U soccer wins sixth straight, Big Tens up next

Jim Schortemeyer

It’s official: The Minnesota women’s soccer team is on a roll.
With wins over UNLV and New Mexico this weekend, the Gophers have won six straight games to finish off the regular season — and gain back some confidence in the process.
Granted, the talent this weekend wasn’t up to the Gophers’ standards. But the wins were exactly what Minnesota coach Sue Montagne expected.
“It’s the way it should be,” Montagne said.
The score of the Lobos game is deceptive. Minnesota (13-5 overall) led 2-0 until the 85th minute, when Jamie Dieringer scored the only New Mexico (4-14-2) goal.
The Gophers offense came from the usual suspects, sophomore Laurie Seidl and junior Nicole Lee. Seidl and Lee lead the team in goals (15) and points (36), respectively.
Seidl got the scoring started in the 26th minute off an assist from sophomore Erin Holland. Lee started the second half with a goal in the 49th minute, thanks to a pass from freshman Alison Rackley.
Due to position change, Rackley had been in a bit of a slump before the weekend’s games. Judging from this weekend’s results — a goal and two assists — she’s beginning to get her groove back.
“I feel more comfortable where I am now because I played there before college,” Rackley said.
Another Gopher getting used to a new role is senior Corinne Bolder. Although Bolder — now a starting forward — had plenty of assists since entering the lineup three weekends ago, she’d been skunked in the goal department prior to Friday’s game with the Rebels (8-10-1).
Bolder snapped that streak when she slid a pass from Rackley past UNLV goalkeeper Shannon Wilson in the 24th minute.
“Before it was really frustrating, because I wasn’t producing,” Bolder said. “I’m a little relieved that I finally scored.”
Rackley put the Gophers up 2-0 when she drilled the ball from outside the penalty box, sneaking it just inside the goalpost.
Freshman Juli Montgomery frosted the cake by knocking in a corner kick from Holland.
“We pretty much dominated and there wasn’t much to it,” Montagne said.
That domination was thanks in part to a stifling defense. Goalkeeper Dana Larson had to make just one save against the Rebels and three against the Lobos.
That’s in no small way due to the experience of the defense. Larson and defender Noelle Papenhausen are juniors, while Vanessa Touset and Jamie Wyffels are seniors.
“They’ve been extremely stable this year,” Montagne said, “probably more so than ever before.”
The Gophers leave Wednesday for the Big Ten tournament at Penn State and will open against Indiana Friday afternoon. Minnesota won the only meeting between the two this season and holds a 5-2-1 edge in the series history.
The players admitted before Sunday’s game that the tournament was already on their minds.
“We want to take it one game at a time, but everyone’s getting prepared,” Rackley said.
Bolder, her scoring prowess possibly rediscovered, agreed.
“It’s probably in the back of my mind,” Bolder said.