The Gophers women’s soccer team will play Michigan at 2 p.m. Friday at Robbie Stadium in St. Paul in the first semifinal of the Big Ten tournament.
No. 8-ranked Minnesota (14-3-3, 7-1-3 conference) tied Northwestern and Penn State for the league title, but got seeded No. 1 for the Big Ten playoffs on tiebreakers.
The Gophers beat Indiana 3-1 this past Sunday in the quarterfinals, thereby getting the chance to host this week’s semifinals — Northwestern plays Rutgers at 4:30 p.m. Friday — and championship match because they were the highest seed still playing.
Michigan (10-4-4, 6-3-2), the fourth seed, edged Wisconsin on penalty kicks after the teams tied 1-1 in regulation in the quarterfinals.
The Wolverines and Gophers tied 0-0 after double overtime when they played on Oct. 16 in Ann Arbor. That was the same result as in 2015.
The Gophers, who have a seven-match unbeaten streak (5-0-2) are led by senior forward Simone Kolander, who has 11 goals, tied for second in the Big Ten.
On Thursday, she was named one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award in her sport. Minnesota goalkeeper Tarah Hobbs has a 0.56 goals-against average and a .820 save percentage. She has nine shutouts.
Nicky Waldeck, who scored the one goal in regulation against the Badgers, leads Michigan in goals with eight while Reilly Martin has seven goals, Ani Sarkisian six and Abby Kastroll five. Nobody else has more than one. Keeper Sarah Jackson has a 1.04 goals-against average and a .810 save percentage with six shutouts.
“[The Wolverines] are a very tough team, really athletic,” Kolander said recently on Gophers Sports Update radio show. “They match us in a lot of areas. … The key for us is going to be patience on offense.
“Last time around — they play a different style than we do. They drop their defense really far back. And so a lot of times we were shooting from far out, which is exactly what they want us to do.
“Hopefully, we will get some really good chances closer to the goal, which is always helpful.”
Minnesota scored the most goals in conference regular-season matches (23) and allowed the fewest (3). This is the Gophers 16th appearance in the conference tournament; they have won it only once, in 1995.