Stainbrook, Wodnick lead Gophers to wins

Taylor Stainbrook and Taylor Wodnick each scored a game-winning goal.

Ben Gotz

Coming into last weekend, redshirt junior Taylor Stainbrook and senior Taylor Wodnick had just one goal between them. The pair had three over the weekend, leading the Gophers (8-6-1, 5-3-1 Big Ten) to victories over Nebraska and Illinois.

Stainbrook appeared relieved after scoring her first two goals of the season.

“I’ve been waiting for this,” she said after the 3-1 victory against Nebraska on Thursday. “My teammates have been feeding me the ball. I’m just glad I could finish one for them.”

The Gophers’ attack on Thursday night was one of the team’s best offensive performances of the season.

“I think we came in really motivated,” sophomore midfielder Josee Stiever said. “We all knew that this was a really big game for us.”

Nebraska actually got on the board first at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium with sophomore forward Jaycie Johnson firing a shot into the corner of the net. But minutes before the half, Stiever scored the equalizer after spinning in front of the goal and firing a strike.

“Going into halftime, it was a great settling moment for us, knowing we were still in the game,” Gophers assistant coach Deana Waintraub Stafford said of Stiever’s goal. “We weren’t going into the second half having to come from behind.”

The Gophers’ attack came out guns blazing in the second half, with Stainbrook scoring her first goal five minutes into the half off a cross from sophomore forward Simone Kolander. Stainbrook then added her second goal later in the second half with an assist from sophomore defender Rashida Beal.

“We were so excited [for Taylor],” Stiever said. “This was a really huge game for her. She really stepped it up and led our team tonight.”

Stiever stepped it up herself at Illinois on Sunday, scoring the first goal of the game to put her team up 1-0 early in the second half.

Fellow midfielder Katie Thyken assisted Stiever’s goal, her first point of the season after leading the team in goals last year. Thyken fired a cross from the corner that Stiever shot into the upper corner.

“This whole year we’ve been a crossing and finishing team, and it was no different today,” Stiever said.

The Gophers still had the lead in the closing minutes of regulation, until referees called junior Haley Helverson for a hand ball in the box with about three minutes remaining. The Illini were awarded a penalty kick, and redshirt senior forward Jannelle Flaws tied the game at 1-1.

“A big theme for us this year has been bouncing back after adversity,” Stiever said. “Something didn’t go our way at the end of the game, but we focused on, ‘We’re going to bounce back, we’re going to win the game. We’re not going to let it affect us.’”

The Gophers stayed resilient, and after a scoreless first overtime period, Wodnick hit the winning goal just seconds into the second overtime.

“We’re all extremely stoked,” Wodnick said. “Both games were a huge team effort, and we were just able to put it all together and grit it out.”