Postseason hopes gone after weekend

Paul Cordes

After another scoreless weekend for the Minnesota soccer team, postseason play is out of the question.

The Gophers battled Michigan to a 0-0 double-overtime tie on Friday while dropping Sunday’s game to Michigan State 2-0.

Minnesota needed to win both games this weekend, as well its final game against Ohio State next weekend in order to make a run for the Big Ten or NCAA tournaments.

Coach Mikki Denney Wright talked about her team, which started the season 6-1-1, and then sank to 1-7-1 during Big Ten play. She said her team had a very emotional and tough season.

“Our team hit a wall. We hit it hard and just could never recover from it,” she said. “We have underachieved in the second half of this season and it has been really tough for us.

“It isn’t fun not to go to post-season.”

The Gophers’ chances for postseason play officially ended on Friday against the Wolverines (8-5-5 overall, 4-2-3 Big Ten). Minnesota’s inability to score goals once again was at the forefront of the Gophers’ problems.

From the very beginning, both teams brought a tremendous amount of physicality. The two teams combined for 31 fouls and three yellow cards, with sophomore midfielder Kelsey Hood picking up her third yellow card of the season and freshman forward Kirsten Zachman picking up her second.

Minnesota (8-8-2, 1-7-1) had a fair amount of chances with five shots on goal, but was unable to convert those chances into goals. It was the sixth time this season the Gophers were unable to find the back of the net.

“I think our team came out and really fought hard and we gave it all that we could,” sophomore midfielder Kaitlin Wagner said. “But it’s just that final piece that we’re missing, that goal that we can never find.”

One goal is all Minnesota would have needed after the defense was able to hold off the Michigan attack. Sophomore goalkeeper Lindsey Dare posted her fifth shutout of the season, recording ten saves in the double-overtime loss.

“Our defenders tonight were incredible and our back four really stepped it up tonight,” she said. “They played so well and I would trust them against anybody.”

The defense had a tougher time handling the Spartans on Sunday, however.

The Gophers couldn’t match Michigan State’s attack in the first half. The Spartans (7-9-1, 3-6-0) outshot Minnesota 14-2 and a goal in the 38th minute was all they would need.

But the Gophers came out in the second half with an upgraded intensity and posted six shots, five of which were on goal. Even though Minnesota had those chances, failure to score gave the Gophers their seventh Big Ten loss as well as their seventh Big Ten game without a goal.

Sophomore forward Nikki Jensen said she is still unable to figure out why the team hasn’t been able to solve their offensive struggles.

“In practice we can find the back of the net fine,” she said. “But we get out here and I don’t know if it’s that we’re afraid to take shots or what but we don’t take our chances.”

Minnesota’s season will officially come to a close next week with its final game against Ohio State. Although statistically the game is irrelevant, Denney Wright said next week’s game still means everything.

“This is why we play the game. We want players who are going to care about each and every game because and it means a lot to this program,” she said, “Every game matters, we don’t care any less about the game.”