Minnesota soccer (3-1-1) will look to improve its road record (1-1-0) this weekend, traveling to Wisconsin for matchups against UW-Milwaukee (2-2-2) and Marquette (3-2-0).
Ranked 23rd nationally , the Gophers will face the Panthers on Sept. 11 for the first time since 2002.
UW-Milwaukee started the season off with two 0-0 ties against Northwestern and Wisconsin. They posted two shutout victories over Michigan and Rice two weeks ago, but the favor was quickly returned by Marquette and Notre Dame who both shutout the Panther’s offense last week.
The team will look to break its two game losing streak this weekend against the Gophers.
After finishing No. 24 in 2008 with an 18-3-2 record last year, UW-Milwaukee lost only three starters for 2009.
Minnesota Head Coach Mikki Denney Wright, who lost six of her key starters last year, said the matchup will be an important game in the Great Lakes Region while the Gophers try to tweak their game strategy.
“We need to solve our forward combination play and we just haven’t fixed that yet,” Denney Wright said. “We might just find [Katie] Bethke’s partner and sort that out. Overall we’ve got a lot to work out this week as usual.”
Minnesota is currently ranked seventh in the NSCAA Regional Rankings for the Great Lakes, with UW-Milwaukee at No. 8.
“[We have to] make sure we’re dictating the pace of the game,” assistant coach Krystle Kallman said. “It will be a challenge, but it will be good to see some adversity.”
Milwaukee has seven goals on 101 shot attempts so far this season, compared to Minnesota’s nine on just 85.
Following the game against UW-Milwaukee, Minnesota faces Marquette on Sept. 13.
The Gophers defeated the Golden Eagles 2-1 in the first round of the NCAA Championship last year at home, but Marquette has been making good use of the home field advantage this season.
The Golden Eagles are undefeated in home games so far, and Denney Wright said it will be a difficult place to play.
While Minnesota redshirt freshman goalkeeper Cat Parkhill has recorded four shutouts in five games this season, Marquette’s defense will be just as strong.
Golden Eagles goalkeeper Natalie Kulla boasts 15 saves and three shutouts this season.
“We want to keep our team defense up everywhere on the field, not just the defenders but the midfields and forwards as well,” junior defender Kylie Kallman said.
Kylie Kallman also said it will be important for the offense to be scoring goals as quickly as they can in the first half in order to shut the team down before it gets too late in the game.
While both defenses have been performing well this season, the offensive statistics favor the Gophers. Marquette has only five goals on 68 shot attempts this season.
Junior Molly Rouse said the forwards and midfielders will have to play quickly but efficiently and get a feel for the team’s strengths and weaknesses early on in the game.
The Gophers hope to bring two more wins when they return home next weekend to host Nevada and Montana in the Minnesota Gold Classic Sept. 18 and Sept. 20.