After win in finale, Gophers wait to learn NCAA tournament fate

by Austin Cumblad

And now, the wait. The Minnesota womenâÄôs soccer team took care of the final component it could control with a 3-0 win at Indiana, the programâÄôs 200th. It submits to the NCAA selection committee a 12-5-3 overall record (4-4-2 Big Ten), three wins over RPI top-50 teams and five one-goal losses, all to teams ranked 51st or higher in the RPI. âÄúWe certainly feel like weâÄôve given the committee a great résumé,âÄù head coach Mikki Denney Wright said. âÄúWeâÄôve played a really competitive schedule; weâÄôve been competitive in every single game. I think we performed really well this year and we certainly made a case to get into the tournament.âÄù The Gophers will find out if their case was strong enough at 3:30 p.m., Monday. The NCAA tournament selection show airs live on ESPNU. The teamâÄôs recent performance may help, as Minnesota broke out of an offensive lull with three goals in the first 25 minutes against the Hoosiers. Redshirt freshman Steph Brandt tied for the team lead with her sixth goal of the season in the fifth minute, but 20 minutes later, junior Shari Eckstrom regained it outright with MinnesotaâÄôs final goal of the game. In between, senior Angie Olson netted her second of the year. âÄúEverybody was really pumped up for this game,âÄù senior center back Jennie Clark said. âÄúFor the seniors, we knew this was our last chance to prove something to the NCAA selection committee, and we wanted to prove a point.âÄù The Gophers closed their regular season with two wins following a four-game winless streak. Their three losses, however, were to teams ranked 51, 33 and 14 in the RPI. Squarely on the bubble, Denney Wright said Minnesota will watch the selection show as a team, but, in the meantime, will practice and prepare as though their season will continue past Monday. Clark said she and her teammates are keeping a close eye on conference championships around the country to separate the automatic qualifiers from the teams clamoring for the 34 at-large spots. âÄúIt already has been very stressful,âÄù Clark said. âÄúWe donâÄôt know. ThereâÄôs anticipation; it could go either way.âÄù