Soccer ladies take Westerwinds 3-0

Minnesota women’s soccer midfielder Anna Nudell Lee raised her fists sky-high and celebrated her first goal of the season as her teammates raced to her side.

Earlier in the first half, Kaitlin Neary was credited with a goal after a centering pass hit a Western Illinois defender and bounced into the net.

In the second half, starting goaltender Karli Kopietz was replaced by Marni Prall to cheers from a crowd of 347 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium and high-fives from coaches and every player.

While there were unusual scenes in St. Paul on Friday night, Minnesota dominated every offensive category and laughed its way to a 3-0 win over the Westerwinds.

“This is what we talked about (all week at practice),” coach Barbara Wickstrand said. “It’s a good start to next Friday (when the Gophers open the Big Ten schedule against Purdue).”

Minnesota (3-1-1) did suffer two losses – and nobody from the Gophers thought the first was a laughing matter.

Defender Nickie Burnie was ejected and will be suspended for the Gophers match against Purdue after receiving a red card.

Game officials told Wickstrand they saw Burnie elbow a Western Illinois player with 12 minutes remaining in the game.

Burnie’s story, Wickstrand said, was that she was attempting to break loose after the Westerwinds player was holding onto her jersey.

“We aren’t happy about the situation,” Wickstrand said. “I didn’t see it, and the game film doesn’t show the play. At least we kept our composure after she was carded.”

Their second loss was a bet with the women’s basketball team.

Leading 3-0, the Gophers needed two more goals and held the Westerwinds scoreless.

With 33 shots and 16 shots on goal, Minnesota dominated possession of the ball and had a legitimate chance of getting past Wertern Illinois goalie Carey Cowhey. Cowhey finished the game with 13 saves.

But that didn’t stop the Gophers from trying to add two more goals.

Because the soccer team lost the bet, the girls had to go inside the goal, turn around and bend over for the women’s basketball team to kick at them.

“Lucky for us they don’t have too good of aim,” Nudell Lee said, with a smile creeping across her face.

Minnesota started the game strong against Western Illinois, controlling the ball and setting the pace. While the Westerwinds managed three shots at Kopietz, the Gophers never felt threatened. Western Illinois (0-4) didn’t manage a shot in the second half.

And by the second half, Minnesota had built a 3-0 lead on goals by Neary, Nudell Lee and captain Amanda McMahon.

In addition, every healthy player got into the game, with three players making their season debuts.

“We got a rhythm going and we started putting things together,” forward Becky Dellaria said. “It was nice to see everyone out there. It will help their confidence.”

With only one game over the weekend, Minnesota spent Sunday resting and recuperating. Instead of having the day off, the Gophers will practice and get prepared for the Boilermakers this Friday at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

“We dominated the game,” Nudell Lee said. “The Big Ten season is more physical, more competitive. We have to step up our game.”