“Flustered” Gophers lose at home to Michigan

Minnesota has lost its first two conference games.

Betsy Helfand

The Gophers soccer team was visibly downtrodden after its 1-0 home loss to Michigan on Friday night.

Defender Marissa Price and forward Allie Phillips both expressed desire to quickly move on and forget about the loss, which dropped Minnesota to 0-2-0 in conference play.

“That was probably our weakest performance as a whole on the year in terms of our possession and everything else,” head coach Stefanie Golan said. “We didn’t settle in and play the brand of soccer that we’ve been playing all year.”

It was a game that featured a 15-minute light outage at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium and a Minnesota offense that needed a spark.

“We just weren’t connecting as well as we have been in the past and as well as we can,” Phillips said.

Price called it an off night in multiple areas and said that everything needs to be better, including one-on-ones and offensive possessions.

With the loss, the Gophers dropped to 5-5-0 overall. Price said the team is “absolutely” better than its record.

The only goal in the game came at the 31:41 mark when Michigan’s forward Nkem Ezurike cut off a pass intended for Gophers goalie Cat Parkhill.

Parkhill slid to thwart the attack, but the ball instead trickled towards the Gophers’ goal. Defender MacKenzie Misel got tripped up as she tried to strip the ball from Ezurike. With the net empty, Ezurike attempted a header, which hit the post. She then kicked in her own rebound.

“Credit to [Michigan] — they worked really hard to close that and to finish out the play and they made something out of nothing,” Golan said. “In this game, sometimes that’s what it takes.”

Golan said that the team played hard but didn’t have a sense of urgency for most of the game.

Both Phillips and Price said the team was “flustered.”

“It’s just one of those things that we have to learn that even if it’s ugly and not pretty, we just have to do our job,” Price said.

The Gophers had a couple of good offensive opportunities, including a Taylor Uhl one-on-one with Michigan’s goalie and a corner kick by Misel that wasn’t converted.

The physicality of the Big Ten was on display as midfielder Haley Helverson and Michigan’s Meghan Toohey were both called for yellow cards at different points in the second half.

Phillips took a free kick in the 81st minute, but the ball sailed just over the crossbar.

Minnesota didn’t allow a goal off of a set piece — a part of the game it worked hard to improve this week. The Gophers have allowed many goals off set pieces this season.

“That’s one of the things that we said is “Hey, we were better with that piece, which is good. Now we have to maintain that piece and get back to playing the way we play,’” Golan said.

The Gophers will try to earn their first Big Ten win at home Sunday against Michigan State.