The University of Minnesota soccer team fought its way to a 3-1 victory over Northern Colorado on Sunday afternoon at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. With the win, the Golden Gophers took the title at the Gopher Invitational with two wins on the weekend and moved to 6-1-1 on the season, their best start since 1995.
Minnesota’s Kelsey Hood (Ankeny, Iowa) shared the tournament’s offensive MVP award with Sarah Johnson of Dartmouth, while Chelsey Turner (Rochester, Minn.) was named the defensive MVP. Lindsey Schwartz (Bettendorf, Iowa), Kaitlin Wagner (Plymouth, Minn.) and Hailey McCarthy (Oregon City, Ore.) were also named to the all-tournament team.
Clare Grimwood (Eagan, Minn.) scored the game-winner in the 71st minute on Sunday against the Bears. Lindsey Schwartz (Bettendorf, Iowa) and Wagner scored the other Minnesota goals as the Gophers outshot Northern Colorado 18-7 on the day.
Minnesota came out of the gates looking to attack, with chwartz recording the first shot of the match just 25 seconds in. The Golden Gophers controlled the ball in the early going and had opportunities to score around the 25th minute but were unable to connect.
Elena Fruci (Mahtomedi, Minn.) had a chance near the net on a scramble in the 24th minute, but her shot also sailed high. She had another chance two minutes later from 10 yards out, but she again lifted her shot high.
Northern Colorado was forced to change goalkeepers in the 31st minute when starter Chrissy Marvin went out with an injury. Leah Zevenbergen entered the game, and the Gophers wasted no time in getting to the cold goalkeeper, scoring just 12 seconds later. Wagner found the back of the net off a corner kick opportunity at 31:41. Carlie Edwards (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) took the corner from the left side and crossed the ball to the front of the net. The ball bounced around in the crowd before falling to the feet of Wagner, who then deked one defender and fired a shot past Zevenbergen from eight yards out.
Northern Colorado came right back to tie the game less than two minutes later. Teresa Prais recovered a loose ball in the Minnesota defensive zone and beat Lindsey Dare (Apple Valley, Minn.) to the far post from the top of the 18-yard box.
Minnesota pressed in an effort to regain the lead. The Gophers had a couple of corner kick opportunities around the 35th minute but were unable to capitalize and the two teams went into halftime in a 1-1 deadlock.
Northern Colorado controlled the ball early on in the second half, but the Gopher defense was able to prevent the Bears from generating any serious offensive threat.
Minnesota also struggled to get much going offensively, but Wagner connected with Grimwood on a beautiful play in the 71st minute to put Minnesota back on top. From the right sideline, Wagner placed a perfect cross that fell to Grimwood directly in front of the net. Grimwood deflected the ball toward the far right post to beat a diving Marvin, who re-entered the game at the start of the second half.
Grimwood’s goal rejuvenated the Golden Gophers, as they controlled play for final 15 minutes of the game. Schwartz put the game out of reach with a goal in the 86th minute off another great pass, this time from Kelsey Hood (Ankeny, Iowa). Hood served a tremendous pass to a streaking Schwartz in front of the net. Schwartz merely had to tap the ball in as the goalkeeper could not get in position to make a save, making the final score, 3-1.
The Gophers will open the Big Ten season next weekend on the road. They play at Indiana on Friday night at 7 p.m., before traveling across the state to face Purdue on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Lindsey Schwartz, F, Minnesota
Kaitlin Wagner, MF, Minnesota
Hailey McCarthy, D, Minnesota
Monica Martin de Bustamente, F, Dartmouth
Megan Wijas, MF, Dartmouth
Colleen Kelly, D, Dartmouth
Claire Goldenberg, D, Iowa
Kelsey Shaw, MF, Iowa
Kelly Warner, D/MF, Iowa
Lynneal Williams, MF, Northern Colorado
Teresa Prais, F, Northern Colorado
Kayla Oakley, D, Northern Colorado
Co-Offensive Most Valuable Players
Kelsey Hood, MF, Minnesota
Sarah Johnson, MF/F, Dartmouth
Defensive Most Valuable Player
Chelsey Turner, GK, Minnesota
Head coach Mikki Denney Wright
On the team’s play over the weekend:
“It’s always good to win. Friday night was one of our best performances of the year from front to back. And it was very good to get the win today. The kids came out in the second half re-energized, but we’re still struggling to be consistent.”
On the team’s development so far this season:
“The kids have been very receptive and coachable. We have found some very good leaders. On the attack, Kelsey Hood has been a really good leader for us and on defense Hailey McCarthy continues to be an unbelievable leader for us. Our goalkeeping has really come along. There have been a lot of good things, but I still don’t feel we’re completely where we want to be yet.”
On opening the Big Ten season next weekend on the road:
“We have so many young kids on this team. We’re so different from last year. It’s all brand new, so we’re starting at 0-0 and have to set out to prove ourselves again.”
Sophomore Kaitlin Wagner
On the team’s performance today:
“We started off a little slow. After we scored they came right back and scored on us. We just have to come together as a team, and in the second half we really started to do that. That’s what you have to do win games.”
On opening the Big Ten season next weekend:
“We’ve gone through a lot as a team. We have played a lot of good teams and a lot of teams who have challenged us. Hopefully we can grow and learn from that. We have played a lot of teams who have helped us prepare for the Big Ten season, so we should be ready to go.”
On the team’s chemistry:
“We build off of each other. We all work together for each other. That’s what it takes to succeed, and if we can take that into next week we have the chance to do really well.”
Sophomore Lindsey Schwartz
On the team’s play this weekend:
“We’re happy that we went 2-0, but there are definitely still some things we need to work on. It was a good weekend. We came out on Friday night knowing we had a big game against Dartmouth because they’re a ranked team. And today against Northern Colorado, they were also very well coached and played really hard. We knew at halftime that if we didn’t win this game it maybe could have put us out of NCAAs. We just came out and pulled together as a team and played really hard.”
On the adjustments the team made at halftime on Sunday:
“The coaches told us at halftime that our defense was horrible. We needed to pick it up and had to be a lot better. We came out and did that and created more offensive opportunities in the second half.”
Minnesota improved to 6-1-1 on the season, its best start since 1995.
The Golden Gophers recorded their second three-goal game of the season. Minnesota scored three goals in only one contest in 2005.
Lindsey Dare improved to 4-0-1 on the season to remain unbeaten.
Kaitlin Wagner scored her third goal of the season in the first half on Sunday, surpassing her total from last season just eight games into the 2006 season.
Carlie Edwards recorded an assist for the second straight game.
Wagner also surpassed her assist total from last season with her second of the year, coming on Clare Grimwood’s game-winning goal.
Grimwood’s game-winner was her second of the season.
Lindsey Schwartz took over the team lead in points with her goal against Northern Colorado. She now has four goals and three assists for a total of 11 points on the year.
Kelsey Hood recorded her third assist of the season on Schwartz’s goal, also surpassing her assist total from last year.
Sara Hegre saw her first action of the season in starting the second half.