The Minnesota Golden Gopher soccer team finished a perfect weekend of play with a 4-1 victory over the Dartmouth Big Green Sunday afternoon in Hanover, N.H. Minnesota followed up on a 3-0 win Friday over Providence to improve their overall record to 2-2 and take home the tournament crown.
Three different Gophers notched the first points of their collegiate careers Sunday afternoon and Lindsey Schwartz, Kaitlin Wagner, Julie Rezac and Molly Rouse all contributed goals in the winning effort. The four goals were the most Minnesota has scored in a regular season contest since Aug. 29, 2003.
Battling rainy conditions, the Gophers struck first when Schwartz notched her second goal of the season just 2:14 into the match. Rezac fired a shot at Dartmouth keeper Laurel Peak, who made the save but lost hold of the wet ball. Schwartz collected the rebound and beat Peak on the bottom left corner.
The Gophers were then forced to go on the defensive and absorb an increased Dartmouth attack. The Big Green outshot Minnesota 6-0 for the remainder of the half, but goalkeeper Chelsey Turner, who was named the tournament’s Goalkeeping MVP, had four saves to preserve a 1-0 Gopher lead heading into the half.
“After we scored that goal in the first two minutes of the match, Dartmouth really bounced back,” head coach Mikki Denney Wright said. “We had to absorb a lot of pressure during the first half, and I’m proud of the way our kids responded.”
In the second half, however, Minnesota came out firing on all cylinders and dominated the remainder of the contest. The Gophers quickly added to their lead in the after the break when Wagner scored off a rebound shot from the top of the box at the 51:02 mark. It was Wagner’s second goal of the season and of the tournament, as she gained a spot on the All-Tournament Team and was named the Offensive MVP of the three-day event.
Rezac, the freshman out of Eden Prairie, Minn., padded the Gophers’ lead in the 62nd minute when Schwartz fed her with a cross into the for a right side goal. The score marked the first points of Rezac’s career. Fellow freshman Rouse picked up her first collegiate points five minutes before the final horn, as Wepking assisted on an open net goal.
Dartmouth avoided the shutout with a goal in the waning minutes of the game, but was outshot 11-5 in the second half. The Gophers also won the battle of corner kicks 5-4, with all five coming in the final period.
Denney Wright was pleased with how her team responded after a hard-fought initial 45 minutes.
“I thought we put on a dominating performance in the second half,” Denney Wright said. “That’s a tribute to our fitness level we really pride ourselves in being one of the best-conditioned teams in the Big Ten, and it really showed today.”
Wagner said the team’s new offensive scheme has had a big impact on their offensive attack. The Gophers’ seven goals on the weekend were more than they had tallied in back-to-back games since 1998.
“Our new scheme has seven attacking players, which is really putting a lot of pressure on the other team,” Wagner said. “We’re really pressing our attack aggressively and putting the other team on their heels.”
Five Minnesota players were also named to the All-Tournament Team. In addition to MVP selections Turner and Wagner, Schwartz (four points two assists, one goal), Katie Bethke (goal on Friday) and defender Hailey McCarthy were also honored.
After the weekend sweep in New Hampshire, the Gophers return home next weekend to partake in the Gopher Invitational. Minnesota squares off with Dayton on Friday night at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium and Montana Sunday afternoon.
“Coming back home to play at ELR is going to be great,” said Denney Wright. “This is going to be a really fun team to watch, and I encourage everyone on campus and in the Minnesota soccer community to come out and watch this weekend.”
2007 Nike/Hypertherm Classic All-Tournament Team
Chelsey Turner, Minnesota
Katie Bethke, Minnesota
Lindsey Schwartz, Minnesota
Kaitlin Wagner, Minnesota
Hailey McCarthy, Minnesota
Ally Kellogg, Cal Poly
Carrie Andrews, Cal Poly
Maggie Goldstein, Dartmouth
Ali Hubbard, Dartmouth
Annie Stanley, Dartmouth
Katelin Blaine, Providence
Offensive MVP: Kaitlin Wagner, Minnesota
Defensive MVP: Annie Stanley, Dartmouth
Goalkeeping MVP: Chelsey Turner, Minnesota