Wayzata trio hoping to continue winning ways at Elizabeth Robbie Stadium

Emily Wickstrom

Elise Bjerkenas, Marti Klinsing and Kaitlin Wagner are three soccer players who are used to winning.

The Minnesota soccer trio played together for four years at Wayzata High School, leading the Trojans to a state tournament berth each year, including a championship title in 2002.

But their background together began earlier than high school.

Bjerkenas and Wagner grew up just five houses apart in the same neighborhood. All three played soccer together on club teams since they were 13.

Now they are all at the University, where they hope to help turn around a program that has not had a winning conference season since 1999.

“That’s actually one of the main reasons I came here,” Wagner said. “I thought it’d be cool to be part of a rebuilding program and make that difference to change the program around.”

Having familiar teammates close by has been helpful in the transition to college soccer, Bjerkenas said.

Gophers coach Mikki Denney Wright said recruiting the Wayzata teammates was part of one of her main goals – to keep Minnesota’s best high school players in the state.

“When we came here, the top players in Minnesota were going to other places,” Denney Wright said. “We made a push to make all the players come to Minnesota.”

Denney Wright said she sees Bjerkenas, Klinsing and Wagner all as important pieces of the Gophers’ future success.

Klinsing and Wagner made Minnesota’s starting lineup from the get-go at forward and midfield, respectively.

“(Wagner) played every minute the last two weekends,” Denney Wright said, “I’ve seen her become a lot more consistent.”

The athletic ability and physical play of Klinsing earned her a starting spot, Denney Wright said.

“She’s a bit nasty on the field,” Denney Wright said. “I think that’s great – we love that attitude.”

And Bjerkenas, who likely is redshirting this season, will eventually become one of the Gophers’ anchors at center defense, Denney Wright said.

But the three are not the first soccer players from Wayzata to star for a Minnesota team.

Erin Hussey, Amy Muchlinski and Rachael Roth are all former Trojans players who also were members of the Gophers team.

“Having two players starting (at Minnesota) and three on the same team that were playing high school together last year – that says a lot about the program at Wayzata,” Denney Wright said.

But for the current group of former Trojans, they’ve become accustomed to success.

“I want to walk out of here with at least one Big Ten Championship,” Klinsing said. “Which I think is possible.”