CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa knows it will play a first-round game in the Missouri Valley Conference women’s soccer tournament Sunday.
The who, when and where are a little more complicated.
UNI (11-4-1 overall, 3-3 MVC) is tied for fourth with Illinois State and Valparaiso heading into Thursday’s regular-season finale against Indiana State at the Cedar Valley Soccer Complex. The Panthers could finish anywhere from second to sixth.
“Thursday is huge,” UNI head coach Bruce Erickson said. “A lot on the line, obviously. Winning gets us a home playoff game at minimum. That is the plan for Thursday.”
The Sycamores (6-9-1, 1-5) have no shot at making the six-team MVC tournament field. The game is UNI’s “Kick Cancer, Wear Pink” game.
“It’s just a matter of playing winning soccer,” Erickson said. “There will probably be some ties, and with everybody playing at the same time on the last day, you want to take care of business.”
Thursday’s match starts at 4 p.m.
The Panthers are coming off a 3-2 loss to Loyola on Saturday, but Erickson said there were bright spots.
“Scoring two goals, coming back, never quitting against a really good physical team will help us down the road,” Erickson said.
VOLLEYBALL: After three matches last week, including a five-set battle with Valparaiso on Saturday, UNI head coach Bobbi Petersen was glad the Panthers have four days to recover before returning to MVC action on Friday at Illinois State.
“That Valpo match took a lot out of us, I’m not going to lie,” Petersen said. “Today we aren’t going to do any jumping, but blocking will be a big focus tomorrow. We need to keep making improvements on the offensive side and our serve/receive offense and will continue to work on that, but I’ve been happy with where we’ve been on that.”
The victory over Valpo pushed UNI’s record to 20-5, giving the 25th-ranked Panthers their 35th 20-win season. UNI defeated this weekend’s opponents, Illinois State and Bradley, Sept. 29 and 30 at home. UNI beat Bradley in three, and needed a fourth set to turn aside the Redbirds.
“Really expecting a challenge this weekend. We play Friday and then have a day off before playing Bradley on Sunday,” Petersen said.
In other news, UNI freshman Jaydlin Seehase was named MVC Freshman of the Week Monday. The outside hitter from Sumner had 28 kills, six blocks and hit .323 in three Panther wins.
WOMEN’S TENNIS: Chris Sagers’ team wrapped up the fall portion of its schedule with Gisela Kemper and Reghan Lynch participating at the ITA Central Regional in Lawrence, Kan., over the weekend.
The duo lost their only doubles match, but after dropping her first singles match Kemper won three consolation matches in a row, two in come-from-behind fashion.
“It was a very good tournament for her. I was very impressed,” Sagers said. “As a team, we have a lot to work on before we start up again in January.”