The Gopher soccer team will take on the Wolfpack from North Carolina State Saturday night at 7:00 at Jane Lyle Robbie Stadium on the St. Paul Campus. It will be the Gophers tenth appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota won both the regular season Big Ten Championship and Big Ten Tournament combo for the first time in school history this season. They are ranked #8 in the National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) Poll, which ties for their highest ranking ever. The are #19 over all in the RPI.
The Gophers will face a Wolfpack squad making their first NCAA appearance since 1996. They finished 10-8-1 on the season, including a 1-0 upset win over #6 North Carolina. NC State can score, out scoring its opponents 32-22 on the season. Tziarra King leads the team with eight goals on the season.
The Gophers will be led by a series of Big Ten Award winners. Simone Kollander was named the Big Ten Forward of the Year for the second straight season. She finished the regular season with 11 goals and six assists. Freshman Rashida Beal was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Additionally Gopher coach Stefanie Golan was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year. Minnesota also was honored with Josee Stiever on the First Team All-Big Ten Team. Stiever is tied for second on the team with eight goals on the season.
On the second team is goalkeeper Tara Hobbs. She finished the season with a 0.55 goals against average and has 56 saves on the year. She is one reason why the Gophers have outscored their opponents this season by a total of 48-12.
Minnesota will look to avenge a loss the only other time the Gophers and Wolfpack squared off. NC State won that match 3-0 in 2001. Saturday night’s match will air live on BTN2GO. With a win, Minnesota would advance to play the winner of Pepperdine and Cal, most likely at #1 Seed Stanford next Friday.