Both the Minnesota Golden Gophers soccer and women’s cross country teams will try and make history this weekend in their respective NCAA Tournaments. The soccer team will take on #2 seed UCLA in a NCAA Second Round match Friday night while the women’s cross country team will look to earn one of their best NCAA Championship finishes in school history Saturday.
The Gopher soccer team will look to build on their first ever NCAA Tournament road win last Friday at Auburn this weekend. It will not be easy as the Gophers will get #2 seed UCLA on their home pitch in the second round Friday night. The Bruins are ranked #4 in the nation in the most recent coaches poll and will pose the toughest task the Gophers have faced this season since hosting #1 Stanford in August. It will be the first ever meeting between the Gophers and the Bruins on the soccer pitch.
Minnesota advanced with a 2-0 win last Friday over Auburn. Minnesota dominated the second half and broke open the scoring in the 61st minute on senior Emily Peterson’s first collegiate goal. April Bocken took a free kick from 24 yards out and Peterson redirected it into the upper corner of the net to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead.
Just under 20 minutes later the Gophers scored on another gorgeous set piece. Bocken took a corner kick and booted it to the front of the net where Emily Heslin deflected it to Megan gray who put the ball in the back of the net to ice the 2-0 victory. Bocken’s two assists give her 27 all-time in her Gopher career good enough for the third most in program history.
UCLA advanced by defeating San Jose State 5-0 in their first round match. The Bruins scored four goals in the first half and cruised to an easy win. The Bruins come into the match on a huge roll. UCLA has won 10 consecutive games, outscoring opponents by a 34-6 margin. Key to this streak has been the play of forward Ashley Sanchez, who has recorded a goal or assist in each of those 10 games, totaling eight goals and seven assists during the streak.
The winner of the Minnesota/UCLA game will advance to play the winner of #3 Seed Santa Clara and NC State on Sunday Night.
Gopher Women’s Cross Country
The Gopher women will make their 13th appearance in the last 14 years at the NCAA Championship meet in Madison on Saturday. The Gophers got an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships after a third place finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional in Peoria, Illinois last weekend.
The Gophers finished in 19th place in 2017 led by a 70th place finish by Bethany Hasz and a 74th place finish by Megan Hasz. The sisters both return for their second NCAA Championships appearance to lead the Gophers. Minnesota comes into the meet ranked #27 in the nation.
Good luck and Ski-U-Mah to the Gophers!