Season-ending win provides a degree of solace for soccer

Minnesota soccer coach Barbara Wickstrand made some lineup changes, and the season ended on a good note.

Adam Fink

The frustration had been building. A season of Big Ten aspirations came crumbling down weeks ago, and the taste of victory

eluded Minnesota’s soccer team for almost one month.

But for at least one afternoon, the Gophers wiped away their disappointment. In defeating Iowa State 2-1 on Sunday, the Gophers (6-10-2) ended their season on a positive note.

It didn’t appear Minnesota would have any positives after Friday’s 4-1 loss to Drake, in which mental mistakes, once again, cost the team.

After a lengthy team meeting Saturday night, the Gophers responded.

Haley Lentsch and senior Amanda McMahon scored Sunday for the Gophers.

In addition, coach Barbara Wickstrand made several adjustments to the lineup. The biggest was moving Allison Raino to defense.

“We wanted them to stay confident,” Wickstrand said. “The whole lineup took charge (Sunday). It’s a great way to finish.”

The defense, which Wickstrand said was shaky against Drake, was shored up with the addition of Raino.

Joining Raino at defense were Nicki Burnie and Jen Cressman.

“Burnie was set free,” Wickstrand said. “They did a phenomenal job. I wish I had thought of making the change sooner.”

Lentsch scored the game winner in the 81st minute. The win ends a 14-game stretch in which Minnesota was 0-13-1 when away from Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

The team’s turnaround came two days after the loss to Drake.

Despite out-shooting the Bulldogs 24-12, Minnesota lost 4-1.

Wickstrand said all four goals came after “major mental lapses.”

Goaltender Marni Prall made five saves in the contest, but the Gophers found themselves trailing 2-0 by halftime.

Minnesota out-shot the Missouri Valley Conference champion Bulldogs on goal 13-9.

Wickstrand said the Gophers will have a team meeting early this week to discuss the season.

In the meeting, Wickstrand said, she plans to talk about the team’s good start, the rocky Big Ten part of the season, in which they went 2-7-1, and use a strong end of the season as a catalyst for next year.

“It was frustrating because the team was so committed to improving,” Wickstrand said. “We played a great game against Iowa State. But there is always room for improvement.”