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Gophers soccer drops 2 Big Ten matches; important games ahead

Minnesota’s playoff chances are waning after losing their third straight game.
Image by David Monterroso
Midfielder Sophia Boman goes to kick the ball during the Gophers’ game against Indiana, Thursday, Sept. 22. The Gophers won, 3-0.

Sept. 29: vs. Michigan

On Thursday, Gophers soccer took on the University of Michigan at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. Michigan was winless in Big Ten play entering this matchup, and the Gophers were shaking off a 2-1 loss to a competitive Northwestern University roster.

The game was deadlocked at zero until the 64th minute, when Michigan’s Sarah Bridenstine crossed the ball to Meredith Haakenson, who finished off the play with a header. Haakenson’s tally was her fourth of the season and was the eventual game-winner as the Wolverines topped the Gophers 1-0.

Oct. 2: vs. Wisconsin

Following their loss to Michigan, Minnesota took on their neighboring adversary, the University of Wisconsin. The Gophers battled hard, outshooting the Badgers eight-to-two.

Minnesota Midfielder Amelia Brown scored her first collegiate goal in the opening minutes of the second half. The Gophers’ lead over the Badgers lasted until a major collapse in the final ten minutes of play.

Wisconsin’s Emma Jaskaniec scored the equalizer, and Aryssa Mahrt delivered the fatal strike in the 86th minute of the match. The final score of the Gophers’ devastating loss was 2-1.

After losing to Michigan and Wisconsin, the Gophers are now tied for second-to-last place in the Big Ten with the University of Maryland. The two teams have a 1-4 record and have lost three or more straight games. Below Minnesota and Maryland is the University of Indiana and Purdue University; both Indiana-based teams are winless in the Big Ten and have a record of 0-4-1.

The Gophers are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the fourth-straight season. This statistic is complicated as the 2020-21 season — which was played entirely in 2021 to compromise for the postponed 2020 pandemic season — did not consist of a regular Big Ten tournament. Every team in the Big Ten made their respective region’s playoff tournament that season, regardless of their record. The Gophers lost to Iowa in the West regional final, eliminating them from the Big Ten tournament.

Minnesota only has five games remaining in the Big Ten. This means the Gophers can only reach a maximum of eighteen points on the season. Last season, eighteen points would have been enough to finish in fourth place and make the Big Ten tournament.

To reach eighteen points, the Gophers would have to be victorious in their last five games. In these final games, the Gophers face the University of Iowa, Rutgers University, the University of Maryland, Purdue University and the University of Illinois. Aside from Rutgers, none of these teams have won more than a single game in the Big Ten.

Concluding the season with eighteen points may be a difficult feat as it requires the Gophers to win out their schedule. Finishing with fifteen points, though, is certainly attainable because it would permit them some leeway in the occasion they lose to Rutgers.

Given their upcoming schedule against struggling teams, there is a favorable chance the Gophers can win four out of their final five games and clinch fifteen points.

Minnesota enters the latter half of the season with a matchup against rival Iowa on Oct. 9. The two teams have a full week of rest heading into the matchup. At the moment, Iowa is one rank above Minnesota, however, they have yet to record a win in Big Ten play. This game is crucial for the Gophers, as a win would propel them into eighth place and a playoff spot – assuming both Michigan and Illinois lose their upcoming games.

Hopefully the Gophers can revive their early-September habits; the team won four straight games following a three-game slide. If Minnesota is able to replicate this winning streak, it would allow the Gophers to snap out of their downswing and significantly improve their likelihood of making the Big Ten tournament.

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