Split results in conference openers

Emily Wickstrom

After coming up short 10 times in a row, Minnesota’s soccer team finally came through for an overtime win.

The Gophers, after going 0-5-5 in their last 10 overtime games, broke through for a 2-1 win over Indiana on Sunday at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in St. Paul.

The victory came after a 2-1 loss to Purdue on Friday, also played at Robbie Stadium.

Senior Kaitlin Neary scored the game-winning goal for Minnesota with 38 seconds remaining in the game’s extra period.

On a Clare Grimwood corner kick that reached the center of the penalty area, Neary redirected Lindsey Schwartz’s header into the goal.

“I’ve never won in an overtime (at Minnesota),” Neary said. “Never. It was really nice to finally experience that, because I didn’t know what it was like.”

Minnesota (4-4-2, 1-1-0 Big Ten) struggled through the first half without a scoring opportunity, with zero shots to the Hoosiers’ seven.

Molly Kruger scored from 10 yards out with 13 minutes left in the first half to give the Hoosiers a 1-0 lead.

“We were getting killed -(Indiana) just had so much more effort,” Gophers coach Mikki Denney Wright said. “At halftime, we gave them the heart speech and said, ‘You got to get after it – you can’t be out-competed.’ “

Minnesota responded, with multiple second-half chances on goal. The forward tandem of Schwartz and Becky Dellaria combined for 10 of the Gophers’ 13 shots.

After a few near-misses, the Gophers tied the game with 13 minutes remaining.

Schwartz was tripped outside the penalty area, which set up a Minnesota free kick. Kaitlin Wagner sent the ball to Megan Fightmaster, who headed it into the goal.

Denney Wright said she was pleased with how her seniors, specifically Neary, set the tone of the game in the second half.

And Gophers players agreed.

“(Neary) played phenomenally,” Grimwood said. “People like that who came out and stepped it up turned it on for everyone. It’s just contagious.”

The win was the first Big Ten home victory of Denney Wright’s two-year career and the first time Minnesota has won a conference game at home since Oct. 3, 2003.

Although the outcome was different on Friday, Denney Wright said she was still pleased with her team’s performance.

The Gophers played Purdue evenly and had scoring opportunities after the Boilermakers dominated the first 15 minutes.

After Grimwood tied the game at 1 in the game’s 49th minute, Purdue forward Jessica Okoroafo scored the game-winner four minutes later.

“(Purdue) was by far the best team we’ve played so far,” Denney Wright said.

“But we had our chances against them. We were creating chances the whole time, but we finished a few (Sunday).”