Northern Colorado soccer is the 2019 Big Sky Tournament Champions! UNC defeated Eastern Washington, 1-0, in the finals to claim their second conference tournament title in program history and advance to the NCAA Tournament.

Taylor Bray scored the game’s only goal in the ninth minute on a throw-in from Maddie Barkow. After moving the ball up the field, UNC earned a throw-in from the right sideline. Barkow launched her flipping throw-in, delivering the ball into the box. Bray seized the opportunity and connected with the ball, sending it past the Eagles’ Kelsee Winston

The Bears pushed the pace in the first half, recording 10 shots with five going on goal.

In the second half, Eastern Washington was the more aggressive team, controlling possession and being more assertive against the Bears defense. The Eagles fired off six shots in the second half, with two going on net.

UNC’s defense held firm and Ashley Franza had another outstanding day in the net. Franza was a brick wall on Sunday, saving three shots and recording her second career shutout. For the tournament, Franza had 12 saves, allowing two goals in 282 minutes played.

Bray finished the game with three shots and two on net. Haley O’Nan stepped up off the bench, with four shots, including two going on net. Lexi Pulley and Cara Quinn also recorded a shot on goal.

Bray would be named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament after recording two goals and six shots, with three going on net. Both of her goals were game-winners.

Franza, Barkow, Pulley and Mackenzie Bray were named to the All-Tournament team, along with Taylor Bray. Barkow scored the Bears’ first goal against Montana and was key for UNC’s defense limiting their opponents’ opportunities.  Pulley scored the game-winning goal in the Bears overtime win against Northern Arizona in the quarterfinals. MaKenzie Bray had a strong tournament on the left side of the defense, playing 235 minutes and pushing the ball upfield.

Head coach Tim Barrera and UNC automatically qualify for their second trip the NCAA Division I Tournament after winning the Big Sky Tournament in 2015. Barrera also guided the Bears to the NCAA Tournament twice before the program reclassified to the Division I ranks.

What’s Next

The NCAA tournament field is made up of 64 teams, with 31 of those teams being automatic qualifiers. Automatic qualifiers obtain their bid by winning their respective conferences. The other 33 teams are chosen on an at-large basis by the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Committee.


Story from UNC Athletics by Matthew Kushar