Soccer drops two in tough homestand

by Jabari Ritchie

Early in its weekend series against Indiana and Purdue, Minnesota’s soccer team looked to be in good shape.

The Gophers took a 1-0 lead over the Hoosiers in the 12th minute of Friday’s game and held the advantage until halftime. But Indiana (6-2-1, 3-1-1) dominated the rest of the match and won 3-1 with three second-half goals.

The Gophers’ poor play continued Sunday as Purdue (5-4-1, 1-2-1) handed them a 3-0 loss.

“A wake-up call is about the only thing that could come out of it,” Minnesota coach Barbara Wickstrand said about the Gophers’ second and third consecutive losses. “We’re digging ourselves deep, and if we don’t get out quickly we’re not going to be going to the Big Ten tournament.”

In Sunday’s game, the Boilermakers put Minnesota (3-6, 2-3) in an early hole with a goal resulting from a bad clearance in the third minute. Then, with five minutes remaining in the half, Purdue scored again.

The Boilermakers spent most of the game in Gophers territory. Julie Eibensteiner and backup goalkeeper Kelly Kraft made seven saves, and defender Allyson Brodie made two stops on the line.

On Friday, the Hoosiers responded to Roth’s fourth goal of the year by increasing their intensity.

In the 59th minute, Indiana’s Kara Bryan scored from just inside the box on a pass from fellow midfielder Emily Hotz.

Bryan scored her fifth goal of the season 15 minutes later on a free kick from 19 yards out. The Gophers were set up to defend the kick, but Eibensteiner didn’t move when the ball was shot into the net.

“I think it was a lack of focus … it has to be a goalkeeper’s ball,” Wickstrand said. “We had a lot of disorganization on the free kicks.”

The Hoosiers sealed the victory with a goal by midfielder Kim Grodek in the 88th minute.

Minnesota was disrupted by the aggressive Hoosiers. Indiana had 19 fouls to the Gophers’ 18 and a yellow card. Several Minnesota players left the game with injuries.

“I think (Hotz) played a little out of control in this game and was just taking people out left and right,” said Gophers defender Sarah FitzGerald, who left the game in the 79th minute but returned Sunday.

“I had possession of the ball and she came after me. We both went down and she jabbed her knee right into my ribs. I couldn’t breathe.”

Other Minnesota players injured were forward Alison Rackley and defender Megan Turner. Rackley returned later in Friday’s game and Turner started Sunday but was replaced by Katherine Arndt in the 13th minute.

“We need to be tougher,” said Roth, who was involved in several collisions over the weekend. “I think we’re kind of wusses sometimes. We need to be stronger on the ball and hit people when they hit us.”