St. Paul, Minn. - The University of Minnesota Soccer team officially began the 2009 season this evening (Aug. 6), kicking off the preseason with their Maroon and Gold game at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.
The game was the first time for sixth year head coach Mikki Denney Wright to get a look and her returners and her new players all working together. "This gives us a sense of where we're at," said Denney Wright. "It's a lot of fun to get out here and play, and put people together in different spots. I'm really looking forward to the season, and it should be a lot of fun."
Along with the current players, was a mix of Golden Gopher soccer alumnae from recent years, which included every member of the class of 2008. When the two teams split up, each was a mix of current players and alumnae.
As the game began, defense shined through, as the two teams played to a scoreless first half. However, the opening stanza was not without it's excitement, as a fast paced style of play shone though, and each team had their scoring opportunities.
Coming out of the break, the Gray team was the first to get on the board, courtesy of senior Sara Clancy (Cedar Rapids, Iowa). After a foul in the box, Clancy was called upon to take the penalty kick for the Gray team and did not disappoint. Clancy found enough of an opening on the left side of the net to put her team up 1-0.
As was the case in the first half, the flow of the game remained balanced, and it was not long before the Black team was back on the offensive end ready to even the score. Alum Kaitlin Wagner netted a breakaway goal for the Black team to knot the score back up at one apiece.
The score would remain at 1-1 until the end of regulation when Coach Denney Wright blew the whistle on a good first day of soccer. However, as she went out to gather her players, she was met with requests for a shootout to break the tie. The coach obliged and at the end, it was the gray team that came away victorious 3-2, on goals from Clancy, Shari Eckstrom (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) and assistant coach Krystle Kallman.
Clancy - who was the lone player to find the net twice on the day - said after the game, "This was a good testing day and it was good to work with everyone. I think it's a good place to start, we have some new personnel and we can see where we're all at and begin to learn to play off each other. It was a good look, and it was fun."
The real fun and games begin for the Golden Gophers in just over two weeks, when they host South Dakota State University on Aug. 21, in the season opener at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.