On Tuesday the 2014 Big Ten Women's Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll and Player Watch List were announced. The Gophers were ranked 11th out of 14 Big Ten teams. This comes after a season last year where they went 11-8-2 overall, including 4-5-2 in the Big Ten, good enough for an eighth place finish in the Big Ten. They did pull two major upsets a year ago at home at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium defeating then #13 Michigan and #7 Penn State at home by 1-0 scores. They did advance to the NCAA Tournament where they lost 3-0 to Texas Tech to end their season.
The preseason ranking seems a bit low for a Gopher team that returns their top five scorers from a year ago and the 2013 Big Ten Goalie of the Year. Senior midfielder Katie Thyken from Eden Prairie led the Gophers in scoring with seven goals and three assists. She was named one of the Players to Watch by the Big Ten Coaches. Also named to the Players to Watch list were sophomore goalkeeper Tarah Hobbs and sophomore midfielder Josee Stiever.
Hobbs returns after a freshman season where she was named the Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year. She played in 18 games, starting 11. She only gave up 24 goals on the season for a goals against average of 1.33 and making 122 saves.
The Team also excelled in the classroom winning the NSCAA Team Academic Award for the second year in a row. The Gophers had ten student-athletes named Academic All Big Ten.
Gopher coach Stefanie Golan is entering her third season at the helm after going a combined 22-15-4 in the last two seasons. She and the rest of the Gopher squad will begin her third season with an exhibition game against North Dakota Friday night at 7 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on the St. Paul Campus. They start their real games with two games in Florida next weekend before returning home to host Marquette on August 29th.
The Gophers will also have new uniforms for the 2014 season. Here are photos of both the full team and goalkeepers uniforms.
The full Big Ten Coaches Poll is below:
1. Penn State
6. Ohio State
12. Michigan State