WESTFIELD, Ind. – The Gophers soccer team won the third Big Ten tournament title in program history — and the second in three years — with a dramatic shootout victory over top-seeded Penn State on Sunday.
The two teams played to a 0-0 draw through regulation and two overtimes before the Gophers outscored the Nittany Lions 5-4 in a seven-round shootout.
The victory automatically qualifies the Gophers (11-8-2) for the NCAA tournament. The announcement of the 64-team field will be made Monday afternoon.
Minnesota became the fourth No. 7 seed to win the tournament title and the first since Wisconsin in 2005.
“I love this group,” Gophers coach Stefanie Golan said. “Our senior group is one that logs a lot of minutes and they are super invested. The younger players are stepping up and helping them with that.”
Makenzie Langdok converted the decisive penalty kick in the seventh round of the shootout before Gophers goalkeeper Maddie Nielsen came up with a save on Penn State’s Frankie Tagliaferri to secure the win.
Nielsen, who recorded shutouts in all three of Minnesota’s tournament games, was selected as the Defensive Player of the Tournament, while teammate April Bockin, who scored three goals in the tournament and converted her penalty kick attempt in the shootout, was chosen as the Offensive Player of the Tournament.
Penn State (15-5-1) was attempting to become the first team to win back-to-back tournament championships since it pulled off that feat in 2000 and 2001. In 28 previous meetings with the Gophers, the Nittany Lions were 22-5-1.
Penn State had won nine in a row and hadn’t lost since Sept. 27. The Nittany Lions defeated the Gophers 2-0 two weeks ago to claim the regular-season title outright.
“I thought it was a hard-fought battle,” Penn State coach Erica Dambach said. “I thought Minnesota did a good job, they had a good game plan and keeping us off the board. I thought we did a really nice job defensively on April Bockin, who is a great goal-scorer. We had our chances and we weren’t able to capitalize, and obviously that is the name of the game.”
The Gophers’ other goal scorers in the shootout were Haley Hartkemeyer, Emily Peterson and T.J. McKendrick.
The Gophers, who were 5-5-1 in conference play during the regular season, advanced to the final by beating No. 2 Rutgers in the quarterfinals 1-0 and No. 6 Nebraska 2-0 in the semis.
Penn State outshot the Gophers 17-14, and the Gophers had eight shots on goal to Penn State’s four.