Gophers soccer embarks on final road trip of season

The Gophers head east for games against Illinois and Northwestern.

Drew Claussen

After a comeback win last weekend against Iowa, the Gophers soccer team will look to keep the momentum going on its final road trip of the season.

Minnesota (5-7-2, 2-2-2 Big Ten) will face Illinois on Friday and Northwestern on Sunday.

The Gophers defeated Iowa last weekend by scoring two second-half goals, erasing the HawkeyesâÄô halftime lead and beating Iowa 2-1.

âÄúWeâÄôre just excited how we played the whole 90 minutes,âÄù head coach Mikki Denney Wright said. âÄúWe felt like we played our signature style, weâÄôve seen sprits of it in different games, but we really felt like we put a good 90 minutes together.âÄù

Freshman Becca Roberts notched the game-winner against Iowa, which earned her Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week honors. The goal was her second of the season.

âÄúWe all just had the mentality that we need to win âÄî it was kind of a must-win game,âÄù Roberts said. âÄúWe pretty much gave it all we [had] doing the high press, I just ripped off the defender and was able to get a shot off.âÄù

Denney Wright said she has seen growth in Roberts and the other six freshmen on her team throughout the year.

âÄúI think our freshmen have grown a lot through this yearâÄî they have a lot of potential,âÄù Denney Wright said. âÄú[Roberts] has been really good the last few weeks, so itâÄôs fun to see her get that goal.âÄù

Illinois (9-4-1, 3-2-1 Big Ten) is coming off a weekend in which it beat Michigan State 1-0 in double overtime.

Illinois is outscoring its opponents 37-18 on the season and is led in scoring by sophomore Vanessa DiBernardo, who has 12 goals and four assists on the year.

The Illini have three other players with more than 10 points this year.

Goalkeeper Steph Panozzo has started every game for Illinois and is averaging 1.24 goals against per game with four shutouts.

Northwestern (2-11, 1-5 Big Ten) has struggled this season. The Wildcats gained their first conference win last weekend by beating Michigan 1-0. Their only other win on the season came against Loyola-Chicago in September.

Northwestern has only managed 11 goals as a team this year and has given up 28.  The Wildcats have lost seven one-goal games this season.

Minnesota has scored 18 goals and conceded 18 goals in 2011.

After this weekend, the Gophers only have three games left in the regular season.

âÄúWe just really try to focus on having great training [and] good practices,âÄù Denney Wright said. âÄúGreat practices equal great games.âÄù