Soccer looks to Big Ten title after weekend draw

Minnesota could claim its first top Big Ten finish since 2008 this week.

Forward Simone Kolander looks to shoot on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

Image by Chris Dang, Daily File Photo

Forward Simone Kolander looks to shoot on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

by Dominic Davis

Despite a double overtime session, Minnesota and Northwestern settled for a 0-0 draw on Saturday.

Goalies played a big role for both teams in Saturday’s draw.

Northwestern junior goalie Lauren Clem and Hobbs each made two saves to keep their sides even in the first half of regular time.

Hobbs recorded her 31st career shutout. She continues to add to her program record.

“We definitely count on [Hobbs] and all of the defenders,” said senior forward Simone Kolander. “Our defense and [Hobbs] have been doing a really good job about handling those few chances that other teams get.”

Both goalies had four saves at the end of the night. Clem leads the Big Ten with 13 shutouts this season.

“They were super organized,” Hobbs said. “They were more organized than the teams that we played so far. Our defenders handled it very well.”

Neither side found a way to break through and take advantage of opportunities to score.

Minnesota (12-3-3, 6-1-3 Big Ten) took 16 shots versus Northwestern’s (13-1-3, 6-1-3) 11.

“They had a lot of people behind the ball,” Kolander said. “It was tough tonight. Their defense played really well. It was tough to get a lot of shots off.”

Captains Josee Stiever and Kolander were the only Minnesota players to get shots on goal.

The Gophers committed 13 fouls in the match. Northwestern only fouled six times.

Kolander said they were aggressive to put pressure on the opposition to win the ball back and get more opportunities to break the tie.

Still, even with two overtimes, the match finished in a scoreless draw.

Getting at least the one point was important for Minnesota to get the chance to play for the Big Ten Title.

“Overtime is a tricky beast,” said associate head coach Krystle Seidel. “There’s a more conservative approach in overtime for sure, especially when we knew [Saturday] that if we drew we get to play for the Big Ten Championship on Wednesday.”

After the draw, No. 16 Penn State, No. 23 Northwestern and No. 13 Minnesota are tied for first in the conference going into the last game of the regular season.

“This program hasn’t won a [regular-season] title since 2008,” said Minnesota senior goalie Tarah Hobbs. “I think everybody is pretty excited.”

Penn State was alone in first place until they lost to Michigan State over the weekend. The Gophers are in a good place since they no longer need to rely on other results to help them, Seidel said.

“We got into a point where we had to have some results go our way and that happened this weekend,” she said. “Knowing that if we can take care of our business and get the win on Wednesday that we get the championship, that’s huge.”