eekend split still positive for low-scoring soccer team

Monica Wright

After more than two weeks and 352 game minutes without a goal, the Minnesota soccer team finally ended their three game scoring slump this weekend with a 2-0 win over Ohio State.
Had the goal been five feet taller, it might have been 31-0.
While the Gophers averaged a shot every three minutes against the Buckeyes, nearly every one hit the crossbar or skimmed the top of the net.
When freshman Kecia Lee finally knocked in a ball — 71 minutes into the game — the Gopher bench was flooded with relief.
“It was exciting because I was waiting the whole game and all of our shots were so close,” goalie Julie Eibensteiner said. “We were hitting the crossbar and always getting closer, it was just a matter of when one was going to fall in.”
Three Gophers had celebrated birthdays since the last time a Minnesota shot found the twine at the back of an opposing goal.
Lee went on to insure her goal with a second twelve minutes later, giving Minnesota their first conference win since they trounced Iowa 5-1 on September 15.
With three previous losses and several nonconference losses taking a toll on the Gophers confidence, senior Laurie Seidl said the team had finally put the past behind them.
“In practice is the time you remember the losses, that’s when you think about it,” Seidl said. “But every game is a new game and you can’t dwell on the past.”
And despite a 2-0 loss to Penn State, the Gophers stayed competitive with the defending Big Ten champions on Friday.
“We missed an open goal against Penn State, but otherwise it was really a 50-50 match,” coach Barbara Wickstrand said. “That built our momentum and confidence and showed us that rank doesn’t matter.”
Wickstrand, who emphasized aggressiveness and going to the ball in practice after Minnesota’s losses against Northwestern and Michigan, said hard work was key.
And the three yellow cards the Gophers netted over the weekend reflected the more aggressive approach.
“In the past we weren’t stepping to the ball and that got us beat on counterattacks,” Wickstrand said. “But this weekend we were a lot more aggressive and beat them to the ball.”
With a long-overdue win finally achieved and only four conference games left, the Gophers are already looking ahead to the Big Ten tournament.
And after avenging three losses from last year — against Kentucky, Iowa State and Ohio — Eibensteiner said the team was at a turning point.
“This win was huge for us. The season was running down and the longer you wait the worse it gets which is why today was important,” Eibensteiner said.
“Now it’s about our place in the Big Ten tournament.”