The Minnesota Gophers soccer team appears to be peaking at the right time. The Gophers fresh off a Senior Day win at home over Iowa headed out on a two game east coast swing with games at #8 Rutgers and Maryland. Minnesota needed to play two of their best games of the season and they did so earning a 2-2 tie against the Scarlet Knights and defeating Maryland 2-1 to pick up four huge points in the Big Ten standings.
The Gophers game on Thursday at Rutgers got moved up to to storms in the area, and it appeared early like Minnesota wasn’t quite ready. Rutgers took an early 1-0 lead just 2:44 into the game. But the Gophers would battle back and get the equalizer from Sophia Bowman in the 13th minute. Abi Frandsen drove down the right sideline, passing three Rutgers defenders before delivering a ball to Sadie Harper. Using her heel, Harper flicked a layoff to Boman who finished to the left side of the net.
The game would go to the half tied at 1, but Rutgers would again take a lead early in the second half to go up 2-1. Minnesota again battled back and it was the hottest player on the squad who got them there in the 59th minute. Grad Transfer from Washington U Gabbie Cesarone did it again heading home her 5th goal of the season for a new career high off a pass from Alana Dressely.
Alana delivers a perfect cross to nonother than "The Magnet," Gabbie Cesarone pic.twitter.com/Pn0Vhh12yD— Minnesota Soccer (@GopherSoccer) October 13, 2022
Megan Plaschko would make two saves to earn the draw, and Minnesota’s first point off of a ranked opponent since 2018 against then #12 Northwestern.
The Gophers headed down to College Park for a Sunday afternoon tilt against the Maryland Terrapins. The Terps are one of the worst teams in the conference, so the Gophers could not afford the let down after a big draw earlier in the week. They would get off to a quick start when Sophia Romine scored her third goal of the season less than 10 minutes into the game off of a Megan Gray cross.
Maryland would tie things up in the 27th minute and that’s how it would stay until 15 seconds left in the first half. Minnesota would regain the lead and keep it on a goal by who else—Cesarone. She once again used her head for the fifth time out of her career high six goals this season this time off a pass by Khyah Harper to make it 2-1 Minnesota. That’s how the match would finish giving the Gophers a huge four point weekend.
With two games remaining in the Big Ten season the Gophers sit at 3-4-1 with 10 points in Big Ten play. That currently places them in 8th place, which is key as only the top 8 teams make the Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota holds a three point lead on both Iowa and Illinois for the final spot in the postseason.
The Gophers concludes the regular season with two huge matches. Minnesota hosts 12th place Purdue Thursday night at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in the home finale before heading to Champaign to face Illinois on Sunday afternoon in what could potentially be a defacto play-in game. Iowa finishes the regular season at Northwestern and home vs Penn State—two of the conference’s best teams. Illinois heads to Madison on Thursday before returning home to host the Gophers. Minnesota can clinch a spot in the conference tournament with a win or tie against Purdue on Thursday and a Wisconsin win over Illinois.
Good luck to the Gophers on earning that spot in the Big Ten Tournament this week!