2012 Big Ten Preseason Coaches' Poll Released

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The Big Ten Conference released their 2012 women's soccer preseason coaches' poll this afternoon, so I am going to do a little analyzing of the rankings. Below is the poll as voted by the league's coaches:

1. Penn State
2. Illinois
3. Ohio State
4. Wisconsin
5. Michigan
6. Iowa
    Michigan State
8. Minnesota
9. Purdue
10. Nebraska
11. Northwestern

12. Indiana


The top two teams are no surprises. Penn State, who is currently ranked No. 9 nationally, won its 14th-straight Big Ten title last fall and returns a plethora of talent all around the pitch. Illinois slips in at second after upsetting the Nittany Lions in the Big Ten Tournament Championship. The Fighting Illini enter the season ranked No. 19 in the national preseason poll. Both teams have stars on the field as PSU tallies two players that were named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List in forward Maya Hayes and defender Christine Nairn while Illinois has one in midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo.

I feel that these were nearly given answers to which teams were going to start the season on top of the league.

No. 3 and 4 are Ohio State and Wisconsin. Both are teams that tied the Gophers in the 2011 regular season, despite the Buckeyes not making it to the Big Ten Tournament and the Badgers losing to Minnesota in the opening round. OSU, who is receiving votes in the national preseason poll, did not make the Big Ten Tournament, but they still qualified for the NCAA Tournament and reached the Sweet 16. The lone flag raised between these two is the fact Wisconsin returns only five starters from last season.

These two teams are necessarily surprises since both generally finish near the top of the conference year in and year out.

At the next three slots, we have Michigan, Iowa and Michigan State. These three field quality teams every year but struggle to consistently crack into the top tier of the league. All three have powerful attackers, so don't be surprised if one of these three makes some noise this fall.

At No. 8 sit the Golden Gophers, a squad that finished fifth in the regular season and made it to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota returns nine starters from last season along with the return of fifth-year senior Tamara Strahota, who sat out all of 2011 due to a leg injury. The Gophers have a youthful team, but with nine starters returning, they are a poised squad.

I feel that this ranking doesn't reflect as much on the team's ability as it does the late coaching change. There is a little shock that a team which returns so much from a semi-successful season, is listed in the bottom half of the league, but then again the Gophers have had to learn a new system in under a month..

Rounding out the final four are Purdue, Nebraska, Northwestern and Indiana. All four have nowhere to go up after faltering last season. At times in 2011, each team showed spurts of being feared program, but by the end of the year, the quartet of teams missed out on the Big Ten Tournament. Don't be surprised if Purdue or Nebraska plays a spoiler roll this season as they each posses a youthful and hungry squad.

All in all, the season starts in three days, and the coaches have spoken. But come Friday, everyone is 0-0-0, and how each team plays throughout the season will speak for itself.

Blog: Looking Back on 20 Years of Soccer - 2003

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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 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.

Today's installment takes us to 2003, which was another troublesome season for the Golden Gophers as they began the season hot but would falter later in the year to end with a 6-10-2 record.

Schedule/Results l Photo Gallery

The University of Minnesota started the 2003 season on the right track as they defeated Buffalo, 4-2, with four separate players notching a goal. The Golden Gophers followed that victory with a 1-1 draw with Creighton two days later.

The Maroon & Gold hit the road the following weekend for their first road trip to the Wildcat Classic in Evansville, Ill. In their first match, the Gophers dropped a 3-1 decision to Ohio, despite outshooting the Bobcats. Minnesota would rebound from the loss and shutout Florida Atlantic in the next game for a 1-0 triumph.

The following weekend Minnesota would have a one-game weekend, which was at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium against Western Illinois. The Gophers again would record a shutout as they defeated the Lethernecks, 3-0.

The Golden Gophers would remain home the next weekend as they welcomed Purdue for the Big Ten Conference opener. The Boilermakers would notch goals in both halves to trump Minnesota 2-0. The Gophers came back on Sunday to oust Indiana, 2-1.

