Wrapping up a season that was striking in its absence of goal-scoring, Minnesota’s soccer team got a boost from an unexpected source Friday.
Senior goalkeeper Marni Prall scored the first goal of her career in the 10th minute of the Gophers’ 2-1 victory over South Dakota State at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. Prall got the start at forward – where she had seen action just once before this season – because it was senior night.
“It’s been a joke all season that I’d score a goal,” Prall said. “But I was pumped up, and I guess it was meant to be.”
Prall’s goal in the 10th minute looked as if it would set the tone for the entire game, as Minnesota (8-10-0, 2-8-0 Big Ten) dominated the tempo early. But the Jackrabbits (5-10-1) kept the game close all the way through, trailing by more than one goal for only 10 minutes early in the second half.
Gophers sophomore Haley Lentsch scored her fifth goal of the season on an assist from junior Becky Dellaria in the 54th minute to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead. But South Dakota State answered in the 64th minute after a strange sequence of events.
On a pass back from a Gophers defender to junior goalkeeper Molly Schneider, the Jackrabbits applied pressure, forcing Schneider to pick the ball up. The officials ruled the play by Schneider an illegal touch, giving South Dakota State the ball in the Minnesota goal box.
Amid arguing with officials over the legality of the play and a general sense of confusion, South Dakota State’s Amy Goodrich easily scored unmarked from 15 yards out.
Other than that, the Jackrabbits never truly threatened.
Minnesota held a 24-7 advantage in shots, including an 8-3 shots on goal margin. As Gophers junior Annie Carr said, the match wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
“We didn’t feel threatened by their offense,” Carr said. “We dominated them. Though the score was close, the play wasn’t close.”
But, as coach Mikki Denney Wright said, that’s how the whole season has been for the Gophers.
“Like the rest of the year, we had so many opportunities but just didn’t finish,” Denney Wright said. “We really dominated the game but, with that wacky goal they scored, it ended up way too close.”