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Shootouts in soccer are known as the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter how either team played throughout regulation time or overtime, it all comes down to just 10 kicks.

On Sunday afternoon, Nebraska found itself in penalty kicks for the first time in two seasons, and just like last time, junior goalkeeper Aubrei Corder led the Huskers to victory in between the posts.

Corder outdueled Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year Devon Kerr of Ohio State during the shootout by saving three out of five of the Buckeyes’ attempts to earn the Huskers (9-6-5, 5-3-3) a 3-2 shootout victory in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.

“The whole game was so close and one goal was going to be the difference so when we went to penalties, I was actually excited,” Corder said. “I was confident heading into the shootout and I knew the team was behind me and ready to do our best to get the win.”

Corder saved the first penalty kick to give the Huskers an early advantage, but it all came down to the final round as both teams were tied 2-2. The junior keeper picked up her third save of the shootout before Natalie Cooke sent the Huskers into the Big Ten Tournament semifinals with a PK that hit off the left post and found the back of the net. 

The two teams had battled to a scoreless draw after the first 90 minutes of regulation and neither team could find the golden goal in the 20 minutes of overtime allotted before the shootout.

The shutout was the second in as many matches for a Huskers’ defense that has been depleted by injuries.

“Our collectiveness as a team, not just the defense, but the forwards and midfielders, combined as a defensive unit,” Corder said. “We talked before the match that it was going to take a complete effort from all 11 players out there defensively and everyone stepped up today.”

The Huskers now advance to face Minnesota on Friday in the semifinals. The Gophers, the seven seed in the tournament, advanced with a 1-0 victory at Rutgers on Sunday by scoring in the 88th minute against the Scarlett Knights.

Nebraska and Minnesota have yet to meet this season, but that will change Friday at 12:30 p.m. Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana, plays host for the two teams that are just one step away from the Big Ten final.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or scarlson@journalstar.com.

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