Minnesota begins season with three wins, then three losses

The Gophers took No. 1 Stanford to overtime Sunday.

Senior Maddie Castro goes for the ball during the game against DePaul on Thursday, Aug. 30 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

Ellen Schmidt

Senior Maddie Castro goes for the ball during the game against DePaul on Thursday, Aug. 30 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

Erik Nelson

Through regulation time, Minnesota and No. 1 Stanford were even. In overtime, it was the top team in the nation that secured the victory.

As the sun cast a bright glow on the grass at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on Sunday, Minnesota (3-3-0) took No. 1 Stanford (4-0-0) to overtime before losing 2-1. Stanford’s Sam Hiatt scored the game-winning goal off a corner kick in the 94th minute.

The Gophers trailed 1-0 at halftime for the fifth time in six matches this season. In the 75th minute, freshman forward Patricia Ward made a cross pass with her right foot towards the box, where senior midfielder Molly Fiedler waited. Fiedler flicked a shot past Stanford goalkeeper Alison Jahansouz to tie the game. It was the first goal in open play that Stanford had allowed since August 2017.

“I thought, ‘hit this as hard as I can and get it on frame,’” Fiedler said. “Luckily, it happened.”

Sophomore goalkeeper Maddie Nielsen made four saves, including a few where she leaped off the ground and punched the ball out of play. Nielsen said Minnesota can play against any team after battling Stanford in overtime.

“We went into overtime with a top team, which is incredible,” Nielsen said. “Being able to score on them shows that we are good.”

Minnesota lost only twice at home during the 2017 regular season. Now, the Gophers have lost three times in four matches at home to start the 2018 season.

Head coach Stefanie Golan said Fiedler’s goal increased her expectations of what Minnesota can achieve.

“For it to be a freshman to a senior is also a key to what our team is right now,” Golan said. “We have a lot of underclassmen who are playing a lot of minutes. For a senior like Fiedler to step up and put one in the back of the net in this kind of a game is a testament to the seniors’ leadership.”

DePaul shuts out Minnesota

The Gophers hoped to pull off a comeback down 1-0 to DePaul (3-2-0) entering the second half Thursday night, but Minnesota’s offense couldn’t score a goal. DePaul held on for a 1-0 win.

Minnesota had four shots on-goal, two of which came from sophomore midfielder Celina Nummerdor. This was the second consecutive match in which Minnesota was shut out; the Gophers lost 2-0 to No. 18 Washington State on Aug. 26. 

Golan said DePaul’s defense made offensive opportunities challenging for Minnesota.

“It was difficult because we made it difficult,” Golan said. “They were dropping eight players behind the ball and doing it all central. All week, we had worked on drawing them in and then spreading the ball out wide and attacking on the flanks. We did not execute that tonight.”

DePaul scored the only goal of the match in the 27th minute. Midfielder Avery Hay kicked the ball towards the box and defender Jackie Batliner headed it into the net past Nielsen.

Minnesota had three corner kicks in the second half, but none turned into quality scoring chances. Senior midfielder Emily Heslin said it was frustrating for Minnesota to not score for the second-consecutive match.

“They worked harder than us in a lot of areas on the field and made it hard to break down,” Heslin said. “We were laid back after the goal and needed to pick it up to find one.”

Minnesota’s seven-game homestand continues on Friday when the Gophers face North Dakota State (1-2-0) in its final non-conference match of the season. The match is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m.