WATERLOO — A record-setting season continues for the University of Northern Iowa women’s soccer team.
Kelsey Yarrow found the back of the net 13 minutes, 41 seconds into the game and the Panther defense did the rest, earning the team’s 10th shutout of the season in a 1-0 quarterfinal win over Illinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Sunday at the Cedar Valley Soccer Complex.
UNI (13-4-1), which had just two shots on goal in the first half, made the most of a rare scoring chance when Yarrow took a pass from Sydney Hayden and leaked a shot around ISU goalie Haley Smith.
“Sydney made a great pass and I just had to finish,” Yarrow said. “Getting that first goal always helps give you momentum and we needed it.”
The Panther offense, which had a second goal by Abby Basler negated by an offside penalty early in the second half, had several chances to pad the lead, but was unable to take advantage.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter.
Defenders Marianne Gagne, Allison Bitter, Kelsey Hansen and Morgan Teel successfully kept a protective seal around the goal for most of the afternoon.
“I thought we were just really solid today, especially in the back,” UNI Coach Bruce Erickson said. “Our back four today helped us win the game. They just defended with a lot of fire and grit.”
And when the Redbirds did get open shots, goalie Jami Reichenberger was able to turn them away.
Reichenberger finished with four saves, none bigger than her diving lunge to bat away an open shot by Natalie Vaughn-Low in the 60th minute.
The win, just the third ever for UNI in MVC Tournament play, moves the Panthers to the semifinals where a matchup with top-seeded Drake awaits. The Bulldogs topped UNI 2-1 on Oct. 11.
Erickson said the coming days will need to be spent cleaning up Sunday’s offensive mistakes.
“We made it difficult on ourselves, I will be honest,” Erickson said. “We had a couple chances unfortunately we missed on. But at this point there’s no style points for winning. You find a way to advance. We didn’t play our prettiest soccer, but we’re moving on.”
UNI and Drake will meet at 3:30 p.m. on Friday in Springfield, Mo. The winner moves on to Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship game.