Gophers claim share of Big Ten title

Minnesota took a piece of a three-way regular season title tie for the first time since 2008 Wednesday.

Gophers forward Sydney Squires passes the ball on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

Chris Dang, Daily File Photo

Gophers forward Sydney Squires passes the ball on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

Dominic Davis

The Gophers became champions of the Big Ten after they defeated the Maryland Terrapins 6-0 on Wednesday. The title will be shared with Northwestern and Penn
State who also finished the season 7-1-3 in the conference.





This is the fourth Big Ten title in program history, the first since 2008, for the team and the first with
Stefanie Golan as head coach.

“It means the world,” senior forward and captain Simone Kolander
said. “The other five seniors and I agree that this is something that’s four
years in the making. To finally accomplish that [goal] feels amazing.”

When the clock ran out, Minnesota’s bench stormed the field to
share the moment with the entire team.

Associate head coach Krystle Seidel, a former Minnesota player who witnessed the last conference title, felt utter pride as the clock hit zero. 

“I was lucky
enough to do the same thing here and there’s no feeling like it,” Seidel said.
“These girls will think about this game, this season for the rest of their
lives.”

No. 11 Minnesota scored twice in the first half. Senior captain Josee Stiever set up
junior forward Julianna Gernes for a one-time volley to open the scoring.

“I saw J making a really great run, so I served it and J hit an
awesome finish,” Stiever said. “That really set the tone for the game.”

Junior forward Sydney Squires, who found the net twice in the
game, gave the Gophers a two-goal lead going into halftime.

The Gophers dominated possession and never let Maryland catch
their breath. Seidel said being mobile and continuing to attack was how they
made so many chances for themselves. Minnesota attempted 36 shots in the match.

Minnesota went on a scoring frenzy in the second half.

“We’ve been struggling to get the ball in the back of the net,”
Kolander said. “Tonight everything just clicked. There were so many people on
the scoreboard, with assists and goals and that is just what we need especially
going into the postseason.”

Freshman defender Nikki Albrecht gave Minnesota a quick start in
the second half. Sophomore midfielder Molly Fiedler played a ground pass across
the box to find Albrecht running on to it at the back side of goal two minutes
into the half.

Kolander was dribbling toward the goal line when she gave a
layoff pass to her cousin, junior forward Kellie McGahn, who put the chance away
to go up 4-0.

Fiedler assisted Squires for her second goal with a through ball
in the 72nd minute to extend the lead to five.

Minnesota was awarded a penalty in the 78th minute. Freshman
forward Maya Rajacich converted it to score her first collegiate goal and reach
the final score line of 6-0.

The Gophers now enter the Big Ten Tournament with a No. 1 seed and will play Indiana in the first match at home Sunday at 2 p.m.

“Getting the one seed for the Big Ten Tournament is really
exciting,” Stiever said. “Our main goal is the NCAA Tournament and taking this
team farther than it’s ever gone before.”