Minnesota looked to build off their big win over the Hoosiers but slipped up in Michigan as both the Wolverines and Spartans outmatched the Gophers.

The Maroon & Gold snapped the two-game losing streak against Northwestern the following weekend. The Wildcats grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the first half, but the Gophers answered minutes later to tie the match up. A late goal in the first half capped off the 2-1 win.

The Gophers would drop the next two games against Illinois and Colorado. With hopes of getting another Big Ten win, Minnesota came up short but was able to force a tie with Iowa after trailing late in the game.

Minnesota's winless streak would continue as they were defeated in their next four matches.

The Golden Gophers capped off the 2003 campaign with a 2-1 win at Iowa State. The win was significant in that it ended a 13-match road winless streak, as well as a seven-match winless streak.

Big news following the season was that head coach Barbara Wickstrand did not have her contract renewed. Wickstrand spent four years at the helm of the program and compiled a 26-43-4 record. Later in the year, her successor would be named, Mikki Denney Wright.

Haley Lentsch was the bright spot on a tough season for the Gophers as she was selected to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team after leading the team with 19 points and seven goals.

Blog: Looking Back on 20 Years of Soccer - 2002

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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 2002, which served as a rebuilding year for the program as they suited up 17 underclassmen. The youthful team showed a lot of poise but would post its third-straight below .500 record, which was deceiving since seven of the squad's losses were by one goal.

Schedule/Results l Roster l Statistics l Photo Gallery


The Golden Gophers began the 2002 campaign with a neutral-site matchup against Washington State in Missoula, Mont.  The youthful squad was unable to get things going against the Cougars as the Maroon & Gold dropped a 2-0 decision.

Two days later, Minnesota would shutout host Montana, 1-0, and begin a five-game winning streak. The lone goal of the match was scored by Marshall transfer Amanda McMahon in the 52nd minute.

The streak came alive in their first two home matches of the season as they blanked Southwest Missouri State, 3-0, and edged out Colorado, 3-2. Over the two games, the Gophers received two goals from McMahon and three from junior Rachael Roth.

Minnesota stretched the streak to five-matches the following weekend as they tallied a pair of 1-0 shutouts against Iowa State and Cincinnati. In both contests, Roth was the hero as she scored the lone goals. The Maroon & Gold defense was stiff all weekend as they allowed a combine five shots on goal.

The streak would come to a halt once Big Ten Conference play began as the Golden Gophers dropped a one-goal decision on the road to Purdue, which began a three-game losing streak with all being 1-0 losses. The other two would come at the hands of Indian and Michigan State.

In the loss to the Spartans, the Maroon & Gold suffered not only a defeat, but the loss of McMahon, who was carted off the field in the 24th minute with a lower leg injury. The transfer would not see action the rest of the season.

After being shutout the last three matches, Minnesota exploded against No. 14 Michigan as they recorded four goals in a 4-0 victory at home. Roth served as the team's spark as she notched her first-career hat trick with all of her goals coming in the second half.

Despite snapping the losing streak and having momentum heading into the next week, the Gophers would stumble against Iowa and Illinois before tying with UW-Milwaukee, 2-2. Even though the draw stopped a losing streak, it still continued a winless streak for Minnesota as they would go on and lose their next four matches, making the winless streak seven games long.

Minnesota finally came out on top in their final home match of the year as the topped Drake, 2-1. But the season would end as it started, as the Gophers fell by a 2-0 deficit this time to Denver.

The Maroon & Gold ended the season with a 7-11-1 overall record and 1-9-0 in the conference. Despite what the record says, the Gophers posed threats in nearly all of their contests since seven of their losses came down to a one-goal differential.

Roth was the lone Gopher to receive a Big Ten accolade at the end of the year as she was named to the second team. The junior from Wayzata, Minn. led the team in goals (11), assists (four) and points (26).

