Ball control on offense and a disruptive defense led to the Gophers’ fifth straight win Monday, 4-2 over Washington State.
The win improved Minnesota’s record to 5-1, while the Cougars dropped to 2-3-2. But Gophers coach Sue Montagne said the margin shouldn’t have been as close as it was.
Both of the Cougars’ goals came off of penalty kicks; the first was on an indirect kick, the second on a controversial penalty shot. On that shot, the ball glanced off the goalpost and rolled to the other side. Montagne contended the ball hadn’t crossed the line, but the referee had already ruled it a goal.
“They were just really unfortunate goals,” Montagne said.
Freshman Alison Rackley helped offset Washington State’s unlikely offense with her best day as a Gopher. She scored a goal and had an assist in the winning effort.
“Washington State is a good team,” Rackley said, “but our team played just awesome.”
Washington State coach Dan Tobias conceded his team didn’t play well against Minnesota.
“We didn’t consistently stick to the game plan,” Tobias said. He lamented his team’s inability to defend against the Gophers tight-fisted offense.
Minnesota got on the scoreboard 18 minutes into the first half, when junior Nicole Lee fed Rackley. The 1-0 lead went unchallenged until the second half, when, in the 50th minute, the Cougars’ Beth Childs slipped an indirect kick to Christina Pallan, who launched a shot over Gopher goalkeeper Dana Larson.
Then Minnesota’s offense re-awoke, thanks again to Rackley. Her assist on junior Corinne Bolder’s 57th-minute goal gave the Gophers the lead for good. Lee put Minnesota up 3-1 in the 70th minute with an unassisted blast of her own.
“I feel like I’m with it now,” Rackley said of her adjustment to college soccer. The Michigan native now has five goals and three assists for 13 points, third on the team behind Lee and sophomore Laurie Seidl, who both have 18 points.
Washington State pulled to within a goal when Deka Dewitt bounced her penalty shot past a diving Dana Larson to narrow the margin to 3-2 in the 85th minute.
But Lee added her second goal of the game on an assist from Bolder to seal the Minnesota victory. Lee now has seven goals and four assists this season.
The game was a change of pace for a Minnesota team known for its ability to play physical teams.
“It definitely wasn’t one of the more physical games,” Montagne said.
Montagne said she expects this weekend’s matchups at home against Wisconsin and 18th-ranked Northwestern will be more physical, however. Minnesota will face the Badgers Friday afternoon and the Wildcats Sunday afternoon.