Gophers’ soccer hits the road en route to Michigan

The Gophers continue their conference schedule with a pair of games in Michigan.

Drew Claussen

The Gophers soccer team will travel east for a pair of games against two of the conferenceâÄôs top teams this weekend after opening the Big Ten season with a draw against Ohio State.

Minnesota (3-5-1, 0-0-1 Big Ten) will face off against Michigan on Friday and Michigan State on Sunday.

After a poor nonconference showing, the Gophers will be looking to add to the growth witnessed during their tie with the Buckeyes last weekend. Ohio State is just one year removed from a Final Four appearance.

âÄúWe certainly got better on our team defending and our back four,âÄù said head coach Mikki Denney Wright. âÄúI think we have to continue to get better on our execution on attack, creating more service opportunities, taking more risks and finishing on opportunities.âÄù

Racking up goals has not been easy for the Gophers this year. TheyâÄôve scored only 13 goals through their first 10 games. About one-third of those goals came in a 5-0 nonconference win against South Dakota State.

Minnesota will also be looking for their seven freshmen to continue improving as the season progresses.

Michigan (6-2-1, 1-0-0 Big Ten) is coming off of a win, when it defeated Indiana last weekend. It was the WolverinesâÄô first conference-opening victory since 2005.

Junior goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer was named the Big Ten defensive player of the week last week. KopmeyerâÄôs seven-save shutout against Indiana was her fourth of the season. She owns a 0.76 goals-against average and a save percentage of .883 this season.

Michigan has a very balanced attack. Nine of its players have at least one goal and 11 players have at least one point.

In the last eight matches against the Wolverines, the Gophers are 3-3-2. Each of the six games decided in that time span were one-goal games.

Michigan State (8-1-0, 1-0-0 Big Ten) has gotten off to a hot start this season. After their first loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Spartans have rattled off eight straight victories.

âÄúTheyâÄôre both talented teams that have had good nonconference seasons,âÄù Denney Wright said.

Senior forward Laura Heyboer was the co-offensive player of the week in the Big Ten last week.

She scored five goals on six shots and led the Spartans to an overtime win against Detroit and a 2-1 conference win against Purdue. Heyboer has 13 goals on the season.

Another offensive threat for Michigan State is junior Olivia Stander who has amassed nine goals on the season.