The University of Minnesota soccer team returns home to host the Gopher Invitational this weekend. Dartmouth, Iowa and Northern Colorado are in town to take part in the tournament at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.
Friday’s action begins at 5 p.m., with Iowa playing Northern Colorado, followed by the Golden Gophers’ match-up with Dartmouth at 7 p.m. The Gophers and Hawkeyes will swap opponents on Sunday, with Iowa scheduled to meet Dartmouth at 11 a.m., followed by the Minnesota-Northern Colorado match at 1 p.m. Live stats of the first three matches will be available through Gophersports.com, and Minnesota’s match against Northern Colorado on Sunday will air live in the Gold Zone, the premium content site for Golden Gopher athletics.NOTES TO KNOW: About Dartmouth
Second-year head coach Angie Hind has Dartmouth back on track after the Big Green lost both of their first two matches of the season. After falling to both Auburn and Vanderbilt by a slim one goal margin, Dartmouth has evened its record at 2-2-0 with consecutive wins over Maryland and Central Connecticut. Dartmouth is ranked No. 30 in the nation by Soccer Buzz and 5th in the Northeast Region according to the latest NSCAA/adidas poll.
Dartmouth is a very experienced team that returns 20 letterwinners and nine starters from a team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament a year ago. The Big Green finished the 2005 season with a 12-5-1 record and finished second in the Ivy League (5-2-1).The Series vs. Dartmouth
Minnesota has faced the Big Green only one other time, that coming last season in Hanover, N.H., as part of the adidas/Hypertherm Classic. After a scoreless first half, both teams put two goals on the board in the second period to send the game to overtime. Dartmouth escaped with a 3-2 victory after Emily Tracy scored in the 96th minute.
The Golden Gophers will seek revenge in the first meeting between the two schools on Minnesota’s home turf this weekend.About Northern Colorado
Northern Colorado is in its fourth year of reclassifying to Division I and will begin its first season as a member of the Big Sky Conference.
Head coach Tim Barrera is in his eighth year at the helm for the Bears and has compiled a record of 75-54-6 at UNC.
The Bears also return plenty of experience, with 20 letterwinners and nine starters back from last year’s team that finished with a 7-9-2 overall mark.The Series vs. the Bears
Sunday will mark the first ever meeting between the Gophers and Northern Colorado.Tuning Up
This weekend’s matches will be the final tune-up for the Gophers before they begin the always grueling Big Ten schedule next weekend in Indiana.
Minnesota has played a number of quality opponents already this season. Drake is picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference, while Iowa State has been playing everyone tough as of late. Missouri continues to move up in the rankings, currently No. 16. Brown has been ranked regionally the entire year, and with Dartmouth in town this weekend, the Gophers face another nationally-ranked opponent.
With a number of quality non-conference tests already under their belt, the youthful Gophers are battle-tested and should be ready to go heading into a conference schedule which head coach Mikki Denney Wright has described as “five weeks of absolute war.”