Gophers return home to host tourney

Paul Cordes

Minnesota’s soccer team is returning home for the first time since school began.

The Gophers (4-1-1 overall) will host the Gopher Invitational today and Sunday. Minnesota plays Dartmouth (2-2-0 overall) at 7 tonight and Northern Colorado (3-3-0 overall) at 1 p.m. Sunday. Iowa (2-2-1 overall) is the other team in the tournament and will take on Northern Colorado on Friday and Dartmouth on Sunday.

After losing their first two games of the season, the Big Green beat Maryland and Central Connecticut. The Soccer Buzz poll has Dartmouth ranked 30th in the country. It is one of the most experienced teams in the country, returning 20 letter winners from a year ago.

Minnesota will be looking to avenge last year’s 3-2 overtime loss to Dartmouth.

Gophers coach Mikki Denney Wright said Dartmouth is a consistent Ivy League contender and expects the Big Green to be good but is confident in her team.

“They’ve got a couple of very special players, but we’ve been working consistently on our defense and our attack so that we can keep building and keep getting better,” she said.

Dartmouth is led by freshman midfielder/forward Maggie Goldstein, who was named the Ivy League Women’s Soccer Rookie of the Week and was also named to the Soccer Buzz National Elite Team of the Week.

She has two goals and four points in the Big Green’s first four games, which puts her tied for first on the team along with sophomore midfielder Becky Poskin and freshman midfielder Ali Hubbard.

Redshirt sophomore Sara Johnson said that the Gophers need to start taking better advantage of their opportunities to score.

“We definitely have to put away the chances that we get,” she said. “I think that we’ve been accumulating a lot of chances, but we haven’t necessarily been putting them away.”

Sunday’s game against Northern Colorado will be the first ever meeting between the two teams. The Bears are in their fourth season as a Division I team and in their first season in the Big Sky Conference.

They also return 20 letter winners, but aren’t considered one of the most competitive teams in Division I.

Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lindsey Dare said the Gophers aren’t going to be doing anything differently against Northern Colorado.

“We’re just going to come out and do what we always do before every game,” she said. “We’re going to come out with as much intensity as we can and hopefully we can come out really hard right away and take it to them.”

Denney Wright said her players look at each game individually and don’t get ahead of themselves.

“We’re just making sure we take this one game at a time,” she said, “because at this level, two opponents are just too hard to prepare for.”

The two tournament games are the Gophers’ final two nonconference games before Big Ten play begins. Denney Wright said these games are must wins for two reasons.

“They’re preparation but they’re also very important NCAA games – every game is,” she said. “Our kids know that, and every week we’re trying to improve and trying to get better.”