In part three of our comprehensive look at the 2007 Minnesota Soccer program, we break down the Golden Gophers' midfielders. Look for more soccer previews in the coming days at gophersports.com.
Midfield has been an area of strength for the Golden Gophers for the past several seasons, and 2007 will be no exception. The returning midfield unit consists of juniors Clare Grimwood, Kelsey Hood and Kaitlin Wagner, all of who have played nearly every minute of every game during their Gopher careers.
Grimwood has been a steadying influence for Minnesota the past two seasons as one of just three Gophers (along with Hailey McCarthy and Lindsey Schwartz) to start all 38 games since 2005. She did not skip a beat after the move to midfield a year ago and should see significant time on the outside once again this season.
Hood, an All-Big Ten Freshman Team selection in 2005, followed up a solid rookie campaign with another stellar year in 2006. The two-time Gopher captain often serves as the squad’s quarterback on attacks and was rewarded with a spot on the All-Big Ten second team last fall. Wagner, the third member of Minnesota’s returning midfield trio, enters her junior season with 20 career points and emerged as a legitimate scoring threat last fall. The former Wayzata Trojan tied for the team lead with five goals and should be one of the top scoring threats in the Big Ten.
“Those three are the heart of our midfield,” said head coach Mikki Denney Wright about the trio of Grimwood, Hood and Wagner. “They’ve really taken the reigns and taken over the leadership roles in this program.”
Sophomore Kelly Wepking made her collegiate debut last fall, starting the Gophers’ first nine games before missing the remainder of the season due to an injury. Now recovered, the 2005 Gatorade Player of the Year in Wisconsin will be an impact player once again for the Gophers and solidify what could be the top midfield corps in the Big Ten.
Minnesota has also added a pair of attacking players in the midfield in Cambridge Isanti’s Molly Rouse and Roseville’s Katie Shelander. These two talented freshmen will add depth to the Gophers’ already-talented supply of midfielders. Rouse, a pure “soccer junkie” according to Denny Wright, has already put more time and responsibility into her own athletic development than any player the fourth-year head coach has seen and was the leading high school scorer in the state of Minnesota last year. Shelander, described as an “incredible athlete” by Denney Wright, is a scrappy and versatile player that can play nearly every spot on the field. Carissa Wipperfurth is another freshman that will provide midfield depth.
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