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Gophers soccer trending upward after sluggish start

Winning five of their last seven matches, the Gophers improve to a .500 record.
Image by David Monterroso
Midfielder Sophia Boman goes to kick the ball during the Gophers’ game against Indiana, Thursday, Sept. 22. The Gophers won, 3-0.

For the first time since the 2001 season, Gophers women’s soccer opened their first four games of the season with three losses.

The 2022 season began Aug. 18, as the Gophers faced Baylor in Waco, Texas. The match was tied at the beginning of the second half, until second-year forward Khyah Harper blasted a shot that was deflected off of the crossbar and into the goal. This tally was the first of the season for the Gophers and gave them the lead in the game.

Harper’s goal remained unanswered until the 79th minute, when Baylor’s Haven Terry netted the equalizer. No goals were put on the board after this, and the match concluded with a score of 1-1.

Following their tie with Baylor, Minnesota suffered two losses on the road to Texas Christian University (TCU) and Mississippi State. TCU and Mississippi State presented formidable opposition with both teams currently possessing an above .500 win percentage. In Minnesota’s home opener, Cal Poly bested the Gophers 1-0.

Graduate forward McKenna Buisman was the only Gopher to score in the three-game slump, recording a goal against TCU in Minnesota’s 2-1 loss.

The season got off to a sour start: even the 2019 team — which finished their season with a 3-12-4 record — only dropped one game in their first four matches. The 2019 team also faced solid opponents in North Dakota State University, Cal State Fullerton, University of California-Santa Barbara and University of Arkansas — all teams that registered more wins than losses that season.

But in September, the Gophers are turning it around. Winning four straight games, the Gophers now sit at an overall record of 5-5-1.

After dropping their third straight game, the Gophers dominated Drake 4-0. They continued their reign of terror beating University of North Dakota, University of Nebraska-Omaha and Marquette University all by a margin of at least two goals. Unfortunately, Minnesota’s streak ended in their first Big Ten matchup against Nebraska, as the Huskers took down the Gophers 1-0.

On Sept. 22, the squad took on Indiana at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. Gabbie Cesarone, Izzy Brown and Christa Van Loon each registered a goal en route to a 3-0 win.

On Sunday, Northwestern came to town with hopes of spoiling the Gophers’ tear. Northwestern’s squad has only lost one game so far, solidifying their position at eighth on the United Soccer Coaches’ NCAA national rankings and first in the Big Ten standings. Though the Gophers had been victorious in their last three meetings, Northwestern played spoiler, beating the Gophers 2-1.

The Gophers now sit at a record of 1-2 in the Big Ten standings: Minnesota holds the same win percentage as Maryland and Illinois, .333.

Minnesota’s next match is Thursday against a struggling Michigan roster at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. Both teams are looking to bounce back in this matchup, as they both have lost two out of their last three games. Michigan is winless in Big Ten play, and they lie even with the Gophers’ latest victim, Indiana.

Important games are ahead, with rival schools University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Iowa following Michigan. Iowa is placed second to last in the Big Ten, however, Wisconsin is tied for first place with Northwestern.

The Gophers have failed to make the Big Ten tournament since they won the championship in 2018. Though they are not a powerhouse in the regular season, there is no reason to count them out. The 2018 championship squad was the seventh seed heading into the tournament, but still won it all.

At the moment, the Gophers are one spot out of the playoffs. Currently, they reside in ninth place, ranked below University of Illinois. There are still seven games left for the Gophers, and with three wins in their last five games, there is some hope for the future.

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