Minnesota hits the road for its second Big Ten road trip of the season fresh off three consecutive home victories. The Gophers are ranked 23rd in the NSCAA/adidas poll this week, making their first appearance in the NSCAA/adidas top 25 since the week of Sept. 6, 1999. Coincidentally, the 1999 season also marked the last time that the Gophers made an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Minnesota Soccer fans can watch Friday’s Minnesota-Penn State match live on CBS College Sports by visiting gopsusports.cstv.com. Sunday’s match against Ohio State will air live in the Gold Zone.
Scouting the Gophers
The Gophers are in the midst of the teeth of their Big Ten schedule and are coming off consecutive wins over top-flight conference opponents last weekend in the Twin Cities. Minnesota earned consecutive 1-0 wins over conference-leading Purdue and then 16th-ranked Illinois on the strength of solid defense and opportunistic play on the offensive end.
Senior defender Krystle Kallman (Woodbury, Minn.) was in the middle of things in both Gopher wins last weekend. The transfer from West Virginia assisted on teammate Tam Strahota’s overtime goal on Friday night against Purdue. In the Sunday contest, Kallman netted the only goal of the match when her header found the back of the net in the 57th minute.
Defense has been the story for Minnesota Soccer thus far in 2008. With its pair of shutout victories last weekend, the Gophers set a single-season school record by recording their 11th and 12th shutouts of the season. Senior goalkeeper Lindsey Dare (Apple Valley, Minn.), helped by a staunch defensive group playing in front of her, owns a 0.26 goals against average through 15 contests this season.
This weekend, the Gophers will look to build on their 4-1 Big Ten record as they face Penn State, the 2007 regular season Big Ten champion and Ohio State, a NCAA Tournament participant a year ago. The match between Minnesota and Penn State will mark the first meeting between the two schools since the Gophers upset then-No. 8 Nittany Lions in St. Paul last season in what was to that point the most significant regular season victory in Gopher history. The Gophers’ victory over Penn State was their first ever against a top-10 foe and came just two days after the team dropped a 2-1 contest in overtime to Ohio State at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.
Scouting the Nittany Lions
As one of the country’s most pretigious women’s soccer programs, Penn State enters the weekend in the thick of the Big Ten race yet again. After playing one of the nation’s toughest non-conference schedules, Penn State remains in the hunt for its 10th consecutive Big Ten regular season title with a 4-1 league record.
The Nittany Lions return to State College, Pa. this weekend to host Minnesota and Iowa after visiting Michigan and Michigan State last weekend. After dispatching the Wolverines by a 4-0 score on Friday, Penn State suffered its first league loss of the season at the hands of Laura Heyboer and upstart Michigan State by a 3-1 score on Sunday afternoon.
Katie Schoepfer, a second-team SoccerBuzz and NSCAA All-American and first-team All-Big Ten selection a year ago, leads the Nittany Lions on the offensive end through 15 matches with 19 points (8 G, 3 A). Sophomore forward and 2007 All-Big Ten Freshman team honoree Danielle Toney has scored six goals and added six assists for 18 points.
Between the pipes, Penn State trots out one of the most decorated goalkeepers in the country in Alyssa Naeher. Last season, Naeher took home first-team NSCAA and SoccerBuzz All-American honors as well as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year accolades. This season, Naeher has been solid again for PSU against top-notch competition. The junior owns a 1.46 GAA and a .750 save percentage this season along with a pair of shutouts.
Scouting the Buckeyes
Ohio State finds itself in the hunt for the Big Ten regular season title as well at the midpoint of the conference season in spite of dropping a pair of games at Michigan State (5-1) and Michigan (2-0) last weekend.
After earning a trip to the Big Ten Tournament championship match and an NCAA Tournament at-large berth last season, Ohio State is the owner of a 6-6-2 overall record this season that includes a 3-2-0 league mark entering this weekend’s games.
Senior midfielder Lisa Collison is the Buckeyes’ leading scorer through 14 games with eight goals and three assists for 14 points. Freshman forward Paige Maxwell (four goals, two assists) and junior midfielder Ashley Bowyer (two goals, six assists) have each chipped in 10 points.
This weekend’s pair of matches are the last two regular season home games for the Buckeyes. Ohio State is 5-2-2 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium this season.
Kallman Earns Big Ten POTW Honor
After scoring the lone goal of the match in a 1-0 win against the Illini on Sunday afternoon and tallying an assist on Friday’s game-winner in double overtime, Minnesota senior defender Krystle Kallman received Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades earlier this week.
The fourth Gopher to earn the defensive honor this season, Kallman was a key part of a defensive core that permitted just five total shots on goal in the two weekend contests against two of the Big Ten’s top programs.
Seniors Move Up All-Time Charts
Much of the Gophers’ success this season has come on the strength of the play of the team’s six senior starters. As a result, a few of these seniors are finding themselves moving up the Minnesota record books.
Senior goalkeeper Lindsey Dare’s 0.26 GAA this season leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth nationally. Her .886 save percentage also leads the conference and is 10th-best in the country. Thanks to her stellar start, Dare now ranks among the top five keepers in Minnesota history in most statistical categories. She is currently the Gophers’ all-time leader in GAA (0.62) and career goalkeeper winning percentage (.742) with a 23-7-3 career mark. Dare also ranks among the all-time leaders in career minutes played (3181:00, 5th), career wins (23, 3rd) and career shutouts (20.0, 3rd).
Dare also has her sights set on several single-season school records. Owning a 0.26 GAA this season, the senior stands a favorable chance of challenging for the single-season GAA record held by Molly Schneider (0.84), which she set in 2005. With 14 wins this season, Dare currently ranks third on the Gophers’ all-time list for goalkeeper wins in a single season. Teresa O’Hearn (1994) holds the record with 18.
With five game-winning goals this season, senior forward Lindsey Schwartz (Bettendorf, Iowa) is now tied for fifth all-time in career game-winners with 10. Schwartz also ranks among the all-time top-10 in several other offensive categories including career points (77, 7th), goals (26, 7th), assists (15, t-8th) and shots (237, 4th). With just one more game-winner this season, Schwartz would tie Jennifer Walek (1993) and Nicole Lee (1998) for the single-season school record at six.
With a pair of game-winners of her own this season, senior midfielder Kaitlin Wagner (Plymouth, Minn.) ranks seventh in Minnesota history with nine career game-winners