Gophers win on golden goal to send team into Big Ten tournament

Minnesota won 1-0 over Nebraska Wednesday, clinching home-field advantage for the Big Ten quarterfinal.

Senior forward Julianna Gernes dribbles up the field on Nov. 4, 2016 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

Chris Dang

Senior forward Julianna Gernes dribbles up the field on Nov. 4, 2016 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

by Erik Nelson

For the fifth time this season, Minnesota (11-4-3, 7-3-1 Big Ten) took its opponent into overtime. This time around, the Gophers scored in 101st minute Wednesday night against Nebraska (9-5-5, 3-3-5 Big Ten) in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Forward Julianna Gernes scored her ninth goal of the season with nine minutes left to play in the second overtime, giving Minnesota a 1-0 victory. Midfielder Molly Fiedler and forward Kellie McGahn earned assists. Gernes said she was frustrated that she couldn’t score in regulation.

“I knew how much the team wanted to have one more home game,” Gernes said. “That was the biggest driving factor for our team.”

With the win, Minnesota enters the Big Ten tournament as the third seed. The Gophers will play their first game on Sunday. 

Nebraska outshot Minnesota 10-7, but Minnesota had five shots on goal. Goalkeeper Kailee Sharp made two saves for her ninth victory and sixth shutout of the season.

Minnesota played the game without one of its starting defenders, Tori Burnett, who was injured. Head coach Stefanie Golan said the team had to gut it out and adjust its defensive system.

“It’s always great [to win], especially when you know you need it to get that home-field advantage. [Nebraska] is a tough team to find a rhythm against on a consistent basis,” Golan said. “We had a day to implement a new system. I thought [the team] did really well to lock in and trust us.”

Minnesota’s last overtime win came on Sept. 3 against Providence. Maddie Gaffney scored the game-winning goal with 20 seconds remaining in the second overtime as Minnesota won 1-0.

Gernes said she knew Minnesota was going to score and win the game when McGahn rushed down the field with the ball.

“We all felt it. I felt it. I was like, ‘this one’s going in. This one’s going to be the one that we score on.’ It had been a long time coming,” Gernes said.

Gernes said the crowd will be a huge factor in determining Minnesota’s fate and is excited that Minnesota will play Wisconsin. Minnesota has lost only two games at home this season.

“The last time out, we weren’t happy with the way the game ended against them,” Gernes said. “I think it’ll be a good game.”

Minnesota will be at home on the field at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on Sunday against Wisconsin (12-4-2, 6-3-2 Big Ten) for its Big Ten quarterfinal game. The game’s start time has yet to be determined.