Blog: Looking Back on 20 Years of Soccer - 2001

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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 2001, which was a season where Minnesota struggled to put the ball in the back of the net, and for the second-straight season, the Golden Gophers finished under .500.

Schedule/Results l Roster l Statistics 


The Maroon & Gold began the 2001 season on a positive note with a 1-0 victory over Xavier on the road. Both teams were scoreless through the first half, but Minnesota's Rachael Roth put the ball in at the 85-minute mark.

The Gophers weren't as fortunate in the next three matches as they were shutout by Cincinnati, Brigham Young and St. Mary's.

Minnesota would recuperate over the next week and then squeeze out a victory in their first Big Ten Conference of the year at Ohio State. The Golden Gophers, who struggled to generate offensive opportunities all season, notched the lone goal of the match in the 64th minute when senior Allison Rackley found the back of the net. Despite being outshot, 21-1, Minnesota pulled out the triumph again the Buckeyes.

After dropping the next game to Penn State, 4-0, the Gophers returned home to host Illinois and snag a 2-0 win. Roth was credited with both goals as she scored one in each period.

The Maroon & Gold would continue to struggle scoring goals as they dropped their next four matches, losing to Iowa, Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern. In those four games, Minnesota tallied two goals while their opponents combined for nine.

Minnesota would snap the losing streak on the road as they trumped border-rival Wisconsin 2-1 in overtime. The Badgers would get on the board first in the 56th minute, but the Gophers rallied as Roth equalized the game in the 74th minute. As the first overtime came close to expiring, Samantha Meyers was the hero as she dribbled a shot in from six yards out to snap the losing streak.

Despite having an energetic, overtime win over Wisconsin, Minnesota would falter in their next four matches as they were shutout in four-straight games.

With one game remaining, the Gophers wanted to end the season on a high note as the hosted Iowa State, and that is what they did as they defeated the Cyclones 1-0 in overtime. Again, Roth came up with the heroics as she notched the game winner in the 112th minute.

The win ended Minnesota's season with a 5-12-0 overall record and 3-7-0 mark in the Big Ten. All in all, the Gophers only scored nine goals on the season, which was and is still the lowest scoring season in program history.

Blog: Looking Back on 20 Years of Soccer - 2000

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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 200, which was
marked the first coaching change in the history of Minnesota soccer. Barbara Wickstrand succeeded Sue Montagne to become the second head coach in Golden Gopher history.

Schedule/Results l Roster l Statistics l Photo Gallery


The season was a roller-coaster ride. After losing eight seniors to graduation, there were often time that the Gophers' lineup featured up to seven players in their first or second year of collegiate soccer. The result was a team that struggled to put the ball in the net, tallying just 20 goals en route to the first losing record in Minnesota soccer history.

The Gophers began their 2000 campaign with a rematch with Nebraska, the team that ended Minnesota's season in the second round of the NCAA Tournament the previous fall. The No. 5-ranked Huskers jumped on the Gophers early with two goals in the first 10 minutes and never looked back in defeating the Maroon & Gold by a 4-0 count.

One of the biggest highlights of the season came in the second match of the season, when No. 19 Kentucky visited Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. Minnesota used a goal by Laurie Seidl to defeat the Wildcats, 1-0. The win was the first of Coach Wickstrand's career and the first Gopher win over a nationally ranked team since 1998.

Playing their third-straight match at home to start the year, the Gophers improved to 2-1 on the season with a 1-0 victory over Iowa State in their next outing. The consecutive shutout victories earned goalkeeper Julie Eibensteiner Co-Big Ten Player of the Week honors, as well as a spot on the Soccer America Team of the Week.

The momentum shifted the following weekend, as the Gophers dropped non-conference matches to Montana and Detroit-Mercy. A 5-1 victory over Iowa was the only bright spot as Minnesota lost five matches in a six-match stretch.
Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!
Juli Montgomery
Go Gophers!

Starting on October 1, Minnesota captured four-straight shutout wins to pull their season record to 7-6. Starting defender Juli Montgomery was lost to a broken foot but replacing her was a concern for only a short time as Samantha Meyers moved from her midfield position to sweeper and excelled, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors at season's end.

