Clare Grimwood scored the game-winning goal in the 63rd minute to help give No. 25 Minnesota (16-2-0, 6-2-0) a 2-1 victory over Wisconsin (9-7-1, 3-5-0) on Senior Night at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie in St. Paul. Grimwood was assisted on her goal by fellow senior Kaitlin Wagner.
Wagner netted a goal of her own, her fifth of the season, in the first half. Grimwood assisted on Wagner’s tally that found the back of the net at the 24:40 mark. The three point performances by Wagner and Grimwood matched career-highs for each.
“This rivalry is an important one for our team,” head coach Mikki Denney Wright said. “I’m proud of our seniors they’ve beaten Wisconsin three out of four times during their careers.”
It was clear from the opening kickoff that tonight’s match would be a physical one. With game time temperatures barely hovering over 40 degrees, the chilly conditions did little to cool off a rivalry that produced 25 fouls and nine yellow cards.
Minnesota did well in their attempt to create scoring opportunities early, out-shooting the visitors by an 11-3 margin in the opening half. Four early corner kicks produced a handful of opportunities for Minnesota, but the Gophers were thwarted early by Badger keeper Jamie Klages.
Not to be outdone, Minnesota keeper Lindsey Dare the owner of a 0.35 goals against average entering the weekend that led the Big Ten and ranked ninth nationally made a spectacular reaction save on Badger forward Taylor Walsh after Walsh found her way behind the Minnesota defense. Walsh’s shot turned out to be one of just two Wisconsin would put on net all night as the Minnesota defensive group was once again dominant.
Late in the 25th minute, a ball slipped out into the flank for Grimwood, who collected it and played a ball just inside the 18-yard box for Wagner. With the defense out of position to account for Grimwood, Wagner beat Klages just inside the left post to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
Before Gophers fans had settled back into their seats following the Wagner goal, Wisconsin answered with a tally of their own. On a similar play to the one Dare saved off the foot of Walsh, the Badgers’ Leigh Williams managed to get one past Dare to tie the score at the 26:17 mark. The goal was the first the Gophers had allowed at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium this year.
Both teams plodded through play throughout the end of the first half and the early stages of the second half with an array of whistles for fouls and cards.
Wagner won a ball on the near sideline and rolled a lollipop into the center of the pitch for Grimwood with just over 25:00 left in the contest. After Grimwood had played many balls into the goalie box in the opening half looking for the head of a teammate, it appeared a pass might have been what Badgers were expecting from Grimwood. Instead, Grimwood tickled the twine with a left-footed blast into the upper left corner to beat Klages and give the Gophers a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.
Grimwood, whose hard-nosed play in the midfield has benefitted many a Gopher win this season, recorded her first goal since her game-winner in the Aug. 22 season-opener against Northern Iowa.
With Wagner and Grimwood sharing the spotlight on Senior Night, it seemed only appropriate that fellow senior midfielder Carlie Edwards logged 11 hard-fought minutes midway through the second half.
Making her first appearance on the pitch for the Gophers since tearing her ACL four games into her junior campaign, Edwards’ contribution was clearly the highlight of the night for her teammates. Standing on the sidelines as her name was called for the substation, Edwards was on the receiving end of a bear hug from freshman Shari Eckstrom, who entered the game along with Edwards.
When asked about her game-winning goal, Clare Grimwood simply said: “That one was for Carlie.”
The Gophers return to action Sunday, when the host Northwestern at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in a 1:00 kickoff. The match will be televised live on Big Ten Network.