Gophers Hand Northwestern 2-1 Loss
The Minnesota women's soccer program picked up its 199th all-time win on Friday night with a 2-1 conference win over Northwestern on the shore of Lake Michigan. Junior defender Tamara Strahota and redshirt freshman forward Steph Brandt each tallied their fifth goal of the season for Minnesota.
"Our team came out and played the Minnesota brand of soccer. We dictated play, possessed very well and created a number of dangerous opportunities," Minnesota head coach Mikki Denney Wright said. "We're excited about the way we played and the way we finished the game. We're just going to work on growing and getting better every day."
Strahota (Burnsville, Minn.) put Minnesota on the board when she slipped a low shot past Wildcats goalkeeper Carolyn Edwards in 17th minute after being set up by senior defender Jennie Clark (Norwalk, Iowa) and senior midfielder Kylie Kallman (Woodbury, Minn.). Junior midfielder Shari Eckstrom (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) started the scoring play when she booted a corner kick into the 18-yard box to Kallman. It was the first of a season-low two corners for Minnesota. Eckstrom also sent a perfectly placed cross to senior defender Jennie Clark (Norwalk, Iowa) at the end of the first half, but the senior's header attempt bounced off the crossbar.
Minnesota (11-5-3 overall, 3-4-2 Big Ten) jumped to a 2-0 lead midway through the second half when Brandt (Rochester, Minn.) added her fifth of the year in the 70th minute. Senior forward Katie Bethke (Eau Claire, Wis.) found Brandt in the box with a cross for Bethke's conference leading 11th assist this season on what would eventually become the game-winning goal.
Northwestern (6-8-3, 2-5-1) would eventually cut the lead to one goal when Bo Podkopacz redirected a cross at 78:47 when for the Plymouth, Minn. native's first career goal. Wildcats Sam Green and Jill Dunn assisted on the goal, which would prove to be the only blemish of the night for sophomore goalkeeper Cat Parkhill (Apple Valley, Minn.). Parkhill, who has started every game in goal this year for the Gophers, finished the contest with three saves.
Minnesota outshot Northwestern 15-10 in the win and held an 8-4 advantage on strikes in the second half. Eckstrom, Minnesota's leading shot taker this season, peppered a game-high four shots while Bethke landed all three of her shots on goal.
The Gophers close out the regular season next Friday at Indiana.