Gophers soccer ranks eighth in Big Ten preseason poll

Taylor Uhl, Cat Parkhill and Tamara Strahota are among 36 players to watch from the 12-team conference.

Betsy Helfand

The Gophers soccer team ranks eighth in the Big Ten’s preseason coaches’ poll, which was released Monday.

Minnesota is coming off a 9-10-2 season (5-4-2 Big Ten) in which it finished fifth in the conference. It lost in the second round of the Big Ten tournament to eventual champion Penn State, which sits atop the poll.

Three Gophers players were named to the conference’s list of 36 players to watch: sophomore Taylor Uhl, senior Cat Parkhill and senior Tamara Strahota.

Uhl, a forward, led the Gophers with 15 goals and 34 points last season and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Parkhill started every game in goal for the Gophers last season and averaged 1.32 goals against, eighth in the Big Ten, and a .748 save percentage, seventh in the conference. Parkhill also recorded four shutouts.

Strahota, a defender, received a medical hardship waiver and missed the entire season with a leg injury. During her junior season in 2010, she recorded career-highs with 17 points and six goals.  

The Gophers kick off the season Friday at 7 p.m. against No. 4 Florida State at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

Rules changes

Soccer rules changes this season include a new accountability method in the card system. Official scorekeepers are now required to “provide an official record of players in all three divisions who are required to miss games because of disciplinary action,” according to a NCAA press release. Cards will now be counted “as any other statistic” in box scores.

The NCAA said it has learned of occasional instances in which players who are supposed to sit out games “do not or delay their suspensions for an easier opponent,” and under the new rules, players, coaches, and teams will be penalized with suspensions and forfeited games for not honoring the rules.

Other rule changes include giving referees “more discretion” in managing the game clock in the last five minutes of play, handing out yellow cards for “excessive celebration,” and giving possession to the defensive team when a throw-in fails to reach the field of play.  

The NCAA will also allow coaches to use “electronic aids” during the game, but coaches are still barred from using phones or messaging devices throughout it. In addition, players will now be able to use “technological devices” in-game, but any information gained from said devices cannot be used until after the game is over.