Soccer team opens stadium with 1-0 win

Mark Heller

Midway through the second half of Saturday night’s soccer game between Minnesota and Arizona State, a young boy sitting in the cramped temporary bleachers turned his back to the field.
After several minutes his father finally told him, “The field is the other way.”
Perhaps the young boy was in awe of the Gophers’ new Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium, but he nearly missed seeing Minnesota scramble and claw to preserve a 1-0 win in front of a record 1,432 fans.
Arizona State’s coach blamed the loss on an incredibly poor first half.
“We didn’t show up to play in the first half,” Sun Devils coach Terri Patraw said. “That’s the worst half of soccer we’ve ever played in the history of this program. I said to them at halftime, ‘Thank God it’s only 1-0.'”
The Gophers (2-0) dissected Arizona State (1-2) in the first half. They spent most of the half in the Sun Devils’ zone, racking up five corner kicks in the first 10 minutes.
Minnesota had nothing to show for its first-half dominance until the 28th minute, when senior forward Laurie Seidl took a pass from Liz Wagner. Seidl lofted a shot just over the outstretched arms of Erin Reinke for her second goal in two games this season.
The Gophers had three scoring chances in a two-minute span during the second half, all from close range. But Reinke came up with three big saves for Arizona State. Minnesota coach Sue Montagne admitted the score could have been much higher if not for Reinke’s heroics.
“Their goalkeeper sure did a wonderful job,” Montagne said.
When the first half was over, the numbers were in Minnesota’s favor. The Gophers outshot the Sun Devils 11-4 in the first half and 25-10 for the game.
While Minnesota was pressing on offense, the young defense did a nice job protecting the net in the first half. Gophers goalie Dana Larson only had to make one save in the first half. But Arizona State did everything to give Minnesota a fight in the second half.
Led by Stacey Tullock and Jennifer Peterson, Arizona State poured on the pressure in the second half. The Sun Devils had three corner kicks and two scoring chances late in regulation which could have tied the game.
In the 85th minute, Peterson had a clear shot against Larson down the right side. But from about 25 yards out, her shot just skimmed over the top of the crossbar and over the net.
Larson made one last save to preserve the win when the game moved into stoppage time after the 90th minute. She pushed a point-blank shot from Tullock upward just enough to carry over the top of the net.
Peterson and Tullock combined for eight of the Sun Devils’ ten shots.
“When (Peterson) was facing upfield and going forward, she’s a lot more dangerous,” sophomore defender Juli Montgomery said. “We knew that going in. Coaches had told us not to let her turn in, and a lot of times the defense held her back.”
Minnesota easily could have been up by more than its 1-0 margin at halftime. Instead, Larson and the defense clawed and scrambled just enough to get by.
“I think if we would have gotten maybe one more (goal) it would have been 2-0 and then maybe a couple more would have fallen,” Montagne said. “Sometimes it takes a little bit of luck, but I’ll take the win.”

Mark Heller covers women’s soccer and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3246.