Minnesota can’t bounce back in Michigan

A Michigan road trip resulted in two Gophers losses.

by Mark Mowery

Penalties and missed chances doomed the Minnesota soccer team this weekend, resulting in just one point on its two-game road trip. The weekendâÄôs first game featured physical play and wet conditions as the Gophers played to a 1-1 tie with a tough Michigan squad. The game was played after an inch of rain fell in Ann Arbor during the 24-hour period before the game. A determined Minnesota team jumped out to an early lead as sophomore Tamara Strahota scored her fourth goal of the season just 22 seconds into the game. Katie BethkeâÄôs through ball split two Michigan defenders, and Strahota finished to the lower right corner for the second-fastest goal scored in Gophers history and StrahotaâÄôs fourth goal of the season . The GopherâÄôs threatened to score again in the 34th minute, but Katie BethkeâÄôs breakaway strike was saved by a diving effort from goalie Haley Kopmeyer . However, the score line changed almost as quickly in the second half, as a hand ball by junior defender Jennie Clark in the penalty area at the 1:25 mark gave the WolverineâÄôs a penalty kick. Michigan senior Alex Jendrusch beat Gophers keeper Cat Parkhill to the right for her third goal of the season. Moments later, junior defender Kylie Kallman was issued a red card, leaving Minnesota down a player. âÄúWe paid for the physical game with the red card,âÄù head coach Mikki Denney Wright said. The sides were back to even when Michigan senior Amy Klippert was sent off for her second yellow card of the match at the 41:07 mark of the second half. The two extra periods saw no scoring from either side. Though both teams had possession in the offensive third during the extra periods, scoring chances were difficult to come by on the wet pitch. The Gophers couldnâÄôt come up with an edge in a physical struggle that included 31 fouls. Minnesota had a 21-7 shot advantage, including a 7-3 advantage in shots on goal, but failed to tip the game in its favor. âÄúIt was to their advantage to play us physically,âÄù coach Denney Wright said. SundayâÄôs match proved a breakout for a struggling Michigan State team that took advantage of goals in consecutive minutes in the second half to secure a 2-1 victory over the Gophers. The two teams played to a draw in the first half, with Minnesota controlling most of the play and outshooting the Spartans 10-6. Sophomore goalkeeper Jill Flietstra kept the Gophers off the scoreboard with five saves. The matchâÄôs tempo picked up after halftime, with the Spartan defense helping Minnesota take the gameâÄôs first lead. In the 54th minute, an attempted pass from Strahota intended for sophomore midfielder Shari Eckstrom deflected off junior defender Samantha Cook and found the back of the net. The goal was StrahotaâÄôs fifth of the season and the second of the weekend. Michigan State, however, received a brilliant two minutes from 2008 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Laura Heyboer to give them the lead for good. In the 71st minute, Heyboer led the attack of the Gopher defense, putting a shot on goal saved by Parkhill. The rebound came to the feet of sophomore midfielder Megan Pines, who convincingly finished for her first goal of the season. One minute later, Heyboer took a pass from Pines down the center of the Gopher defense and finished to the inside of the right post for her eighth goal of the season. âÄúHeyboer put the team on her back,âÄù coach Denney Wright said. âÄúShe beat our back line.âÄù With 18 minutes remaining in the match, the Gophers could not break Michigan StateâÄôs defense for another goal. The weekend ended with Minnesota adding just one point to their conference total and significantly damaging their chances as repeat champions of the Big Ten. The Gophers host Northwestern at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on Oct. 30.