Gophers open Big Ten play at Rutgers

score details

by Julianna Landis

   After a quick start against nationally-ranked Rutgers to open Big Ten play for the season, the Gophers found themselves down by two goals at the end of the first half. Minnesota had shots early, one on goal from Mackenzie Langdok at the eight minute mark and another by Celina Nummerdor that went wide over the top of the net. Despite these early looks the Gophers also had to defend from chances by the Rutgers’ strong forward core. Just minutes after Nneka Moneme made the first shot for the Scarlet Knights, the team’s forwards were able to come back into the offensive zone on another breakaway in the fifteenth minute and Amirah Ali scored, assisted by Taylor Aylmer.

 Moneme had another strong play taking advantage of a miscommunication between the Gophers defenders and goalie Maddie Nielsen, and was able to toe the loose ball into goal to double the Scarlet Knights’ lead just twenty minutes into the game. Minnesota was able to respond, with Katie Duong and Nikki Albrecht generated a scoring chance at the twenty-four minute mark. They were unable to put it in goal, though, with Duong’s shot going wide on the right side. 

Despite finding themselves in an uphill battle early Minnesota’s play overall against a conference opponent was strong, said Captain Nikki Albrecht, “This was our best 90 minutes of play. Unfortunate that we turned the ball over to give them two opportunities on goal that they obviously put away and capitalized on. In the Big Ten that’s going to happen so we need to understand that and take ownership of it…Right after halftime we came out blazing. I’m so thrilled with the mentality we had going into it that we weren’t going to lose. The fact that we went down to the wire and fought until the clock hit zero, I was really amazed by that” she said.

Another positive of this game is that many of the team’s freshmen players were able to get minutes in their career first Big Ten game. Katie Duong and Paige Elliott have already seen significant playing time this season, but for Manthy Brady and Linnea Yacovella tonight gave them a chance to showcase their talent and possibly earn more minutes as Big Ten play continues. Brady, who played seventy-one minutes, displayed neat footwork to create a shot on goal from just outside the box with twelve minutes left in the game. 

The team will have a chance to improve their record in the Big Ten on Sunday, when they play at Maryland at 1pm Central Time.