Vikings Advance to First-Ever Title Match

Vikings Advance to First-Ever Title Match

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - The Cleveland State University women's soccer team broke barriers on multiple fronts Thursday evening as the Vikings advanced to the program's first-ever Horizon League championship match with a 2-1 win over Detroit Mercy in the HL tournament semifinals.

Playing on a chilly, cloudy late afternoon at Milwaukee's Laura Moynihan Field at Engelmann Stadium, the Vikings made two first-half goals stand up as they fought off a Titan squad that raised its determination level in the second half.

The win not only made the 2018 squad the first to reach a League title match, but CSU also broke the single-season wins record Thursday with its 11th victory.

Sophomore Jenna Prathapa scored what proved to be the game-winner off an assist from senior Sarah Krause.

CSU controlled play for much of the opening 21 minutes as it took all five shots of the match and all three corner kicks in this stretch with Krause heavily involved in multiple chances. In the fourth minute, she slipped freshman Ja'Maya Ward into the left side of the box with a nicely weighted pass. Ward tried to play back across goal but it was sent out for a corner by the Titans.

In the 10th minute, junior Briana Niedermeier tried to find junior Bianca Sarti sitting on the back line, but the ball was slightly behind Sarti. However, Krause continued her run from the midfield to reach the ball in on the keeper, but a heavy touch prevented her from shooting.

The Vikings were rewarded in the 21st minute when junior Briana Niedermeier placed a corner kick right in front of the goal at the near post. The Titans' keeper was unable to deal with it, and the ball was redirected over the line.

Detroit showed signs of life after the goal as Holbrook was called into legitimate action for the first time in the 25th minute. She dove down to her left to knock out a shot taken to the far post from outside the box.

CSU weathered that pressure from the Titans and soon was back on the front foot. Senior McKenna Vento popped a ball over the back line down the right flank for Prathapa. The sophomore then crossed nicely to Krause, but her shot was blocked before reaching the keeper.

Cleveland State got a big second goal in the 40th minute. Ward played Krause into the left side of the box. Krause's tight-angle shot forced a diving save that Prathapa pounced on, redirecting it into the net.

The Vikings had a couple of great looks in the second half to add to their total, including two early on, but the Titans' keeper kept her squad in the match and able to make a comeback attempt.

In the 48th minute, senior Sydney Duggan played in Krause down the left, and her tight-angle shot to the near post was stopped and held with a diving save. Less than a minute later, Krause created a chance by sending Vento into the box, but a great save from the keeper kept out her effort.

That save proved big minutes later when the Titans pulled one back. In the 54th minute, a long free kick was sent into the box. Holbrook cleared the initial attempt, but the Titans soon knocked in the rebound.

A few minutes later, Detroit tried to level the match, but a header off a free kick was high.

Ward worked to win the ball in the 69th minute and soon had a 2-on-1 with Prathapa. The sophomore was hauled down just outside the box in the half circle. Krause's subsequent free kick drilled the bottom side of the crossbar but stayed out.

In the 75th minute, Holbrook came up big for the Vikings. After an initial long ball was not cleared, the Titans took a shot through traffic, but the keeper did well to see it and move to her left to stop and hold it.

Prathapa nearly put the Vikings ahead by two with about 10 minutes left when junior Elaina Walnoha played a cross from near the corner flag that Krause let pass by.

Cleveland State was able to prevent the Titans from having any significant chances in the final 10 minutes as the Vikings continued to work hard to see out the result.

CSU also broke its single-season record for goals in a season with its 29th and 30th of the campaign.

Krause notched her seventh assist of the year, tied for second in single-season program history behind the nine that Dani Sowinski has this season. She now has a team-leading 17 points.

Prathapa's goal was her fifth of the season. Holbrook made six saves in the contest.

CSU had a 10-7 lead in shots on goal and a 5-2 edge in corner kicks.

Cleveland State will play the winner of the second semifinal between sixth-seeded Oakland and top-seed Milwaukee this Saturday, Nov. 3, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.