Gophers Open Regular Season
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The University of Minnesota women's soccer team will kick off the 2014 season with two road games in Florida. This is the second year in a row that the Gophers have ventured to the Sunshine State in their non-conference season. The Maroon and Gold will take on Stetson University on Friday evening at 7 p.m. EST and No. 2 Florida State on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. EST.
Minnesota posted an 11-8-2 record last season while collecting four conferences wins in Stefanie Golan's second year as head coach of the Maroon and Gold. Wins and loses do not tell the entire story for the Gophers last season as they defeated then No. 7 Penn State, No. 17 Michigan and Wisconsin to punch their ticket into the first round of the NCAA Tournament. A first round loss to Texas Tech on their home pitch sent the Gophers home after reaching the tournament for the first time since 2010 when Minnesota reached the Sweet Sixteen.
LAST TIME OUT
The Golden Gophers hosted the University of North Dakota in their lone exhibition match on Friday, Aug. 15. Minnesota held UND to just one shot while excelling on the attack with 29 total shots and twelve on target. With nine freshmen on an already young Gopher roster, the Maroon and Gold used the exhibition match as an opportunity to put their preseason practices into a game setting before traveling to Florida. During the 90 minute match, 21 of 25 Gophers saw field time including freshmen Rachel McCloskey and Sydney Squires who started their first game under the Robbie lights.
ON THE ROAD
Minnesota will open the season on the road against Atlantic Sun's Stetson University before heading to the home of the ACC and the No. 2 ranked team in the country, Florida State Univeristy. This is the first ever meeting for the Hatters and the Gophers, while Minnesota will try to avenge a 3-2 loss to FSU in the 2012 season opener.
Live video and live stats will be available from Friday night's match. To tune in, visit the Stetson Hatters website here.
Nine freshman and one late roster addition have the Gophers set for the 2014 season. Hannah Holm, Sydney Squires, Kellie McGahn, Tori Burnett, Maddie Gaffney, Julianna Gernes, Megan Koenig and Alyssa Blahnik joined Rachel McCloskey, who trained this spring with the Golden Gophers, at the beginning of the preseason. Kirstin Lilja, a junior hailing from Circle Pines, Minn., was added to create more depth in the goalkeeper position.
In the exhibition match, these fresh faces proved they were here to shine under the lights as McCloskey and Squires started their first game as Golden Gophers. Squires and Gaffney contributed assists to the Gophers 3-0 effort.
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP
During the Gophers 3-0 exhibition victory over UND last Friday evening, the sophomore class proved they were ready to take on more responsibility this season. Both Simone Kolander and Josee Stiever had standout performances in Minnesota's lone exhibition match. Kolander recorded two goals to help lift the Gophers over the University of North Dakota while Stiever had a part in each one of the Gophers three goals, including one goal and two assists.
THE NOTORIOUS B1G
The Big Ten Conference annouced its 2014 Preseason Coaches' Poll last week with the Gophers picked to finish eleventh in the conference behind new members Maryland and Rutgers who will both make their way to Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in October. Penn State was picked to top the conference after finishing last season with a 7-4 conference record. One of their four losses came at the hands of the Gophers.
With the announcement of the preseason coaches' poll, the 2014 players to watch list was also revealed. It was no surprise that 2013 Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year, Tarah Hobbs, was named among midfielders Josee Stiever and Katie Thyken. Last season, Thyken led the charge in terms of scoring with a career high tying 7 goals.
In 2013, a Big Ten Conference record eight teams earned NCAA Tournament berths including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State and Ohio State while Iowa made their first ever post season run.
NCAA TOURNAMENT APPEARANCES
Minnesota has made eight NCAA Tournament appearances in its history including a string of five postseason runs from 1995-99. During the programs third year of existence, the Golden Gophers made their first appearance in the 1995 and again in 1996 before reaching the second round three-consecutive times in 1997-99. The Gophers made their first Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2008 and then advanced to the Sweet 16 again in 2010. Last season's first round appearance marked Coach Golan's first tournament birth with the Maroon and Gold.
LEADING THE WAY
THIRD TIME IS THE CHARM
Stefanie Golan is entering her third season as the Gophers head coach with an overall record of 22-15-4 over the past two seasons. The Maroon and Gold return associate head coach and former Gopher defender Krystle Seidel and assistant coach Deana Waintraub. New to the staff are MacKenzie Misel who will serve as volunteer assistant coach and Tam Strahota as director of soccer operations. Both new hires are former Gopher standouts.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Are you following the Gophers on the road? Make sure to follow @GopherSoccer on Twitter and use the hashtag #GiveEverything. You can also check for updates on Facebook and Instagram by liking GopherSoccer.