It’s a mixed back of news in the initial non-rev recap for the fall 2021 season for the Minnesota Gophers. One team continues to play well under a new coach, while the veteran Gopher team most expected to do well is struggling against a tough schedule to start the season. Meanwhile, we have fresh beginnings as the Gopher men’s golf team kicks off their season this weekend!
Gopher Soccer—Nothing can get past these women
The Gopher soccer team is still undefeated after five games of the inaugural season under new head coach Erin Chastain. Not only are the Gophers 3-0-2 on the season, but they have locked down their opponents on offence. Minnesota has yet to allow a goal in the regular season so far outscoring their opponents by a cumulative score of 6-0 in their five games.
The Gophers opened play with a 1-0 win over Baylor and a scoreless draw with Illinois Chicago. They hit the road for their first road match of the season on August 26th and earned a 1-0 win at Drake with Delaney Stekr scoring the lone goal on a penalty shot for Minnesota.
This past week the Gophers hosted SEC opponent Mississippi State and once again would go to double overtime, but neither team could get on the scoresheet in a 0-0 draw. Gopher goalkeeper Megan Plaschko made nine saves in the shutout.
Minnesota finally got on the board again last Sunday when the Gophers defeated Wyoming 4-0 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. Junior forward Izzie Brown scored her first goal as a Gopher just 61 seconds into the match in what would be the eventual game winning goal. Just seven minutes later she added her second career goal on a penalty shot after getting fouled by the Cowgirls. Freshman Khyah Harper would score her first collegiate goal in the 13th minute on a gorgeous individual play and the rout was on.
Sophia Bowman would put in a gorgeous cross from Christa VanLoon in the 34th minute to round out the scoring for the match.
Plaschko did not need to make a single save in the 65 minutes of game action she saw. She was replaced by backup goalie Taryn Retisma for the final 25 minutes of the game, who also did not see a single shot on goal by Wyoming.
The Gophers did make history with their win. Minnesota is just the third team in Big Ten history to start a season with five consecutive shutouts. They are also just one of five teams to not have allowed a goal this season in the nation. Erin Chastain is just the fourth coach in Big Ten history to remain undefeated in her first five matches of her first season. Pretty impressive.
The Gophers will look to keep all those streaks alive when they once again hit the road on Thursday night when they take on Omaha at 7PM. The match will be livestreamed on Omavs.com.
The Gophers will return home and finish the non-conference portion of their schedule on Sunday when they host North Dakota at 1PM on BTN+.
Gopher Volleyball: Close but not close enough
The Gopher volleyball team has an incredibly tough non-conference schedule season to start the year, and it is showing in the results. After dropping their opening match to #10 Baylor and coming back with a 3-0 sweep of TCU in Madison in the Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge, the Gophers returned home last week to the Pav to host #1 Texas. The Gophers fought valiantly but just did not have enough to get past the Longhorns dropping a 3-1 result.
Just like the opener against Baylor the first set was a back and forth affair, but in an alarming trend, the Gophers once again could not close out a set they needed to have. Minnesota led Texas 23-18 in the first set, but the Longhorns stormed back to win eight of the last nine points and earn a 26-24 opening set win. The second set was once again back and forth, but with the score tied 21-all, the Longhorns would find that next gear and take the final four points of the set to win 25-21 and take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match. To Minnesota’s credit they battled back and took the third set avoiding the sweep 25-21, but the fourth showed the Gophers inability to put a team away again. Minnesota had a 20-18 lead and looked like they might push the match to five sets but Texas once again dominated the end winning seven of the last nine points to earn a 25-22 win and a 3-1 match win, Stephanie Samedy showed as usual why she is one of if not the best player in the nation as she recorded her 45th career double double with 21 kills and 19 digs. Taylor Landfair and Jenna Wenas each added 11 kills for Minnesota.
It didn’t get any easier on Sunday when the Gophers wetn down for a match at #5 Florida. Samedy had arguably the best performance of her career in her home state, but it wouldn’t be enough to stop the Gators from a 3-1 win.
Florida came out of the gate strong in the first set and Minnesota never had a chance. The Gators went up 6-1 early and the closest the Gophers could get from there was to cut the lead to three at 20-17. Florida would finish it off 25-20. In set two, it was nearly a carbon copy. Florida jumped out 6-1, the closest the Gophers could cut the lead to was three, and Florida cruised to a 25-19 win. Once again the Gophers battled back and avoided the sweep. It was a back and forth affair and with the score tied at 21-all Samedy took over. She would score three of the next four points and help the Gophers to a 25-22 set win. IN the fourth Minnesota bounced back from an early deficit and actually has a 23-22 lead. But, same story different day, the Gophers could not hold onto the lead and Florida finished with three straight points to take the set 25-23 and the match 3-1.
Samedy was incredible for the Gophers recording a career high 31 kills and led the team with 14 digs. Minnesota was not helped by the fact that Landfair did not play in the match for undisclosed reasons. The rest of the team besides Samedy struggled mightily as the Gophers only hit .223 for the match, with Samedy hitting .380 by herself. With Samedy’s stats taken out the rest of the Gophers roster hit an abysmal 0.013.
The non-conference challenge doesn’t get much easier this upcoming weekend either as the Gophers head out west to Eugene, Oregon for the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge. The Gophers will play #20 Stanford on Friday night before facing the host #13 Ducks on Saturday, Both matches will air on the Pac-12 Network.
Men’s Golf Tees Off
The Gopher men’s golf team opens their season this weekend at the Marquette Intercollegate tournament at Erin Hills Golf Club in Hartford, Wisconsin. After the first round of three on Sunday the Gophers were in a three-way tie for 14th place.
The Gophers will be debuting several new golfers this season after the graduation of star Angus Flanagan and others. Junior Connor Glynn will lead Minnesota in the #1 spot in the lineup. He competed in six tournaments las spring and averaged 75.67 strokes' per round on the season. He finished in a tie for 20th at the Big Ten Championships. Joining Glynn is French native Antoine Sale who comes to Minnesota from Indiana Hills Community College, Will Grevlos who played in two tournaments last season for the Gophers, Ben Warian who was third on the team a year ago in scoring average at 74.93, and Eduardo Galdos who comes to Minnesota as a freshman from Lima, Peru.
The Gophers will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the program this fall. Highlights will include celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Big Ten Championship and 20th anniversary of the 2002 National Championship teams. Minnesota returns home to host their lone home tournament of the season next week when the Minnesota Invitational is played at Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence next Sunday and Monday.