Soccer rebounds on road

Jim Schortemeyer
The Minnesota women’s soccer team kept its hopes for a repeat Big Ten Championship alive by pulling out two wins in the state of Michigan this weekend.
The Gophers (7-3 overall, 3-2 in the Big Ten) defeated Michigan State 4-1 Friday, and squeaked past Michigan on Sunday, 1-0.
The game with the Wolverines (7-2-1, 2-2-1) figured to be a battle before the season began. Michigan has never defeated Minnesota, and early on it looked as though the Big Ten might come down to this game.
Michigan came out fighting. Minnesota was outshot 16-9 by the Wolverines, but was helped by the play of goalkeeper Dana Larson, who had 10 saves.
The uneven shot totals might have been due to a missing defender from Minnesota. Senior captain Vanessa Touset was ineligible for the game after getting a red card Friday against the Spartans.
Minnesota coach Sue Montagne was concerned about losing Touset, who was a first team All-Big Ten member last season.
“She’s one of our best players, and it put us in a tough position,” Montagne said.
But the understaffed defense played well enough to hold onto their 1-0 lead. The lone goal of the contest came at the 27-minute mark of the first half, when sophomore Laurie Seidl knocked in a rebound past diving Wolverines goalie Carissa Stewart. It was Seidl’s third goal on the weekend, upping her season total to a Big Ten-leading 12.
Minnesota had many concerns before heading to Michigan, namely last weekend’s two home losses against Northwestern and Wisconsin.
“I think our team kind of mentally lost some ground last weekend,” leading Gopher point-scorer Nicole Lee said. “But we sat and talked about it and got everybody going in the right direction.”
The direction looked good Friday, when Minnesota started its excellent Michigan adventure with an easy 4-1 win over Michigan State (2-8-1, 0-6) on Friday.
The Nicole Lee and Laurie Seidl show was on again in East Lansing, as the pair scored two goals apiece in the Gopher win.
Minnesota jumped to a 1-0 lead when Seidl scored in the fourth minute, with a shot from the left side of the Spartans goal.
Junior forward Lee wasn’t far behind Seidl. She stole the ball from a Spartans defender and scored from the top of the penalty box to put the Gophers up 2-0.
With no answer from Michigan State, the only competition was between Lee and Seidl, who are among the Big Ten leaders in points and goals scored. Seidl scored the last Minnesota goal of the first half, again from the left side.
But Lee answered her teammate’s goal in the 10th minute of the second half for Minnesota’s fourth and final goal.
Montagne was pleased with the way her team broke its two-game losing streak.
“The big thing is, we played 90-minutes of soccer,” Montagne said.
The big thing could have been Touset’s red card, however. Along with the Spartans’ Melissa Janetta, Touset was disqualified in the 64th minute. Montagne wouldn’t elaborate on the nature of the infraction, but seemed less than pleased with the referee’s decision.
“It was not good judgement,” Montagne said. “That’s all I’m going to say until I talk to the (University) administration to see how they want to handle it.”
A total of 34 fouls — 17 on each team — were called during the Spartans game, and three yellow cards were issued. Contrast that to the Michigan game, which had a total of 20 fouls.
“It was a real physical game, but every game in the Big Ten is physical,” Seidl said.
The Gophers will need some breaks if they are to fulfill their aspirations for another Big Ten title. They got one Friday, when Wisconsin was blown out by Indiana, 4-0. Wisconsin’s record stands at 4-1, and the Badgers still have to face undefeated and 7th-ranked Penn State.