Soccer awarded with

by Jim Schortemeyer

They didn’t get what they wanted out of the Big Ten Tournament, but on Sunday night the Minnesota women’s soccer team got what it hoped for when NCAA Tournament bids were announced.
The Gophers received word at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday that they would play in the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year.
“I’m ecstatic,” senior defender Vanessa Touset said. “I can’t even describe what I’m feeling. We’ve been blessed with another chance.”
Minnesota (13-6) will play Kentucky (9-8-3) at the St. Paul campus field Wednesday at 1 p.m. The Wildcats are ranked seventh in the Midwest region, while the Gophers are just ahead at sixth.
The winner of that game will play at Portland this weekend.
The bid comes as a relief for a team whose fate was uncertain after a loss to Indiana in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Hoosiers coach Joe Kelley thought Minnesota might come up one win short.
“I think 14 is the magic number,” Kelley said. “Do they belong? Yes, without a doubt Minnesota deserves to get in.”
Touset was equally convinced that Minnesota belonged in the tournament.
“We think our season deserves postseason play,” Touset said. “Our team has more heart than any other team in this conference.”
The Gophers’ chances could have hinged on the 3-2 double overtime loss to the Hoosiers Friday. Although the Hoosiers won, Minnesota fought hard for its chance at the NCAA tournament.
“Emotions were high on both teams,” Indiana captain Kris Fosdick said. “It was a make it or break it game for the postseason.”
Indiana won that battle, but Minnesota made the tournament anyway. A plus in the Gophers’ corner was likely the recent expansion of the tournament to 48 teams, which allowed for more than 20 at-large bids.
Minnesota certainly didn’t want to end its season with Friday’s game. No team wants to end with a loss, but the Gophers’ circumstances were a little different.
Kelley all but admitted his team had no business winning Friday’s game, in which his team was outshot 19-3 through regulation and two overtimes.
Minnesota had a home-field advantage in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament, winning 4-0 over Wisconsin-Green Bay. They went on to lose in the second round at Santa Clara.
The opportunity to play at home comes as a pleasant surprise for the Gophers.
“That’s huge. I thought I’d played my last game at the St.Paul field,” Touset said.
Less Bigs
Three Gophers were named to the All-Big Ten first team Thursday. Senior captain Touset earned her second such honor, while junior Nicole Lee and sophomore Laurie Seidl picked up their first.
No Minnesota players made the second team for the first time in the five-year history of the award.
Swift Kick
ù Minnesota outshot Indiana 19-3 and had a 7-0 edge in corner kicks over the weekend. The Hoosiers were ahead in one statistical category, however: fouls. Indiana had a Bill Laimbeer-esque 26 fouls to Minnesota’s 11.