Offense powers Minnesota to home sweep

Sophmore Maddie Gaffney kicks the ball at the Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on Friday evening where the Gophers defeated the New Mexico Labos 1-0. Gaffneys goal was the first of her collegiate career.

Image by Melissa Scharf

Sophmore Maddie Gaffney kicks the ball at the Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on Friday evening where the Gophers defeated the New Mexico Labos 1-0. Gaffney’s goal was the first of her collegiate career.

by Kaitlin Merkel

The Gophers soccer team wrapped up the nonconference portion of its schedule this past weekend with two victories, defeating the University of New Mexico Friday and the
University of Nebraska-Omaha Sunday at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in St. Paul.
Minnesota (5-1-2) shut out New Mexico 1-0 Friday night in an offensively one-sided match.
The Gophers recorded nine shots while holding the Lobos to four shots on the night.
Minnesota scored the lone goal in the game a little more than 11 minutes in when sophomore Maddie Gaffney found the back of the net from 25 yards out.
The goal was Gaffney’s first of her collegiate career.
“[The ball] finally came to me, and I just hit it,” Gaffney said. “Right when I hit it, I kind of knew it was going to go in.”
The Gophers were unable to score again, with the ball spending a lot of time in the air, but their defense shut out New Mexico to earn the win.
“The ball was in the air more than it was on the ground, which does not play into our strengths,” Minnesota head coach Stefanie Golan said. “We talked to the team how important it is to be able to win when it’s ugly.”
The Lobos came close to scoring an equalizer in the 73rd minute on a free kick about two yards 
outside of the box, but junior goalkeeper Tarah Hobbs got a hand on the ball to deflect it over the net and preserve the win for the Gophers.
“She did what she needed to do,” Golan said. “That’s what great goalkeepers do, is they do what the team needs of them to keep a clean sheet.”
On Sunday, the Gophers scored nine goals against Nebraska-Omaha to win 9-1.
Seven of Minnesota’s goals came in the first half from six different players.
The lopsided score allowed the Gophers to substitute underclassmen in to play a substantial amount of minutes in the game.
“Having a game where we’re able to reward the entire team with some playing time is always a great thing to be able to do,” Golan said. “Everybody contributed when they
were on the field in a positive way.”
Gophers goals in the first half came from junior midfielder Josee Stiever, redshirt senior forward Taylor Stainbrook, junior forward Simone Kolander and freshman midfielder Emily Heslin. 
Sophomore Megan Koenig also netted two first-half goals for Minnesota.
The goal from Heslin and the two from Koenig were the first in their collegiate careers. 
In the second half, sophomore midfielder Rachel McCloskey scored to extend the Gophers’ lead to 8-0.
The Mavericks’ lone goal came late in the second half from freshman midfielder Kelsey Stithem.
The Gophers answered minutes later with the team’s final goal of the game, scored by junior defender Ashley Pafko, to make the final score 9-1.
Also aiding on offense was last week’s Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week, Minnesota forward April Bockin, who had two assists in the game.
“We knew their defenders weren’t very fast,” Bockin said. “I used my speed because I knew they weren’t going to be able to keep up.”