The Gophers split their first two games of conference play against Michigan and Michigan State over the weekend. Both contests went down to the wire, and one carried a little controversy.
The Gophers were tied with Michigan 1-1 on Friday night in overtime when a Michigan free kick from freshman Taylor Timko led to a goal, giving the Wolverines the victory. After the game, Gophers head coach Stefanie Golan said the Wolverines had kicked the ball before an official blew the whistle, so the Gophers were not ready to defend the shot.
“Assuming that the ball was dead, our players were not prepared to defend the ball and in turn a goal was scored ending the game,” Golan said on the team’s official website. “… It is unfortunate that something beyond our control decided the winner and I’m disappointed for our team …”
It was a tough finish for the Gophers, who trailed for the majority of the game but battled back to force overtime. Michigan redshirt freshman Ani Sarkisian gave the Wolverines an early lead in the 10th minute of the game, but the Gophers tied it up in the second half with freshman Rachel McCloskey’s third goal of the season.
Minnesota lost its first two overtime games this season, but the team rebounded Sunday when it topped Michigan State 1-0 in extra time.
“It was a really exciting win, especially since it was our third game in overtime and finally we get the ‘W’ in one of them,” senior captain Katie Thyken said. “We were really rearing to get the ‘W’ in this one, because we knew how bad it felt on Friday to lose in overtime. I think that motivated us even more.”
The Gophers led in shots 15-6 in regulation but weren’t able to find the back of the net. Defensively, sophomore goalkeeper Tarah Hobbs posted her fourth shutout of the season.
“Tarah was great in goal,” Thyken said. “She made some big-time saves in there.”
Early in overtime, sophomore midfielder Josee Stiever scored to break the tie and give the Gophers the victory. Sophomore defender Ashley Pafko set up the play with a corner kick that Stiever connected on for her second goal of the season.
“Ashley was taking a corner, and she played a really awesome ball,” Stiever said, “and I was able to get my head on it.”
The weekend improved the Gophers’ record to 4-4-0 (1-1 Big Ten).
“In the Big Ten, every team is a challenge. Every time, it’s anybody’s game,” Stiever said. “We were able to really bounce back, and we really wanted the win today. It’s all about grit and who wants it more, and we were able to battle today and get the win.”