Transfer Schneider takes over net

Bob Wothe

It took only two games for junior goalkeeper Molly Schneider to do what took the 2003 Gophers squad a whole year.

In back-to-back 1-0 victories to begin the season, the transfer from Wisconsin-Milwaukee shut down Northern Iowa and Vanderbilt, and equaled the total shutout count – two – of last year’s team.

Schneider is a welcomed newcomer in net for the Gophers, who in 18 games last year allowed 44 goals – six more than any other Big Ten team.

Thanks in large part to Schneider, the Gophers got off to a promising 2-0 start under first-year head coach Mikki Denney Wright. Schneider’s goals-against average is 1.00 after a 3-0 loss on Sunday to Central Florida, a team that returned eight starters from last year’s NCAA Tournament-qualifying squad.

Despite the loss, Schneider joined junior defender Nicki Burnie on the All-Tournament Team of the Alabama-Birmingham Classic, which took place last weekend. By all accounts, it has been a solid start to the year.

Just don’t expect Schneider to take the credit.

“It’s been all about great teammates and great team defense,” Schneider said. “The coaching staff has been great and everyone has been playing well.”

Humility aside, Schneider’s play and work ethic have been particularly impressive to her coach.

“Molly has been fantastic,” Denney Wright said. “She’s got such great leadership skills in the back.”

Incoming transfers taking over such important positions sometimes don’t gel well with the athletes being replaced, but Schneider said it hasn’t been an issue.

Schneider took over for junior Karli Kopietz and senior Marni Prall, who split time last year in the goal for the 6-10-2 Gophers.

She said the entire team was very welcoming and that everyone has made her feel comfortable, calling the overall experience “a lot of fun.”

Future aspirations

But Schneider takes soccer seriously. She hopes to play as long as she is able – no matter where it takes her.

“If I can play professionally around here, great,” she said. “But if I have to go overseas to play, I’ll do that too.”

Her enthusiasm for the game started when she began playing at the age of 10 and has only grown in the 11 years that have passed since.

Denney Wright said Schneider’s passion for the game is almost unmatched.

“What’s great about her is that she’s a soccer junkie,” Denney Wright said. “She’s always coming in the office or calling every day, asking how she can get better.”

Schneider said she loves the competitive atmosphere in soccer and that it’s most important to her to simply improve daily.

After the fast start this year, including 11 saves against Vanderbilt, Schneider can’t help but look ahead to what the year will bring.

She said she’s confident that the team will do fine as long as the players relax and play their game.

“I just want to have fun and enjoy playing soccer,” Schneider said. “But I really want to make the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments in the next two years that I’m here – those are the big goals.”