Playing in the first round of the single-elimination Big Ten tournament, the No. 5 Gophers soccer team defeated fourth-seeded Wisconsin 2-0 on Wednesday night in Evanston, Ill.
Taylor Uhl and Marissa Price each scored in the first 11 minutes in the win.
“I thought it was a tremendous performance by our entire group,” head coach Mikki Denney Wright said. “We had an outstanding defensive performance, limiting them to one shot on goal.”
Minnesota started off strong when Uhl, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, maneuvered around the Badgers’ defense and placed a well-struck shot in the right side of the net in the fourth minute.
Seven and a half minutes later, junior defender Marissa Price scored an unconventional goal when she bent a corner kick — with some aid from the strong wind — into the goal.
“I think our kids knew that they had to take advantage of having the wind [at their back] in the first half,” Denney Wright said. “In the second half we were able to make some adjustments to just keep our lead.”
Wisconsin failed to register a shot until the 30th minute and didn’t get a shot on goal until the 84th minute.
The Badgers were more aggressive in the second half, totaling eight shots, but Gophers’ goalkeeper Cat Parkhill made a diving save on their only shot on goal.
Minnesota had eight shots in the first half — three on goal — and finished with nine shots and five on goal.
The strong winds persisted throughout the game. At one point, Wisconsin could not get the ball to stay still before a corner kick.
The Gophers move on to play top-seeded Penn State in the tournament semifinals Friday. The Nittany Lions defeated Northwestern 3-0 earlier Wednesday.
The other semifinal, also on Friday, will feature Illinois against Michigan State.
The Illini defeated Ohio State 4-2 in penalty kicks Wednesday. The Spartans also needed penalty kicks in their 4-3 defeat of Iowa.
“I really feel like our team has been playing better as the season has worn on,” Denney Wright said. “For us it’s just continuing to do the things that we do well. We’re looking to extend our season, and we feel like we most likely have to win the Big Ten tournament to do that.”
Minnesota would likely not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament without a Big Ten title.
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