The number sticks out no matter what. And in this case, it is not referring to the number of goals Minnesota’s soccer team scored in a 1-0 loss to Michigan on Sunday.
It’s even worse than that.
The Gophers managed zero shots on goal against the Wolverines, forcing coach Barbara Wickstrand to make changes.
Heading into Friday’s game against Northwestern, Minnesota will have a new lineup in hopes of generating offensive chances.
The Gophers (4-4-1, 1-3 Big Ten) will make a handful of substitutions in their starting lineup and hope the adjustment will kick-start a stagnant offense that has scored only four goals in four Big Ten games.
“We have to play to some of our players’ strengths,” Wickstrand said. “We had been discussing it last week and we feel it is time to make some changes.”
Specifically, Wickstrand wants to move Amanda Edwards to forward from defense and insert defender Nicki Burnie into the starting lineup.
After those moves, the new lineup will be: Becky Dellaria, Amanda Edwards and Haley Lentsch will start at forward; Allison Raino, Laura Hoppe, co-captain Amanda McMahon and Annie Carr will start at midfield; and at defense, co-captain Jen Cressman, Nicki Burnie and Hilary Stowell will anchor the last line before goaltender Karli Kopietz.
“We have a lot of versatility on the team,” Cressman said. “We need to mix things up and see how we can get the most production.”
The new lineup suggests the team will move toward a three- forward, four-midfielder and three-defender system. Minnesota started the season attempting to convert to a more aggressive, offensive-orientated 4-4-2 system.
A strength in the new lineup will be getting more offensive ability onto the field.
Although Minnesota has switched back to the 3-4-3 system at times this season, the coaches and players both hoped for more overall offense.
Last season, the Gophers managed 22 goals in 19 games. Through just nine games this season, Minnesota has scored 14 goals.
Kopietz, who has made 47 saves this season and allows 1.65 goals per game, has watched other teams’ offenses and has an answer for the Gophers’ woes.
“We need more shots,” Kopietz said. “I think we just need to start ripping them at goal and put pressure on our opponent’s goalie.”
Setting the tone
Against Michigan State on Friday, Minnesota did not play well against a mediocre Spartans squad.
On Sunday, the Gophers raised the bar and played well against an inspired and talented Michigan team.
Are the Gophers playing to the level of their competition?
“We need to start setting the tone,” Cressman said. “When we score first, we have success.”
The Gophers have scored first four times this season, winning all four games.
But in the Gophers’ four losses, Wickstrand has been critical of the team for not playing to their capabilities.
Kopietz does not feel the Gophers play up to certain opponents or down to others. The sophomore has another explanation.
“We aren’t playing our game,” Kopietz said. “We have to keep playing the way we know we can play. We can’t worry about what the other team is doing.”
No Gophers earned Big Ten player of the week honors, but players from both opposing teams did.
Michigan State’s Tiffany Laskowski was named offensive player of the week. The forward scored two goals against the Gophers on Friday afternoon.
Michigan goaltender Megan Tuura was named co-defensive player of the week. Tuura shut out both opponents over the weekend.