Another split keeps Minnesota alive but slims post-season play chances

by Monica Wright

Just as Glen Mason and the Gopher football team are entertaining thoughts of the Rose Bowl, the Minnesota (7-7 overall, 4-4 Big Ten) soccer team’s chances of post-season play are becoming significantly slimmer.
After a hard-fought 1-0 win against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Friday, Michigan State trounced the team’s goal of finishing the season strong as they toppled the Gophers in overtime 1-0.
Coach Barbara Wickstrand, who said Friday her team was defensively tough, knows the team has holes in their offensive play.
“We need to get out wide more and make better tactical decisions when we have the ball at our feet,” Wickstrand said. “We need to look around the field, see what’s on and then make the best choice.”
Friday’s game had the Panthers shutting down most of the Gophers choices, holding them without a shot on goal until 25 minutes into the half.
The Gophers came back in the second half with an impressive 15-4 shot advantage and freshman Rachael Roth, powered by a rebound from sophomore Keely Dinse, fired in the first goal of her career and the sole goal of the game.
“We know we need to win every game from here on out, whether we’re at home or on the road,” senior Erin Holland said Friday. “Stepping on to someone else’s field and taking a win away from them is huge.”
Though Friday’s win gave Minnesota their fourth shutout win in a row, the streak was snapped Sunday when the Gophers lost at Spartan field.
Senior Laurie Seidl, who is fourth on Minnesota’s all-time scoring list, was held without a shot for only the third time in her career as fourth-ranked Michigan State (10-3-2 overall, 5-3-1 Big Ten) kept the game scoreless for the fifth-ranked Gophers.
In double overtime, Spartan forward Emily Clarke ended the game at 108:44 with a decisive goal against goalie Julie Eibensteiner.
With the defeat, Minnesota faces an even tougher position heading to post-season play.
Making the tournament last year with a 12-8 overall record, the Gophers would have to win the rest of their regular season games — which includes top-ranked Brigham Young University — as well as two rounds of the Big Ten tournament to keep pace.
Wickstrand said it’s possibile.
“I know our team has it in them,” Wickstrand said last week. “We’re not at our best yet and with some physical teams coming up we’re going to be battling for the wins.”

Monica Wright covers soccer and welcomes comments at [email protected]