Gophers travel to Wisconsin for a pair

Bob Wothe

Wins have been scarce for Minnesota’s soccer team, but there has certainly been no shortage of positive attitude.

Staying true to form, the Gophers said they are excited more than ever to get back on the field this weekend when they take on Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., at 7 p.m. today and Wisconsin-Green Bay in Green Bay, Wis., at noon Sunday.

“We’re all in really good spirits,” senior forward Regina Moench said. “We can’t wait to get back out there and prove that we’re better than our record shows.”

The Gophers are trying to break a 13-game Big Ten road losing streak. But it won’t be easy against Wisconsin’s strong offensive attack, which ranks second in the Big Ten.

As always, though, the Gophers have found the silver lining: Their last road win came at Wisconsin (8-3-1, 2-3-1 Big Ten) on Oct. 14, 2001.

“We can definitely win both games this weekend,” freshman forward Amelia Kasten said. “We just have to do it this time and finish a game out.”

With four of their defenders out of the lineup for the second-straight week, the Gophers have their work cut out for them in a new defensive system. They will depart from their usual 4-3-3 set against Wisconsin and come out with Allison Kempainen at sweeper for the first time this season.

“Unfortunately, we’re not getting anyone back (from injury) just yet,” coach Mikki Denney Wright said. “But we’ve still got a lot to play for, because if we get to four wins we’ve got a very good shot at the Big Ten Tournament.”

They’ll have to stop Katy Lindenmuth and Amy Vermeulen first, though. Vermeulen is the second-leading scorer in the Big Ten with 24 points, and Lindenmuth is tied for the Big Ten lead in assists. She’s also a Gopher-killer: Lindenmuth has tallied four goals and an assist in two matches against the Gophers.

Even if the Gophers are successful in holding off the Badgers offensively, they’ll need to do some legwork of their own. The Gophers have scored just two goals in six league matches.

“We can absolutely dominate teams a lot of the time,” Moench said. “You’d think the goals would come, but they just haven’t Ö and I don’t know why.”

Sunday, the Gophers travel to Green Bay to take on a team they’ve met only three times and not since 1998.

The Phoenix (3-6-2) lost the 1998 meeting 7-0. But because the Gophers have scored just eight goals all season, such a blowout does not seem likely.

Stephanie Gross leads the Phoenix with 12 points on four goals, but the team has averaged just 1.22 goals per game.

If the Gophers lose a school-record eighth-straight match to Wisconsin tonight, the match against the Phoenix might be their best chance to stop the bleeding, because No. 3 Penn State and No. 13 Ohio State roll into town next weekend.

“I’m really looking for Regina and Haley (Lentsch) to step up,” Denney Wright said. “They’re the leaders of the program, and I think this is the weekend it’s going to come together.”