Unbeaten streak ends against Wisconsin

Austin Cumblad

All it takes is a momentary lapse to decide a game. It really doesnâÄôt matter if one team takes 14 shots to the other teamâÄôs three and put four times as many on goal. Because Thursday night, in the 57th minute, Wisconsin converted its lone shot on goal, Minnesota converted none, and the 15th-ranked Gophers womenâÄôs soccer teamâÄôs 11-game unbeaten streak skidded to a halt, 1-0, at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. âÄúOur composure on the ball was off,âÄù head coach Mikki Denney Wright said after the game. âÄúWe were frazzled in front of the goal; we didnâÄôt make the right decisions.âÄù It was the second straight time in this matchup that the away team prevailed; in Madison a year ago, Minnesota beat Wisconsin 2-1 in overtime. It turned out to be the BadgersâÄô only home loss of the season. Whether this will be the GophersâÄô only home loss remains to be seen. What is certain is that WisconsinâÄôs back line was pesky and organized and succeeded in keeping the Big TenâÄôs most prolific offense off the score sheet for its seventh straight shutout. One piece was perpetually missing from MinnesotaâÄôs attack. Sometimes the buildup would break down around midfield with an easy turnover or a poorly timed long ball. At others, a cross would find its way into the box with no runner to meet it. And in the fleeting moments when the Gophers were able to open up the Badgers back five, the opportunities went begging. âÄúWhen teams drop off that many numbers, itâÄôs up to your back three to organize and set play, and they didnâÄôt do that,âÄù Denney Wright said. The Gophers and Badgers exchanged promising chances in an otherwise uninspired first half. Play wallowed mostly in the middle of the field except for a flurry of activity around the 20-minute mark. Freshman forward MacKenzie Misel, in her first collegiate start, crossed from the left wing to midfielder Molly Rouse, but the senior captain sent her header from eight yards out over the goal. Minutes later, the BadgersâÄô leading scorer Laurie Nosbusch got in position to receive a low cross at the near post and took a touch past goalkeeper Cat Parkhill. Sophomore defender Marissa Price was able to recover, however, and poked the ball behind the net. But early in the second half, Wisconsin capitalized on its first and only shot on goal. The eventual game-winner came off the head of midfielder Alev Kelter from a cross by Kodee Williams. Nosbusch nearly got her head on it first, which seemed to fool Parkhill, and Kelter came crashing in from the top of the box to knock home a diving header. âÄúThey capitalized on their opportunity and they transitioned very quickly, and I think it caught us off guard,âÄù Parkhill said. Minnesota started pouring numbers forward and finally broke through WisconsinâÄôs defense with eight and a half minutes to play, but senior Katie Bethke, playing at striker, rattled a shot off the crossbar from 12 yards out. The Badgers spurned the rest of the GophersâÄô late moves forward, despite Minnesota swinging ball after ball into the box. Related: – Gophers vs. Wisconsin live blogGophers prepare for Border Battle (9/30)