Gophers fall from undefeated ranks in Big Ten opener

This past weekendâÄôs conference opener proved to be a test of the womenâÄôs soccer teamâÄôs early-season success, and it passed âÄî barely. The Gophers (11-1-0, 1-1-0 Big Ten) suffered a 2-0 loss to Michigan State on Friday, but rebounded Sunday against Michigan, shutting out the Wolverines with a score of 1-0. Frustrated Friday by Michigan State goalkeeper Lindsey Wrege , all four of the GophersâÄô shots on goal were unable to find the back of the net. The Spartans (10-1-0, 2-0-0) were led by forwards Lauren Hill and Laura Heyboer. Hill and Heyboer, who sit near the top of the NCAA in goals scored per game , each tallied a goal in FridayâÄôs victory. Although the Gophers played relatively well Friday, senior midfielder Kaitlin Wagner said, the team didnâÄôt respond well to the SpartansâÄô first goal. âÄúWe kind of put our heads down a little bit,âÄù she said. Senior midfielder Kelsey Hood echoed that sentiment. âÄúI donâÄôt think we came out on fire,âÄù she said. Though the Gophers were unable to rebound, the loss forced them to relook at their early season success. Head coach Mikki Denney Wright challenged the team to pick up its game heading into Sunday, Wagner and Hood said, emphasizing the need to stay on top of the Big Ten. âÄúWe donâÄôt want to feel like that again,âÄù Hood said. âÄúItâÄôs now or never.âÄù The whole team showed up to play Sunday, Wagner said. Wagner tallied the GophersâÄô lone goal Sunday against Michigan. The goal was her third of the year, but it didnâÄôt satisfy her, she said. âÄúOne goal isnâÄôt good enough to win a Big Ten game,âÄù she said. One goal proved to be enough Sunday, however. The Wolverines (3-5-3, 0-1-1) were dominated by a strong Gophers defense. Forward Clare Stachel had MichiganâÄôs only shot on goal in the Gophers ninth shutout of the season. Sophomore defender Kylie Kallman was pleased with the performance of the defense in SundayâÄôs game, but said the shutout failed to come as a shock. âÄúThatâÄôs what we expect,âÄù she said. She said the teamâÄôs goal is to keep opponents out of the game quickly by tallying early and keeping them off the scoreboard. Gophers look ahead to Indiana The Gophers will play Indiana in a noon game next Sunday at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. The game will be the first home conference game of the season. The Gophers will have a little extra time to practice this week before SundayâÄôs game. Denney Wright said she plans to emphasize forward-midfield combinations in practice this week, with the hope that this will help her team with advancing the ball up the field. The Hoosiers (5-6-0, 0-2-0) dropped 1-0 decisions to Penn State on Friday and Ohio State on Sunday .