Two injuries mar Big Ten home opener for soccer

Anthony Maggio

In two crucial games over the weekend, Minnesota’s soccer team went 1-3, taking into account two crucial injuries.

The lone victory was the Gophers’ biggest of the season emotionally and numerically, as they ousted 14th-ranked Michigan 4-0 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

Junior Rachael Roth led the way against the Wolverines (7-2, 3-1 Big Ten) with her first career hat trick, scoring three goals in the second half for her sixth, seventh, and eighth tallies of the season.

“It’s amazing,” Roth said. “I was just like, ‘Did this happen?’ It’s weird, it hasn’t hit me yet I guess.”

The win was also Minnesota’s first of the Big Ten season, and was over the second-highest-ranked team in program history. The Gophers beat the 11th-ranked Wolverines 4-3 in overtime in 1997.

“We smoked them,” midfielder Keely Dinse said. “It finally came together. The last three games we’ve lost but we’ve played well and, finally, we deserved this win and we worked really hard for it.”

The first Minnesota loss came in the first half of its match with Michigan State (7-2, 3-1) on Friday.

Junior Amanda McMahon was racing toward the Gophers goal next to a Spartan player. Goalkeeper Karli Kopeitz came out of the net to make a play on the ball, but when she slid, hit McMahon in the leg.

McMahon suffered a broken right tibia, and is out for the year.

McMahon is second on the team in goals (3), assists (2), points (8), shots (26) and shots on goal (10). Minnesota couldn’t recover from the loss, and dropped its third straight contest by a 1-0 score.

The Gophers (6-4, 1-3), finally ended their scoring drought in the 43rd minute of Sunday’s game as Dinse chipped in a shot over Michigan goalkeeper Suzie Grech for her first goal of the season.

“It feels so good, I forgot how much of a rush it is to score,” Dinse said. “It has been two or three years since I’ve had a goal. Everyone fed off of it.”

Especially Roth

the junior forward scored her first goal in the 60th minute off an assist from Tierney Palmer-Klein.

Before Roth could score again, the Gophers suffered their third loss of the weekend. Kopeitz, trying to make a save in a crowd, fell awkwardly on her right knee, and was carted off the field. Sophomore Marni Prall finished the game in goal for Minnesota.

“Hopefully it’s just a sprain,” Kopeitz said. She will be evaluated on Monday.

Roth’s second goal came three minutes later when she blocked Grech’s attempt to clear the ball. She completed her hat trick in the 90th minute when she knocked in a rebound off a shot by Amanda Edwards.

Minnesota coach Barbara Wickstrand was pleased with the character her team showed after being shut out three straight games.

“We had to create our own luck by working hard,” she said. “If you can beat the number 14 team in the country by four goals, then you can play with anyone. They just need to keep that attitude.”