Gophers Earn MGC Title with 2-1 Win Over No. 14 USD Shari Eckstrom and Molly Rouse tallied goals for Minnesota.
MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota women's soccer team recorded its fifth win in nine days with a 2-1 win over No. 14 San Diego on Sunday afternoon, winning the third annual Minnesota Gold Classic. Junior midfielder Shari Eckstrom scored her team-high fourth goal of the season for the Gophers while senior midfielder Molly Rouse added her second-game winner of the year.
"I thought we created some really good opportunities. We put 10 of our 14 shots on frame with some really good opportunities and some great finishes," Minnesota head coach Mikki Denney Wright said. "We've been on a nine-day stretch where we've had five games, and we swept five. To be playing like that in the second half (of the game) when you've had five games in nine days shows a lot about our team. I'm very proud of how we've responded and how we've grown."
After another scoreless first half, Eckstrom notched her third goal of the week seven minutes into the second half when she lifted a shot from the middle of the box past Toreros goalkeeper Courtney Parsons to put the Gophers up 1-0. Rouse, who assisted on Eckstrom's goal, would get one of her own just over 13 minutes later. After a San Diego foul gave senior midfielder Katie Bethke a free kick from just inside the Gophers' offensive third, Bethke sent a sailing pass into the box. The attempt slipped past Parsons in goal and Rouse's header connected on what would eventually become the game winner at 70:31. The goals moved Eckstrom and Rouse into a tie for Minnesota's top scorer on the season with eight points each.
The Toreros would finally break onto the scoreboard in the 80th minute when midfielder Brittany Held bounced a shot off a Minnesota defender and in for her second goal of the tournament. Held, who also tallied San Diego's overtime winner against Marquette on Friday afternoon, was assisted on the goal by Jackie Zinke. The goal was the only blemish of the week for sophomore goalkeeper Cat Parkhill and the Minnesota defense. Up until Held's goal, the Gophers (5-1-0) hadn't allowed an opponent to score in their last 268:37 of action (Western Kentucky, 8/29). Parkhill picked up three saves in the win for Minnesota including a timely save midway through the second half when the sophomore plucked a free kick by San Diego's Natalie Garcia out of the air. Meanwhile, the Gophers outshot their opponent 14-5 including 10 shots on goal.
Minnesota returns to action next weekend on the road at Bowling Green (9/10) and Toledo (9/12).
Minnesota Gold Classic Standings
1. Minnesota (2-0-0, 6 pts.)
2. San Diego (1-1-0, 3 pts.)*
3. Marquette (1-1-0, 3 pts.)
4. UC-Santa Barbara (0-2-0, 0 pts.)
*San Diego wins head-to-head tiebreaker with Marquette.
Minnesota Gold Classic All-Tournament Team
GK- Cat Parkhill (Minnesota) D- Alyssa Benjamin (UCSB) D- Katie Hishmeh (Marquette) D- Kerry McBride (Marquette) M- Kylie Kallman (Minnesota) M- Katie Bethke (Minnesota) M- Molly Rouse (Minnesota) M- Kelley McCloskey (San Diego) M- Jackie Zinke (San Diego F- Alissa Sanchez (UCSB) F- Brittany Held (San Diego)
Offensive Most Valuable Player - Molly Rouse (Minnesota) Defensive Most Valuable Player - Cat Parkhill (Minnesota)