In search of win number one, Gophers off to Dartmouth

Minnesota handed the Big Green one of their four losses last season with a 1-0 shutout.

by Nick Gerhardt

The Gophers will forage this weekend in hopes of finding some elusive items necessary for a successful year.

Minnesota will rip, shred and hunt for goals and their first win when they begin play Friday at 3:30 p.m. against Providence and finish up Sunday against Dartmouth at 11:30 a.m. in the Nike Hypertherm Tournament in Hanover, N.H. on the Dartmouth campus.

The Gophers (0-2-0 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) dropped a pair of games last weekend in the Lady Vol Classic in Tennessee and want to rebound after an encouraging weekend that featured a 30-shot performance against the University of Central Florida.

Minnesota leads the Big Ten in shots and corner kicks; however few of those chances have resulted in goals, as it scored just once last weekend.

“It’s awesome being No. 1 in shots and corners, but now we have to finish,” junior forward Lindsey Schwartz said.

The team worked all week in practice on their crosses and finishing around the net in hopes of notching more goals.

Coach Mikki Denney Wright says the team has six quality forwards, and now she has to find the right combination of players to light up the scoreboard.

“We’ve got to get better and learn how to sustain pressure for 90 minutes,” she said.

The Friars (0-1-1, 0-0 Big East) tied Massachusetts last weekend after losing 4-1 to Rhode Island. Providence brought back nine starters from last year’s squad that finished 4-8-5 on the year.

One of those starters, senior goalkeeper Laura Elfers, recorded 100 saves last season.

Elfers has not looked like the keeper of a year ago, as she has allowed five goals on 16 shots this season.

Despite Elfers’ troubles, the Friar defense has only allowed a total of 16 shots in two games, meaning the Gophers will have to continue their offensive attack.

Minnesota won’t have any easier contest Sunday as the Big Green (0-2-0, 0-0 Ivy League) will have revenge on their minds after the Gophers handed them one of their four defeats last year. Minnesota won 1-0 after sophomore forward Elena Fruci slid in behind the defense to find the net.

“It’ll be a good battle,” Fruci said.

Dartmouth started this season slow after a loss to No. 3 Texas A&M and Rice last weekend. The Big Green allowed five goals and did not score a goal of their own.

Dartmouth graduated 10 seniors last season and has some holes to fill, particularly their defense.

The Big Green stifled opponents last year and helped goalkeeper Amanda Webb by only forcing her to make 51 saves.

The five goals they allowed have exposed the defense and the need for major improvement if they want to contend this season.

With the offensive firepower the Gophers displayed last weekend the matchup with Dartmouth might prove exciting.

Minnesota has also worked on its defense following the UCF game where they gave up a pair of goals. With its shift from a defensive mentality to an attacking approach, the defensive organization has become an important part of quelling the counterattack of opponents. The Gophers practiced on holding the line to force opponents offside.

“The defense is getting more comfortable with trying not to let balls get beyond the line,” Fruci said. “We want to play well this weekend and get our first win.”