Gophers look to fine-tune at Gold Classic

Minnesota soccer hosts the Minnesota Gold Classic this weekend and will face off against Nevada and Montana.

by Brittany Storoz

With just one week left until conference games kick off, Minnesota soccer (4-2-1) will take two more chances to polish up its game against Nevada and Montana. The Gophers will host the Minnesota Gold Classic with guests UND, Nevada and Montana this weekend. Season statistics for both Nevada and Montana pale in comparison to MinnesotaâÄôs 12 goals, 44 shots on net and four shutouts , but the Gophers donâÄôt plan to take the games lightly. âÄúItâÄôs not a matter of us looking at it as if weâÄôre the best, but instead knowing that any day can change how we play,âÄù sophomore forward Tamara Strahota said. âÄúWeâÄôre going to have to go out with the mindset that they could have the best soccer game of the year so we have to, too.âÄù Minnesota hasnâÄôt lost at home since the end of the 2007 season. The Gophers look to continue their dominance at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium when they first take on Nevada at 7:00 p.m. Friday. The Wolf Pack (2-5-0) heads into the game coming off two consecutive wins against Fordham and Sacramento State , where freshman goalkeeper Dana Moreno posted two shutouts. Offensively, Nevada has tallied just four goals and 11 shots on goal for the season. Despite the statistical advantage for the Gophers, Strahota said the Wolf Pack should still be considered a tough opponent after the fight they put up last year against Minnesota, who didnâÄôt secure the 2-1 victory until the 84th minute of play. âÄúThey find ways to keep us out, so I imagine it to be very similar to what it was last year,âÄù Assistant Coach Krystle Kallman said. âÄúTheyâÄôre not a team that gives up goals easy, so theyâÄôre going to come out with some gusto for sure.âÄù The Gophers will close out their non-conference season against Montana at 12:30 p.m. Sunday . âÄúItâÄôs just the fine-tuner before you get into the Big Ten, and itâÄôs taken us a few games to figure out exactly positionally where we want to play all of our players,âÄù Head Coach Mikki Denney Wright said. âÄúHopefully by this weekend we can have everything at full-blast, just ready to enter into a really difficult Big Ten.âÄù Minnesota holds a 6-2-0 overall record against the Grizzlies, which includes a 3-0-0 record at home . The Gophers beat Montana 4-0 at home in 2007 , but the Grizzlies held MinnesotaâÄôs winning margin to just one goal in 2008 (2-1 ). MontanaâÄôs total four goals and 22 shots on goal have them sitting on a 1-6-0 record in 2009. The Grizzlies have been shut out in four of their seven games, and the Gophers defense looks to be another strong challenge for Montana. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Cat Parkhill added a career-high 10 saves in last weekendâÄôs matchup against UW-Milwaukee to her résumé. Parkhill has held all opponents to a combined five goals this season. âÄúWe work well in the back and our defensive chemistry is great,âÄù Parkhill said. âÄúItâÄôs a great segway right into the Big Ten conference and we need to start off big.âÄù UND will also be pit against Nevada and Montana this weekend at 4:30 p.m. Friday and 10:00 a.m. Sunday, respectively. MinnesotaâÄôs conference season will open with a home game against Iowa at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24.