*Photo credit Sam Rode
Welcome back Gopher fans! After what seemed like ages, the season is starting to hit full stride now. With Minnesota’s first tournament at Iowa State this weekend, there’s no better time to update everyone on how the season’s shaped out so far.
After tryouts were completed, Gold welcomed several new faces, some from Maroon, and some newbies, to fill out the squad. Here are the newcomers:
Brogan Ortwein - Freshman - Winger
Oreoluwa Akindele - Senior - Striker
Lane Versteeg - Sophomore - Defender
Samuel Hoyt - Freshman - Winger
Colin Remington - Freshman - Striker
Sanat Iyer - Junior - Outside back
Zach Ziegert - Sophomore - Midfielder
Zach Nebbia - Junior - Center back
With the new faces on the team, preseason saw Gold take on many familiar MIAC foes: St. Olaf, Macalester, Carlton, Gustavus Adolphus, and Bethel.
Gold vs. St. Olaf
Gold opened up play at St. Olaf. Facing the national quarterfinalists and preseason ranked #15 in the nation, Gold was expecting a tough contest. Stride for stride in the first half, Gold and St. Olaf played out a tight contest. Gold had the best chance of the half as a pinged ball from Larsson found Belisle in behind to set up an attempt, and the finish came agonizingly close as it ricocheted off the inside of the post and was cleared from danger. Gold came out in the second half and St. Olaf didn’t take long to show their quality. Two goals in the span of the first 15 minutes of the half, both incredibly well-taken finishes, left the Gophers chasing the game. St. Olaf added 2 goals late to pad their scoreline and finish with a comprehensive 4-0 victory.
Gold vs. Macalester
Gold looked to bounce back a couple days later against Macalester. Another tough opponent, the Gophers came out to match the intensity and had the better of the play for the first 60 minutes of the contest, but Macalester’s defense held firm. A well worked goal around the 60th minute saw Macalester pull ahead, but the Gophers responded well and within 5 minutes, Freshman Ortwein created some space in the corner and cut back a dangerous ball in the box that bounced off the feet of a Macalester defender for an own goal. The whistle blew with the two sides locked at 1 each.
Gold vs. Carleton
The Gophers then traveled back down to Northfield on Friday Aug. 26th, to take on the Carleton College Knights. As the reigning MIAC Tournament Champions, Carleton had bags of quality to test Minnesota with. The Gophers had a frustrating first half, as two defensive lapses led to 2 simple Carleton goals. The squad rallied in the second half, seeing the better of play. Minnesota pulled one back with about 20 minutes to go, as Larsson tapped over a ball in the box finished well by Senior Captain Ferrer-Lugo, but the Gophers ultimately couldn’t find the net again, as the whistle blew with the scoreboard showing 2-1 to Carleton.
Gold vs. Gustavus Adolphus
Minnesota next took on Gustavus Adolphus. At the time of writing, Gustavus was ranked 7th in the country after a blistering start to their season. The game started in much the same vein as Carleton, with the Gophers conceding two frustrating goals to simple lapses. Again like Carleton, the second half saw some necessary adjustments and Minnesota worked their way back into the game. Senior forward Good pounced on a miscommunication between the Gusties backline and keeper, and curled in a finish to an open net from 30 yards. Minnesota were able to find a few more good chances but the Gustavus backline was equal to all of them, and they hung on for a 2-1 victory.
Gold vs. Bethel
In their last preseason match, facing Bethel University, Minnesota seemed to click. They started brightly, Larsson pressing and winning a tackle high upfield, and sliding a ball over to Ferrer-Lugo who buried a strike from 30 yards out for his second of the season and Larsson’s second assist. The Gophers were firmly in control from that moment on, pressing well and disrupting Bethel’s possession. The Gopher’s second came after a driving run from Akindele found him in the six-yard box, whose cut back was well finished by Senior Yarmulnik for his first of the season. Bethel pulled one back from a corner early in the second half, but the Gophers took the sting out of the game and added another beautifully worked goal, Akindele playing a one-two pass with Yarmulnik and finishing into the far post. To cap off the match, Akindele once again drove into the six yard box and slid another pass for Yarmulnik to bury in a carbon copy of the second Gopher goal. The scoreline ended there at 4-1.
Gold vs. Force and St. Thomas
Since then, the Gophers have played two matches: against reigning MASL division 1 champions Force FC, and league foe University of St. Thomas. Gold showed that they’re really beginning to gel, running out 7-0 and 6-0 winners respectively. In the match vs. Force, goals were scored by Belisle and Ortwein both chipping in with 1, senior striker Brazkala grabbing a brace, and Yarmulnik completing a hattrick. The match vs. St. Thomas saw Yarmulnik continue his good form, grabbing an early brace to take his total to 7 goals in the prior 3 matches. Senior winger Asmelash grabbed his first of the season on a nice layoff from Akindele, and 3 more goals were added in the second half from three freshmen: Remington, Hoyt, and Ortwein.
This weekend sees the Gophers travel down to Iowa State to compete for regional qualification spots. Gold will be faced up against Northern Iowa, Minnesota - Duluth, and Minnesota State in group B. Stay tuned to our socials and results page for updates!
Ski U Mah!