The Minnesota Gophers soccer team kicks off the official start to their 2022 season Thursday night with a game at Baylor. Minnesota will look to try and earn themselves a spot in the Big Ten Tournament this fall after falling just short a season ago in Erin Chastain’s first year as the Minnesota head coach. Minnesota returns a large chunk of last season’s roster and will look to try and improve on their 8-6-3 record in 2021.
Minnesota heads into the 2022 season returning their top three scorers from a season ago and their star goaltender. Senior Izzy Brown returns for her second season in maroon and gold after transferring in from North Carolina in 2020. The senior forward led the Gophers in 2021 with six goals scored to tie the team lead with 12 points. She was one of three Minnesota players named to the Preseason Big Ten Watch List by the conference coaches.
Joining her on the list was 2021 Second Team All-Big Ten midfielder Sophia Boman. The junior from Edina has started all 29 matches so far in her career. Last season, she tallied four goals and was tied for the team lead with 12 points. Boman tallied the most shots on the team (39) and notched two game-winning goals against Baylor (Aug. 19) and Ohio State (Sept. 23).
The third Gopher named to the watch list was goalkeeper Megan Plaschko. The senior from Eagan has owned the crease for the Gophers the past two seasons with 28 appearances and 26 starts. A year ago Plaschko finished 38th in the NCAA and fifth in the Big Ten recording eight shutouts. She was named Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Week twice for her efforts. She was named one of three Minnesota captains for the 2022 season on Wednesday.
Other key names returning to the lineup for the Gophers this season include graduate student McKenna Buisman from Mankato who scored four goals a season ago for the Gophers, graduate student defender Delaney Stekr from Omaha who will anchor the Gophers back line and is also a 2022 captain, and a trio of additional Gophers who started all 16 games a year ago in junior defender Abi Frandsen, graduate student forward Megan Gray, and sophomore midfielder Elizabeth Overberg.
Minnesota will regularly feature two players who did not suit up for the Gophers in 2021 on a regular basis. One was due to injury, and the other is a transfer from a soccer power. Graduate student Alana Dressley returns to the Gopher lineup after missing the entire 2021 season with an injury. She is the third Minnesota captain for the 2022 season. The defender played in all but two of Minnesota’s matches in 2019 and 2020 and expected to once again see time for the Gophers.
Minnesota’s biggest impact newcomer will be graduate student Gabbie Cesarone. She transferred to Minnesota from annual DIII powerhouse Washington University in St. Louis where she was a two-time First Team All-American and the D3soccer.com Defender of the Year in 2021. She immediately steps into the Gophers lineup as a defender and will make an impact.
Minnesota played two exhibition games to open the season and went 1-0-1 with a 2-0 win at St. Thomas and a 1-1 tie against Iowa State at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. Minnesota opens up their 2022 regular season schedule with an eight game non-conference slate before opening Big ten play.
Minnesota opens up Thursday night at Baylor in the season opener for both teams. The Gophers knocked off the Bears 1-0 last year at home in the first win for Chastain as the head coach of her alma matter. They continue their Texas trip on Sunday with a much tougher task playing at preseason #7 in the nation TCU. The Horned Frogs are the reigning Big 12 Champions and will open their season against fellow Big Ten foe Wisconsin before hosting the Gophers. Both games will kick off at 7PM and will stream live on ESPN+.
Following the Gophers Texas trip they return home to open the home schedule against Cal Poly on August 25th before facing another Power 5 team when they head to Starkville to play Mississippi State on the road. The Gophers close their non-conference schedule with home against against Drake, Omaha, and Marquette and head up to Grand Forks to face North Dakota.
Those eight games will hopefully get the Gophers ready for a tough Big ten schedule. Minnesota was predicted to finish in 9th place out of 14 teams in the Preseason Coaches poll—one spot out of a Big Ten Tournament berth. Minnesota finished in 10th place a season ago after dropping a pair of must win matches to Iowa and Nebraska to close out the season.
Minnesota will have a pair of games aired live on Big Ten network this fall. Both will be home games when Minnesota takes on Michigan on Thursday, Sept. 29 at7 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 9 at 1 p.m when the Gophers host Iowa. All of the remainder of the Big Ten games will stream on BTN+.
Good luck to the 2022 Minnesota Gopher soccer team!