Gophers defeat SDSU

Minnesota won its first match of the NCAA tourney at home Friday night.

Gophers midfielder Josee Stiever kicks the ball downfield at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium where Minnesota hosted the first round of the NCAA tournament against South Dakota State on Friday night.

Joe Sulik

Gophers midfielder Josee Stiever kicks the ball downfield at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium where Minnesota hosted the first round of the NCAA tournament against South Dakota State on Friday night.

Kaitlin Merkel

The Gophers soccer team beat South Dakota State University 5-0 on Friday night at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
 
Minnesota (12-6-3)  will play Loyola Marymount in the second round.
 
The Gophers struck first Friday in the 19th minute when redshirt senior forward Taylor Stainbrook  scored from just inside the box.
 
Stainbrook said going into halftime up 1-0 took the pressure off of the team, especially after a five-game slide to end the season in which the Gophers went 0-1-4.
 
“Obviously, our momentum in the last couple of games just wasn’t as ‘up and at them’ as it was in the beginning of the season. … That first goal and being up, it really pushed us in the right direction,” Stainbrook said. “We were exploiting the areas that we did in the beginning of the season, and that’s where we found our strengths.”
 
The Jackrabbits extended the Gophers’ lead in the 50th minute when a shot by Minnesota junior midfielder Josee Stiever bounced off of a defender’s head into the net for an own goal.
 
Stiever scored her fourth goal of the season soon after in the 54th minute on an assist from Stainbrook to put the Gophers ahead 3-0.
 
Stainbrook scored her second goal of the night and fourth of the season with an assist from junior forward Simone Kolander in the 60th minute.
 
Stainbrook said her two-goal performance made her last home game special.
 
“It was awesome, a very emotional day for me,” Stainbrook said. “It all comes from different parts of the field, and it was a team win, but obviously for the seniors it’s a huge
deal, and it feels really good.”
 
The final goal of the game came in the 86th minute by sophomore forward and defender Julianna Gernes, when she found the net after receiving a pass up the line from senior forward and midfielder Allie Reinke.
 
The Gophers outshot the Jackrabbits 23-6 overall in the game, a significant improvement from their prior four games, in which they were outshot 59-29 by opponents.
 
“We’ve talked about taking risks in our last few practices, and I think we really did that tonight. Just any time you have an opportunity or have a chance — just take it,” Stiever said.
 
Minnesota’s defense also recorded its seventh shutout victory of the season and its first since Oct. 11.
 
Gophers head coach Stefanie Golan said the defense was able to play forward for a majority of the game to keep the ball on the Jackrabbit’s side of the pitch.
 
“We’re definitely more athletic than they are, which helped us,” Golan said. “We talked at halftime a lot about, ‘Hey, as we’re getting numbers forward and into the attack and as we’re working to create and taking risks in the final third, when the ball turns over, we need to immediately transition and get pressure on the ball.’”
 
The Gophers’ five goals are the second most they’ve scored in a game this season. The team scored just three goals in its past five games.
 
Golan said a lot of the goals Friday came directly off of plays the team worked on in training the past week.
 
“We worked on creating numbers up in the attack and finishing in the final third,” Golan said. “Our team worked really, really hard and made some really good decisions about the timing of their runs, where they were playing the balls and executed really well on the finishing end of it.”