Brigham Young shuts the door on Gophers 3-0

Jabari Ritchie

Despite the score of Minnesota’s 3-0 loss to Brigham Young’s soccer team Friday, the Gophers (1-2) saw improvements in their play.

But to end a two-game losing streak in this afternoon’s game against St. Mary’s, Minnesota players say the team must play a more complete game.

“We played better as a team and we were all on the same page in that respect,” said goalkeeper Julie Eibensteiner, who had two saves against the Cougars (2-1). “What went wrong was that the couple of breakdowns we had, they capitalized on them. They were pretty minor breakdowns, but three mistakes and they made three goals out of them.”

BYU’s first two scores resulted from free kicks in the first half. The third, a goal by Kimmie Davis, came on a counterattack in the 81st minute. Four of the five goals the Gophers have allowed this season have been from free or direct kicks.

“We’ve had some bad luck with the free kicks this year,” said defender Sarah FitzGerald. “We need a little more organization in the back and we really need to communicate. The shots the teams have been getting so far are from direct kicks. Besides that, not too many shots have been on net.”

While the Cougars made good use of their 12 free kicks, the Gophers had trouble taking advantage of theirs.

“That was one area we definitely needed to capitalize on,” coach Barbara Wickstrand said. “BYU had 31 fouls, so that means we had 31 free kicks. I don’t remember one that was dangerous.”

During much of the game, however, Minnesota was able to contain the Cougars’ powerful offense.

“We had periods in which they didn’t even get across the half-field for about 10 minutes,” said midfielder Meghan Jones, who returned from injury to start Friday.

“There will be periods when we are all on the same page, but then there’s some lapses and it gets a little unorganized. If we can just play a full 90 minutes when we’re all on the same page, I think we should come out with a big win.”

Wickstrand said the team played “10 times better” than it did the week before, but the injury to center midfielder Alison Rackley still affected the outcome. Another starter, junior forward Jordan Bieler, missed Friday’s game and will not play today after suffering a concussion in practice Wednesday.

“I think if we had Rackley it would have been a totally different game,” Wickstrand said. “They’re definitely gelling and that’s encouraging. We just have to play more than in spurts. I don’t think it’s possible for any team to play 90 minutes out of their minds, but we need to get up to play at least 70 minutes at out best level.”

The Gophers are hoping to generate more offense in today’s game against St. Mary’s. The Gaels (3-0) have outscored their opponents 8-3.

“St. Mary’s is a big, physical team,” Wickstrand said. “They’re going to go for 90 minutes really hard. We just have to be ready to play and work harder than they do.”

Playing well against the Cougars has made Minnesota confident going into the game.

“BYU was definitely a very beatable team for us and we just didn’t take it to them like we should have,” said FitzGerald.

“After playing today and seeing our potential, we know that taking on St. Mary’s is something we can do, and that we’re going to do and that we have to do. We need to get another win underneath our belt,” she said.

Jabari Ritchie covers soccer and welcomes comments at [email protected]