Gophers off to Ohio on 5-game streak

The Gophers (5-1-0 overall ) have won five straight, beat then-No. 14 San Diego last Sunday, and are on the verge of breaking into the National Soccer Coaches Association of America rankings ; certainly an encouraging early season stretch.

Austin Cumblad

On Monday, Minnesota senior midfielder and captain Molly Rouse was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week by the conference for the first time in her career. On Tuesday, as the Gophers began practice, Rouse had yet to jump into drills. Head coach Mikki Denney Wright chastened her and urged, âÄúWe get better every day.âÄù Denney Wright turned to the rest of the team and repeated the line, clapping to emphasize her point. This Minnesota team is not one to rest on its laurels. The Gophers (5-1-0 overall ) have won five straight, beat then-No. 14 San Diego last Sunday, and are on the verge of breaking into the National Soccer Coaches Association of America rankings ; certainly an encouraging early season stretch. It has not, apparently, diminished their urgency to set themselves up to return to the NCAA tournament after narrowly missing it a year ago. âÄúYou have to have good wins and you canâÄôt have bad losses,âÄù Denney Wright said. âÄúYou have to be consistent every single day.âÄù After a quick stop home to win the Minnesota Gold Classic, the Gophers are off to Ohio this weekend. Their games against Bowling Green (0-4-1) on Friday and Toledo (3-2-0) on Sunday offer the opportunities, respectively, to avoid a calamitous loss and to notch a good win. Bowling Green has yet to win a game and has allowed three goals three times already this season. And itâÄôs had just as much trouble finding the net âÄì three goals in five games. Conversely, in its six games, Minnesota has scored less than two goals only once, a season-opening 1-0 loss to 4th-ranked Notre Dame. Toledo, meanwhile, has faced markedly stiffer competition and has already defeated a Big Ten team in 2010; the Rockets kicked off their season with a double-overtime win against Purdue . For what itâÄôs worth, the Gophers and the Boilermakers tied for fourth in the Big Ten in 2009 with matching 5-3-2 conference records. Sophomore goalkeeper Cat Parkhill , the Reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, and her defense will have to contend with a Toledo attack that has been impressive at home; in just two games, the Rockets have 10 goals. Undoubtedly critical is junior Tamara StrahotaâÄôs progress as MinnesotaâÄôs starting center back. Strahota was thrown into the role last week after senior captain Jennie Clark fractured her collarbone during the Gophers 7-0 win over Belmont. Clark said Tuesday that her recovery will take six weeks, which means Strahota will conceivably hold the position until the waning weeks of the regular season. Strahota impressed in her debut but said she is not yet well-versed on the position. But, as opposed to the single day she had to prepare before last FridayâÄôs matchup with UC-Santa Barbara, this weekend she will step on the field with a full week of preparation under her belt.