Minnesota drops first two Big Ten games

by Paul Cordes

The Minnesota soccer team dropped its first two Big Ten games this weekend after its best start since 1995.

The Gophers lost both games 1-0, the first to Indiana on Friday and then again to No. 25 Purdue on Sunday in overtime.

Friday’s action started off not with a soccer game, but with severe weather in Indiana. The weather caused a two-hour delay to Minnesota’s Big Ten opener against the Hoosiers (5-2-3 overall, 2-0-0 Big Ten).

After the rain passed, there wasn’t much good news for the Gophers (6-3-1, 0-2-0). The game was scoreless through the first half of play with neither team having much going in the way of an attack.

Junior defender Hailey McCarthy said Minnesota wasn’t focused enough.

“I just didn’t feel like we were really mentally prepared to play on Friday,” she said.

The Gophers were unable to put together much in the second half. And in the 59th minute, the lone goal of the game came when Indiana’s senior defender Lauren Lamping scored from 30 yards out after a Hoosier free kick.

“We were not satisfied at all with our performance on Friday,” coach Mikki Denney Wright said. “We didn’t attack as well as we should have and we didn’t hold possession like we needed to do.”

Redshirt sophomore Lindsey Dare got the start in goal and made 10 saves on the night, making it the third time this year she has made double-digit saves in a match.

The Gophers then were forced to turn their sights to 25th-ranked Purdue (9-1-2, 2-0-0), which was picked to finish third in the Big Ten preseason polls.

Minnesota got only six shots off through the entire game, two of which were on goal.

But Denney Wright said the stats didn’t tell the story of how well her team played.

“Purdue is the best attacking team in the Big Ten,” she said. “And I think that we turned it around from Friday and played outstanding against a really tough and dangerous team.”

Purdue rattled off 22 shots against the Gophers and freshman goalkeeper Chelsey Turner had five saves. The one goal scored by Purdue came in the first minute of overtime.

Junior midfielder Parrissa Eyorokon got the ball inside of the 6-yard box. Her first shot was deflected but on the ensuing rebound she was able to put it past Turner for the game-winning overtime goal.

“Even though we lost, I really feel like we came out and redeemed ourselves on Sunday,” McCarthy said. “Holding a team like Purdue scoreless until overtime is something that we aren’t ashamed of.”

Junior midfielder Renee de St. Aubin, a transfer from Iowa State, said she also thought Minnesota played well on Sunday.

“We played a really good team on Sunday,” she said. “I think that we outplayed them and it’s good to know that we can play up to that caliber.”

The Gophers will need to play at least up to that caliber in coming weeks. With a lot of tough teams still left on the schedule, including Wisconsin and Northwestern at home next weekend, Minnesota will need to stay focused going into the rest of their Big Ten games.

“We really need to work on being consistently dangerous,” Denney Wright said, “And I’m taking a positive outlook into our upcoming games. I think being at home this weekend is going to help us a lot.”

De St. Aubin said she still is optimistic about the remainder of the season, but knows there is work to be done.

“We’re going to keep working hard to improve,” she said. “We just need to stay focused keep taking games one and at time.”