The University of Minnesota women’s soccer team (17-2-0, 7-2-0) polished off a perfect home season with a 2-0 win over Northwestern (9-8-1, 4-5-0) on Sunday afternoon at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in St. Paul. The Gophers got goals from freshman Tamara Strahota and Clare Grimwood. Senior netminder Lindsey Dare recorded three saves on the way to her 14th shutout of the season, a new school record.
Amidst blustery conditions in St. Paul, the Gophers dominated play in the first half but did not break through until Strahota’s breakaway goal at the 67:29 mark. Strahota won a ball at midfield and earned a breakaway opportunity. Closing in on Northwestern goalkeeper Carolyn Edwards, Strahota flipped the ball up and over Edwards to record her fourth tally of the season. All four of Strahota’s goals this year have been game-winners.
Clare Grimwood polished off a solid weekend with her second goal in as many games just a few minutes later. After teammate Lindsey Schwartz worked the ball into the Northwestern end, Schwartz sent a cross to a streaking Strahota, who was coming up the center of the field. Strahota heeled the ball to Grimwood, who beat Edwards with a right-footed blast that dipped just under the crossbar.
Grimwood’s goal this afternoon was her third of the season and capped a five-point weekend for the Eagan, Minn. native.
The 2008 season has been a banner year for the Gophers thus far. Minnesota finished their home schedule Sunday with a perfect 10-0 mark. Wisconsin’s goal against Minnesota on Friday night was the only goal allowed by the Gophers at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie this season. With their 17th win of the season Sunday afternoon, the Gophers are now just one victory away from tying the 1995 squad’s school record of 18 wins in a single season.
An announced crowd of 329 braved the elements Sunday afternoon and helped Minnesota Soccer set a single-season attendance record with 9,218 fans. The previous record of 9,040 fans was set in 2005.
“I thought we played a great brand of Minnesota Soccer all weekend. We as a coaching staff were excited with the amount of solid scoring opportunities we were able to create,” Minnesota head coach Mikki Denney Wright said. “These two wins this weekend were each solid performances by our group.”
With the win, the Gophers improve their conference record to 7-2 and solidify themselves in the second-place slot in the Big Ten standings. Penn State, who won at Purdue Sunday afternoon to improve their league mark to 8-1, remains the front-runner for their 11th straight Big Ten regular season championship. Minnesota can still gain a share of the Big Ten title with a win in their final regular season contest on Friday and a Penn State loss to Ohio State in State College, Pa.
The Gophers close out the regular season Friday with a contest at Iowa. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 (CT).