Despite venturing on the road for the first time this season, the University of Minnesota soccer team continued its early season success with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Army in the first game of the Brown Invitational in Providence, R.I. Kaitlin Wagner (Plymouth, Minn.) scored the only goal of the match in the 11th minute and freshman goalkeeper Chelsey Turner (Rochester, Minn.) recorded eight saves to post her first career shutout in leading the Golden Gophers to the victory. With the win, Minnesota improves to 4-1-0 on the season, their best start since 2002.
The Gophers came out on the attack from the opening whistle, testing the Army defense early and often. The sustained pressure led to what would turn out to be the game winning goal from Wagner in the 11th minute. A series of crosses into the box led to a scramble in front of the net. The ball eventually fell to the feet of Wagner, whose strike took a deflection off of an Army defender and was just beyond the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper inside the right post.
Minnesota continued to press toward the Army goal for the remainder of the first half but were denied a second goal due to a combination of solid Army goalkeeping and unlucky bounces off of the post. In the 35th minute, freshman Kelly Wepking (Pleasant Prairie, Wis.) slalomed her way through three Army defenders and into the penalty box. She slipped the ball past the Black Knight goalkeeper, but it caromed off the right post and out. The rebound found its way to sophomore forward Lindsay Schwartz (Bettendorf, Iowa), but her powerful effort was tipped by the goalkeeper off the left post and was eventually cleared out of danger.
Army nearly made the Gophers pay for their missed chances in the 40th minute. The right midfielder broke in behind the Minnesota defense and crossed the ball centrally to an on-rushing attacker. Turner reacted quickly and made a nice save on a forceful header from point-blank range.
The second half was similar to the first, with Minnesota having the majority of scoring opportunities. The best chance of the half fell to sophomore midfielder Clare Grimwood (Eagan, Minn.), who broke down the left side of the field and sent a high shot toward the far post, but the ball once again found the woodwork.
Despite scoring just one goal, Minnesota dominated on the attack throughout the match. Schwartz led the team with eight shots and midfielder Kelsey Hood (Ankeny, Iowa) added five as Minnesota outshot Army 25-15 and held a 9-3 advantage on corner kicks.
Minnesota will wrap up the weekend road trip against Brown on Sunday, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 11 a.m., CST.
Head coach Mikki Denney Wright
On the offensive pressure Minnesota put on Army
“We put a serious amount of pressure on them. It’s the most offensive pressure I’ve seen since our team produce since I’ve been at Minnesota. We had 25 shots and we hit a lot of posts. Kelsey Hood produced a lot on our attack tonight. She had five shots, which is the most I think she’s ever had. We did a lot of things right on the attacking side of the ball and Chelsey (Turner) did a good job of keeping us in the match. I was just really proud of our overall attack and how much it has developed throughout the course of this year. It’s getting better and it’s more fluid.”
On the team’s response to their first road match of the year
“Our kids responded well to playing on the road. They were focused and were ready to play. Their reponse was really good. Any win on the road is a hard win to get, and I was really proud of the pressure we put on Army. I think our kids felt good about their performance and about getting a win on the road. Now they have to get ready for Sunday.”
“They had a cross that Turner had to come out for and win. That was their most dangerous chance. She had a save on a header 40 minutes in. We’re always proud to have a shutout. That’s always a goal of ours and our attack created a lot of chances. For such a young team I thought it was a great road win.
On what to expect from Brown on Sunday
“They just tied No. 24 Boston University. Brown has a history of success and they’re playing on their home field. They’re organized and they have a number of special players, so it’s going to be a battle.”
Freshman midfielder Sara Clancy
On playing in the first road match of the year
“It wasn’t our best performance, but we came out with a ‘W’ and that’s what matters in the end. It was a good experience for all of us.”
On the team’s defensive performance
“We were up, 1-0, for a majority of the game and just to hold them and not allow them to score was the result of good defense all around. Being able to kill the game and come out with a shutout was pretty amazing. They had some good opportunities, but Chelsey Turner came up with some good saves.”
On the team’s offensive performance
“We hit a lot of posts, so if we are just able to finish those next time we won’t have to worry about the game being 1-0. It was kind of frustrating, but we’re happy to come out with a win.”
On the frustration of not being able to finish on some of the offensive chances
“I knew our defense would come through in the end. If they would have scored maybe we would have liked to have some of those chances back when we hit the posts, but they didn’t (score). Our defense just stayed solid the whole game.”
On what she expects from Brown
“They’re physical, so hopefully we’ll be able to come out and match that. It should be fun.”Game notes
Minnesota has now shut out four of its first five opponents to start the season. The only other time in school history the Golden Gophers shut out four of their first five opponents was in 1995.
Dating back to Sept. 25 of last season, the Gophers have allowed one goal or fewer in each of their last 15 contests. Minnesota is 10-5-0 during that stretch.
Minnesota improved to 4-1-0 on the season. It is the best start for the Golden Gophers since the 2002 team began the season with a 5-1-0 record.
Kaitlin Wagner’s goal in the 11th minute proved to be the eventual game-winner. Wagner has scored a total of four goals in her career, all which have been game-winners.
Chelsey Turner recorded the first shutout of her career in just her second career start.
Kelsey Hood set a career high with five shots against the Black Knights.
Lindsey Schwartz tied a career high, which she set last Friday against Iowa State, with eight shots against Army.
Kelly Wepking recorded the first three shots of her career, one of which was on goal.
With the 1-0 victory over Army, Minnesota won its first match on a neutral site since Sept. 3, 2004 vs. Vanderbilt.