Lack of offense gives soccer third loss in a row

by Jabari Ritchie

Heading into the final two games of its second-straight road trip, Minnesota’s soccer team was hoping to string together a pair of good performances before Friday’s home debut against Iowa State.

But after falling 2-0 to St. Mary’s on Monday afternoon – and being shut out by BYU two days earlier – the Gophers (1-3) are still looking to get on the right track.

“We have to bounce back,” coach Barbara Wickstrand said after the loss to the Gaels. “It’s too early in the season to say that it’s a wash. We have two home games (this week), and we have to regroup.”

Against St. Mary’s (4-0), Minnesota struggled to finish offensive chances. The Gophers failed to score on six shots, while the Gaels posted 19 shots and hit the post on three other occasions. Goals by St. Mary’s Sarah Takekawa and Jennifer Barbera gave Minnesota its third consecutive loss.

“We had some opportunities, but we just didn’t execute in the final third as well as we could,” Wickstrand said. “We’d win the ball and then give it away in the final third of the field.”

Like last season’s team, which endured the first losing record in the nine-year history of Minnesota soccer, the Gophers have had trouble finding the back of the net. Their only goal of the season came two weeks ago in a 1-0 season-opening win at Xavier. In 2000, a 8-10-1 Minnesota squad scored only 20 goals.

“We win the ball and sometimes we’re a little nervous with it and we make slight mistakes,” midfielder Meghan Jones said. “Once we start minimizing those, I think we’ll get a lot more opportunities.”

Wickstrand said the team must play more consistently this season. While the Gophers played relatively well against BYU and Xavier, Minnesota hasn’t strung together any back-to-back strong performances.

“We need some people to step it up consistently,” she said. “Today I don’t think anyone really played a good game.”


Jabari Ritchie covers soccer and welcomes comments at [email protected]