U freshmen get first goals of the season against N. Illinois

by Aaron Kirscht

The Gophers women’s soccer team bounced back from a frustrating Friday loss to No. 2 North Carolina with a 3-1 thumping of Northern Illinois Sunday.
Minnesota (13-4) jumped out early for a change, scoring all of their goals in the first half — a rarity this season. Junior midfielder Jennifer McElmury struck first, scoring from just outside the six-yard box off a crossing pass from Allison Johnson.
Freshmen midfielders Erika Kruse and Megan Johnson scored their first goals of the season against the Huskies. Johnson tallied nine assists before putting the ball in the net herself this season.
With a goal and an assist in the game, McElmury took sole possession of the Big Ten lead in scoring and goals. In 17 games, she has 11 goals and seven assists for 29 points. Erin Hussey, who also notched an assist Sunday, is second in the conference with 28 points.
Three Gophers all-tournament
Sophomore defender Vanessa Touset joined Hussey and McElmury on the Wisconsin Soccer Invitational all-tournament team.
Coach Sue Montagne said Touset’s strong play was a big reason for the Gophers defensive success against North Carolina.
“That was the best clearing game (around the net) we’ve had all season,” Montagne said, “and Vanessa was always in there fighting.”
Dorrance impressed
North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance spoke highly of the Gophers following his team’s 2-0 win Friday, calling them a scrappy team that “never gave us any breathing room.”
Minnesota played aggressive soccer from the start, leaving Dorrance uncomfortable with the Tarheels’ slim 1-0 halftime lead.
“Most of our discussion at the half was about trying to play at a faster pace,” Dorrance said, “because their great defense forced us to play faster.”
But Dorrance said it’s tough to sustain that level of defensive pressure for 90 minutes, and the Gophers’ energy letdown gave his team a chance to play at a more bearable rhythm.
Dorrance’s familiarity with Minnesota personnel was likely a factor in the Heels’ 2-0 win as well.
Gophers defender Mikki Denney transferred from North Carolina in 1993. Dorrance also worked with Gopher’s goalie Dana Larson and Montagne as a national team coach.
“We knew they were an up-and-coming team,” Dorrance said. “They’ve faced some adversity, losing a couple of their kids (Jennifer Walek and Noelle Papenhausen with torn knee ligaments, Jaime O’Gara with a stress fracture). But we did our research and it paid off.”
Quick Shots
ù Larson has started six straight games for the Gophers. On the season, she’s given up nine goals for a goals-allowed average of 1.11. The Gophers are 7-2 with Larson in goal.
ù McElmury moved into second on the Gophers all-time scoring list with a goal and assist. But her 87 career points still leave her 57 shy of Walek’s record of 144. Hussey moved up to third on the scoring list over the weekend, surpassing Gretchen Brandt’s mark of 79. Brandt played for the Gophers from 1993-95.