Narrow victory keeps tournament hopes alive

The Gophers beat Indiana 1-0 to remain in postseason contention.

by Mark Mowery

The weather was perfect and the results were equally impressive for the Gophers on Friday at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium . Junior midfielder Molly Rouse connected on a corner kick from junior forward Katie Bethke in the 79th minute to give Minnesota (12-5-3 overall, 5-3-2 Big Ten) a 1-0 victory over a visiting Indiana (10-7-2, 2-6-2) squad. The teams played to a scoreless first half with play caught in the middle third and leading to few chances on goal. The lone shot on goal of the half came from junior defender Kylie KallmanâÄôs header off of a corner from junior forward/midfielder Julie Rezac . Indiana goaltender Lauren Hollandsworth made a challenging save near the left post, and the threat was evaded. The second half was dominated by the GophersâÄô offensive prowess. In the 48th minute, freshman midfielder Allie Phillips struck a low effort toward the goal and beat Hollandsworth , but the ball struck the left post and Indiana cleared the danger. Minnesota continued to impose their will on Indiana, setting up camp in the attacking third for most of the second half. âÄúTheir mentality was fantastic, and I think our two attacking mids and all of our forwards that came in were so mobile and created so many good chances,âÄù head coach Mikki Denney Wright said. The breakthrough finally came for Minnesota when RouseâÄôs brilliant header beat Hollandsworth to the left post, giving the home crowd the go-ahead goal it so craved and seniors Dana Tripp and Sara Clancy a victory on their Senior Night. âÄúIâÄôve played in senior games before but I hadnâÄôt really contributed to it, and it was a really nice experience to be able to contribute to the win for the seniors,âÄù Rouse said. The goal punctuated a great game for Rouse that included several clever plays that didnâÄôt quite come to fruition. âÄúI think she was possessed tonight,âÄù Denney Wright said. âÄúShe did it for the seniors. Her mentality was inspirational,âÄù The four-year experience for both seniors included the best season in Minnesota history last year which ended in a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament. âÄúItâÄôs been surreal. ItâÄôs been a great ride with Sara, and right now IâÄôm just feeling good and that win just sealed the deal,âÄù Tripp said. âÄúWeâÄôre really hoping to make the NCAA Tournament and maybe even host,âÄù Clancy said. âÄúSo hopefully we can do that. It doesnâÄôt really feel like this is our final game, so hopefully itâÄôs not.âÄù Minnesota certainly looks poised for its second-consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament . The Gophers entered FridayâÄôs match 42nd in the most recent Adjusted Ratings Percentage Index, the key criteria in deciding at-large tournament teams. Indiana stood at 36th, which makes Friday nightâÄôs victory an excellent addition to MinnesotaâÄôs tournament résumé. The Gophers feel confident in their chances after finishing the season with two Big Ten victories. âÄúI think weâÄôre in a great place. Fourth in the Big Ten and 12-5-3 is a great record. I think we deserve to be selected,âÄù Denney Wright said. âÄúI think our chances are really good now. They were seeded pretty high. Any win against a highly ranked team is good for your RPI. WeâÄôre all very confident going into Monday now,âÄù Rouse said. The Selection Committee will have the final say on MinnesotaâÄôs post-season qualifications. The NCAA Division I WomenâÄôs Soccer Selection Announcement will air at 7 p.m. Monday night on ESPNews.