Despite losing 3 of last 4, Gophers still in position to make NCAA tournament

Austin Cumblad

According to Minnesota womenâÄôs soccer head coach Mikki Denney Wright, making the NCAA tournament is simple. Not the actual winning part âÄî especially in the Big Ten, where parity reigns âÄî but the formula. It goes like this: play consistently, beat a ranked team or two, and donâÄôt suffer any bad losses. Right now, even after losing 2-1 last weekend to both Penn State and No. 17 Ohio State and slipping to 2-3-1 in the Big Ten, the No. 23 Gophers (10-4-2) are in good shape. âÄúWeâÄôre still in a good place to get into the tournament,âÄù Denney Wright said. âÄúWe still have a lot of good wins on our resume, and we certainly donâÄôt have any bad losses.âÄù They really donâÄôt. Minnesota has lost four one-goal games this season, to No. 4 Notre Dame in overtime and to the conferenceâÄôs top three teams âÄî the Buckeyes, Wisconsin and the Nittany Lions. But, the Gophers are seventh in the Big Ten, and if they keep losing and sliding down the standings, the NCAA selection committee may forget that theyâÄôve beat No. 13 Illinois, No. 18 South Carolina, and formerly ranked San Diego. âÄúA loss to any of the next four teams will certainly place us on the bubble,âÄù Denney Wright said. Conversely, âÄúa sweep of these four will put us in a very secure spot heading into NCAA tournament selection time.âÄù The Gophers host Michigan on Friday at 7 p.m. and Michigan State on Sunday at noon; it is the second-to-last weekend of the regular season. The team is fully aware of where it stands in the postseason picture, Denney Wright said. That is, in for now, but with little room for error.