Minnesota falls flat in East Coast tune-up for Big Ten

Emily Wickstrom

Minnesota’s soccer team continued its offensive struggles over the weekend.

But the Gophers still said they made progress in getting ready for conference play.

Minnesota (3-3-2) lost 3-2 in overtime to Dartmouth on Friday and 1-0 to Villanova on Sunday. Both games were played in Hanover, N.H., as part of the adidas/Hypertherm Classic.

Minnesota held the Wildcats scoreless throughout most of the game Sunday before Valerie Grow scored the winning goal for Villanova with 15 minutes remaining.

Grow received a pass from the right side of the field and scored in the upper right corner of the goal.

Minnesota keeper Molly Schneider kept the game in reach for the Gophers, earning six saves on the Wildcats’ 17 shots.

Despite mustering just two shots the entire game, both by Kaitlin Wagner, Minnesota coach Mikki Denney Wright said she thought her team played well.

“I thought we had a much better performance on Sunday,” Denney Wright said. “We see some things to improve on.”

If anything, playing opponents like Dartmouth and Villanova got Minnesota more physically ready for Big Ten games, Gophers players said.

“It was good for us to experience playing people that were bigger than us,” Schneider said. “For all the new freshmen, it’s good for them to play some physical teams and get prepared for Big Tens.”

Minnesota players said that with the added experience of playing two challenging games on the road in their pockets, they now have to work on finishing.

“Our main priority right now is getting goals in the back of the net,” freshman defender Clare Grimwood said. “The defense needs to improve on distributing the ball and setting up the forwards Ö we just need to get some numbers up.”

Minnesota did not struggle to score on Friday, but could not keep Dartmouth from scoring either.

Becky Dellaria scored a goal early in the second half off a corner kick by Grimwood to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.

But the Big Green countered with two unanswered goals to take a 2-1 lead before freshman Marti Klinsing scored her first career goal off a Lindsey Schwartz assist.

In sudden-death overtime, Emily Tracy scored from 35 yards out to end the game and give Dartmouth the 3-2 win.

“It’s disappointing obviously not to win,” Denney Wright said. “We battled with both teams -we just have to convert some chances.”