eeling soccer team looks to get on the ball

by Monica Wright

Things don’t always go the way one plans. Just ask coach Glen Mason and the Minnesota football team.
But the Minnesota gridders were not the only Gophers team left shaking their heads following an unexpected loss last weekend.
After a surprising weekend resulted in two loses, a new starting lineup and a rare red card, the Gopher soccer team is attempting to quickly regroup before their Big Ten opener against Iowa Friday.
What most perceived as an easy non-conference road trip to take on Montana and Detroit-Mercy last weekend ended in all-around disappointment.
First, Minnesota lost their top scorer and a 3-1 decision against Montana. Then, with frustrations growing, the Gophers started an all-new lineup and still ost, 3-1 against Detroit-Mercy.
“It was supposed to be one of our easier weekends, a weekend with two wins and we all knew that, but we didn’t pull it off,” Wickstrand said.
“I think they were disappointed in themselves as was the staff in their play; these were easier games on our schedule and we played flat,” she said.
The downfall began Friday as Montana used strong counterattacks to take the lead from the Gophers.
Then, after senior Laurie Seidl sent a ball into the net for what would have been a game-tying goal, the referee disallowed the goal, taking a much-needed point away from a struggling Minnesota squad.
Seidl disagreed with the call, vehemently enough to earn a red card for inappropriate language.
The dreaded red card earned the Gopher’s leading scorer an immediate ejection from the game and a disqualification for the Sunday match against Detroit-Mercy.
Without the three-time all Big Ten forward, Wickstrand emptied her bench for Sunday’s match, granting three Gophers their first collegiate starts.
Sophomore midfielder Jordan Bieler, sophomore forward Keely Dinse and redshirt, first-year defender Katherine Arndt all saw their first action in a Minnesota uniform in the loss at Detroit-Mercy.
Track and field All-American Nicole Chimko also played her first game at goalkeeper, playing the second half of the Detroit-Mercy game. Chimko gave up pair of goals and was charged with a loss in her collegiate debut. Julie Eibensteiner made six saves but picked up the loss against Montana.
With a 24-7 shot advantage over the Titans, it was clear to the Gophers where the flaws lay in their game.
“I think we’re aware of what we need to do this weekend to redeem ourselves, so we are getting prepared for a hard weekend,” senior Erin Holland said.
“We’ve had the opportunities and now we need to execute them to win,” Holland said.
And now, the 2-3-0 Gophers are in danger of tying their longest losing streak ever, and they must take on Iowa, who boasts a 5-1-0 record, and Illinois, who has outscored their opponents by a 17-5 margin in their first five matches.
Adding to the difficulties are the injuries of sophomore Kyndra Hesse, who suffered a forehead laceration last weekend — necessitating stitches and a week off — and Holland, who is troubled by a groin pull.
Despite the obvious negatives, Wickstrand prefers to highlight the strong play and the likelihood of improvement for her team.
“Arndt did a really good job defensively last weekend, and Alison Rackley played well, too,” Wickstrand said.
The team is als still struggling with the new, offensive-minded philosophy Wickstrand installed at the beginning of the 2000 season, her first as the Minnesota head coach.
“We’re not consistent right now and we’ve been beaten in counter attacks, balance and defense. But these things can be fixed and we have a lot of games left.”
Seidl, who has moved into fourth place on Minnesota’s all-time scoring list and is responsible for four of the Gopher’s five goals this season, will return to action after missing her fisr collegiate game last weekend.
With the most accurate foot on the team, Seidl feels decisive kicks are the only way to get the team on top of their game.
“We have had plenty of great opportunities,” Seidl said. “It’s just a matter of getting them into the goal.”
Minnesota opens the Big Ten season Friday at 7 p.m. against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Gophers then host Illinos at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Both games are at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

Monica Wright covers women’s soccer and welcomes comments at [email protected]