Soccer drops two games in shaky weekend

by Sarah Mitchell

The Gophers soccer team wouldn’t be described as a second half scoring machine. They’re not even close.
No. 22 Minnesota (2-3) is still searching for its first second-half goal this season after two nonconference losses over the weekend sent the team sputtering towards the Big Ten season.
A respectable 1-0 loss at Iowa State (4-1) Friday followed by a 3-1 home defeat to Southern Methodist (3-3) Sunday left Gophers coach Sue Montagne concerned with her team’s shaky play.
“Terrible week. It’s been a terrible week,” Montagne said. “It’s a lack of not thinking, not a lack of ability. We come out slow in the second half. The harder the other team plays, the more we slow down.”
The Gophers took a 1-0 lead into Sunday’s second half thanks to senior forward Megan Johnson’s goal at the game’s 41:06 mark. Assisted by senior forward Nicole Lee and junior midfielder Erin Holland, Johnson was reluctant to accept praise for the weekend’s lone highlight.
“The goal could have gone to Lee,” Johnson said. “Sure I finished the goal, but it was her effort that made it possible. I was just in the right place at the right time.”
As second half play resumed, the Gophers offense returned to their old ways of second-half melancholy.
Facing a one goal deficit and a new goalie (Gophers senior Dana Larson replaced starter Rachel Slocum-Johnson), the Mustang’s were merciless, outshooting Minnesota 9-6. Southern Methodist scored three goals against a dragging, young Minnesota defense in the first 16 minutes.
Southern Methodist sophomore forward Sarah Harvey ignited the Mustang’s scoring binge with a blast at the game’s 48:22 mark.
Mustangs senior defender Shelby Stone followed at 54:11, lofting one over the outreached hand of Larson at the near goal post. Sophomore forward Tara Comfort, assisted by senior midfielder Laura Snyder, drove home Southern Methodist’s and the game’s final score at 60:32.
“(Southern Methodist) came out in the second half and played physical and we got frustrated,” Montagne said. “All of a sudden they’ve scored three goals on us and that’s when we realize that we’re behind. By that time it’s too late.”
On Friday, the Gophers found themselves down early. Iowa State midfielder Kate Antongiovanni netted the game’s lone goal at 16:47 with assists given to Krista Odenwald and Annie Henley. After the early goal, Larson shut down the Cyclones with four saves.
Cyclones goalkeeper Lynley Hilligoss recorded five saves to shutout the Gophers and add to Montagne’s concerns as the team’s Big Ten opener approaches.
“Right now, we’re playing as individuals,” Montagne said. “We have a lot of individuals out there.”
Minnesota begins the conference season this weekend on the road. The Gophers meet Illinois Friday before traveling to Iowa on Sunday.
While away from its new stadium, Minnesota’s looking to do more than break a second half scoring barrier. It’s looking for a second chance to start the season.
“Hopefully, we’ll start with a brand new slate,” Johnson said. “for many, including myself. We just have to get psyched for the Big Ten season.”

Sarah Mitchell is a general assignment reporter and welcomes comments at [email protected]