Gophers soccer shutout 2-0 against Nebraska in their season finale

The Gophers closed out their 2021 campaign with back-to-back shutout losses and finished the season with an 8-6-3 record.

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Photo Courtesy of Brad Rempel - Gopher Athletics

Sophomore Sophia Boman fights for possession of the ball in a match against Nebraska on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in Falcon Heights, Minn.

by Michael Lyne , Sports Reporter

Gophers soccer (8-6-3) dropped their last match of the season at home on senior day Sunday evening in a 2-0 shutout loss against Nebraska, marking the first time they have lost a contest by more than a goal this season.

“Obviously, we are disappointed with the game,” Gophers head coach Erin Chastain said. “I didn’t think we came out great, not sure why. We had to make a last-minute adjustment due to an injury with the lineup. Maybe we were a little unnerved because of that. Maybe it’s the senior day emotion, but we didn’t start and set the tone…it really just wasn’t the right start.”

Before the match got underway, sophomore left-back Abi Frandsen suffered an injury in warmups, causing the Gophers to adjust their starting lineup. Her sophomore counterpart Christa VanLoon joined the starting lineup at left midfield as senior Patricia Ward shifted to the backline playing left-back.

In the first half, the Gophers could not get anything going in the offensive third. Nebraska continued to press them as they possessed the ball and controlled the pace of play.

At the 26-minute mark, Nebraska’s Abbey Schwarz received a pass just outside the top of the box, facing away from the Gophers’ goal. Then, she spun around, flicked the ball to her right foot and fired a shot into the upper left corner of the net to give the Cornhuskers a 1-0 lead.

Three minutes later, senior McKenna Buisman began to make her way through midfield and got tripped, but the referees did not call a foul on the play. Then, Nebraska quickly gained possession of the ball as Sarah Weber received a through ball from midfield.

Weber made no mistake on the through ball, firing a shot into the upper right corner of the goal from the left side of the box to extend the Cornhuskers’ lead to 2-0 at the 29-minute mark.

It was not until the 37th minute that the Gophers registered their first shot on goal and high-quality opportunity. Freshman Lauren Donovan connected on a header from senior Delaney Stekr’s free-kick service, but Nebraska made the team save. Then, sophomore Rylan Baker followed up the rebound with another header, but he sent it over the top of the goal.
At halftime, the Cornhuskers led the Gophers in shots (9-4) and shots on goal (5-1).

The Gophers found their footing and possessed well in the offensive third in the second half, outshooting the Cornhuskers 12-4, with four on goal. However, they could not convert any of their opportunities before the clock hit 90 minutes.

“We dug ourselves a hole, tried to claw our way out of it in the second half, and definitely put them under some pressure,” Chastain said. “Our final moment where we were in front of the goal and had to execute was not super sharp today. So, that was difficult.”

Notables

Minnesota finishes the 2021 season in ninth-place in the Big Ten. In Chastain’s first season as head coach, the Gophers won eight matches, the most since the 2018 season.

In the loss, junior goalkeeper Megan Plaschko made five saves. She recorded eight clean sheets in 17 matches in her first full season as the Gophers’ starting keeper.

VanLoon made her first start of the season, while freshman Khyah Harper returned to the pitch after missing her last six matches due to an ankle injury.

Looking ahead

“We just talked about at the end of the game that this is not the ending we wanted,” Chastain said. “All you can do now is remember that and be motivated for next season. That’s what your offseason is about – is getting ready for next year and hopefully being in a different scenario in terms of the playoffs.”