Gophers beat Purdue, take top spot in Big Ten

Minnesota shutdown the Boilermakers’ offense, holding them scoreless in a 1-0 win.

Brittany Storoz

Becoming the No. 1 team in the Big Ten usually isnâÄôt an easy feat, but all it took was one goal this weekend for Minnesota to do just that. Despite a statistical advantage for No. 9 Purdue, it was the Gophers (10-2-2 overall, 3-0-1 Big Ten ) that came out on top, claiming a 1-0 victory over the Boilermakers. âÄúOur speed of play was fantastic and our chain defending was as good as weâÄôve seen it all year,âÄù head coach Mikki Denney Wright said. âÄúWe were the only team to shut out Purdue this year.âÄù Though Purdue (7-3-3, 2-1-2 ) outshot Minnesota and took more corner kicks in the first half, it was the GophersâÄô efforts that got results. From 7 yards out in the 23rd minute, junior midfielder Molly Rouse took a pass from sophomore forward Tamara Strahota and found the net. âÄúWe knew that the key to winning the game was going to be scoring early and then holding them off,âÄù Rouse said. âÄúIt was a big relief to get at least one of those parts down right away.âÄù After taking the lead, it was up to the defense to preserve the shutout. Sophomore defender Josie Solie said while it was a relief to have the lead, it put more pressure on the back to defend well and maintain the shutout. Purdue didnâÄôt come up with quite as many shots on goal as the Gophers, but MinnesotaâÄôs redshirt freshman goalkeeper Cat Parkhill was forced to make some crucial saves in the final minutes to protect the lead and record her seventh shutout of the season. PurdueâÄôs offensive attack rose to a furious level with less than five minutes to go. Senior forward Jessica Okoroafo and sophomore midfielder Lauren Montenegro threatened Parkhill with two shots on net that could have secured a late win for the Boilermakers. âÄúItâÄôs super important for the goalkeeper to come up big [that] late in the game,âÄù Rouse said. âÄúMost of these teams, when theyâÄôre down, their attempts on goal are dangerous and have to be shut down early.âÄù Boilermakers senior goalkeeper Jenny Bradfisch was forced into five saves, three of which came in the second half as the Gophers tried to expand their lead. The extra offensive efforts turned out to be unnecessary to take down Purdue, and for the second time in school history, Minnesota defeated a top-10 team. âÄúWe knew that we were deserving of more attention than we were getting,âÄù Rouse said. âÄúIt feels really good to come out in the first half of Big Ten season and prove to everybody that we are the team to be watching.âÄù While the GophersâÄô win may warrant more attention for the team, Denney Wright said being No. 1 in the Big Ten is not something to rest on just yet. âÄúIt doesnâÄôt matter how it starts or where it is in the middle, itâÄôs where we are at the finish,âÄù Denney Wright said. âÄúWe donâÄôt consider ourselves first in the Big Ten right now because thatâÄôs reserved for the end of the season.âÄù Minnesota continues Big Ten play next weekend, hosting Penn State on Friday, Oct. 16 and Ohio State on Sunday, Oct. 18.