In a season that came with many ups and downs, the Nebraska women’s soccer team will be looking to finish off its regular season against Minnesota on Friday with some closure.
Coming into the season with disappointment about not making the Big Ten Tournament last season and a roster filled with freshmen, the Huskers were uncertain about what the season would bring. Despite a rough start to the season, the Huskers have managed to come together down the stretch to grab some key conference wins that earned them a spot in the conference tournament.
“I think that this year we are much more cohesive as a unit,” junior defender Maritza Hayes said. “Last year there was a lot of individual play, and now I think we play more for each other and we can look at the overall big picture.”
While the Huskers have earned a spot in the tournament, they aren’t looking to just coast.
Friday’s home game against Minnesota will be a tough test for Nebraska leading up to the Big Ten Tournament, which starts Wednesday. Last year the Huskers lost a high-scoring 6-3 game in Minneapolis, which ultimately cost the team a spot in the eight-team tournament. While this year the tournament isn’t on the line for the Huskers, their expectations for the game are still just as high.
“We just want to prove that we do deserve that spot in the tournament and we are a good team and we can compete with any team,” junior forward Stacy Bartels said.
This year the Gophers have proved to be a tough contender in the Big Ten with a 10-7-1 record. They are led by sophomore forward Taylor Uhl, who leads the Big Ten with 19 goals this season and is ranked third nationally.
Right now Nebraska is sitting tied for seventh with Indiana in the Big Ten standings, but the Huskers hold the tiebreaker with a victory over the Hoosiers earlier in the season. A win against Minnesota or a loss by Indiana this weekend will allow Nebraska to keep that No. 7 seed. Although Nebraska could rely on an Indiana loss, it wants to secure a win on Friday to head into the tournament with some confidence.
“I think it will be a really even game, and it will just come down to probably the little things to see which team gets the win,” Bartels said.
Last weekend the Huskers came away with a 2-1 overtime win against Iowa, but suffered a 4-1 loss to Illinois. With a win on Friday, the Huskers could head into the Big Ten Tournament with some more momentum on their side and work out some of their kinks before the tournament begins.
“I think a lot of times teams overlook us and they think it will be an easier game,” Hayes said. “But I think this is just a chance to show that we do mean business and that we aren’t just going to lie over. We are going to put up a fight.”