The No. 18/19 Minnesota women's soccer team extended its unbeaten streak to 11 games on Sunday afternoon with a 1-0 win over No. 15/20 Illinois.
Senior midfielder Katie Bethke tallied her second goal of the season in the 70th minute for the Gophers while sophomore goalkeeper Cat Parkhill and the Minnesota defense shut down the Illini, denying a shot on goal for the second time this season. Minnesota outshot Illinois 16-10 in the game.
"Today was a tough, gritty performance by our whole team, and I was proud of the way single one of our players stepped up," Minnesota head coach Mikki Denney Wright said. "Our team really seemed to bounce back with a lot of energy after the Iowa game, and we need to maintain that aggressiveness through the grind of the Big Ten season."
Unbeaten except for a 1-0 loss to No. 4 Notre Dame in the season opener, Minnesota (9-1-2 overall, 1-0-1 Big Ten) pushed its unbeaten streak to 11 games - the second longest unbeaten streak in school history behind a string of 15 games in 1997 during Minnesota's Big Ten championship run. Sunday's win was anything but guaranteed during the first half when the two top-25 teams proved just how even they were. Neither team could maintain a dominant edge in the opening stanza with the Gophers finding the best opportunity when Bethke and senior midfielder Molly Rouse each had a shot on goal saved by Illini defenders midway through the first half. Rouse and Bethke, two of nine Gophers to record 90 minutes of play in the win, also tied for a game-high four shots in the win, each landing two on goal.
Bethke eventually would break the scoreless tie at 70:15 when the senior midfielder put a header in the back of the net following freshman forward MacKenzie Misel's textbook cross from the far corner. Bethke, who sits tied for most assists in the nation with nine helpers on the season, tallied her second goal of the season and moved into a tie with junior midfielder Shari Eckstrom for a team high 12 points this season. on the strike to beat the Big Ten's most stoic defense. Illinois had allowed just three goals coming into Sunday's game with six shutouts.
The lone scoring strike would prove to be enough for the Gophers, whose defense kept the Illini from putting a shot on goal. Parkhill was able to tally her fifth clean sheet of the season thanks largely to the work of defenders Josie Solie, Marissa Price and Tamara Strahota, along with midfielder Kylie Kallman, who turned away numerous chances by the Illini before they could turn into scoring opportunities.
Minnesota returns to action this Thursday at home against Wisconsin. Game time is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. CST.