It came down to penalties, and junior keeper Aubrei Corder stepped up.
Between the posts Sunday, Nebraska's keeper outplayed the Big Ten's Goalkeeper of the Year and that was enough to propel the sixth-seeded Huskers to a berth in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals thanks to a win over third-seeded Ohio State on penalties, 3-2.
After 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, the Huskers and Buckeyes went to penalties in Columbus, Ohio. The two sides met once earlier this season and drew 1-1, but in the Big Ten tournament, a draw wouldn't do. Nebraska would need to lean on its keeper to advance past the Buckeyes.
Corder guessed right on all five of Ohio State's attempts and stopped three. On the other side, Ohio State senior Devon Kerr got her gloves on just two of Nebraska's five takes.
Midfielder Savanah Uveges was first for the Huskers; she smoothly went right and away from Kerr. She's now 5-for-5 on penalties this season for Nebraska. Nebraska misfired on Nos. 2 and 4 but midfielder Kenzie Coons and forward Natalie Cooke connected on Nos. 3 and 5.
During regulation, Ohio State dominated possession. Nebraska seemed content to sit back in its own half and play defense, looking to counter-attack off Ohio State errors. The Buckeyes finished with 16 shots to the Huskers' seven, but only six of those 16 were on frame.
Playing without center back Sinclaire Miramontez or a healthy fullback Caroline Buelt, the Huskers have relied on youth on the back line in recent games. Freshmen Olivia Brown and Ashley Zugay made up two of the three defenders for head coach John Walker.
To adjust, Nebraska has turned Ochoa into more of a holding defensive mid (with a strong emphasis on the holding). As a result, the offensive attack has dried up slightly and it became almost non-existent for stretches against the Buckeyes on Sunday.
Nebraska looked a team that was fine sacrificing aggression in the attacking third for clean play in the defensive third. It worked; Ohio State had its chances but was never able to completely crack Nebraska's defense.
Corder registered six saves in the run of play even before the shootout, marking the fourth time this season she's had at least six.
The Huskers will face No. 7 seed Minnesota on Friday at 12:30 p.m. CT with a spot in the Big Ten Tournament final on the line. Nebraska and Minnesota did not meet this season.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.