Gophers advance to Big Ten tournament semifinals

Senior Taylor Wodnick scored the game-winning goal in double overtime.

Ben Gotz

After the Gophers lost to Michigan in overtime during the regular season, they wanted to play the Wolverines again right away.

But the team had to wait a while before getting its wish Wednesday night.

And this time, the Gophers got a 1-0 victory Wednesday in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament.

“We’ve been looking forward to this game for a long time now,” senior midfielder Taylor Wodnick said. “As a team, you always look forward to these games to … prove to [your opponents] that you’re capable of doing it.”

Wodnick scored the lone goal of the game, which advanced the Gophers to the tournament’s final four.

“We know that this is our chance to prove ourselves,” sophomore midfielder Josee Stiever said.

The Gophers and the No. 25 Wolverines were locked in a tight game for most of Wednesday night, much like the first game the teams played.

“It was very similar to the first go-around in that it was a really evenly matched game overall,” head coach Stefanie Golan said.

Both teams limited the other’s opportunities, and the two sides remained scoreless after regulation and one overtime period.

Heading into the second overtime period, though, Stiever said the Gophers weren’t ready to settle for penalty kicks.

“We just really wanted it going into the second overtime,” Stiever said. “We were ready to give everything to finish that game off and take us to the next match.”

With time winding down in the second overtime period, Wodnick broke the tie.

The play began with a shot that was deflected off a Michigan player in front of the net.

The ball hung in the air until Wodnick was able to get her head on it, giving the program its first victory in the Big Ten tournament under Golan.

“I saw a few of our players in the box, so I served it in, and Wodnick was there to get a head on it,” Stiever said. “It was an awesome finish.”

The win represented redemption for the Gophers after they lost to Michigan at the beginning of the Big Ten season.

The two teams were tied and battling in overtime when a controversial call on a free kick gave Michigan the victory.

“We’ve wanted that game back ever since it ended,” Stiever said.

The Gophers will have another chance at redemption during their next game Friday afternoon, when they will face Wisconsin.

The Gophers lost to the Badgers 4-1 during the regular season.

“One of the things I love about this team is that they’ve shown a lot of resilience, a lot of fight, a lot of grit … throughout the course of the year,” Golan said. “I really wholeheartedly believe that this team is capable of anything.”