Soccer can’t meet preseason goal

by Jim Schortemeyer

Minnesota women’s soccer coach Sue Montagne was almost at a loss for words. She had just watched her team lose its second game of the weekend, and the realization that the Gophers had failed to live up to preseason expectations was beginning to sink in.
A pair of one-goal losses — 3-2 at Penn State on Friday and 1-0 at home against Ohio State on Sunday — mathematically eliminated the Gophers (7-5 overall, 3-4 in the Big Ten) from the Big Ten Championship race.
“I think overall, the team played really well Friday night,” Montagne said. “It’s kind of sad, because today you wouldn’t know it. It’s hard to say we played a great game against Penn State because we just lost to Ohio State. That’s really frustrating.”
One of the reasons for frustration on Sunday was that Minnesota had 21 shots on the Buckeyes goal, but only a handful had any chance of going in.
Both teams traded bursts of offensive energy in a first half full of momentum changes. Ohio State managed to equal nearly every Minnesota run and kept the ball in the Gophers’ side of the field for most of the first-half.
“It seemed like that was the only side the ball wanted to be on,” Ohio State coach Lori Walker said.
The early part of the second half belonged to Minnesota, however, in terms of time spent attacking the Ohio State goal. But a crucial collision five minutes into the half might have contributed to the lone goal of the game.
Senior captain Vanessa Touset was accidentally drilled by junior goalkeeper Dana Larson when Larson charged after an Ohio State shot.
The blow sent Touset to the ground, temporarily dazing her. The Gophers’ best defender hobbled off the field — stopping first to give Larson a no-hard-feelings pat on the back — and waited for her head to clear.
Three minutes later, with Touset still on the bench, Ohio State’s Katie Traeger picked up a rebound 10 yards in front of the Minnesota net and chipped a shot just over Larson’s outstretched hands.
The Gophers offense spent most of the final 30 minutes on the Buckeyes’ end, but couldn’t force a game-tying goal. Three corner-kicks in a five-minute span were stymied by Ohio State, and a nifty drive from freshman Juli Montgomery was tipped away by Buckeyes goaltender Amber Barnes.
“I think we’re fortunate to come out of this one with a win,” Walker said.

Penn State slips by
The Lions managed to shut down the Gophers’ high-powered front line of Nicole Lee and Laurie Seidl, who led the Big Ten in scoring coming into the weekend, en route to a 3-2 win. No. 6 Penn State improved to 12-0-1 overall, 6-0-1 in the Big Ten.
But other players were there to pick up the slack for Minnesota, who reacted to Penn State’s offense all night. After falling behind 1-0 on a penalty kick in the 13th minute, junior midfielder Megan Johnson tied the game off a crossing pass just a minute later.
The Lions came back in the 24th minute, this time on a free-kick goal from Bonnie Young. The 2-1 lead lasted until the 61st minute, when Montgomery scored on a rebound for her first career goal.
The score remained knotted until the 10th minute of overtime, when the Lions’ Kelly Convey nodded a header into the net for Penn State’s 11th consecutive win.
Despite being outshot 23-12, the Gophers were pleased with their play against the Lions. Montagne was still disappointed by the outcome after Sunday’s game.
“There’s no question we’re tired and no question we’re beat up,” Montagne said. “But you have to play two games in the weekend. We played a great game against Penn State but that doesn’t mean anything right now.”