The Gophers started the streak with a 2-0 win over Ohio State. Rookie Kecia Lee scored both goals for the only multi-goal match of the season for the Maroon & Gold.

Minnesota then went on the road for a pair of matches, capturing a 2-0 win at Purdue and a hard-fought 1-0 triumph at Indiana. The Gophers ended their home season with the last victory in the stretch, defeating Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1-0, on a goal by Rachael Roth.

Michigan State broke the Gophers' winning streak but needed double overtime to do so, capturing a 1-0 victory on a goal in the 109th minute of play.

The Gophers followed with a loss to rival Wisconsin, 4-2, and defeated Northwestern, 2-1 in overtime, to finish the Big Ten season with a 5-5-0 record and in a sixth-place tie in the league standings.

Minnesota traveled to Arizona for the final weekend of regular season. The Gophers lost a 2-0 contest to No. 10 Brigham Young, and then played host Arizona State to a 1-1 tie in double overtime.

The tie-breaker to decide seeding for the Big Ten Tournament dropped the Gophers down to the eighth seed and a quarterfinal match against regular-season champion No. 7 Penn State.

Minnesota weathered the storm for 89 minutes, holding the Nittany Lions scoreless with Eibensteiner, who was named to the All-Tournament team, collecting a career-high 13 saves. But with 56 seconds left in regulation, Penn State's All-American Christie Welsh bounced a ball into the Gophers' goal to give PSU the late win and end the Gophers season.

The Gophers would have Alison Rackley and Meyers would be the lone players tagged for postseason honors. Rackley was named second team, All-Great Lakes Region and first team, All-Big Ten while Meyers was selected as a second team, All-Big Ten defender.

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.

Blog: Looking Back on 20 Years of Soccer - 1998

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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 1998, which was the program's sixth season and culminated in its fourth-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.


Schedule/Results l Roster l Statistics l Photo Gallery


After a season-opening 1-0 loss to Cincinnati, the Golden Gophers came home and posted a pair of 7-0 wins over Minnesota-Duluth and UW-Green Bay and added a 4-2 victory over Pudue in the span of seven days. Senior Laurie Seidl scored eight of those goals and was an honorable mention choice for national player of the week honors by College Soccer Weekly.

The Gophers climbed to a 5-1-0 record to begin the season, but a big downfall came during the last weekend of September, when Minnesota dropped its first two Big Ten home contests with a 2-0 loss to Wisconsin and 2-1 defeat at the hands of Northwestern.

The rollercoaster season began to climb back up the following weekend as the Gophers traveled to Michigan and left the Great Lakes State with a 4-1 win over No. 24 Michigan and a 1-0 win over Michigan State.

That, however, was shadowed by another dip as the Maroon & Gold dropped a heartbreaking 3-2 overtime decision to Penn State, only to be followed by a 1-0 loss at home to Ohio State two days later.

Minnesota's fortunes climbed once against when they closed the conference schedule with a 1-0 win at home over No. 17 Indiana. Freshman Julie Eibensteiner won in her first career start and fellow rookie Alison Rackley scored the game's lone goal in the 89th minute. A 3-1 win over Illinois followed, and the Gophers went on to win four non-conference matches to close the regular season with a six-game winning streak.

The Gophers would go ahead and draw Indiana in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. For the second consecutive year, Minnesota bowed out in a game decided on penalty kicks after playing 120 minutes to a 2-2 draw.

Despite exiting the tournament early for the second-straight season, the Gophers received a NCAA Tournament bid and would host Kentucky. Minnesota trumped the Wildcats 6-0 behind junior Nicole Lee's one goal and three assist performance.

Four days later, the Maroon & Gold traveled to Portland, Ore. to face No. 5 Portland. The Pilots used a five-minute span of the second half to score all their goals in a 3-0 victory.

