Game changes quickly in 4-1 win over Purdue

Austin Cumblad

ItâÄôs a funny fact of soccer, that a 90-minute game can be decided in 33 seconds; an hour and a half of play reduced to a critical half a minute. Angie Olson and Shari Eckstrom scored back-to-back goals 17 minutes into the second half and No. 16 Minnesota turned a midfield stalemate into a 4-1 victory over Purdue at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium a week and a half after a disappointing home loss to Wisconsin. Nevermind that the Boilermakers dominated the first half. Head coach Mikki Denney Wright took her team into the locker room at the break, gave them âÄúa little bit of a kickâÄù and a different Gophers team emerged in the final 45 minutes. âÄúThatâÄôs the game of soccer; sometimes it doesnâÄôt click,âÄù Denney Wright said. âÄúCertainly the first half we were not good.âÄù In fact, Purdue spent it firmly entrenched in MinnesotaâÄôs final third, stretching a Gophers back-three that bent considerably but refused to break. Back on the field for the first time since a fractured collarbone sidelined her Aug. 31, center back Jennie Clark directed traffic as the Boilermakers mounted a nearly constant stream of counter-attacks. As the senior captain rightly noted after the game, if not for a handful of one-on-one stops and some timely saves from sophomore goalkeeper Cat Parkhill, the game might have quickly turned in favor of Purdue. Instead, the teams went into the locker room scoreless. During halftime, Clark and her teammates resolved to flip the game on its head. âÄúWe said âÄòHey, letâÄôs get it down, letâÄôs press, letâÄôs go after them,âÄôâÄù she said. And thatâÄôs what they did. MinnesotaâÄôs offense got to work, moving into the BoilermakersâÄô half almost immediately. But the final pass just wasnâÄôt there âÄì until the 62nd minute. Those deciding 33 seconds started and ended on the foot of Shari Eckstrom. The junior midfielder and teamâÄôs leading scorer drove a corner kick to the far post, where senior midfielder Angie Olson was waiting for a rather simple goal, her first of the season. Then, senior midfielder Julie Rezac danced down the left sideline past her marker and sailed a cross into the middle of the box. Eckstrom took the ball out of the air and deftly flicked it with her right foot into the corner of the net. Defensive midfielder Kylie Kallman assisted fellow seniors on MinnesotaâÄôs final two goals; the first a layoff to Katie Bethke for a left-footed strike into the top corner, the next a set piece service over the top to Molly Rouse, who took a touch and slipped it under PurdueâÄôs freshman goalkeeper, Clara Kridler, who relieved starter Carianne Betts. With just under five minutes remaining, the BoilermakersâÄô Katie Leinert bagged a consolation goal to deny Parkhill a clean sheet, but it took little away from the GophersâÄô otherwise spectacular final 30 minutes. âÄúThey played like magic in the second half,âÄù Denney Wright said.