The Gophers women's soccer team stopped a monthlong winless spell last Friday in a rout of South Dakota State in St. Paul. Its next goal: conjure up a winning spell this weekend that takes the Gophers deep into the NCAA tournament.
Senior Taylor Stainbrook scored twice in the Gophers' 5-0 victory over the Jackrabbits in the tournament's first-round, and she summed up the team's rally afterward. "We had a little lapse the past couple of games," she said, "but tonight we showed that we can carry out our work."
Their next two matches, however, likely won't be that easy. The Gophers are one of four teams in a pod hosted by No. 2 seed West Virginia. Minnesota plays Loyola Marymount in the Round of 32 at 2 p.m. Friday; if it wins, it would play at noon Sunday.
Josee Stiever also scored last Friday, and she was already looking ahead after the first-round victory: "No one was or is ready for this season to be over yet. We'll be ready."
Here's what's next:
2 p.m. Friday
During the Gophers' winless stretch from early October to early November, Loyola Marymount lost just once, going 5-1 to reach the NCAAs. In the first round, the Lions toppled 17th-ranked Cal 1-0 in Berkeley. "I'm so happy for our seniors," coach Michelle Myers said after the victory. "We have nine seniors and their leadership has been fantastic all year long."
It was a freshman, however, who was the key against the Bears. Goalkeeper Charlee Pruitt made four saves in the Lions' 11th shutout of the season. The victory was the latest record-setter for the Lions. Their 14-5-1 record is best in program history, and the defeat of Cal was the school's first NCAA tournament victory.
If Gophers win Friday ...
If the Gophers beat the Lions on Friday in Morgantown, W.Va., they would face the winner between Northwestern and West Virginia. The Gophers did not play either team in the regular season. The Wildcats (14-5-2, 7-3-1 Big Ten) finished two spots ahead of sixth place Minnesota (12-6-3, 6-4-1) in the conference standings.