Soccer suffers second straight winless weekend

by Anthony Maggio

After stunning then 14th ranked Michigan at home three weekends ago, Minnesota’s soccer team has yet to come up with another win.

This weekend, the Gophers tied Wisconsin-Milwaukee and then dropped their sixth Big Ten contest of the year to lowly Northwestern.

Now owning the worst record in the conference, coach Barbara Wickstrand said her athletes need to work as hard in the games as they do in practice to salvage the rest of the season.

“It’s really frustrating,” Wickstrand said. “I don’t understand it. They work harder at practice against each other than they do against opponents.”

The Gophers (6-7-1, 1-6 Big Ten) lost their first game of the season when scoring first on Sunday against the Wildcats (4-7-2, 2-5-1).

In the seventh minute, freshman Annie Carr played a free kick from Hillary Stowell past Northwestern goalkeeper Anne Helm.

Minnesota maintained the lead for most of the first half but fell apart shortly before halftime.

“Our team as a whole took a step back and we weren’t pressuring the ball together,” defender Meghan Jones said. “We weren’t playing the way we should’ve the last eight minutes. They just took advantage of it and it ended up hurting us pretty bad.”

The Gophers gave up goals to Northwestern in the 39th and 42nd minutes and were unable to recover.

Both teams went scoreless in the second half, giving the Wildcats their second conference victory.

“We got completely outplayed,” Wickstrand said. “They just wanted it more. They beat us to the ball. We never really could get in a rhythm.”

Friday the Gophers finished with their first tie of the season, knotting Wisconsin-Milwaukee 2-2 in Milwaukee.

Goalkeeper Marni Prall made her first start of the season, replacing Karli Kopeitz, who has been hampered by a knee injury for the past two weekends. Prall also started the game Sunday.

Kopeitz’s knee injury isn’t serious, but Wickstrand chose to rest the usual starter to better her chances at playing in the upcoming games.

Minnesota plays Penn State and Ohio State at home next weekend, two critical games for the Gophers chances at making the Big Ten tournament.

Minnesota is last in the conference but can still make the Big Ten tournament with wins in its final three conference games and some help from other teams.

However, the Gophers must quickly turn things around because two more conference losses will end their postseason hopes.

“We’re a good team, and then when we play in the game we just can’t get the goals in,” Carr said. “It’s discouraging because our record in the Big Ten isn’t good, but we know we’re not bad.”

Anthony Maggio covers soccer and welcomes comments at [email protected]