A 19-5 shot advantage and three saves from Mikki Easter helped pave the way for Kate Gibson to score the first goal of her collegiate career on Friday night in double overtime and thus give Marquette women’s soccer a 1-0 victory over North Dakota State. The Golden Eagles are now done with non-conference action and are 4-3-0 on the season.
Kate Gibson may have scored the only goal of the game, but she most definitely was not the player of the game if you’re looking at this contest from an entirely neutral perspective. That honor would go to NDSU keeper Sofia Howe. She made 12 saves in 106 minutes, five in the first half, four in the second, and three in extra time to keep the match scoreless and give her Bison a shooters’ chance of walking away from Milwaukee with a victory. It didn’t happen, but you absolutely can’t say that it’s because of anything that Howe did or didn’t do.
Heck, I’m pretty sure that Gibson’s game winner after 105 minutes and 23 seconds of action at Valley Fields can’t even be pinned on an error or a misstep by Howe. Here’s the video:
KATE GIBSON ENDS IT IN THE 106TH MINUTE! pic.twitter.com/5wZUGVkpnB— MARQUETTE Soccer (@MarquetteWSOC) September 18, 2021
Howe’s defending Elsi Twombly’s play along the endline by cutting off her angle at the net. Can’t fault that decision to be that far to that end of the cage. Can’t fault Howe for not being able to leap forward enough to reach Twombly’s cross/pass/whatever out to the middle. From there, the ball gets deflected up a bit by an NDSU defender, and Gibson just zips on in and taps it into the wiiiiiiiide open net because Howe is still recovering from her dive at Twombly’s play.
It seems fair that Gibson ended up being the one to deliver the game’s only goal. She was terrorizing Howe all match long, as Gibson came off the bench and recorded five of MU’s previous 18 shots in the match and three of the 12 that were on frame along the way.
We have to talk about Mikki Easter a little bit because she had to hold up her end of the deal on very few chances by NDSU. Here’s two of her saves and another one that probably should have been noted as a save.
53'— MARQUETTE Soccer (@MarquetteWSOC) September 18, 2021
MU: 0 | NDSU: 0
Mikki Easter makes another nice play in the box to prevent the Bisons from getting on the board. pic.twitter.com/X5hQB9GAJQ
84'— MARQUETTE Soccer (@MarquetteWSOC) September 18, 2021
Mikki Easter makes her second save of the night, and it was a good one. A very good one. pic.twitter.com/ZrWiBfN6vx
Mikki Easter preserves the clean sheet to send this one to double OT. pic.twitter.com/U4WxxAWQF1— MARQUETTE Soccer (@MarquetteWSOC) September 18, 2021
That last one is probably underrated in terms of difficulty. Think about it: If Easter misplays her angle or her reaction speed with both hands to grasp the ball, it’s in the net with just seconds left in the first overtime and MU loses. Didn’t happen though, and she picked up her third shutout of the year. With the win, Easter’s goals-against average is down to just 0.51 and her save percentage is up to .870.
Up Next: Big East play! Non-conference action is all wrapped up and the next 10 matches of the season will be conference action, five home and five road. It’s one of the five home dates first as Butler will be in Milwaukee on Thursday, September 23rd, for a 6pm Central start at Valley Fields. The Bulldogs are 7-1-0 on the year and riding a seven match winning streak after losing their opener 5-0 to Michigan.