Goals prove unkind in tournament

Minnesota lost 1-0 to Creighton and 2-0 to Iowa at the Gopher Spring Classic.

Matt Anderson

Minnesota’s soccer team played 180 minutes of soccer this weekend in the Gopher Spring Classic.

And through all of it, the Gophers were unable to dent the net.

Minnesota was shut out in a pair of games Saturday and Sunday. It lost 1-0 to Creighton on Saturday and then fell 2-0 to Iowa on Sunday, despite outshooting the Hawkeyes 16-10.

“We can’t finish to save our lives – I’ll be honest,” coach Mikki Denney Wright said. “We’ve really struggled to attack, and I think some of that may be solved with personnel we bring in next year, because we have some kids who are attackers.”

On Sunday, the one attacker who was able to create scoring chances was Becky Dellaria. The senior forward came inches from a goal in the game’s 55th minute, when she banged a ball off the crossbar.

Dellaria had Minnesota’s other main scoring opportunity in the 70th minute, when she was in on a one-on-one with Iowa goalkeeper Lindsey Boldt but sliced a shot just left of the goal.

Although the Gophers gave up two goals against Iowa, the defense was strong in its Sunday effort. One goal was no fault of the defense, as sophomore goalie Lindsey Dare mishandled an Iowa free kick in the sixth minute that found the net for the Hawkeyes’ first goal.

“Our defense is really what created our attacking opportunities in the second half,” senior midfielder Annie Carr said. “Just as a unit, we dominated. It’s disappointing when you can dominate an entire half and not score.”

Next season, Minnesota hopes to find forwards who are able to turn field domination into scores from Denney Wright’s first recruiting class.

The class has four forwards, including Mahtomedi High School’s Elena Fruci, Ms. Soccer in the state of Minnesota in 2004.

While the 15 newcomers to the program are expected to add scoring punch, it could be difficult to find continuity on a team with that much turnover.

“It’s hard to judge how it’s going to be in the fall, because we do have 15 incoming freshmen,” Carr said. “So it’s going to be like a whole new team, but with the girls that are here, we’ve built a solid base.”

Although the base might be built with returnees, Denney Wright said the large crop of new talent brings many unknowns to the table.

“I think that’s the biggest challenge for us as coaches,” she said. “When you bring in a bunch of talented players, how do you get them integrated into a team, and how does your team accept them? Because it’s going to become very competitive for starting spots next fall, I think more competitive than they’ve ever seen for Minnesota soccer.”