Fiedler opens up pitch for Minnesota

The freshman midfielder has started all 17 games this year for the Gophers and has two assists in addition to 10 shots.

Freshman midfielder Molly Fiedler runs the field against Purdue University at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on Sept. 25.

Alex Tuthill-Preus, Daily File Photo

Freshman midfielder Molly Fiedler runs the field against Purdue University at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on Sept. 25.

Kaitlin Merkel

Gophers freshman midfielder Molly Fiedler said she started the season hoping to just make the travel team and play as many minutes as she could.
 
But Fiedler has started all 17 games so far this season for No. 19 Minnesota (11-3-3, 6-2-1 Big Ten), exceeding her own expectations.
 
“I just wanted to make the biggest impact I could,” Fiedler said. “[But] knowing that people believe in you and think that you should be out on the field playing … that just helps. You have a base, and you can build off of that.”
 
Fiedler has recorded two assists and 10 shots, three on goal this season.
 
Minnesota head coach Stefanie Golan said Fiedler’s impact ranges far beyond the stats. Fiedler’s range on the pitch has freed up junior midfielder Josee Stiever to make more plays on the pitch.
 
“She’s definitely made our midfield better,” Golan said. “As she progresses in the future, she’ll start getting the stats … but what she does, especially on the defensive side for us in the midfield, is irreplaceable.”
 
Fiedler switched positions from forward to the midfield in high school and said she enjoys being involved on both sides of the ball.
 
“I like that you’re kind of in the center of everything,” Fiedler said. “[As a forward], sometimes you wouldn’t get the ball for five minutes because it’s just down in the defensive end, but being a midfielder, you can put yourself in those situations and get the ball and get it out.”
 
Fellow freshman and Gophers forward April Bockin said Fiedler’s greatest strength is her quickness in switching from playing defense to the attack.
 
“She’s a great attacker, and when she has the ball, I know she’s going to do something with it,” Bockin said. “Then defensively, she works really hard to get [the ball] back.”
Bockin has also been relied on heavily as a freshman, starting 16 of 17 games this season. She played on the same club team as Fiedler during their senior year of high school and said their transition was smoother after playing together.
 
“We got to know each other, so coming in here we really knew how each other played, and I think every game here we grow,” Bockin said. “When she has the ball at her foot, it almost sticks to her foot, and she’s able to get out of situations that you don’t expect her to get out of. It’s fun to watch her do that.”
 
Golan said she expects Bockin and Fiedler to keep developing and become key pieces to the program moving forward.
 
“The future is certainly very, very bright,” Golan said. “You can look at the starting group, and there’s several players in it who are very experienced and who have grown, and you can look at these two and say, ‘Okay, they’re going to have a similar path to those guys.’ ”
 
Fiedler said to improve she wants to become more comfortable with the ball. But it’s her mobility that’s already making an impact for Minnesota.
 
“Molly is a kid who is a really, really dynamic, competitive player,” Golan said. “The ground that she’s able to cover makes such a big difference. She transitions from attacking
to defending very quickly. … It’s just made us be able to settle into games a lot easier.”