The University of Minnesota soccer team had an up and down season in 2012 starting with the surprise and ill-timed resignation of former coach Mikki Denney Wright in mid-May and ending with a shootout loss to Illinois on Wednesday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Gophers, under new coach Stefanie Golan, had a respectable 11-7-2 overall record this year. But their conference record of 6-4-1 revealed holes in the program, giving up leads and late goals throughout the season. Wednesday morning was no exception.
The Gophers scored on a penalty kick taken by Taylor Uhl just 11 minutes into the match. The Illini’s Amy Feher tripped up Tamara Strahota in the box and and a red card was issued. Uhl scored and put the Gophers up 1-0 with a full 78 minutes to press short-handed Illinois. The Gophers capitalized on that and went up 2-0 just three minutes later with an Uhl blast, bringing her goal total to 20 on the season and her points to 51. She leads the conference in both categories.
However, the Gophers allowed their opponent back into the game in the 20th minute when Aliina Weykamp scored for Illinois. Niki Read brought her Illini team even in the 66th minute. The Fighting Illini battled the Gophers evenly despite being a man down and saw the game through two overtimes. Then in a penalty kick shootout, Illinois defeated the Gophers 3-2.
While Minnesota had the 2nd highest scoring offense in the Big Ten with 44 goals scored, they also conceded 25, marking them as the 7th worst of the 12-team conference. Worse yet was the timing of many of the goals. In overtime matches this year, the Gophers were 1-3-2. And in the case of Wednesday’s overtime tie, it ultimately cost them the game, allowing Illinois to win 3-2 in the shootout.
While Golan’s inherited offense holds promise for the future, defense will surely be a priority in future recruiting plans.