After a tremendously successful weekend at home against Big Ten opponents Purdue and Illinois, the Minnesota women’s soccer team should pose a threat this weekend on the road.
The Gophers will take on Penn State in State College, Penn., at 3 p.m. Friday before traveling to Ohio State to face the Buckeyes at noon Sunday.
The Gophers (14-1-0 Overall, 4-1-0 Big Ten) enter this weekend with a four-game unbeaten streak in tow. The Minnesota has not suffered a defeat since their Sept. 26, 0-2 loss to Michigan State.
Gophers forward Tamara Strahota said holding the streak is a confidence booster, but not one that will be overly evident on the field.
“We’re feeling confident, but we can’t let it get to us,” she said.
Strahota scored the winning goal in last Friday’s 1-0 overtime victory against Purdue. The game winner was her third goal of the season.
The Nittany Lions (9-6-0, 4-1-0) are 3-2 in their last five games and are coming off a weekend series split against Michigan and Michigan State.
Despite mediocre success in the past few weeks, Penn State is tied with the Gophers for second place in the Big Ten in overall goals scored. They should present Minnesota with a strong offensive push the team has not faced in a while.
“Our defense is strong,” Strahota said. “I believe [the Gophers] are one of the strongest in the Big Ten so I think they can handle it.”
Senior defender Krystle Kallman said she is confident the team as a whole will be able to shut down the Nittany Lions’ strong offense.
“It’s not just defenders against their forwards,” she said. “Our team comes and we play defense as a whole group.”
Gophers head coach Mikki Denney Wright said her focus is on Penn State this weekend, comparing the match to a David vs. Goliath-style competition.
“Penn State is a great attacking team and a great defending team,” she said “We’re going to have to put away our chances.”
Katie Schoepfer, Danielle Toney and Nikki Watts will be three Penn State players to watch this weekend. They lead the team in goals scored with four apiece, and Toney leads the team in total points.
Redshirt senior midfielder Zoe Bouchelle will also play an important role in the game. Bouchelle has two goals this season, and her past four years playing display a string of accolades.
“Penn State is loaded. Every player on the field is good,” Denney Wright said. “They don’t have a weakness.”
Ohio State (6-6-2, 3-2-0) also poses a significant threat. Though the Buckeyes have lost their past two games, they started the season strong, shutting down Wisconsin 4-0 at home Oct. 3.
Strahota said her focus for the weekend will be on working hard to get rebounds and score goals, but she said she won’t underestimating either team.
“Each opponent is going to be strong no matter what,” she said. “They all play differently.”
Both of the weekend’s games will be important, Kallman said: “We know that these two teams are going to make or break our season.”
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