Minnesota closed out the season with a 14-6-1 overall record and went 5-4-0 in the Big Ten. The Gophers, who historically play very well at home, went 6-3 at St. Paul Campus Soccer Field, which at the time was the most home losses in program history.

Four Gopher players were honored at the end of the season with All-Great Lakes Region honors. Lee was the lone Gopher to receive first team honors while Seidl and Vanessa Touset were named to the second team. Rackley was chosen to the Great Lakes Region All-Rookie team.

Lee, Seidl and Touset, all who served as co-captains for the Gophers, also were named first team, All-Big Ten. Lee earned first-team honors after being a second-team pick last season. She led the Big Ten in goals and points. Seidl, the Big Ten's Newcomer of the Year in 1997, earned first-team honors after finishing second in the conference in goals and third in points. Touset was named to the first team for the second consecutive year.

Blog: Looking Back on 20 Years of Soccer - 1997

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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 1997, which was a season that saw the Gophers claim their first NCAA victory and served as the program's winningest season up until 2008.

Schedule/Results I Roster I Statistics I Photo Gallery


After having a difficult season a year earlier due to injuries, the Golden Gophers had a positive outlook on the 1997 season as they returned an experienced squad, including the last two Big Ten Players of the Year.

Minnesota would start the year off with a pair of home victories over Evansville and Montana at the St. Paul Campus Soccer Complex.

The program's home streak would be cut short as Cincinnati came a scored only the fifth victory for an opponent in the Twin Cities, 3-1. Two days later, the No. 21-ranked Maroon & Gold edged out Washington State, 3-2, thanks to a goal from sophomore Megan Johnson in the 70th minute. The win began a 15-game unbeaten streak for the Golden Gophers, which is still the longest in school history. The following week, the Gophers played a tight match with UW-Milwaukee as they received their only tie of the streak.

The Gophers would suffocate their next five opponents as the recorded four shutouts in those contests. The lone game that wasn't a shutout was a 4-1 triumph over rival Wisconsin. Of those five matches, four of them were against Big Ten schools.
Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!
Nicole Lee
Go Gophers!

No. 21 Minnesota pulled off an upset to start October as they hosted No. 11 Michigan and pulled out a 4-3 double overtime victory as Nicole Lee notched the game winner in the 115th minute. A pair of days later, they turned around and shutout Michigan State, 4-0, which marks the last time the Gophers completed a sweep in the annual Michigan-Michigan State weekend.

The Maroon & Gold would hop back on the road the following weekend to defeat Indiana, 3-1, and Ohio State in a double overtime thriller, 2-1. The triumph in Columbus, Ohio clinched the regular season Big Ten title for the Golden Gophers.

The Gophers had a hiccup in the following game as they allowed Penn State to jump out to a 3-0 lead within the first 15 minutes of the match, but Minnesota rallied to knot up the match at 3-3 and snag the 4-3 victory in overtime. The win capped off an undefeated conference season for the Gophers, which had never happened before in the Big Ten.

Minnesota would go on and record a trio of home shutouts against UW-Green Bay, Butler and Baylor before losing to No. 7 Nebraska, 3-1, in the regular season finale.

The Golden Gophers carried the top seed into the Big Ten Tournament as they were set to face Michigan State. Minnesota would make quick work of the Spartans, winning 2-0 and not allowing a shot on goal.

In the second round, the Gophers drew Northwestern. The Maroon & Gold snagged an early 2-0 lead in the first 15 minutes of the match, but the Wildcats battled back to force overtime and then a shootout after the scored remained knotted at 2-2 following two overtime periods. After five kicks, the shootout was tied 4-4, sending it to a sudden death shootout. Northwestern would come away with the victory in the fifth round of the shootout and send Minnesota home early.

Despite losing in the conference tournament, the Golden Gophers would receive a NCAA Tournament bid and host UW-Milwaukee at the St. Paul Campus Soccer Complex. The Maroon & Gold allowed the Panthers to take a 1-0 lead in the first half, but they would eventually take control and notch a pair of goals for the Gophers' first NCAA Tournament win in program history.

