Soccer sweeps pair of road matches

by Monica Wright

A turnaround, even late in the season, is always welcome. And for the Gophers soccer team, with just four regular season games left on its schedule, it’s been long overdue.
Last weekend, coach Barbara Wickstrand predicted that her team’s 2-0 win over Ohio State, which ended a three-game losing streak, was going to be the dawning of a fresh start for the Gophers.
Wickstrand’s prediction became reality this weekend as Minnesota (6-6, 4-3 Big Ten) swept Purdue and Indiana — the first back-to-back wins for the Gophers this season.
Adding to the win is the fact that both games were won on the road, another triumph which has eluded the team this season to the point of becoming a road trip curse.
But even with the numerous positives about the weekend wins, Wickstrand said the team did not play up to its potential in the 1-0 win over the Hoosiers (7-5-1, 1-5-1) on Sunday.
“Indiana was an ugly game, we didn’t play well and we weren’t composed, we just blasted the ball forward,” Wickstrand said. “They are a physical team and like to tackle from behind so we were just trying to get rid of the ball.”
Even without composed passing the Gophers managed to set senior Laurie Seidl up for a header into the net, giving the team the lone goal needed to win the match.
Friday’s game against Purdue (9-4, 4-3 Big Ten) saw a more consistent team, with junior Samantha Meyers booting in a goal in just five minutes into the second half.
Sophomore Keely Dinse scored an insurance goal for the Gophers nine minutes later, bringing the final score to 2-0.
Meyers, who replaced injured defender and all-Big Ten teammate Juli Montgomery, and junior Alison Rackley held the Boilermakers offense to only 12 shots on goal compared to Minnesota’s 23.
This left goalies Julie Eibensteiner and Nicole Chimko to share the duty of stopping just three balls for the shutout victory.
Wickstrand, who has been emphasizing a more offensive approach for the usually defensive-minded team, said she was happy with how the team played up front.
“Keely Dinse played great at forward, she created some opportunities and put pressure on their defense,” Wickstrand said. “Rackley also played well on defense and kept them away from our goal.”
With only two conference matches left before the Big Ten tournament, Wickstrand said she believes the upswing will continue through the rest of the season.
“I think this is part of our turnaround,” Wickstrand said. “We beat two teams when we were not at our best and I think that’s a positive sign; I hope we can continue to win.”
Monica Wright covers soccer and welcomes comments at [email protected].