Soccer’s NCAA run ends at Portland, 3-0

Jim Schortemeyer

The Minnesota women’s soccer team played 21 games this season, but after one six-minute stretch on Sunday, it was all over.
Portland exploded for three quick second-half goals, sending Minnesota home with a loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.
In an otherwise evenly played game, Portland held a slight advantage in shots at 20-13. The lopsided score belies the type of game that was actually played.
In the first half, the Gophers and Portland were so evenly matched that 15 minutes rolled by before either team got a shot on goal.
“They came out fired up and worked very hard,” Portland coach Clive Charles said. “It came down to if they could work that hard for 90 minutes. I was impressed.”
Once Minnesota senior Corinne Bolder broke the shotless streak, the first half turned into a see-saw battle.
“In the first half we definitely held things a little tighter,” Minnesota coach Sue Montagne said. “It seemed we didn’t anticipate the ball as well as we could have.”
Each team had seven shots on goal in the first half, and each had some squandered opportunities. Just two minutes after Bolder’s opening salvo, freshman Juli Montgomery crossed a pass to Laurie Seidl 20 feet in front of the Pilot’s goal. Seidl missed the opportunity, heading the ball over the goal.
As the Pilots flew back upfield, Minnesota defender Vanessa Touset slipped, giving sophomore Kylee Barton a clear shot at the Gopher goal. Barton fired a liner wide right of the goal for the first Portland shot, 24 minutes into the game.
Both teams managed to dodge bullets through the first half, and the score was knotted at 0-0 when the second half began.
The temperature dropped and Minnesota’s fortunes faltered early in the second half.
Portland came out with the intensity it lacked in the first half, and got out on the board early and often.
“I threatened to kill them if they didn’t play better,” Charles joked.
In the 55th minute, senior Michelle French dropped a pass to senior Kimberly Stiles, who knocked in an easy goal for Portland.
One minute later, the Pilots got their second goal when senior Tara Koleski’s shot from 15 yards out hit the top-left portion of the Minnesota crossbar and apparently dropped in.
It would be an understatement to say there was some question if the ball crossed the line, because it ricocheted out of the goal.
“After I shot, I saw it hit the bar and turned around because I thought it wasn’t a goal,” Koleski said.
Montagne was equally unsure of the goal.
“I really hope they zoomed in well because I want to be convinced it was a goal.”
But the goal stood and Koleski completed the three-goal spree in the 61st minute when she emerged from a crowd in front of the Minnesota goal and chipped in her second goal.
Six minutes, three goals. Game over, season finished.
It was the 13th shutout victory for Portland this season. The reason for that success is a defense that ranked third in the nation by allowing less than a half-a-goal per game.
Although clearly disappointed, Montagne said the game wasn’t an entire loss. She compared Sunday’s loss to last year’s 5-1 drubbing by Santa Clara in the second round.
“Player for player there was more skill than ever before on this year’s team,” Montagne said. “When I measure against last year’s game, we’re getting closer. Maybe next year we’ll get passed this hump.”
Big Ten rivals Penn State and Northwestern advanced to the third round.