The University of Minnesota soccer team defeated North Dakota State 2-0 on Sunday at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium to complete the sweep of season opening weekend. Redshirt freshman Elena Fruci scored both Minnesota goals and sophomore Lindsey Dare recorded her second shutout in as many games to lead the Golden Gophers to the victory.
North Dakota State made it apparent they were not going to go down easy with some physical play right from the opening kickoff. The Bison played the Gophers even up for much of the first half, with neither team generating much of an offensive attack.
The Gophers had the first real scoring chance in the 20th minute when Fruci struck off a long pass from Lindsey Schwartz, but her shot sailed high.
In the 26th minute, Schwartz made a nice move to beat her defender and fired a blast from 10 yards out, but NDSU goalkeeper Monica Morgan made a diving save. The ball trickled in front of the net on the rebound, but an NDSU defender dove in to kick it away before Fruci could get there from the opposite side.
Fruci finally got the Gophers on the board in the 44th minute with a goal from the top of the 18-yard box. Renee de St. Aubin found Fruci in the middle of the field with a pass from the right side. Fruci fired a shot from the top of the box that beat Morgan high inside the left post.
Minnesota took a 1-0 lead into the break after a hard fought first half. Each team had just three shots on goal in the period.
The second half saw much of the same tough defense early on. North Dakota State turned up the offensive pressure midway through the half but the Gopher defense held firm, denying the Bison any serious scoring chances.
Fruci gave the Gophers a two-goal advantage in the 72nd minute with a goal from point-blank range. Sara Johnson gained possession of the ball in the middle and passed to Kelsey Hood who was positioned just outside of the goal box on the left side. Morgan came out on Hood in an attempt to prevent her from getting a shot off, but Hood snuck a pass around her to Fruci who was right in front of the net. Fruci chipped it in for her second goal of the game and third of the season. Hood and Johnson were each credited with assists on the play.
The goal noticeably shook the Bison, and the Gophers held in the last 20 minutes for a 2-0 victory. Minnesota out-shot NDSU 12-8 on the day. Dare made five saves to post the shutout.
The Golden Gophers will host Big 12 foes Iowa State and Missouri next Friday at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. Friday’s match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., while Sunday’s contest will kick off at 1 p.m. Both matches will air live in the Gold Zone, the premium content site for Golden Gopher athletics.
Head coach Mikki Denney Wright
On the team’s offensive performance:
“We need to play at this level consistently. We have the talent and our players understand what we’re trying to do on the attack. But even today, there were so many things I think we could have done better. I still think we were average on the attack. If we can continue to develop over the next few weeks I think we can really be dangerous on the attack.”
On the team’s play in the second game of the weekend:
“It’s something our team is learning. I really worried about that with our young kids today, just with their ability to come back against a team like North Dakota State who you knew was going to give us a great battle. They showed pieces of having the mentality, the work ethic and the emotional commitment to do that. We learned a lot because we were able to win this game today. We’ve always been a good Sunday team and we have to continue to do that. The youth has to learn that and I think they learned that today.”
On the team’s depth:
“We need to continue to develop more players. We will get Jenny Green and Kirsten Zachman back next week which will help us tremendously. S.J. [Sara Johnson] helped us a lot out there today. Renee [de St. Aubin] and Dana Tripp are getting minutes, so we need to continue to develop our depth and they’re going to help us get through this year, especially on Sundays.”
Forward Elena Fruci
On scoring three goals this weekend:
“The point of playing forward is to put the ball in the net so that’s what I’m trying to do. If I can help my team that way I have to do it.”
On the team’s chemistry up front:
“We [Kelsey Hood, Lindsey Schwartz and herself] all lived together last year so I got to know them really well, so it’s really easy to play with them.”
On the crowd support over the weekend:
“It’s really nice to have big groups of people. It makes you play harder. You’re playing for the fans and you’re playing for the school, so it’s really nice to see the support throughout the summer.”
Defender Hailey McCarthy
On the team coming together defensively:
“Some of the freshmen have really stepped up, and Marti Klinsing, who is a former frontrunner has come to the back. We’re already molding as a unit much quicker than last year.”
On Lindsey Dare’s play between the posts:
“Dare is the most athletic person I’ve ever met. She’s able to get everywhere and she’s really learned the game the last two years she’s been here.”
Minnesota shut out two consecutive opponents for the first time since Oct. 2-7, 2005.
With two shutouts on the weekend, the Golden Gophers have allowed one goal or fewer in each of their last 12 games dating back to Sept. 25 of last season. Minnesota is 8-4-0 during that stretch.
The Gophers pushed their home unbeaten streak against non-conference opponents to 14 consecutive matches. Minnesota is 12-0-2 during that stretch.
Prior to this weekend, the Gophers had previously been involved in 13-straight one-goal games.
With two wins this weekend, Minnesota is now 10-3-0 all-time in the month of August.
Friday night’s attendance of 903 was the largest ever for a Minnesota home opener.
Kaitlin Wagner scored the third goal of her career against Drake. All three of her goals have been game-winners.
Elena Fruci scored her first career goal against Drake. She followed it up with two more on Sunday against NDSU.
Lindsey Dare recorded her first career shutout in her first career start on Friday. She posted the second shutout of her career on Sunday.
Dare’s 12 saves against Drake on Friday were just one shy of the Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium record of 13 set by Minnesota’s Karli Kopietz on Sept. 29, 2002. The school record for save in a match is 15, which was set by Teresa O’Hearn on Sept. 30, 1994.
With a goal and two assists against Drake, Lindsey Schwartz set a career-high with four points on the night.
Clare Grimwood recorded two assists for the first time in her career on Friday. Grimwood led the Gophers with seven assists last year.
Schwartz and Grimwood both tied the Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium record with two assists against Drake.