Soccer out of postseason picture

Anthony Maggio

Who knew one kick could be so devastating?

After playing a scoreless 106 minutes and 43 seconds in cold weather and snow Sunday afternoon, Ohio State’s Jen Miller snuffed Minnesota’s remaining flicker of postseason hope.

In the 107th minute during the second overtime, Miller took a free kick from outside the 18-yard box and sailed it over goalkeeper Marni Prall’s outstretched arms.

The goal not only won the game for the Buckeyes 1-0, but mathematically eliminated the Gophers from making the Big Ten tournament. Minnesota last qualified for the postseason in 2000.

“I’m a little disappointed because this was a totally winnable game,” starting goalkeeper Karli Kopeitz said. “It sucks losing. Losing isn’t something that’s fun. It’s hard to deal with.”

Kopeitz kept Minnesota in the game for most of regulation. She recorded 12 saves in 79 minutes before re-aggravating the knee injury that has hampered her for most of the season.

Prall then replaced Kopeitz and recorded five saves for the rest of regulation and two overtimes before allowing the winning goal.

“It’s disappointing that it had to end with that kind of goal,” coach Barbara Wickstrand said. “We allowed them way too many shots on goal. It was bound to happen. We were giving them the momentum.”

While Ohio State was racking up its 17 shots on goal, the Gophers managed only two. The Buckeyes out-shot Minnesota 30-4 in the contest.

Wickstrand said she was disappointed at her team’s inability to stick to its game plan, which allowed Ohio State to gain such an offensive edge.

Friday night, however, was a different story.

The Gophers hosted ninth-ranked Penn State, and gave the four-time defending Big Ten champions a run for their money.

Minnesota struck first in the game, as Tierney Palmer-Klein beat Lions goalkeeper Amanda Brown one-on-one off an assist from Rachael Roth in the 17th minute.

The goal was sophomore Palmer-Klein’s first as a Gopher.

Penn State held the lead until the 65th minute when defender Jen Cressman, attempting to clear the ball from three converging Lions, put the ball past Kopeitz to tie the game.

Penn State took the lead for good in the 82nd minute when Heidi Drummond headed in a corner kick for her 10th goal of the season.

The Gophers were pleased with their effort against the Lions, but with so much on the line this weekend, moral victories were not of interest after Sunday’s heartbreaking end to Big Ten tournament hopes.

“We played a lot better (on Friday),” Roth said. “This game, I don’t really think we showed up as well as we could have or played as well as we could have. It’s just very frustrating.”

Anthony Maggio covers soccer and welcomes comments at [email protected]