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Gophers soccer season comes to an end

Minnesota fell to No. 6 Michigan state 2-1 in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
Image by Eric Miller – Photo Courtesy of Gopher Athletics
Senior McKenna Buisman celebrates her first career brace with teammates Sophia Boman and Lauren Donovan in a match against Illinois on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in Falcon Heights, Minn.

Oct. 30 at Michigan State:

On Sunday, the Gophers took to the field in East Lansing, Michigan, as the eighth seed in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. Their opponent, Michigan State, was ranked sixth in the nation and won the Big Ten regular season coming into this matchup.

This contest marked the first time the Gophers had made the Big Ten tournament since 2018, when they entered as the eighth seed and left as champions. Michigan State, however, made the tournament last year, losing to Iowa in the quarterfinals.

Nearly 3,000 fans attended the game at DeMartin Stadium, the largest crowd the Gophers have seen all season.

Less than five minutes into the game, Minnesota silenced this crowd; McKenna Buisman fired a shot from outside of the box that beat Michigan State’s goalkeeper Lauren Kozal. Buisman’s goal was her second of the season and was assisted by Sophia Boman. This goal was only the fourth Kozal had conceded in the Big Ten.

Minnesota fended off Michigan State’s powerful offense quite well in the first half. Despite Michigan State having dangerous shooters like Camryn Evans and Lauren DeBeau, the Gophers held the Spartans back and ended the first half with zero shots on goal taken by the Spartans. Minnesota outshot Michigan State 6-4 in the first half, with two of those six shots landing on goal.

The Spartans were on their heels, unable to score for roughly 50 minutes. That was until Jordyn Wickes received the ball from a header and tapped it past Minnesota goalkeeper Megan Plaschko to tie the game at 1-1.

Twelve minutes later, Wickes struck again to take the lead for Michigan State. The Spartans’ offense started to take control, outshooting Minnesota 7-3.

Unfortunately for Minnesota, Wickes’s second goal of the game was the dagger as the Gophers fell to the Spartans 2-1. Michigan State will move on to play the fourth seed Nebraska.

Though Minnesota was unable to defeat Michigan State, the eighth seeded Gophers did not go down without a fight as they held a lead for the majority of the game.

Resiliency highlighted this squad’s season; the team battled for a playoff spot in the second half of the season. The Gophers finished their year with an overall record of 8-8-3 and a conference record of 4-4-2.

Boman finished with the most points for the Gophers with 15 while Gabbie Cesarone totaled six goals, the highest numbers across the team. Boman and Cesarone were both recognized as Second Team All-Big Ten as part of the 2022 Big Ten Conference Women’s Soccer Postseason Honors.

Midfielder Boman will enter her senior year along with Sophia Romine, who totalled 13 points this season, the third highest of the team. Returning forwards include sophomore Khyah Harper, who had six points this season, and junior Christa VanLoon, who had five.

Minnesota scored 14 goals in their Big Ten regular season, seventh-best in the Big Ten. The defense was also impressive during the regular season, allowing 11 goals.

Given the Gophers’ returning offense and solid back-end, there is a bright future in Minnesota.

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