Gophers Suffer First Big Ten Loss at Michigan State

Go Gophers!
Shari Eckstrom

Go Gophers!
Shari Eckstrom
Go Gophers!

Sept. 25, 2011

Final Stats

The University of Minnesota women’s soccer team suffered its first Big Ten loss of the season at the hands of Michigan State, 3-0. Despite holding the Spartans close in the first half, a pair of goals in the second half sealed the Gophers’ fate.

Michigan State (9-2-0, 2-1-0 Big Ten) snagged the lead in the first half when three-time All-American Laura Heyboer dished a ball off to a streaking Kelsey Mullen. The Spartan midfielder then struck the ball inside the left post to go up 1-0 in the 29th minute.

The Gopher (4-6-1, 1-1-1 Big Ten) defense would hold the high-scoring MSU offense for the rest of the first half, and it would take a 1-0 deficit into the locker room.

With thoughts of Friday night’s second half comeback over Michigan in mind, Minnesota looked to push numbers into the attack and battle their way back into the match, but the Michigan State attack erupted on the Maroon and Gold.

The Gophers tallied nine shots in the match with six of them being on goal while MSU took 13 shots with 10 on frame.

In the 56th minute, the Spartans countered a Golden Gophers attack when Hannah Peterson serviced a ball from the left to the right flank where Olivia Stander controlled the ball for a one-on-one opportunity with Lauren Bauer. With a shifty move, Stander slipped by the sophomore defender and drilled a ball to the far post to increase their lead to 2-0.

Stander posed another threat in the 68th minute when she was dribbling down the middle of the field. When the forward was approached by a pair of Gopher defenders, she touched the ball to Mikki Dennis, who was flashing to the backside of the goal. Dennis would finish the ball into the left side of the goal to make the score 3-0.

Depsite allowing a trio of goals, junior goalkeeper Cat Parkhill recorded a season high six saves.

The Gophers final attempt came in the 75th minute when Olivia Bagnall launched a ball from just outside the 18-yard box, but MSU goalkeeper Jill Flietstra swatted the deep attempt to the corner. Taylor Uhl ran down the denial and quickly serviced it to Shari Eckstrom in the box. The senior captain then rocketed a shot to the left post, but Flietstra was there again to negate the Gophers’ attempt to get on the board.

“I take full responsibility for the loss today,” said head coach Mikki Denney Wright. “Clearly, I wasn’t a good enough coach for our team today. This performance is on me, and we will work to have a better performance next week.”

Minnesota completes its three-match road swing on Thursday when it travels to face border-rival Wisconsin. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.