New formation gives soccer needed boost on offense

Amy Danielson

After breaking out of an offensive drought last weekend, Minnesota’s soccer team is looking to correct additional problems before taking on Indiana and Purdue this weekend.

The Gophers (3-5, 2-2), whose 25 combined shots in a win over Illinois and loss to Iowa were their most for a weekend since last October, looked to capitalize on opportunities in their first practice of the week Tuesday.

“I’m very pleased with (the number of shots),” coach Barbara Wickstrand said. “Do we have things we need to work on? Yeah. Every day the expectations will be high to keep improving the small things: the technical breakdowns, the communication, the supporting angles, transitioning from defense to offense… These things have to be in their conscious so it just becomes natural.”

Before switching from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 formation for last Friday’s game, Minnesota struggled to connect multiple passes and move the ball downfield to its forwards.

“I think the huge thing for us is that we had a lot more opportunities with our shots on goal,” said defender Sarah FitzGerald, who will likely make her 50th consecutive start Friday. “Now it’s just finishing them.”

Bieler still limited

Forward Jordan Bieler, who had been out of the lineup since suffering a concussion at practice on Sept. 5, played five minutes against Illinois, but she will probably not play many more this weekend.

“She’s going to be limited,” Wickstrand said. “She’s been sick this week, she had a concussion and fitness has also been an issue.”

Bieler started six games at forward last season.

New formation successful

Keely Dinse, who had two goals and two assists with seven starts at forward in 2000, is new to the midfield. She changed positions to fit into the four-midfielder system.

“We used her in there mostly for her speed and just because she understands the concept of keeping it wide and taking it to the line if she’s got the space,” said Wickstrand. “It was the first time she really played at outside mid and she did phenomenal the whole weekend.”

Tierney Palmer-Klein, who started as Minnesota’s only center midfielder before the Gophers changed their formation, said the midfield has benefited from the addition.

“I think that with an extra midfielder it’s giving the forwards a little bit more support and we can work off each other a little more,” she said. “We can combine rather than just playing so direct and we have a little bit more possession to work with.”

 

Jabari Ritchie covers soccer and welcomes comments at [email protected]