HILLSBORO, Ore. — Senior day came two days early for senior midfielder/forward Cori Bianchini, as she scored the game-winning goal of the Vikings’ 2-1 win over North Dakota Friday, giving the Portland State women’s soccer team a much-needed three points as the conference schedule winds down.
The win gives the Vikings (5-10-0, 3-4-0 Big Sky) nine points in conference play, temporarily moving them into a tie for fifth in the Big Sky pending later results Friday. The Vikings will need to finish in the top six to make the Big Sky tournament at the end of the season, and only have three more Big Sky matches remaining after Friday.
The Vikings should have plenty of opportunities to move up the standings, however, as the team’s three remaining opponents all sit tied with or rank ahead of the Vikings right now.
“Home has been good to us this year and we’re happy to get the three points today,” PSU head coach Laura Schott said after the match. “We are in the hunt for the tournament and all of the remaining games are important.”
Three points weren’t guaranteed for the Vikings Friday, as the match stayed tied at 1-1 well into the second half despite the Vikings dominating much of the play. The Vikings ended up outshooting UND 27-7 in the match, with PSU’s 27 shots setting the fourth-highest total ever by the Vikings in a single match.
Still, the Vikings and UND (4-8-2, 2-3-1 Big Sky) remained tied until Bianchini broke through for the Vikings’ second goal in the 64th minute. Freshman forward Megan Myers bent a pretty pass into the box that found Bianchini, who took a good controlling touch before firing an initial shot that North Dakota goalkeeper Olivia Swenson blocked with her body. Bianchini outmaneuvered a UND defender to the rebound of the shot, however, and fired another attempt on goal quick enough to catch Swenson out of position and give the Vikings the crucial 2-1 lead.
The goal marks Bianchini’s third goal of the season as well as her second game-winner, and gives her 13 goals in her career, ranking her one goal from tying Jamie Blakesley (2003-05) and Eryn Brown (2010-13) for third all-time at Portland State. Bianchini also now has 37 total points (13g, 11a) in her career at Portland State, giving her sole possession of third place all-time.
Bianchini’s goal gave the Vikings their second lead of the game, after sophomore midfielder Katie Forsee put the Vikings up early with what very well could be the goal of the season in the seventh minute of the match. Freshman defender Dallin Esmond sent a long free kick 55 yards up the field to a running Forsee, who did not let the ball bounce, instead one-timing a high-arching shot with her left foot that bent down at just the right angle and found the net. Forsee’s shot caught Swenson by surprise as the UND goalkeeper stumbled back as the ball arched toward the goal, preventing her from making a jumping save.
The Vikings dominated play after Forsee’s goal, but UND surprised everybody when they leveled the match with a goal in the 36th minute that came on their first shot of the match. Portland State was outshooting North Dakota 13-0 at the time of UND’s goal, and UND did not record another shot in the remainder of the first half. Austin Overson scored the goal for UND, which came after the Viking defense mis-cleared a free kick that UND’s Kristen Olson sent into the box.
Junior midfielder/forward Aurora Bodenhamer nearly put the Vikings back on top just over two minutes after the UND goal, but her shot from distance in the 38th minute bounced off the left post.
Redshirt sophomore midfielder/forward Breanne Chilton-Eddy also had two early shots for the Vikings in the second half, but the Vikings still didn’t break through for their second goal until Bianchini’s game-winner in the 64th minute.
The Vikings will now look to pick up another three points against Northern Colorado Sunday, which will be Senior Day for Bianchini, Emma Cooney, Angela Haluska, Tamia Hasan and Whitney Hilde. The Vikings and Bears will kick off at 1 p.m. at Hillsboro Stadium Sunday, with Senior Day festivities starting around 12:50 p.m.
Match Notes: The Vikings remain perfect against North Dakota with Friday’s win, and are now 4-0-0 all-time against UND…The Vikings are also now 5-2-0 at home this season, where they have also scored 11 of their 12 goals…Forsee’s goal in the seventh minute means the Vikings have now scored in the first 10 minutes of their last two matches, and the first 20 minutes of their last three.