When Minnesota and Michigan met earlier this year, they played 110 minutes of scoreless soccer. The Gophers worked much more quickly today, getting on the board early and securing a spot in the Big Ten final.
Right from the opening whistle, Minnesota played a high press in an attempt to open up the game and get Michigan out of their comfort zone. It only took 8 minutes for the Gophers to force a turnover and take the lead, with co-captain Josee Stiever ripping a shot off the post and Julianna Gernes there to finish it off for a 1-0 lead.
It was a familiar feeling for Gernes, who has scored in each of the past three matches for Minnesota. “Getting the goal right off the bat and shutting them down is something we focus on a lot.”
WATCH: Julianna Gernes with the first goal of the game!https://t.co/WOyJ7TPU6f
— Minnesota Soccer (@GopherSoccer) November 4, 2016
Head coach Stefanie Golan was especially proud to see the game plan executed so well considering the stakes of the match. “It was great to get on the board early. And that came directly from our pressure.”
Though the Gophers finished far ahead of the Wolverines in terms of shots (13 to 7) and corners (6 to 2), the second half saw Minnesota play fairly conservatively as they looked to protect their lead.
“We adjusted our formation a little bit and sat with four midfielders to try to keep the ball in our end and play a little more defensively,” Stiever said. “They were definitely putting the pressure on in the second half.”
In the end, even as they mounted a more proactive attack, Michigan never truly threatened the result. Keeper Tarah Hobbs finished with only three saves thanks to the stout play of Minnesota’s backline.
Now the Gophers look ahead to the Big Ten final this Sunday against Rutgers, who beat Northwestern 1-0 in the second match of the day.
#1 Minnesota vs #7 Rutgers
1:00 p.m. CT
Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium
Big Ten Network and BTN2GO