The University of Minnesota women’s soccer team has won its first six matches for the first time in the history of the program and heads to Reno, Nev. this weekend to take on Western Athletic Conference (WAC) opponents Nevada and Idaho.
The Gophers enter the weekend among conference leaders in a bevy of offensive statistics, including goals (1st, 17), shots (1st, 176), points (1st, 52) assists (t-1st, 18), goals per game (2nd, 2.83), and assists per game (2nd, 3.00).
The Gophers have also been stingy defensively, allowing a conference-low 0.17 goals-against-average.
Scouting the Gophers
Coming off a team title at last weekend’s Regina Moench Memorial Tournament in the Twin Cities, the Gophers’ six-game winning streak is the program’s longest since a six-gamer during the 1998 season. The program’s longest winning streak was a 13-gamer in the midst of a 1997 season that netted the Gophers a regular season Big Ten title.
The Gophers are led by a balanced lineup that has helped the team control the pace of play throughout much of their first six matches. A midfield led by two-time second team All-Big Ten selection Kelsey Hood has helped the team develop scoring chances and to thwart those of opponents. Sophomore Katie Bethke leads the team with four goals, and fellow 2007 All-Big Ten Freshman team honoree Molly Rouse leads the team with five assists. Freshman forward Tam Strahota has also been a thorn in opponents’ sides as she has tallied a pair of goals and an assist.
Senior forward Lindsey Schwartz scored a goal in each of the Gophers’ two home games last weekend on her way to tournment offensive MVP honors. Schwartz has three goals thus far this season, including the game-winner in the 85th minute of the Gophers only match decided by a single goal, a 2-1 triumph at Montana.
The owner of a 0.17 goals against average, senior netminder Lindsey Dare has also been solid in spite of the fact that her defensive teammates have only permitted nine shots on goal from Gophers foes through six games.
Scouting the Wolfpack
Two years removed from a WAC tournament championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance, the Wolfpack are 0-4-1 thus far in 2008 under first year head coach Jaime Frias. Led by senior midfielder Miranda Montejo, the program’s all-time leader in points (44), Nevada recorded a 0-0 tie last Friday night at San Francisco and fell by a 2-1 score to Portland State at Mackay Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Nevada has received strong play thus far from senior goalkeeper Sarah Hunt and junior defender Nikki McEachern, who have each played every minute for the Wolfpack thus far this season.
Like the Gophers, much of the Nevada roster is homegrown. Five players on the Wolfpack roster hail from the Reno area.
Scouting the Vandals
Idaho comes to Reno after a 1-1 showing at last weekend’s Governor’s Cup hosted by the Vandals in Moscow. The Vandals suffered a 2-1 loss to Seattle University on Friday evening before gaining a 2-0 victory over in-state rival Idaho State on Sunday afternoon.
Vandals head coach Peter Showler is in his fourth season at the helm of the program and owns a 9-48-3 career record.
Similar to the Gophers, the Vandals run out a senior-heavy roster. Nine of the 26 players on the Idaho roster are seniors.
Minnesota faces Nevada and Idaho for the first time in program history this weekend.
The Minnesota-Nevada matchup on Friday evening marks only the second contest for the Gophers against a WAC foe in program history. Minnesota defeated WAC member Boise State by a 3-0 score on Sept. 10, 2004 in Boise.