Thanks to a 3-0 shutout of Southwest Missouri State on Wednesday afternoon, Minnesota’s soccer team boasts its first winning record since it was 7-6 during the 2000 campaign.
The win over the Bears at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium, coupled with a 1-0 win over Montana last Sunday, gives Minnesota consecutive shutouts for the first time since October of 2000.
Unfortunately, head coach Barbara Wickstrand was unable to attend.
Wickstrand was serving a one game suspension for unknowingly violating NCAA policy last season by substituting an ineligible player during a preseason game.
But the Gophers didn’t skip a beat without their coach, scoring the most goals since beating Iowa 5-1 on Sept. 15, 2000.
“We had so many chances today and we finally put away three,” forward Rachael Roth said. “I think our offense is rocking right now, so that’s great.”
Roth scored two of Minnesota’s three goals, all of which came in the second half.
The Gophers came out strong in the first half, keeping the ball out of their defensive third for most of the half.
Minnesota kept the pressure on offensively, outshooting the Bears 19-3 in the first half – including seven on goal.
Unfortunately for the Gophers, their aggressive play didn’t translate into any goals.
“In the first half we were getting a little frustrated not being able to finish,” assistant coach Chris Higgins said.
Roth missed Minnesota’s best chance of the half, heading a crossing pass towards Southwest Missouri State’s goal, just over three minutes into the game. But Bears goalie Alexis Stormo stretched to her left, making a save off of her fingertips.
In fact, the Gophers almost entered the second half down a goal, but defender Jennifer Cressman preserved the first half tie with a timely play.
“(Goalie) Karli (Kopietz) had stepped up to get the ball and it rebounded back and (a Bears player) just tapped it,” Cressman said. “If she would’ve kicked it any harder it would’ve gone in. I just saw it on the line and I said to myself, ‘They are not scoring on this.'”
Cressman out-hustled a Southwest Missouri state player, dove towards the goal and cleared the ball at the last moment.
Cressman’s play highlighted a solid defensive performance, as the Gophers held the Bears to only seven shots all game.
“We’ve really been working on our defense and this is our second shutout already this season,” Cressman said. “We have a whole new defense this year and we’re switching things up and it seems to be working.”
Minnesota picked up where it left off in the second half, keeping pressure on Southwest Missouri State’s defense.
The Gophers finally broke through in the 52nd minute, when Anna Nudell Lee found Rachel Roth 12 yards in front of the goal, who in turn found the back of the net.
In the 66th minute, freshman Annie Carr gave Minnesota some breathing room with a straight on shot from outside the penalty area that floated just over the fingertips of Stormo. It was Carr’s first collegiate goal.
“It feels great,” Carr said. “I was just trying to hit it hard because she was a short keeper. So anything high in the air I thought would go over her head.”
Roth put the game out of reach in the 83rd minute, notching her second goal of the game off a nifty pass from midfielder Amanda McMahon.
Wednesday was the second time in Roth’s career she has scored twice in the same game. Roth scored both Minnesota goals in a 2-0 win against Illinois last season.
“The crosses were great,” Roth said. “Basically they were little toe pokes I just slid across the ground. I was in the right spot at the right time.”
Kopietz won her second straight game in goal, and earned her second straight shutout in the process.
Minnesota hosts Colorado at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
End of a streak
Carr’s second period goal went unassisted, ending a streak of 11 straight goals Roth was a part of dating back to last season.
Roth scored seven of the Minnesota’s nine goals last season and assisted on the other two. She had a goal and an assist this season before Carr scored in the 66th minute on Wednesday.
Anthony Maggio covers soccer and welcomes
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