Minnesota sees success on the road

The Gophers have only one regular-season contest remaining this year.

by Ben Gotz

While Gophers players speak highly of playing home games at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium, the open road has been pretty good to the team, too.

After the Gophers swept Maryland and Rutgers over the weekend, they improved their home conference record to 3-3-1.

But on the road, the Gophers are an impressive 4-1 in the conference so far, with one game remaining on the schedule at Northwestern.

The Gophers already have a spot in the Big Ten tournament, but they are in a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference.

One more victory could result in a more favorable matchup next week in the conference tournament in West Lafayette, Ind.

The Gophers’ road victories haven’t come easily, but they’ve kept the team in the hunt for the postseason.

The team’s conference road games have all come down to just one goal. Four of the five matches were decided in overtime, with two going into double overtime.

“I think a lot of it just comes down to our grit and our wanting to really win on the road,” senior captain Olivia Schultz said. “The games have been really good, and I think the ones that we have lost, they’ve been close enough that we’ve played well.”

Sophomore midfielder Josee Stiever said the team set a goal at the beginning of the season to not lose in overtime.

While the team hasn’t been able to reach that goal, the Gophers have won more games in overtime than they’ve lost, with all three overtime victories coming on the road.

“Every time we get into overtime, we know what it takes, and we’re ready to make our goal happen,” Stiever said.

The Gophers have steadily improved on the road throughout head coach Stefanie Golan’s tenure.

In 2012, her first year coaching the team, the Gophers ended up below .500 on the road overall and in the Big Ten.

This season, the Gophers are guaranteed their first winning record on the road under Golan, both in conference play and overall.

But for now, Minnesota is focusing on its last regular-season game.

Northwestern will pose a different challenge because the team plays on turf. The Gophers are planning to practice on turf Thursday to adjust before leaving for Evanston, Ill.

“We feel like we’ve accomplished a lot to this point, but we still want to continue our season as long as we can. And we know that Northwestern is a very difficult team to play against,” Golan said. “Playing them on their field is a challenge. [It’s] one we’re looking forward to.”