Minnesota loses border battle on a penalty kick

After a handball in the box, Wisconsin’s Dani Rhodes made a penalty kick in the 96th minute.

by Erik Nelson

Minnesota goalkeeper Kailee Sharp said she thinks a handball can happen to anyone.

One of these handballs, committed by Gophers defender Tori Burnett in the 96th minute of Minnesota’s game against Wisconsin, led to the game-winning goal by Wisconsin’s Dani Rhodes on a penalty kick. Burnett received a yellow card for the violation and the Badgers earned a 1-0 win against the Gophers in Madison, Wisconsin Saturday.

“It was an unfortunate call,” Sharp said. “In those moments, you’ve got to step up. You’ve got to guess which way you think they’re going.”

Forward Megan Koenig thinks Burnett is not to blame for the loss.

“I look at it as a team loss,” Koenig said. “We have her back forever. I know she’s strong and she’ll move on from it. It’s unlucky. She plays a position where that happens.”

Head coach Stefanie Golan declined to comment for this story.

Koenig said it was hard for Minnesota to accept the outcome of the game. Minnesota’s last win against Wisconsin came on Oct. 24, 2013.

Rhodes had her fifth goal of the season on the game-winning make, which is first among Wisconsin players.

“It’s fun to play teams you want to beat so badly, but it’s frustrating at the same time because all that passion goes into [the game],” Koenig said. “When you lose, it’s even more frustrating.”

Minnesota had four shots on goal, but every time, Wisconsin goalkeeper Caitlyn Clem stopped the ball. Clem, who has appeared in every game for Wisconsin, recorded her seventh victory of the season.

Even though the game didn’t end the way she wanted it to, forward April Bockin said she liked the Gophers’ effort in the second half.

“We didn’t start off as strong as we could have. [In the second half], we picked it up and controlled a lot more of the game,” Bockin said. “We were able to create more opportunities. We couldn’t put one away. That’s how soccer goes sometimes.”

For the 31st time in 32 games, the Gophers have allowed one goal or less. Sharp is happy the team is still committed to playing defense. 

“Our team had a lot of grit,” Sharp said. “The fact that we still don’t allow a lot of shots at me shows a lot about this team.”

Minnesota played into overtime for the second time in three games. Koenig thinks the Gophers could have scored in regulation and won the game before overtime.

“Our team is getting sick of playing overtime for sure,” Koenig said. “We have our defense set up. Our press is really good, and now, it’s that last piece. We’ve got to finish and put goals in the back of the net before overtime. ”

Bockin said this loss will help the team moving forward. Minnesota will play Michigan Thursday at 6 p.m., at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. 

“We know we can compete with anyone in the nation because [Wisconsin] is a top-10 team, and we went toe-to-toe with them,” Bockin said. “Going into the rest of Big Ten play, I think we’re going to go in with confidence knowing that we can play well. We’re definitely still in the Big Ten race.”