Gophers can’t finish a weekend sweep; tie South Dakota State in home opener

The Gophers beat Northern Iowa 3-1 on Friday before tying South Dakota State.

Emily Wickstrom

After scoring six goals in three games, Minnesota’s soccer team appeared much improved and ready offensively for Big Ten play.

After Sunday’s game against South Dakota State, however, coach Mikki Denney Wright said her team still has some work to do at forward.

The Gophers (3-1-2) beat Northern Iowa 3-1 on Friday in Cedar Falls, Iowa, but tied the Jackrabbits 0-0 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

“That’s the frustrating thing about soccer,” Denney Wright said. “It can be 0-0 and you can dominate a game. I thought we created so many chances, but we just have to finish.”

Minnesota outshot South Dakota State 17-15, but controlled the pace and play of the game. The Gophers had 13 corner kicks to the Jackrabbits one.

“As a coach, I look at it in terms of are we playing well and are we attacking well,” Denney Wright said. “And we are.”

South Dakota State never really got past the Gophers’ defense, as all of the Jackrabbits shots were from outside the penalty area.

But one of those shots almost ended the game. With about three minutes left in the first sudden-death overtime, South Dakota State forward Heather Hill took a shot that hit the upper-right crossbar.

Minnesota forward Becky Dellaria countered minutes later with an outside shot of her own, but it sailed over the goal.

The Gophers’ best scoring chance came halfway through the second half. Kelsey Hood played a through ball to Jamie Cheever, who crossed it to the far side of the field to Lindsey Schwartz. Schwartz, who led Minnesota with six shots, was open in front of the goal, but her header went over the net.

“It was frustrating when we had 20 shots across the goal and couldn’t finish,” Hood said. “If we can’t finish, that’s going to be a problem, but I thought we dominated.”

Molly Schneider had one save in goal for her third shutout of the year.

Although Minnesota’s offense struggled to find the back of the net Sunday, that was not the case Friday against Northern Iowa.

The Gophers had one opportunity after another against the Panthers, for a total of 23 shots.

Schwartz scored her fourth goal of the season in the first half when she took a pass from Marti Klinsing on the left side of the box and curved a shot past Panthers keeper Jenn Davis.

Dellaria added a goal and an assist in the game to pick up her first scoring points of the season in Minnesota’s win.

“We could have played better, but we had a solid performance and it was pretty exciting how much offense we got,” Dellaria said of Friday’s game. “We haven’t pulled it together completely for a game yet.”

Seeler injured

Minnesota’s depth off the bench took a hit on Sunday when freshman Ashley Seeler sustained a high ankle sprain in the second half that puts her out indefinitely.