Second segment commences at Robbie

Emily Wickstrom

For Minnesota soccer coach Mikki Denney Wright, phase two of the 2005 season begins today.

This weekend will be the first test to see if the Gophers will make it to phase three – postseason play.

The Big Ten season begins this weekend with Minnesota taking on Purdue at 7 p.m. today and Indiana at 1 p.m. Sunday. Both games are at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

The Gophers (3-3-2) hope to rebound from last weekend, when they lost to Dartmouth in overtime and Villanova by one goal.

“That stung a lot,” freshman midfielder Kelsey Hood said. “Losing two games in a row is not fun. But I think we’ll take advantage of that and take it out on Purdue and Indiana.”

Two wins would put Minnesota in good shape to make it to the Big Ten Tournament, Denney Wright said, because four wins is usually enough to qualify.

But the Gophers will have to be on the top of their game to defeat the Boilermakers and Hoosiers.

Purdue beat two ranked teams in nonconference play in No. 19 Nebraska and No. 24 Kansas. Minnesota lost 3-1 to Nebraska Aug. 26.

Indiana has beaten the Gophers in three of their last four matchups and is on a three-game winning streak coming into Sunday’s game.

Despite the statistics, Denney Wright said both games are winnable for Minnesota.

“We’ll have to come out and play good soccer and be ready to go,” Denney Wright said. “But the neat thing about the Big Ten is that anyone is beatable on any day.”

One plus for the Gophers is that it will be the first time Big Ten opponents will see Minnesota’s freshman class, which has earned 25 of the team’s 31 scoring points so far this season.

Last year the Gophers lost to both the Boilermakers and the Hoosiers in close one-goal games. That’s a fact that gives encouragement to Minnesota’s players, considering the 2005 team is much improved – in all phases.

“Our team’s gotten significantly better since last year,” sophomore defender Hailey McCarthy said. “I think we’ll be able to compete, and for sure could beat either of the teams.”