Soccer heads south to face improved Hawkeyes
The Gophers’ soccer team only has one game on the docket this weekend as they travel to Iowa to face the Hawkeyes.
With the lighter weekend, head coach Mikki Denney Wright’s team can heal any nagging injuries.
Having only one game, as opposed to the usual two, doesn’t mean that Minnesota will scout Iowa any more than usual, Denney Wright said.
“We know the Big Ten teams; we’ve seen them on TV a bunch of times. You know what they do,” Denney Wright said. “I think it just gives you more opportunity to work on yourself.”
Minnesota’s defense, which gave up a late game-winner to Penn State’s Maya Hayes on Sunday, will have to defend against a very balanced Hawkeye attack. Iowa has five players with four or more goals on the season.
“In that situation [against Penn State] we knew the girl was fast and we lost track of her for a moment,” sophomore defender MacKenzie Misel said. “So it was really a good play on their part and kind of a lack of focus on our part.”
Freshman Cloe Lacasse leads the Hawkeyes with 10 goals and five assists on the year.
The Gophers are working on making their offense consistent after scoring multiple goals against Michigan and Wisconsin in previous weekends, only to be shut out against Michigan State and Penn State.
“Right now we’re just working on keeping the ball in our possession,” forward Steph Brandt said. “We think once we can get that piece of our game in check then we’ll be able to make it to [the] goal and get our shots on frame.”
Brandt added that she thinks the possession problem stems from poor first touches. Denney Wright echoed Brandt’s concerns.
“I think it’s just staying consistent,” Denney Wright said. “We’re focusing on possession [and] keeping the ball because we didn’t keep it enough in the second half [against Penn State] to generate opportunities.”
Iowa is off to a 10-1-2 start (2-1-2 Big Ten), and is on pace for a breakthrough season. The Hawkeyes have finished last in the conference six times since 2003.
“They’re a good team [this season]. It’s kind of like what we were last year — we had lots of players who could score goals,” Denney Wright said. “They’ve been though a lot, they’ve lost a lot in the past so I think they’re hungry and they’ve grown from it.”
She added, “I think this is their best team by far over the last few years.”