Tourney Time: 2023 National Tournament Preview
Both Gopher squads will be competing against the nation's best in Texas this weekend
(Pictured above) Vice Captain Lane Versteeg has been one of the key defensive cogs for a robust Gold backline
*Photo credit AV sports photography
Tourney Time! Both Gold and Maroon head down to Texas to compete in the national tournament, as just a matter of days lie ahead before the end of the season. As the squads travel down to Round Rock, here's what the initial days will bring for each team:
Minnesota-Maroon Tournament Preview
Qualifying for the National Open Tournament through lottery, the Minnesota Maroon squad was drawn into Open Group C, putting them alongside Utah Valley University, James Madison University, and Miami University of Ohio.
Group Game 1- vs. Utah Valley - Nov. 16, 11:30 am
For their opening game, Maroon faces off against Utah Valley University out of region 6. A team that Minnesota has actually played before in 2019 at the National Open tournament, Maroon fell to a narrow 0-1 defeat in the group stages. Last year, Utah Valley was also in the National Open tournament, failing to get out of Group A.
Group Game 2 - vs. James Madison - Nov. 16, 6:30 pm
In game 2, Minnesota will face James Madison University, coming from region 2. JMU was in the championship division of the national tournament in 2022, recording a draw and a loss in group E against Ohio State and UC-Davis respectively. They went on to defeat Rutgers in the consolation bracket quarterfinals before bowing out in the consolation semifinals to William & Mary.
Group Game 3 - vs. Miami (OH) - Nov. 17, 10:00 am
The final group game will see Maroon take on Miami University of Ohio from region 3. Miami was a hair away from qualifying for the championship division this year out of a very tough region 3, as they bowed out in overtime of the qualifying match to Indiana 2-3. Last years edition of the Open National Tournament saw Miami top their group and make a run all the way to the open division national championship game, where they were defeated by UCLA 0-3.
Following a group stage exit in the Open Tournament last year, Maroon looks to rectify their performance this year. Only the group winner is guaranteed to make it out of the group, while the two best second place teams from the groups also advance. The Open Tournament is notoriously difficult to make it out of group play as only 8 of 24 teams advance, so Maroon will have to be up for the challenge come kickoff on Thursday.
Minnesota-Gold Tournament Preview
Qualifying for the Championship division of the national tournament as top seed out of region 5, the Minnesota-Gold squad was drawn into Championship Group C, putting them alongside University of Texas-Austin, and Georgetown University.
Group Game 1- vs. Georgetown - Nov. 16, 8:00 am
Gold opens their national tournament bid with a group match against Georgetown University of Region 1. Qualifying with an at-large bid after an impressive run in the Region 1 Championships where they topped their group and lost to the now #1 region ranked Cornell University, Georgetown enters as the 5th ranked team from their region. Last year, Georgetown was also in the championship division, getting out of Group H in second after a win and a loss, and ending their season in the national round of 16.
Group Game 2 - Texas-Austin - Nov. 16, 6:30 pm
In game 2, Minnesota will face Texas, coming from region 4. Texas qualified as group winners of their regional, taking 2 wins from 2 to claim an automatic bid to the national tournament. National runner-ups in 2021, last year's national tournament also saw an impressive run from Texas as they topped their championship group over Wisconsin and Colorado-Boulder; and in the knockout rounds, beating Weber State and Michigan State in tight contests before bowing out in the national semifinals to BYU 1-4.
As Minnesota-Gold enters this tournament as last year's national runner-up, they can expect every team will give them their best. In this Championship Division format, the top two teams from each group qualify for the knockout rounds. Faced with a tough group with two of the top 16 teams in the nation from last years edition, Minnesota will certainly have their work cut out if they want to repeat and build on the success of last years team. Stay tuned to our socials and the website all weekend, as Minnesota kicks off their national championship pursuit in their final games of the season!