Gophers shut out Boise State, lose to Montana in tournament out west

Bob Wothe

Minnesota’s soccer team started and ended the weekend strong – it was the middle portion that got the Gophers in trouble.

The Gophers shut out Boise State 3-0 Friday at the Soccer Etc. Nike Classic in Boise, Idaho. But they got off to an extended slow start against Montana on Saturday and never recovered, falling 2-1.

It was the first time since 1999 that the Gophers played on back-to-back days and the Gophers’ lack of depth might have factored into the loss.

“We simply got outplayed,” Gophers first-year head coach Mikki Denney Wright said.

“We finally decided to start playing our game down 2-0 with 20 minutes left. But it was just too late.”

The Grizzlies (3-1-1) scored both of their goals within a three-minute period on either side of the intermission, breaking a scoreless tie wide open.

The Gophers were unable to answer until the 78th minute, when Regina Moench took a pass from Becky Dellaria and headed it in. The Gophers would score no more, however.

“Montana is a very direct team with a very physical style of play,” Denney Wright said. “They bumped us out of our game because, frankly, we are not a mature team yet.”

Despite the disappointment Saturday, Denney Wright said she was pleased with Friday’s victory over Boise State.

“I was very impressed with the play of Molly (Schneider) and Kaitlin (Neary),” Denney Wright said. “Kaitlin’s play at midfield really was a big boost to us.”

Schneider extended her impressive start to the season with her third shutout – one more than the Gophers had all of last year. Neary, meanwhile, had two points against Boise State, including a goal in the 62nd minute.

The Gophers handed the Broncos their first home loss in six matches. Haley Lentsch, the Gophers’ leading scorer a year ago, scored her first goal of the season in the 46th minute, taking a solid pass in the box from Neary.

Neary’s goal was a high, arching shot over Boise State’s Kim Parker. It put the Gophers up 2-0. Freshman Amelia Kasten scored her first career goal on a free kick in the 88th minute to close out the game.

The Gophers head into conference play this week, opening up the Big Ten season against Indiana on Friday. Denney Wright said this weekend’s games have given her a better perspective on where the team is headed.

“I learned we really just need to get better at simple execution of soccer skills,” Denney Wright said. “We need to continue growing every week and getting better every day.”