Soccer takes split with 4-2 Sunday win over ‘Bama

by Mark Heller

After what the Minnesota soccer team did to Kentucky in last year’s NCAA tournament game, they knew all week what to expect.
The Big Ten/SEC challenge isn’t exactly the NCAA tournament, but the 14th-ranked Wildcats had their personal NCAA grudge match and made it count in a 2-0 win Friday against the Gophers in Lexington, Ky.
Minnesota (11-7) came back to win 4-2 over Alabama on Sunday to end its regular season.
Minnesota humiliated the Wildcats 6-0 at St. Paul in last year’s first-round of the NCAA tournament.
Kentucky (15-2-1) has now won its last 15 games.
This time Kentucky got the 2-0 halftime lead on a shot that went off the left goalpost by Keri Boyce with 15 minutes left in the first half. Ten minutes later, Annie Gage beat goalie Dana Larson for a 2-0 lead.
The Gophers had 15 shots and a 6-2 edge in cornerkicks, but got nothing to show for it. Kentucky goalie Beth Wells made the lead stick with nine saves.
“Kentucky plays a different style than we do,” Gophers coach Sue Montagne said. “They literally kicked it down anytime they touched it. We played their game and style which doesn’t translate to many opportunities for us.”
Four different Gophers scored against Alabama in a 4-2 win on Sunday, three of them in the first half. Sophomore Samantha Meyers got Minnesota on the board just six minutes into the game unassisted.
Alabama (6-14) tied it at one on a free kick by Tiffany Carle, but Amy Koehler put the Gophers back up for good when she knocked it passed LaFonda Eubanks with 24 minutes left in the half.
Seven minutes later, senior Megan Johnson scored unassisted for her seventh goal of the season.
The Tide got back within one goal on a penalty kick by Eubanks. But Nicole Lee fed Jaime O’Gara for an insurance goal with six minutes left in the game.
“It was a beautiful shot,” Montagne said of Eubanks’ shot. “They got it to 3-2 and we put some players back in and got another goal.”
Minnesota outshot the Tide 26-5.
Larson and Julie Eibensteiner split time in goal, each playing one half.
“We played hard both games,” Montagne said. “It was a good performance by our entire team. (Against Kentucky) we didn’t do what we needed to do to get back in it.”

Mark Heller covers soccer and welcomes comments at [email protected]