According to Minnesota women’s soccer head coach Mikki Denney Wright, making the NCAA tournament is simple.
Not the actual winning part — especially in the Big Ten, where parity reigns — but the formula.
It goes like this: play consistently, beat a ranked team or two, and don’t suffer any bad losses.
Right now, even after losing 2-1 last weekend to both Penn State and No. 17 Ohio State and slipping to 2-3-1 in the Big Ten, the No. 23 Gophers (10-4-2) are in good shape.
“We’re still in a good place to get into the tournament,” Denney Wright said. “We still have a lot of good wins on our resume, and we certainly don’t have any bad losses.”
They really don’t. Minnesota has lost four one-goal games this season, to No. 4 Notre Dame in overtime and to the conference’s top three teams — the Buckeyes, Wisconsin and the Nittany Lions.
But, the Gophers are seventh in the Big Ten, and if they keep losing and sliding down the standings, the NCAA selection committee may forget that they’ve beat No. 13 Illinois, No. 18 South Carolina, and formerly ranked San Diego.
“A loss to any of the next four teams will certainly place us on the bubble,” Denney Wright said. Conversely, “a sweep of these four will put us in a very secure spot heading into NCAA tournament selection time.”
The Gophers host Michigan on Friday at 7 p.m. and Michigan State on Sunday at noon; it is the second-to-last weekend of the regular season.
The team is fully aware of where it stands in the postseason picture, Denney Wright said.
That is, in for now, but with little room for error.
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