NCAA tourney hopes dicey after a loss and tie

by Nate Gotlieb

The Gophers womenâÄôs soccer team had an opportunity to lift its conference record above .500 and improve its NCAA tournament aspirations against Michigan and Michigan State this weekend. A loss and a tie later, the Gophers (10-5-3, 2-4-2 Big Ten) need two wins next weekend to even their conference record. And now sitting in seventh place in the Big Ten, post-season hopes are up in the air. âÄúWe just donâÄôt know,âÄù head coach Mikki Denney Wright said. âÄúWe donâÄôt know what other teams do. ItâÄôs going to depend on a lot of things towards the end.âÄù The Gophers lost in double overtime to Michigan on Friday night when MichiganâÄôs Nkem Ezurike scored the game-winning goal with 27 seconds left. SundayâÄôs game against Michigan State also went into double overtime, and all of the scoring happened in the first six minutes of the first period. Michigan State jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but senior Molly Rouse responded just over two minutes later with the final home goal of her career. The Gophers almost took the lead with five minutes left in the first period on a header from Allie Phillips, but Michigan State goalie Jill Fliestra deflected it just enough. Rouse was one of seven Gophers seniors honored at SundayâÄôs senior day. That senior class helped the program turn around from an 8-9-1 season in 2006 to an eventual 22-4 season and Big Ten championship in 2008. âÄúIt was really fun to help be a part of something that ended up being way bigger than any of us,âÄù Rouse said.