Touset still seething

by Jim Schortemeyer

Minnesota women’s soccer coach Sue Montagne wasn’t talking about senior captain Vanessa Touset’s red card in Friday’s game with Michigan State, but she and Touset had plenty to say Monday.
The incident, they said went like this: Touset was on the far side of Minnesota’s half of the field. On the near side, and just over the midfield line, Nicole Lee got entangled with a Michigan State player. The two started sharing words — and eventually fists.
As players started to converge, Touset ran across the field to help break up the two combatants.
“I, being one of the captains, went over to try and separate things,” Touset said. “I was like the last one there.”
“I was sitting on the sidelines screaming, `Get away, get away, back off,'” Montagne said. “Not much was being done to control it.”
Once in the middle of the group, Touset tried to make it clear she wasn’t throwing punches.
“I had my hands up in the air, completely straight up in the air, so everyone and their mom could see I wasn’t involved,” Touset said.
Well, almost everyone could see. When the dust settled, the referee made an interesting decision. Lee and the Michigan State player didn’t even get a yellow card, which amounts to a slap on the wrist. But Touset wasn’t so lucky; she got the red card, which meant she was out of the game with the Spartans, and not eligible for the game with Michigan Sunday.
What was Touset’s reaction to her ejection?
“A human reaction: pissed off,” Touset said. “Anyone who’s accused of something they didn’t do will react that way. Someone who doesn’t react that way — more power to them.”
Minnesota was fortunate enough to win both games, even without the help of its All-Big Ten defender.
The Gophers’ chances of repeating as Big Ten Champions improved slightly over the weekend, thanks to a pair of upsets.
Former division leaders Northwestern and Wisconsin both lost this weekend to Indiana. Penn State is in first with its 4-0-1 record in the Big Ten. The Badgers and Wildcats are tied for second at 5-1, and both have to play the Lions before the end of the season.
Indiana’s two wins put it in fourth (3-1), while Minnesota now stands in fifth (3-2).
“Things are pretty interesting right now with the way this last weekend shook out,” Montagne said. “There’s still some really important games left to be played. “This last stretch of games is going to be extremely important for everyone. It could come out as a tie, with a lot of teams.”
The Gophers will face 7th-ranked Penn State Friday. That game will probably be Minnesota’s last against a ranked opponent in its remaining four Big Ten contests.