The Gophers' women's soccer team headed into Sunday's matchup against South Dakota State hoping to build upon its first win of the season against NC State just three days earlier. However, a stifling performance by Jackrabbits goaltender Maggie Smither kept the Gophers from scoring a goal as SDSU beat the Gophers 1-0.
After a brief ceremony honoring the team's six seniors, the Gophers were quick to get going against the Jackrabbits. Katie Duong registered the first shot of the game just four minutes after substituting in for senior T.J. McKendrick. Minnesota continued to pressure the Jackrabbits in the first half, taking eight shots with five of them on goal.
Despite that, Minnesota wasn't able to get on the scoreboard in the first half. In the second half, the Gophers continued applying offensive pressure, but still remained scoreless. The problem, head coach Stefanie Golan said, was despite getting shots on goal, not enough of them came from inside the box.
"We had a lot of shots, too many from distance. We're fine with taking some of those from distance, but then we need to look to drive to get more inside the 18 than what we did today. On the whole, it was a pretty average performance from our standpoint, and they took advantage of a poor moment from us," she said.
The team finished with 16 shots, tied for the most this season, and seven shots on goal.
The moment that gave SDSU the lead came during the 63rd minute, when the Jackrabbits managed to regain possession from Minnesota, who had the ball after a foul on the Jackrabbits' Marisa Schulz. Forward Leah Manuleleua managed to get past the Gophers' back line and score on a breakaway, unassisted. The Gophers were unable to respond to that goal, and 1-0 was the final score.
The loss drops the Gophers to 1-5-2 on the season and wraps up their non-conference games. The team's last 11 games will come against Big Ten opponents.
This loss is untimely for the Gophers not only because they had earned their first win of the season just days before, but it was senior day as well.
"It's a game we all knew we should have won, so I think there was a lot of pressure on winning, and then when it wasn't clicking and it wasn't connecting it was frustrating. I don't think we knew how to work our way out of that," Senior Haley Hartkemeyer said. "I think we need to play faster, we need to play our game. I think we played more SDSU than Minnesota soccer, and that was out downfall".
The Gophers will be playing away from home this week at Rutgers on Friday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m.