Dare a solid leader in goal and on sideline

Minnesota’s junior captain has been beat out for the goalkeeping position this year.

Paul Cordes

Last season, Minnesota soccer coach Mikki Denney Wright was “constantly evaluating.”

These were her words of choice nearly every week when talking about her young team at nearly every position. It couldn’t be truer when talking about her goalkeepers, as then-sophomore Lindsey Dare and freshman Chelsey Turner shared time fairly regularly in goal.

However, the biggest games of the year usually meant Dare would be in goal as she became a favorite for the position, starting 12 of 19 games and making an appearance in a 13th game as well.

Her .93 goals against average was the team best and good enough for sixth in the conference. Her 101 saves, .894 save percentage, which is 7.77 saves per game were all tops in the Big Ten.

This year, however, is a very different story for the now-junior goalkeeper. Dare has seen no action in goal, as Turner has started all six games.

“Chelsey has won out the position so far, so she starts and plays,” Denney Wright said. “I’ve always wanted one goalkeeper to step up and so far she’s been the better goalkeeper.”

Going from a solid starter to the sidelines would naturally shake the will of an athlete, which leads me to wonder what kind of an effect something like this would have on a team in its third year of rebuilding.

Especially being a team captain this season, Dare’s leadership is pivotal for a team that continues to grow and mature.

“I’m still a captain, and still a leader, but I’m the No. 2 goalie, and I had to decide if I was going to pout and be emotional or selfish or be the best No. 2 goalie I could possibly be,” Dare said. “The rest of the team is watching how I handle this situation, so I just try and be supportive as possible.”

And for the naysayers out there, I can personally vouch for that fact after watching Friday night’s game; I was slightly surprised not to see Dare in goal. Despite temperatures in the mid-40s, Dare was attentive, vocal and as into the game as possible.

She said it’s a slightly different leadership role, but leadership all the same.

“My role right now is to sit on the bench, watch the game and talk to the players on the field as well as making sure everyone on the sidelines is in the game too,” she said. “I do as much shouting on the bench as I do when I’m playing, yelling at defenders. It’s just how I am.”

And for a squad looking to make a run for the Big Ten tournament this year, Dare’s solidity is exactly what the team is in need of.

Last season Minnesota was missing a key piece of the puzzle, scoring just three goals in 10 conference games. It seems the Gophers might have worked out some of those offensive woes and found their rhythm, scoring 13 goals in its past four games.

No matter how much of a leader Dare was last season, she couldn’t do much to help score goals as a goalkeeper. But if Minnesota can find the net often this season, it will be much easier for Dare to keep the team focused on winning.

Turner has already learned firsthand the type of leadership Dare demonstrates as she battles with whom she called her “best buddy” for a starting position on a daily basis.

“She has that consistent calming leadership that we need,” Turner said. “I know what to expect from her, the team knows what to expect from her and she’s always keeping people’s heads up and giving us that extra boost before the game or at halftime.”

The goalkeeper situation won’t get any less competitive as freshman Katie Roberts vies for a spot this season and one of – if not the biggest – recruits of the Denney Wright era, Cat Parkhill, who has verbally committed, joins the hunt next season.

Parkhill has played on the under-17 women’s national team and is a big pickup for the Gophers.

With four goalkeepers going at it next season, I can say just two things for certain:

Denney Wright will continue to constantly evaluate, and Lindsey Dare will play a major role in future Minnesota success, regardless of playing time.

– Paul Cordes welcomes comments at [email protected]