Despite a boost in confidence from a significant victory over Wisconsin on Friday, the Michigan women’s soccer team could not muster up the power to beat Minnesota yesterday afternoon. Fueled by forward Rachael Roth’s tremendous firepower and Michigan’s critical defensive mistakes, the Golden Gophers came out on top, by the score of 4-0.
“It was extremely disappointing to come off our big Wisconsin win to lose to Minnesota,” Michigan coach Debbie Rademacher said.
The loss came as a surprise to the Wolverines, who arrived in St. Paul with an outstanding 3-0 record in the Big Ten. Minnesota, on the other hand, was 0-3 in conference play.
Both teams came out strong in the first half: the Wolverines still enthused about the Wisconsin win, Minnesota hungry for its first Big Ten win. The game remained scoreless for the majority of the first half, until Minnesota midfielder Kelly Dinse fired the ball past goalie Susie Grech.
Michigan outshot the Gophers 11-3 in the first half, but did not manage to put a single shot in the goal. Though Minnesota had relatively few chances to score, it did not have a problem capitalizing.
“They played hard, and took advantage of their opportunities,” Rademacher said.
The second half only brought more challenges for Michigan, as Minnesota forward Roth registered a hat trick.
“We knew that she was their strongest forward,” Rademacher said. “We knew what to expect, but had poor defensive execution. We made mistakes that shouldn’t have happened.”
About 15 minutes into the action, Roth rocketed her first goal past Grech. Then just 19 minutes later, she scored again, bringing the score to 3-0.
“We knew we had the chance to come back when the score was 1-0, and even when it was 2-0,” Rademacher said. “But when you start getting down by three or four goals, it gets tough to maintain that mentality.”
The Wolverines struggled to score, and came close several times in the second half. They pulled off 15 shots, many of which slid just wide. Senior Amy Sullivant took 11 of the 26 total shots, tying teammate Abby Crumpton’s record for most shots in a game.
Another setback for Michigan came in the second half, when Crumpton, who scored her second career hat trick against Wisconsin, had to be pulled from the game due to a knee injury.
By the time Roth scored her third and final goal of the afternoon, Michigan still had not been able to slip one past Minnesota keeper Karli Kopietz, who had 13 saves, while Grech finished with three.
Though the loss was a difficult one for the Wolverines to swallow, they are taking it in stride.
“Right now we’re 8-2,” Rademacher said. “This was just a setback. We’ve played well so far, and our game strategy won’t change. We’ll just work on our defense this week.”