Gophers last-minute goal sparks win, shutout tempers expectations

The Gophers saw ups and then downs in weekend in Michigan.

Junior Nicole Baier braces for a slide tackle against Sunday Sept. 18 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in St Paul.  Baier assisted on Taylor Uhl's game-winning goal Friday at the University of Michigan.

Erin Westover

Junior Nicole Baier braces for a slide tackle against Sunday Sept. 18 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in St Paul. Baier assisted on Taylor Uhl’s game-winning goal Friday at the University of Michigan.

Drew Claussen

The GophersâÄô soccer team split a pair of road games in Michigan this weekend, as they defeated the Wolverines before falling to Michigan State.

Minnesota (4-6-1, 1-1-1 Big Ten) beat Michigan 3-2 on Friday, scoring the game-winner in the final minute of play.

The good vibe was short-lived, though, as the Gophers fell to the Spartans 3-0 on Sunday.

âÄúItâÄôs a matter of learning how to win in those close games,âÄù said head coach Mikki Denney Wright on Saturday. âÄúI thought we had a good performance [Friday] night, we were particularly good in the second half and very good in the closing minutes.âÄù

On Friday, the Gophers got off to a quick start when Lauren Bauer connected on a corner kick from Josie Solie in the 13th minute to give Minnesota an early lead.

Michigan evened the score in the 21st minute when Nkem Ezurike picked off a pass in her offensive zone and turned the GophersâÄô mistake into a goal.

Near the end of the first half, Ezurike maneuvered her way through MinnesotaâÄôs defense again. GophersâÄô goalie Cat Parkhill  made a sliding attempt at the ball after coming out to challenge Ezurike. Parkhill got called for tripping which resulted in a Michigan penalty kick.

Clare Stachel buried the penalty kick for the Wolverines, putting it left post and out of reach of a diving Parkhill. Michigan took their 2-1 advantage to the locker room for halftime.

The GophersâÄô evened the score in the second half when freshman Taylor Uhl scored after a rebound on a shot by Olivia Bagnall that the Michigan goalkeeper bobbled and dropped.

With the score still knotted in the final minute, Uhl chased down an over-the-top pass from Nicole Baier and chipped in the game-winning goal. Uhl now has a team-high seven goals this season.

âÄúTheir goals came off a missed back pass by us and a [penalty kick], it never was like they were dominating play, they just had a couple opportunities from those events,âÄù Denney Wright said. âÄúWe dominated the game.âÄù

Minnesota had 22 shots in the game âÄî 11 of them on goal. High shot totals have been a theme for this yearâÄôs team, but Friday was the first time that those chances were converted into multiple goals against a quality opponent.

âÄúWeâÄôve gotten those kinds of looks and maybe even better looks in other games,âÄù Denney Wright said. âÄúOnce you create that many opportunities, sooner or later things turn your way.âÄù

The Spartans brought the Gophers back down to earth Sunday with a 3-0 shutout victory.

Michigan State snagged the lead in the 29th minute when Kelsey Mullen banked a shot off the left post and in.

The Spartans continued their attack in the second half when Olivia Stander got past the GophersâÄô defense in the 68th minute and put a shot to the far post and in to increase their lead to 2-0. The goal was StanderâÄôs 10th of the season.

Later, in the 75th minute, Michigan State scored its final goal when Stander dished the ball to Mikki Dennis who put it in left side of the goal.

Minnesota managed seven shots on goal compared to Michigan StateâÄôs six.

âÄúI take full responsibility for the loss today,âÄù Denney Wright said in a release Sunday. âÄúClearly, I wasnâÄôt a good enough coach for our team today. This performance is on me, and we will work to have a better performance next week.âÄù