Gophers riding offense to victories

In 15 games this season, Minnesota has scored 30 goals and allowed only 7.

Gophers forward April Bockin fights for the ball against Purdue at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium, September 25, 2015

Alex Tuthil-Preus, Daily File Photo

Gophers forward April Bockin fights for the ball against Purdue at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium, September 25, 2015

by Kaitlin Merkel

The Gophers soccer team has overpowered opposing teams with its offensive attack this season.
No. 11 Minnesota (11-2-2, 6-1 Big Ten) has outshot and outscored opponents 197-130 and 30-7, respectively.
The team built its offense throughout the season, especially because a core part of their attack is made up of young players.
Freshman forward April Bockin has started 14 games this season, while freshman midfielder Molly Fiedler has started all 15.
“I think just throughout the season we’ve gotten more comfortable with who we’re playing with up top,” Bockin said. “Every game I learned more and I felt more comfortable, but at the beginning it was difficult. … It was just a lot of getting used to how we play [as a team.]”
In the Gophers first six games, they scored only six goals. In their last nine, they’ve scored 24.
Junior forward and team co-captain Simone Kolander said after the team became more cohesive, the offense came naturally.
“You can’t really expect a team full of girls who haven’t really played a whole lot together to be able to create a lot of opportunities right away, so I think for us, it just took a little time,” Kolander said. “We’ve gotten a lot better at knowing each other and figuring out where everyone is going to be.”
Sophomore forward Sydney Squires said the offense has found a rhythm in each game now that they’re more comfortable playing together.
“There might be points in games where we don’t possess [the ball] that well, but we always fall into a rhythm at some point,” Squires said. “It opens up a lot of options.”
Bockin said the team’s cohesion has led them to up their speed of play, which has allowed the Gophers to outshoot their opponents.
“When we play quicker, we can spread teams out, spread the defense out, and that gives us more looks to go attack,” Bockin said. “It just creates more when we play faster.”
Kolander leads both the team and the Big Ten in goals with 10. Kolander also leads Minnesota in shots and shots on goal with 34 and 16, respectively. 
“It’s amazing how many goals she’s scored,” Bockin said. “I think especially when Big Ten play started, she was really focusing on finishing and taking opportunities that she was given, and it’s paid off greatly.”
Kolander said the key to her success has been a change of focus on the pitch.
“I think I’ve really figured out where I need to be. I think for my first two years I worked really, really hard to make things happen, and I was able to create opportunities, but I was working really hard when there was a lot of opportunities for me to work smarter,” Kolander said. “I think I just figured out that working smarter is sometimes more efficient than working harder.”
The Minnesota offense has been efficient all season, ranking third in the Big Ten in goals per game.
“It all comes together, knowing each other as teammates, knowing everyone’s tendencies. That’s going to help the speed of play,” Kolander said. “You can anticipate what someone’s going to do, and then you’ll be in the right spot.”