The Golden Gopher soccer team officially began their 2007 season Wednesday, holding the first two practices of the season as well as an early evening intrasquad scrimmage at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.
Minnesota, who returns 17 letterwinners and 11 starters from a year ago, enjoyed a beautiful day of weather as they took their first steps towards a Big Ten title. Wednesday morning, the team held two fitness testing sessions before playing their annual Maroon and Gold Game, which began at about 6:30 p.m.
The Maroon team was comprised largely of returning players, while the Gold team featured both freshmen and various recently-graduated alumni. Two approximately 30-minute halves were played.
Elena Fruci scored the scrimmage’s lone goal early in the first 30-minute half, sneaking a shot past freshman goalkeeper Katie Roberts. The level of competition was both high and surprisingly physical for an intrasquad affair, as fans in attendance were treated to a number of hard hits.
“It was a super competitive and very spirited atmosphere out there,” said assistant coach Kate Cortis after the game. “We told our returners to raise their standard of play and show our newcomers what the Big Ten is all about.”
Cortis was also impressed with the way the Gold team responded in their first taste of collegiate action.
“The newcomers stepped up and showed that they were up to the challenge,” said Cortis. “That was definitely encouraging to see and made it a great game to watch.”
The scrimmage was followed by a family-organized picnic in the Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium press box.
The Gophers will play their first exhibition game of 2007 this Saturday, August 18 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium beginning at 1 p.m. Free video of Saturday's match will be available at Gophersports.com. After playing another exhibition match against Drake on August 22, the team opens the regular season August 31 against Central Florida.