Stepaniak Brace Carries Rams over Martin Luther College
NEW ULM, Minn.-- North Central scored a goal in each half, including a second half penalty kick, to earn a 2-0 victory over Martin Luther College on Saturday afternoon. The victory is the first league win for North Central as new members of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.
Sophomore forward Christian Stepaniak (Woodbury, Minn./Maranatha Christian) gave North Central (2-3-1, 1-1) their first lead in league play in their first year as members of the UMAC with a strike in the 31st minute that would hold up through the rest of the first half. The goal was the second of the season for Stepaniak who had not scored since the season opener verses Faith Baptist on August 31.
After several good scoring chances for each team in the second half Stepaniak found himself on the penalty spot following a Knights foul in the 81st minute and he converted for his second score of the match. With the pressure off, NCU was able to close out the last nine minutes to earn their first conference win of the year.
The penalty kick conversion for Stepaniak was his third goal of the year, tying for the team lead through six matches.
Junior goalkeeper Nathan Kraines (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie) and the NCU defense earned their second clean sheet of the year. Kraines made 14 saves to keep NCU in front despite several good Knights scoring opportunities.
North Central will be back in action against the defending UMAC champions, The College of St. Scholastica (Duluth, Minn.), at home on Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. The Saints are 5-2 on the year with a 3-0 mark in the UMAC.