Minnesota advanced to the second round and drew the tough task of playing No. 3 Santa Clara at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. In front of 1,108 fans, the Gophers were handed its worst lose all season as the Broncos bombarded Minnesota with four first half scores. The Maroon & Gold would receive a goal from Jennifer McElmury at the 62nd-minute mark, but the damage was done and Santa Clara advanced with a 5-1 victory.

The Gophers would finish the year with an 18-3-2 record, which marked the most wins in program history. That mark would later be surpassed in 2008 when the program garnered 22 victories. Minnesota won the Big Ten Championship after posting a 9-0 conference record, becoming the first team in history to achieve such an accomplishment. The Gophers were led by the Big Ten Coach of the Year Sue Montagne.

On the field, senior McElmury and Jennifer Walek led the Gophers. McElmury was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and an All-American for the second-straight season while Walek was a first team, All-Big Ten selection. McElmury finished the season with 12 goals and 32 points while Walek had five goals and eight assists for 18 points.

Lee, who was named second team, All-Big Ten, also picked up a major portion of the offense for Minnesota, scoring 13 goals and tallying 30 points. Laurie Seidl also received second team, All-Big Ten honors along with winning the Big Ten Newcomer of the Year award and being named a Freshman All-American. Seidl was third on the team in scoring with nine goals and seven assists for a combined total of 25 points.

Minnesota's defense, led by All-Big Ten selections juniors Jamie Wyffels and Vanessa Touset, was spectacular allowing only 30 goals all season and posting shutouts in 10 games.

In goal for the Gophers was sophomore first team, All-Big Ten goalkeeper Dana Larson. Larson played every minute for the Maroon & Gold and was 18-3-2 on the season with 10 shutouts and a goal against average of 1.22.

Blog: Looking Back on 20 Years of Soccer - 1996

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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 1996, which was a season that saw the Gophers reach its highest national ranking in school history along with a second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.


Schedule/Results l Roster l Statistics l Photo Gallery


The University of Minnesota experienced another successful season with a 13-7 overall record and a 5-2 mark in Big Ten Conference play. After some doubt, the Golden Gophers slipped into the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year and played a memorable game against Nebraska. But the year was not without a number of struggles as the Gophers suffered a number of key injuries early in the year, including season-ending knee injuries to Noelle Papenhausen and 1995 Big Ten Player of the Year Jennifer Walek.

The season started with a bang as the No. 14-ranked Gophers opened with a 10-0 victory over Valparaiso. In that game, senior Erin Hussey set two Minnesota and Big Ten records by scoring four goals and tallying 10 points, which are still records to this day. Hussey's efforts got her named Big Ten Player of the Week.

Minnesota would go on to win its next three matches to receive its first Top Ten national ranking at No. 10 on September 23 as they headed for the Portland Classic.

The Gophers' streak would be snapped in a 3-2 defeat to No. 4 Portland, a squad that was the national runner-up in 1995. The team didn't dwell on the loss long as they had to focus on their matchup with No. 14 Washington a day later. The Maroon & Gold would rebound with a 2-1 win over the Huskies.

After defeating UW-Milwaukee at St. Paul Campus Soccer Field, Minnesota opened Big Ten play with a road game at Penn State. The Gophers couldn't get the ball rolling, and the Nittany Lions pulled out a 3-2 overtime victory.

Minnesota returned home looking to regroup against Northwestern and Wisconsin after the heartbreaking loss. The Gophers snagged a hard-fought victory against Northwestern, 1-0, which would setup the showdown with the Badgers, the team Minnesota defeated for the Big Ten title in 1995. In front of a St. Paul Campus Field record crowd of 1,427, No. 16 Wisconsin would defeat the Gophers, 3-1.

Minnesota would come off the loss with a vengeance as they won their next five matches by outscoring their opponents 14-4 during the stretch.
Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!
Jennifer McElmury
Go Gophers!

