The University of Minnesota soccer team will take part in the second annual Big Ten-Big XII Challenge this weekend. Minnesota will host Iowa State on Friday night at 7 p.m., and Missouri on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both matches will air live, weather permitting, in the Gold Zone, the premium content site for Golden Gopher athletics.
Here are this week’s notes to know:Shutting the Door
Dating back to Sept. 25 of last season, the Golden Gophers have allowed one goal or fewer in each of their last 12 contests. Minnesota is 8-4-0 during that stretch.No Goals Allowed
The Minnesota soccer team opened the season with shutouts in both of its first two matches last weekend. The Gophers have opened the season with two shutouts only one other time in school history - in 2004, which was also the last time the Gophers posted back-to-back blankings against non-conference opponents.
Last weekend marked the fourth time in school history the Gophers shut out their first two home opponents of the season. The last time Minnesota shut out their first two home opponents was in 1998.
With two shutouts last weekend, the maroon and gold shut out consecutive opponents for the first time since Oct. 2-7, 2005. Minnesota also swept its second straight home weekend dating back to Oct. 7-9 of last season.Starting Strong
The Golden Gophers have made a trend of starting the season strong over the last few years. Minnesota went 3-1-1 in their first five games in 2005 and won three of their first four matches in 2004. In 2003, the Golden Gophers got off to a 4-2-1 start, while the 2002 squad began the year 5-1-0.
With its first four games of the season at home, Minnesota looks to continue that trend. After winning the first two games of the regular season last weekend, the Gophers are off to another good start.
Minnesota has opened with four straight home games only one other time in school history, in 1997. That year, Minnesota posted a 3-1-0 record to start the season.Movin’ Up
After a 2-0-0 start to the season, the Golden Gophers moved up three spots to No. 6 in the latest Soccer Buzz Great Lakes Regional poll. Dating back to Oct. 3, 2005, it is the ninth straight week the Golden Gophers have been ranked in the regional poll, their longest streak since being ranked 39 straight weeks from 1997-2000.
The No. 6 ranking matches the Gophers highest ranking in 2005. Prior to last season, the Minnesota had not been ranked as high as sixth since receiving the same ranking on Sept. 4, 2000. The Golden Gophers finished the 2005 season ranked No. 8 in the region, their highest final ranking since finishing sixth in 1999.
Minnesota is one of eight Big Ten teams ranked in the top 15 in the Great Lakes Region. Illinois and Purdue are ranked third and fourth, respectively. The Gophers moved ahead of Ohio State and Michigan at No. 7 and No. 8. Michigan State, who was ranked fifth in the preseason, fell to No. 10. Wisconsin (No. 12) and Northwestern (No. 15) round out the Big Ten schools ranked in the region. Indiana dropped out of the rankings this week. Penn State moved ahead of Virginia to the No. 1 spot in the Mid-Atlantic Region.Crowd Support
With 903 fans against Drake last Friday, Minnesota drew their largest crowd ever for a regular season opener at home. The previous high attendance for a regular season opener at home was 822 spectators vs. No. 5 Nebraska on Aug. 25, 2000.