Gophers drop weekend games on the road

Sophomore Mara Dougherty made her first start in goal for Minnesota.

Minnesota midfielder Josee Stiever steals the ball from Louisiana State on Sept. 6, 2013  at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

Chelsea Gortmaker

Minnesota midfielder Josee Stiever steals the ball from Louisiana State on Sept. 6, 2013 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

by Ben Gotz

A trip down South did not prove fruitful for the Gophers, who lost two games against Ole Miss and Auburn to fall to 3-3 on the season and saw their starting goalkeeper miss a game.

Reigning Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year Tarah Hobbs missed a start against Auburn on Sunday after being shaken up on the final goal of the game in a 3-2 double-overtime loss to Ole Miss, so sophomore Mara Dougherty minded the net for the Gophers in their 3-1 loss to Auburn.

Head coach Stefanie Golan said in an audio statement that the team was optimistic Hobbs would be back in the net next weekend, but it was too early to tell after the game. If Dougherty does see more playing time, her coach seems to have faith that she can handle the pressure.

“Mara’s a very good keeper,” Golan said. “If Mara’s in goal for us, we’re confident.”

The Gophers looked like they had a victory at Ole Miss in hand, but they lost a 2-0 lead late in the second half and proceeded to lose the game. The two teams seemed to be in a stalemate throughout the first half, but Minnesota sophomores Josee Stiever and Simone Kolander broke the tie early in the second half to give the Gophers a 2-0 lead.

From there, Ole Miss junior Olivia Harrison took over the game to give her team the victory. She scored two goals, the last one coming in the 82nd minute, to tie the game. Then after 17 minutes of scoreless play in overtime, she added a third goal to end the game.

“They have a lot of athleticism in their attack,” Golan said of Ole Miss.

When the Gophers took the field again Sunday against Auburn, the Tigers tested Dougherty in goal early on. She gave up a goal nearly 18 minutes into the game, but freshman Rachel McCloskey answered back for the Gophers, and the two teams entered the locker room tied despite Auburn outshooting Minnesota 9-4.

Auburn kept up the offensive pressure in the second half and broke the tie near the 79th minute to take a 2-1 lead. The Tigers added one more goal to take a 3-1 lead.

Dougherty gave up three goals in her first start for the Gophers, but her head coach said the goals were not her fault.

Whether Hobbs or Dougherty steps into net next week for the Gophers, senior captain Katie Thyken said the keeper would be ready.

“Hobbs and Mara are both great keepers in different ways,” Thyken said. “They both read the game very well and have great skills. Hobbs can make some unbelievable saves, but Mara is so mentally tough that I trust them both behind me.”

Now, the team will have to regroup before starting Big Ten play next weekend.

“Tough weekend. You never want to lose two, especially on the road,” Thyken said, “but we just need to focus on what is ahead. We will take these two games and learn from them and grow as a team.”