For Gophers soccer: ‘win and you’re in’

The Gophers will face Nebraska in the regular season finale.

Drew Claussen

Going into the final regular season game, the Gophers soccer team needs a win or some help to get into the Big Ten Tournament.

The top eight teams make it, but the middle of the standings are bunched up right now.

The simplest way for Minnesota (7-9-2, 4-4-2 Big Ten) to get into the tournament is to defeat Nebraska on Friday night. That would give it 17 points and the fifth seed in the tournament.

Head coach Mikki Denney Wright does not want her team over-thinking Nebraska or all of the scenarios that could come from the game.

âÄúWe just focus on performing well,âÄù Denney Wright said. âÄúIâÄôm just trying to get them to focus on doing the things well that we can do well âÄî so just the details of team defending, team possession and team execution.âÄù

If the Gophers donâÄôt win, things get more complicated

If Minnesota loses to Nebraska, it would need three of the following four things to happen to get in: a Michigan draw or loss to Illinois, an Iowa loss to Wisconsin, a Purdue loss to Penn State or an Ohio State loss to Indiana.

Confused? ThereâÄôs more.

If the Gophers draw with Nebraska, they would finish the season with 15 points and need two of these four things to happen: a Michigan draw or loss to Illinois, an Iowa draw or loss to Wisconsin, a Purdue draw or loss to Wisconsin or an Ohio State draw or loss to Indiana.

The key to getting into the tournament and winning in the tournament is consistency, according to Denney Wright,

âÄúAt this point IâÄôm just trying to get them to be consistent,âÄù Denney Wright said. âÄúWeâÄôre such an inconsistent team, but weâÄôve been good on Friday nights and it is going to be a great battle âÄî I can tell you that.âÄù

Denney Wright said motivating the team for Friday night has not been an issue.

âÄúTheyâÄôre excited,âÄù she said. âÄúI think this groupâÄôs felt pressure all year so I donâÄôt think itâÄôs anything different.âÄù

Junior defender Marissa Price echoed Denney WrightâÄôs excitement.

âÄúWeâÄôre pumped up and ready to play,âÄù Price said. âÄúWe have one game to focus on, one game to put all of our energy into. EveryoneâÄôs super excited.âÄù

Playing meaningful games this late into the season could help the Gophers in the tournament, according to Price.

âÄúWe play great under pressure,âÄù Price said. âÄúIt fits our style of play.âÄù

Nebraska currently has 12 points, two behind Minnesota. Like the Gophers, the Cornhuskers can land anywhere from the fifth to the seventh seed in the tournament or miss it completely.

Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue and Nebraska are all vying for the tournamentâÄôs three remaining seeds.

Penn State has locked up the No. 1 seed, Illinois the No. 2. Wisconsin and Michigan will be the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds; this weekendâÄôs games will determine which school gets which seed. Host school Northwestern is guaranteed the eighth seed.