Gophers prepare for NCAA tournament

Minnesota made a run at the Sweet 16 the last two times it qualified.

Minnesota midfielder Katie Thyken fights for the ball against Louisiana State on Sept. 6, 2013.

Image by Chelsea Gortmaker

Minnesota midfielder Katie Thyken fights for the ball against Louisiana State on Sept. 6, 2013.

by Jace Frederick

The Gophers may not always make the NCAA tournament, but when they do, they win games.

Minnesota will play Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, in the first round of the tournament Friday.

It marks the third time in the last six years that the Gophers have qualified for the dance.

The last two times featured notable runs.


The Gophers came into the 2008 tournament after earning a share of their first regular-season Big Ten title for the first time since 1997.

Minnesota was led by senior keeper Lindsey Dare, who posted 17 shutouts in 26 starts and allowed just 12 goals that season.

Dare paced the Gophers in a 2-1 win over Marquette in the first round. Minnesota followed that up with a 2-0 shutout win over South Dakota State at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium to advance to the Sweet 16.

Minnesota battled top-seeded and undefeated Notre Dame in the next round and lost 1-0 in overtime. Notre Dame went on to lose in the national championship game.


The Gophers entered the 2010 tournament with a balanced scoring attack and a youthful, talented keeper.

Five different players scored six or more goals that season, and sophomore keeper Cat Parkhill recorded 66 saves.

Minnesota benefited from hosting the first two rounds this season as well. It defeated Creighton 4-2 in the first round and upset fourth-seeded Texas A&M two days later on the strength of Parkhill’s seventh shutout of the season.

But even with home-field advantage, the Gophers fell once again in the Sweet 16 with a 1-0 loss to unseeded Georgetown.


This year’s Gophers squad is similar to the team that went to the Sweet 16 in 2010.

Minnesota again presents a strong defense with Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year Tarah Hobbs in net.

And junior midfielder Katie Thyken leads the team with seven goals — the same number that tied as the lead mark in 2010.

The bracket even lines up the same. The Gophers are set up to face No. 4 seed Texas A&M in their
second-round matchup — just as they did in 2010.

Minnesota will soon find out if these similarities lead to similar tournament success.