The streak primed the Gophers for a matchup against national power No. 2 North Carolina in the Wisconsin Invitational. Minnesota would play the Tar Heels close but would end up getting shutout, 2-0, by the eventual 1996 National Champions. The loss to UNC didn't faze the Gophers as they rebounded to defeat North Illinois, 3-1, as Jennifer McElmury, Erin Hussey and Vanessa Touset were named to the all-tournament team.

Minnesota closed out the regular season with an unexpected loss to Evansville. It was only the third home loss in Minnesota history at the St. Paul Campus Soccer Field.

The Gophers entered the Big Ten Tournament in Columbus, Ohio as the No. 3 seed, earning a matchup against Northwestern. After a scoreless first half, Minnesota took a 1-0 lead in the beginning of the second period on a McElmury goal. The Wildcats answered with 10 minutes remaining in the contest and then scored again with four minutes left to bounce the Maroon & Gold from the tournament.

After some doubt, Minnesota received an invitation to the NCAA Tournament, having to travel to Lincoln, Neb. to play No. 5 Nebraska. The Cornhuskers jumped to an early 2-0 lead within the first 10 minutes of the match, but the Gophers battled back to even up the match at the end of regulation, 2-2. After playing a pair of overtime periods, Nebraska would break the tie in the 140th minute to win, 3-2.

For the second year in a row, the Golden Gophers would have a player named Big Ten Player of the Year in McElmury, who scored 14 goals and tallied seven assists. The junior also received national recognition as she was named a second-team, All-American and a first team, All-Great Lakes Region honoree. Joining McElmury with All-Region accolades was Touset, who was named to the second team, and Hussey, who was a third team member. McElmury and Hussey, who notched 10 goals and 10 assists, were also named first team, All-Big Ten while Touset was selected a second team defender, All-Big Ten.

Minnesota had a changing of guard in goal as newcomer Dana Larson assumed the starting keeper duties midway through the season. Larson finished the year with a record of 7-3 in the net while allowing 12 goals and owned a goal against average of 1.21. Senior Teresa O'Hearn started the first 10 games in goal for the Gophers. On the season, O'Hearn had a record of 6-4 and a goal against average of 1.17 in 13 matches.

Hussey, a senior forward, capped off her career with 83 points, which surpassed former Gopher Gretchen Brandt for third place in Minnesota history.

The Gophers would end the season second in the region in attendance with an average of 564 fans per match. The home-field advantage proved to be helpful as Minnesota hoisted a 21-3-3 record in the first three season at St. Paul Campus Soccer Field. This tradition of having large crowds and playing tough at home is still true today in the Gopher program.

Blog: Looking Back on 20 Years of Soccer - 1995

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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 1995, which was a season that encompassed the team's first Big Ten Championship, first NCAA appearance and first All-American.


Schedule/Results l Roster l Statistics l Photo Gallery

Big Ten Champs and NCAA participants is the best way to describe the 1995 Minnesota women's soccer team accomplishments. The Golden Gophers ended the year with its best season in the short three-year history of the Minnesota program with a 16-5-2 overall record and 5-1-1 Big Ten mark.

Minnesota opened the year with a five-match winning streak, defeating New Mexico, Montana, Ohio State, Northern Illinois and Minnesota-Duluth. In its 10-0 thumping over Northern Illinois on September 10 the Gophers set six school records. Junior Jennifer Walek and freshman Corinne Bolder each notched two goals and three assists for a seven points. The team combined to tally 30 points and 10 assists in the match.

The Gophers made its second trip of the season to Virginia to have its winning streak snapped in a 2-2 tie to No. 24 George Washington and then suffered their first loss two days later to James Madison, 4-3.

The team would rebound in its next match as they recorded their first overtime win in school history against No. 23 Michigan State, 3-2. Sophomore Jennifer McElmury scored the golden goal in the 92nd minute of play to give Minnesota the victory.

