It was a tale of two halves for the Minnesota Golden Gopher soccer team Friday night, as they lost a 3-2 overtime heartbreaker to the Dayton Flyers in the Gopher Invitational. An announced crowd of 1,238 spectators at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium witnessed Katie Bethke and Lindsey Schwartz each score goals for the Gophers, but it wasn’t enough as Minnesota’s record fell to 2-3-0.
Friday night’s crowd, which was treated to a pre-game live band and free pizza, was the fifth-largest crowd in Minnesota history.
The Gophers utterly dominated the first period of play and jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Julie Rezac’s nifty pass found Bethke in the middle of the box during the 15th minute of play. Bethke’s first attempt was rebuffed but she was able to knock the deflection past Dayton’s Niki Reed to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
Even though Minnesota controlled the pace of the match for much of the contest’s first 45 minutes, out-shooting the Flyers 9-6, Amanda Gallow evened the score at the 27:07 mark when she snuck a rebound over Chelsey Turner for her first goal of 2007.
“It was like Jeykll and Hyde at times,” said head coach Mikki Denney Wright about comparison between the Gophers’ two halves of play. “We were brilliant at times, and then we were really poor at times. It’s finding that consistency... When we’re on, it’s really fun to watch, but when we’re off, we get scored on and punished for it.”
Schwartz, Minnesota’s team leader in points (6), goals (2) and assists (2) entering play Friday, put the Maroon and Gold back in the lead shortly after the second half began when she won a one-on-one match-up with Reed, set up by a Bethke pass.
However, that was the lone highlight of the second half for the Gophers. The Flyers came back to life in the final 45 minutes of regulation, out-shooting the Gophers 8-2 and winning the battle of corners 4-2. Jerica DeWolfe tied the score at two apiece at the 73:52 mark, and neither team scored for the remainder of the second half.
After the first 10-minute overtime period did not yield a score, Dayton’s Caitlin Proffitt won a jumble in front of the Gopher net during the second OT period to give the Flyers the victory.
Schwartz, who also led the Gophers with five shots, remained upbeat after the disappointing loss.
“It was really tough to lose in overtime,” said Schwartz. “I felt like we played really well... Defensive pressure wasn’t one of our strong points, so we have to work on that for Sunday.”
Iowa State won first game of the Gopher Invite Friday afternoon by topping Montana 1-0, meaning the Gophers must beat the Grizzlies Sunday afternoon and hope for a Cyclone loss in order to gain their second straight Gopher Invitational title.
The Gophers expect another solid crowd for Sunday’s tilt, a fact Schwartz believes the team will capitalize on.
“The fan support today was awesome. It’s so great to have such a big crowd here,” Schwartz said. “Your adrenaline is pumping and you just want to keep playing well. We definitely need to come out with a win for the fans on Sunday.”
Sunday’s action will begin at 10:30 a.m. when the Flyers do battle with the Cyclones, followed by the Minnesota-Montana match-up at 1:00 p.m. All matches will be hosted at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on the University’s St. Paul campus.