On its final road trip of the season, the Gophers’ soccer team split two games in Illinois.
Minnesota (6-8-2, 3-3-2 Big Ten) lost to Illinois on Friday 1-0 and responded by defeating Northwestern 1-0 on Sunday.
On a windy night in Champaign, Ill., the Illini jumped out to an early lead when sophomore Vanessa DiBernardo buried a shot in the lower left corner of the net in the 18th minute. The early goal proved to be all the Illini would need.
Down by 1 at halftime for the second straight game, the Gophers couldn’t replicate their comeback win against Iowa last Saturday.
Minnesota managed two shots on goal, but its best chance to equalize came on an attempt that didn’t count as a shot on goal when junior Olivia Bagnall launched a shot off the crossbar with 45 seconds remaining in the game.
The Gophers and Illini both recorded 12 shots in the game. Junior goalkeeper Cat Parkhill had six saves while allowing one goal on the day.
Minnesota managed eight of its 12 shots in the second half and had possession for much of the final 20 minutes.
“Our team definitely made a good push in the final minutes,” said head coach Mikki Denney Wright in a release. “Credit to Illinois — they have a very good midfield that is tough to handle.”
The Gophers then traveled to Evanston, Ill., where they salvaged a weekend split against the Wildcats on Sunday.
In the first half, the two teams played to a draw and each had three shots, three corner kicks and three fouls.
Minnesota came out strong in the second half and tested Northwestern’s goalkeeper Anna Cassell numerous times.
Junior Allie Phillips scored her first goal of the year in the 59th minute, which gave the Gophers the lead.
“[Phillips] was outstanding out there. [She played the] best half of soccer I’ve seen from her in her career,” Denney Wright said after the game.
Minnesota received a scare in the 80th minute when Wildcats’ freshman Sami Schrakamp hit the post. But Parkhill and the Gophers’ defense held strong through the final ten minutes, and Phillips’ goal held as the game-winner.
“[Sunday] was a really good rebound win for our team,” Denney Wright said. “I think the team is getting more mature and more consistent with each game.”
Minnesota finished with 15 shots, six of them on target. The Wildcats ended up with 14 shots, five on net. Parkhill, who recorded her third shutout of the season, saved all five of those shots on goal.
The loss drops Northwestern to 2-12-1 on the season.
“I thought [Parkhill] and MacKenzie Misel both played really well,” Denney Wright said. “Illinois is a good team and to give up one goal on the weekend I thought was excellent.”
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