The Maroon & Gold avenged a loss from the 1994 season as the Gophers took a perfect 3-0 record into the Penn State match on October 1. The Gophers came out of the match with a 2-0 victory as McElmury and Bolder each notched a goal while Walek was credited with assists on both goals.

Minnesota ended its home stand in October by beating Kansas, Detroit and Butler. The Golden Gophers then tied Indiana, 1-1, in the team's final home match in front of a record-setting 726 fans at the St. Paul Campus Soccer Field. Walek recorded the game-tying goal in the 79th minute to push the game into overtime.

The Gophers then spent the last two weeks of the regular season on the road. A tough test was set as the team had to travel to No. 15 Wisconsin for a key match. Unfortunately, mental mistakes led to three first half Badger goals as Wisconsin won the match, 5-1. Freshman Vanessa Touset was the lone highlight for Minnesota as she scored her first collegiate goal in the 64th minute of the match.

Two days later, the Gophers defeated Northwestern 4-0, and thanks for a Wisconsin-Penn State tie, Minnesota was able to capture the top spot in the Big Ten Conference after finishing fifth a year earlier.

To cap off the regular season, Minnesota traveled to Austin, Texas to participate in the Longhorn Classic before entering conference tournament play. The Gophers would end up losing to Texas in overtime but defeat TCU to cap off the regular season and carry some momentum into the tournament.

With having the top seed in the tournament, the Gophers drew Michigan in the first round. The Wolverines would not pose a test for the Maroon & Gold as Minnesota won 2-0. In the semi-final round, the Golden Gophers would defeat host Indiana, 3-2, to advance to the championship game.

Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!
Gretchen Brandt
The championship game served as a rematch of the championship game from a year ago, featuring Minnesota and Wisconsin. The two teams played a scoreless first half, but the Gophers scored the only goal of the match in the second half. Senior Gretchen Brandt took a pass from Carrie Johnson and headed the ball over the Badger's keeper to give Minnesota its first-ever Big Ten title in women's soccer.

The Gophers' impressive season didn't end at the conference tournament as they were offered a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first-time in program history. With high hopes of making a run in the tournament, Minnesota would first have to surpass a familiar foe one more time: Wisconsin.

Over four inches of snow fell the night before the match in Madison, Wis., and the match was delayed over two hours as volunteers attempted to clear the field. After the snow was removed, Minnesota tried to repeat a feat they had accomplished nearly a week earlier, but the Badgers turned the table and avenged their Big Ten Championship loss, winning 1-0.

The Gophers would have its NCAA Tournament run cut short, but despite the early dismissal, Minnesota received its first-ever national ranking. The Maroon & Gold would be tagged in all three major polls with the highest rank coming in from the Intercollegiate Soccer Association of America poll at No. 17.

Minnesota would get more recognition on the national stage as McElmury was tagged second team All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/UMBRO and Soccer News. Along with being named an All-American, she and Walek earned first team All-Great Lakes Region honors. Denney also received All-Region praise as she was named to the second team.

Accolades would continue to roll in as Walek was tagged Big Ten Player of the Year as she finished the season with a team-high 50 points (16 goals, 18 assists). Walek's goal count finished 14th in the country while her assists were tied for third. Head coach Sue Montagne was named Big Ten Coach of the Year after directing the team to its best overall and Big Ten record. Others receiving Big Ten honors were McElmury, who received her second first team accolade, along with Mikki Denney, Erin Hussey and Bolder, who each were named second team selections.

Bolder finished second on the team in scoring with 11 goals and 11 assists for 33 points while McElmury was third with 12 goals and six assists for 30 points.

Brandt, the Gophers' lone senior, scored 13 goals with three of them being serving as game-winning goals in the Big Ten tournament. The senior also was selected a third team GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-American.

In goal, junior Teresa O'Hearn started all 23 matches, recorded 95 saves and posted a goal against average of 1.09. She had a total of 9.5 shutouts on the season. The Gopher' defense was stiff all season as they allowed only 27 goals in 23 games.