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Minnesota Soccer: Gophers Start Season 2-0 With a Pair of Wins in Utah

Minnesota didn’t lead for much of their first two games, but it was long enough.

Patricia Ward scored the Gophers lone goal Friday night
gophersports.com

The Minnesota Golden Gophers soccer team held a lead for less than fifteen minutes in their two combined games in Utah this weekend—but it was long enough to leave the Beehive State with a 2-0 record. Minnesota defeated the Utah Utes 1-0 Friday night, and the Utah State Aggies 2-1 on Sunday.

The Gophers were tested early against the Utes. Gopher goalie Maddie Nielson had to make a few saves early in the game to keep it scoreless.

Utah dominated the first half and had a 9-2 edge in shots, but the game remained scoreless. The Gophers began to gain some momentum early in the second half, but were stopped by mother nature. The teams were forced to leave the pitch due to lightning. 43 minutes later the game resumed with 17 minutes to play. The Gophers regrouped and dominated the finish recording the last five shots of the game. The first four did not go in, but Minnesota would finally breakthrough right before the final horn.

With just over 30 seconds remaining the Gophers had one last chance to get a shot off. Using her senior experience, April Bockin quickly sent the free kick to the Minnesota attacking third where Makenzie Langdok played a header perfectly to Ward. Taking one touch to gain control, Ward then fired the shot off her right foot past the diving Utah goalkeeper to net the match’s only goal.

After a Utah foul allowed Gopher senior April Bockin to see an opportunity and take a quick free kick which was then headed perfectly by sophomore Makenzie Langdok to freshman Patricia Ward. Ward corralled the ball and eluded a Ute defender before ripping a shot past Utah goalie Carly Nelson to put the Gophers up 1-0 with 11 seconds left in the game.

The Gophers would head to Logan, Utah for their second game of the weekend. The Game would be a near opposite of the Gophers opener in the first half. Minnesota dominated the Aggies outshooting them 11-1 in the first half. The one problem? The lone Aggie shot by Sara Noel got past Nielsen to give Utah State a 1-0 lead at the half.

The Gophers continued to get more and more shots off in the second half, and it finally paid off when Molly Fiedler set up Maddie Castro with a nice cross to tie the game in the 68th minute.

The Gophers would take the lead eight minutes later when TJ McKendrick took advantage of a Utah State turnover and chased the ball down near the Aggie end line. She sent a corss towards the box hat was corralled by freshman McKenna Buisman who put the ball in the back of the net.

The Gophers were not really tested the remainder of the game and they would head home with a 2-1 victory.

The Gophers road gets a bit tougher as they come home to Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium for the first of seven straight home games this weekend. Minnesota hosts Ole Miss at 7:00 Friday night and then well face off against the #21 Washington State Cougars at 1PM on Sunday. The following weekend Minnesota hosts #1 Stanford. Add in non-conference games against DePaul and North Dakota State before the Big Ten schedule kicks off, and the Gophers will be firmly tested.