saturday at No. 8 Central Methodist.