Gophers Drop Indiana 1-0 on Senior Night Molly Rouse scored in the 79th minute of play as Minnesota beat Indiana in the regular season's final game.
St. Paul, Minn. - In what could have been the final game of the season tonight (Nov. 6), the Minnesota soccer team made a strong case for it not to be, beating visiting Indiana 1-0.
Minnesota (12-5-3, 5-3-2) came into the game needing a win to strengthen their NCAA Tournament resume before the selections are made Monday evening. Indiana (10-7-2, 2-6-2), meanwhile, need a win to snap a three-game skid that saw them fall below .500 in conference play.
The Gopher offense created chances all night, but quality opportunities were often stopped by a right-place-right-time Indiana defense. Shots were even at the end of a scoreless first half, with just four per side. Minnesota had the only shot on goal in the first 45:00 minutes while their defense kept goalkeeper Cat Parkhill (Apple Valley, Minn.) without facing a shot on net.
"I thought their mentality was fantastic," head coach Mikki Denney Wright said about her offense after the game. "Our two attacking mids and all of our forwards were so mobile and created so many chances, it was a fun game."
The Gopher attack ramped up toward the end of the first half and carried into the second where Minnesota held a 6-to-2 edge on shots for a 10-to-6 margin in the game.
The lone goal and game-winner came late in the second half on a play set up by the ever attacking Gopher offense. As they had most of the half, the Gophers controlled the ball deep in the Hoosier zone, forcing the ball out the backline to earn a corner kick. In controlling the half, the Gophers took six total corners compared to none for the Hoosiers and held a 9-to-2 advantage on corners in the contest.
As she has been all year, Katie Bethke (Eau Claire, Wis.) was called upon to take the kick and unleashed a beauty towards the waiting Minnesota offense. At the front was Molly Rouse (Cambridge, Minn.) who made a run near post, and headed a ball that was too much for the Indiana keeper to catch up with.
"Molly scored, she's clutch, she scored the game-winner, she deserved it," Denney Wright said. "I'm just really proud of our team, our ability to kill the game, and what a great win for our program."
After nearly 80 minutes of battling, the Gophers had finally broken though, calling on their top two scorers to do so. The goal by Rouse was her fifth of the season, setting a new single season career high for the junior. It was also her third game-winner on the season, also setting a career high and tying Bethke for the team lead.
The assist was a team leading seventh on the season for Bethke and moves her into an eighth place tie with Alison Rackley on the Gophers' career assist list with 19.
The win assures Minnesota of at least a share of fourth place in the final Big Ten standings. Their 5-3-2 mark in Big Ten games makes 2008 and 2009 the first seasons of back-to-back winning records in conference games since the 1998 and 1999 season.
On a night set to honor their seniors, the Gophers did so in the best way possible, with a victory. In a season full of memories another has been added, but the possibility for more remains. Seniors Sara Clancy (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and Dana Tripp (White Bear Lake, Minn.) will anxiously await the NCAA Tournament selections with the rest of their team, as the 64-team field is announced Monday (Nov. 9) evening.
"Dana and Sara have meant the world to our program, have been great people and great players," Denney Wright said. "And we had to send them out right."
Should the Gophers make the field for the second consecutive season, they will open NCAA Tournament play one week from today with an opening round game on Friday, Nov. 13. The selections and first round sites will be announced live on ESPNEWS at 7:00 p.m. (CT) on Nov. 9.
"I was really proud of our team and I think we made a great case for an NCAA bid," Denney Wright said.