As crazy as it seems, the upcoming 2012 season will be the University of Minnesota's 20th year of having a women's soccer program. To pay tribute to the past 19 seasons, we will take a look back in time this summer and highlight the evolution of Gopher soccer year-by-year. The weekly updates will help us commemorate all the great moments in program history as we head into the highly-anticipated 2012 season, which kicks off August 17 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium against NCAA College Cup participant Florida State.
Our first installment of this summer-long series will take us back to where it all started, the inaugural season in 1993.
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The University of Minnesota embarked on a new era in the fall of 1993, when the Golden Gophers women's soccer team took the pitch for the first time. Head coach Sue Montagne and a youthful Gopher squad would go on to post a 13-6 record in the inaugural season and go 3-2 against future Big Ten Conference schools. (The Big Ten didn't recognize women's soccer as a conference sport until the 1994 season.)
Minnesota began its inaugural year on September 4 at Bierman Track & Field and Soccer Stadium when the Golden Gophers hosted Creighton in front of 455 spectators. Although, the Maroon & Gold lost 3-2, they built a reputation as an intense program as they surprised the Bluejays by jumping out to a 2-0 first-half lead. Freshman Jennifer Walek scored Minnesota's first goal in school history when her crossing pass from the right side was aided by the wind and floated over the head of the Creighton goalkeeper. Walek also recorded the Gophers' first assist when she contributed on senior Anne Meitz's goal late in the first half to put the Gophers up 2-0.
After dropping their next game to Green Bay, Minnesota would go on a five-game winning streak, including a pair of victories against future Big Ten participants Indiana and Michigan State. Walek started the streak off hot as she capped a hat trick against Valparaiso in the first of five games. The streak was snapped on October 1 in a 1-0 overtime loss to a familiar foe in Creighton. The defeat put the Gophers at 7-3 through the first 10 games of the season.
The thriving first-year program soon ran into 17th-ranked Wisconsin, who was in its 13th season of collegiate soccer, on October 8 and suffered a 5-0 setback. Despite getting shutout by the rival Badgers, Minnesota rebounded and constructed a four-game winning streak with all four opponents being shutout by the Gophers. In the first game of the streak, which was against St. Thomas, freshman Erin Hussey tallied a hat trick.
Minnesota closed out the year by dropping two of its final three contests. Walek would record her second hat trick of the season against Marquette on October 30 in the Gophers' lone win during that three-game span.
As a team, the 1993 club has the highest goals per game average in school history (3.42) along with ranking second in points with 174.
Walek was a large part of the offensive burst from the Gophers as she finished the year as the team leader in points with 53 behind 22 goals and nine assists. For her efforts, she finished tied for fifth in the country in scoring and was a second team NSCAA/UMBRO All-Central Region honoree. The forward's point and goal totals still are the most in a single season for any Gopher.
Brandt finished second on the team in scoring with 36 points behind 15 goals and six assists. She missed the national scoring chart by three points but finished 14th in the Central Region in scoring. Brandt point total also sits fourth in Minnesota history.
In goal for the Gophers for most of the year was freshman Teresa O'Hearn. O'Hearn started 13 of the team's 19 games and allowed 25 goals while recording 73 saves. O'Hearn accounted for 2.5 of Minnesota's shutouts on the year while fellow freshman keeper Jami Philip garnered 5.5 shutouts in her six starts.