Megan Koenig and Emily Heslin celebrate a Gophers goal

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Heslin’s Wonder Goal Helps the Gophers Crush NDSU in Home Opener

by on 22 August 2017

The Gophers kicked off their 2017 regular season on the road with a disappointing draw to Washington State. But they didn’t have to wait long to return to form, crushing North Dakota State in their home opener 3-0.

Coach Stefanie Golan thought it was the perfect way for the squad to rebound from the road trip and get ready for a big matchup next week.

“Pullman’s a tough place to get to and it’s a tough environment to play in. The game became a very very physical war as opposed to a soccer game,” Golan said. “So coming back, it was really really important to score goals. It was really really important to get a win. And it was really really important to get a shutout. All those things were things we wanted to accomplish coming back home. We did that. And now we get to flip the page and prepare for Notre Dame.”  

Minnesota 0, Washington State 0
August 18, 2017 Pullman, WA

Minnesota opened on the road facing a tough PAC12 team in Washington State. The physicality of the match meant a narrowing rotation for the Gophers. Only three subs saw significant minutes and seven players staying on the field the entire match – even into the 110th minute of double overtime. Minnesota outshot Washington State 14-9 and put three of those shots on frame, but couldn’t come away with a goal. Still, the back line held strong. What little opportunities made it through the back four, new starter Kailee Sharp shut down immediately. The team was disappointed to come away with a draw, but considering the travel and game time environment it may be one of the toughest road tests they face in the regular season.

Minnesota 3, North Dakota State 0
August 21, 2017 St Paul, MN

The Gophers were dominant from kickoff, using a stout backline and crisp passing to absolutely pick apart the Bison who are picked to finish second in the Summit League. Each of the Minnesota goals was unique. Syndey Squires scored in the ninth minute off a sweeping cross by Megan Koenig. Koenig countered with her best Carli Lloyd impression with a 35-yard wonder goal in the run of play in the 46th minute. In between, Emily Heslin scored an absolutely gorgeous bending free kick into the side netting.

“It’s funny,” Heslin said. “I was practicing it yesterday just for fun hitting a few free kicks. But all summer I’ve been practicing bending the ball and trying to go to the side netting. So I just walked up and did it.”

The Gophers back line held NDSU to just two shots, neither of which really threatened Sharp – who spent most of the game positioning herself to receive and distribute passes from her own defenders. The impenetrable defense also allowed Minnesota to give younger players in the midfield and the attack some experience, which should pay dividends in tough games down the line.

Up next:
Minnesota vs Notre Dame, August 25 – Iowa Tournament
Minnesota vs Iowa State, August 27 – Iowa Tournament


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