Bears women’s soccer claims MVC title, NCAA bid

SPRINGFIELD – The Missouri State women’s soccer team earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament as the Bears defeated the UNI Panthers, 1-0, to claim the 2017 Missouri Valley Conference Championship title on Sunday at Betty & Bobby Allison South Stadium.

The Bears (10-9-1) return to the NCAA tournament after a 17-season drought – marking the program’s second tournament appearance since its inception in 1996.

“The season didn’t start the way we wanted it to, but the girls battled through and found a way to overcome vast amounts of adversity,” head coach Rob Brewer said. “The day-to-day progress that we’ve made over the course of the season has been challenging and it pushed every person on this team to improve.”

Registering the fifth shutout in the Bears’ last six matches, starting goalkeeper Lexi Palacio (5-3-1) and the Missouri State defense kept UNI off the board for a full 90 minutes. In fact, they limited the Panthers to just five shots on goal throughout the match.

Similar to Friday’s match against Loyola, the Bears jumped on the board within the first 10 minutes of action. In the seventh minute, the Bears took off down the field and senior Rachel Catrell crossed the ball to Brooke Prondzinski at the top of the box. As the UNI goalkeeper ran out to contest the shot, Prondzinski launched a high shot over the keeper and found the back left corner of the net to give the Bears the only goal they would need.

Holding off the Panthers for 83 more minutes, Palacio finished the match with five saves and the Bears totaled 11 shots on the day. Prondzinski led the way for the Bears, registering three shots and the game-winning goal. Defenders Brooke Zimmerman and Brittney Robinson each recorded key takeaways to help secure the shutout and MVC Championship title.

“It’s an absolute surreal feeling,” senior Brooke Zimmerman said. “We’ve worked so hard to get here and we’ve earned everything that we’ve been able to achieve. We had a rough start, but we got our act together and didn’t doubt that we could win a championship title.”

Zimmerman, who made an incredible impact on the Missouri State back line, was named the 2017 MVC Championship Most Valuable Player. Prondzinski, Robinson and Mary Disidore were the other three Bears to make the All-Tournament Team.

Scoring Summary

·         MSU – 7:49, Brooke Prondzinski – received cross to top of the box, kicked over the keeper – assisted by Rachel Catrell.

2017 Women’s Soccer All-Tournament Team

Kelli Zickert, Illinois State

Kelsey Jahn, Valparaiso

Cassie Rohan, Drake

Brooke Salisbury, Drake

Jenna Szczesny, Loyola

Madison Laudeman, Loyola

Allison Bitter, UNI

Kelsey Yarrow, UNI

Brynell Yount, UNI

Brittney Robinson, Missouri State

Mary Disidore, Missouri State

Brooke Prondzinski, Missouri State

Brooke Zimmerman, Missouri State (Tournament MVP)

Coming Up Next

The Bears will discover their fate in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship on Monday, Nov. 6, at 3:30 p.m. when the 2017 NCAA Championship bracket will be announced.Monday’s watch party will be available to the public in the Prime Overtime Club in JQH Arena. For all the latest information on the Missouri State women’s soccer team, visit missouristatebears.com or follow @MSUBearsWSoccer on Twitter.