Blog: Looking Back on 20 Years of Soccer - 1999

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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.

Today's installment takes us to 1999, which was highlighted by yet another NCAA Tournament berth and the opening of Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

Schedule/Results l Roster l Statistics l Photo Gallery

The 1999 season of Minnesota soccer may not be remembered as much for what happened on the field than for the field itself. The seventh season of Golden Gopher soccer opened a new era with the opening of the state-of-the-art Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

A single-match record crowd of 1,432, which was later broke in 2005 and now sits fifth all-time, filled the stadium past capacity to watch the Gophers win the first match at ELR over Arizona State, 1-0, on September 4. Fans circled the field to create an atmosphere unlike any other in Minnesota soccer history. The crowd erupted when senior Laurie Seidl netted the first goal in the Gophers' new home.

After a season-opening win over UW-Milwaukee and then the win over ASU, Minnesota climbed into the national poll for the only time in 1999, tabbing a No. 22 ranking.

That national ranking would be lost as the Gophers fell victim to a three-match losing skid, with losses to Iowa State, Southern Methodist and No. 21 Illinois. After only notching two goals in the three matches, Minnesota showcased what would become a common trend throughout the year, finding a way to score.

Still struggling offensively, the Gophers traveled to Iowa in hopes of averting a disastrous 0-2 start to the Big Ten season. Minnesota escaped with a 2-1 overtime triumph after senior Nicole Lee blasted the game-winning goal with only seconds left in the second overtime period.

The Maroon & Gold returned home to defeat Michigan State, 2-0, before hosting Northwestern on September 26, which was the day ELR was dedicated. After pre-match ceremonies that included Deborah Olson honoring her late mother, for whom the stadium is named, the Gophers used a Lee goal in the 50th minute to capture a 1-0 victory over Northwestern. Sophomore defender Juli Montgomery was tagged Big Ten Player of the Week following the shutout victories over the Spartans and Wildcats.

Minnesota saw their record dip to 5-5 with road losses to Ohio State and No. 5 Penn State before a five-match home stand turned the tide with the Gophers winning four-of-five matches. Minnesota ended the stretch with a 1-0 win over rival Wisconsin, securing a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten with a 6-4-0 record.

The Gophers won two-of-three non-conference contests to end the regular season, defeating Evansville and Alabama. They then watched No. 14 Kentucky gain a bit of revenge, shutting out the Gophers, 2-0, avenging a drubbing at the hands of the Maroon & Gold in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.

Tagged as the fourth seed for the Big Ten Tournament, Minnesota advanced to the semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Ohio State. The Gophers were eliminated from the tourney in a hard-fought, 2-1, decision to regular-season champion Penn State. Montgomery would be named to the All-Tournament team for her efforts.

The Golden Gophers would receive their fifth-straight invitation to the NCAA Tournament field and hosted Eastern Michigan on November 10. Minnesota earned passage to the NCAA second round for the third consecutive season with a 2-0 victory.

Minnesota's second-round opponent, No. 5-ranked Nebraska, turned out to be too much for the Gophers as the Cornhuskers ended their season with a 5-0 defeat.

The Maroon & Gold ended their season with a 13-9-0 record. Along the way, they averaged a home attendance of 904, which ranked No. 18 in the nation and ranks fifth in program history.

Following the conclusion of the 1999 season, Golden Gopher head coach Sue Montagne resigned from her position to become the head coach at the University of Georgia. During her time with the Gophers, Montagne compiled a 97-42-9 record, garnered two Big Ten titles and made five-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Montagne's assistant coach Barbara Wickstrand would later be announced the new head coach on January 27.

Lee and Montgomery would be the lone representatives of Minnesota on the NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region teams. Montgomery was recognized as a second-team selection as she was the leader on a defense that posted 10 shutouts on the year while Lee was named a third-teamer for leading the Gophers in scoring.

Montgomery and Lee would be joined by Seidl on the All-Big Ten soccer honors squad. The lone first-team selection was Montgomery, who played all but 43 minutes of the Gophers' 22 matches. Lee and Seidl were named second team, All-Big Ten and each received their third-career Big Ten accolade.

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