Michigan, Michigan State get the better of Gophers

Minnesota’s soccer team lost 1-0 to Michigan after winning 4-0 last year.

Adam Fink

Michigan soccer coach Debbie Rademacher said the Wolverines remember last season’s loss to Minnesota.

Apparently, the Wolverines also believe in payback.

Michigan came out with a sense of urgency and won a 1-0 defensive game Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Last season, the Gophers beat nationally ranked Michigan 4-0 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in the Gophers’ only Big Ten victory of the season.

While coach Barbara Wickstrand was pleased at the overall effort the Gophers displayed, Minnesota failed to get a win over the weekend after losing 4-2 to Michigan State on Friday afternoon.

“If we continue to play like we did (Sunday), we are going to get some wins,” Wickstrand said. “We have dug ourselves a little bit of a hole (in the standings), but we are still in the hunt.”

Minnesota (4-4-1, 1-3-0 Big Ten) fell into the bottom half of the conference with the losses. Next weekend’s home games against Northwestern and Illinois now loom large.

On Sunday, Michigan’s Kate Morgan scored in the 29th minute for the game’s only goal. The

bigger question, however, was Minnesota’s silent offense.

The Gophers failed to get a shot on goal the entire game against Michigan goaltender Suzie Grech.

In switching to a four-forwards, four-midfielders and two-defenders system this season, the Gophers had hoped to generate more offensive chances.

While the new system has received rave reviews from many players, the Gophers have only scored four goals in four Big Ten games.

And following Sunday’s loss, Wickstrand said she is re-evaluating the lineup and the Gophers’ offensive strategies.

“We are having a hard time getting offense,” Wickstrand said.

A bright spot was goaltender Karli Kopietz. The sophomore made 10 saves against the Wolverines.

“We played with a lot of intensity out there,” Kopietz said. “We just have to keep playing the way we are and we will be fine.”

The level Kopietz and the rest of the Gophers expect wasn’t evident in East Lansing, Mich.

On Friday, Minnesota drew criticism from Wickstrand for playing inconsistently in a 4-2 loss to Michigan State.

Wickstrand used every healthy player in the game in an attempt to ignite the team. However, the fourth-year coach said, in her mind, the only players to really compete for the full 90 minutes were co-captain Amanda McMahon and defender Amanda Edwards.

“It’s a matter of focus,” Wickstrand said. “We were not mentally prepared. We left people unmarked.”

In the second half – when the Gophers scored their two goals – Wickstrand felt more of the team was consistent. By that point, however, Minnesota trailed by four goals.

The Spartans’ Tiffany Laskowski scored the first of her two goals only two minutes into the contest, and Minnesota never recovered.

The Gophers trailed 2-0 at halftime after Laskowski’s second goal of the game, which came in the 28th minute.

Michigan State added two more goals in the first 20 minutes of the second stanza to pad the lead.

The Gophers mounted a comeback, closing to 4-2 on goals by Annie Carr and Andrea Neuman.

But Minnesota wouldn’t get any closer.

“Losing two games is tough,” co-captain Jen Cressman said.

“We really need two wins (this) weekend.”