Gaffney’s goal helps Gophers rebound with home win

by on 5 September 2017

The Gophers bounced back for a double-overtime, sudden-death victory Sunday after a brutally unlucky loss Friday night. A third of the way into the season, it’s fair to say Minnesota’s strengths and weaknesses have been on full display.

Though the Gophers continue to batter their opponents with strength and speed, finishing in the final third has been a real challenge. Despite more than doubling its opponents’ shot production so far (109 to 45), Minnesota has put less than half of those shots on frame (42). That lack of finishing comes with long-term costs.

At least one game every week this season has gone into extra time. And while those longer matches have meant more minutes for younger players who may not have otherwise seen as much of the field, they’re sure to take a toll on even the most experienced players.

With a strong back line stabilizing possession and stifling opponents’ chances, head coach Stefanie Golan is optimistic the team can sharpen their touches in the final third as they move closer to conference play.

“On Friday, I left the game thinking we probably didn’t play that well. But when I watched it back, we actually played alright. Especially in the second half, the opportunities that we were creating were pretty good. Right now we’re just having trouble finishing the final piece. It’s not that we’re not getting the opportunities or getting the quality looks – we’re still getting into the most dangerous places on the field  we’re just not putting them away right now.”

And with six games under their belt, the road ahead gets slightly more complicated for the Gophers. With classes starting this week, players are no longer able to focus solely on soccer.

“It’s easy to do all the right things when this is all you have on your plate. Now with classes and everything else, you still have to hydrate on the days we’re not training. You still have to eat right on the days you have classes. You have to figure out how you’re going to get what you need in your system to still perform at a high level. We scheduled pretty nicely because we have a single game this upcoming weekend and then we roll into Big Ten play getting a little bit of extra rest – which, after having an overtime game every weekend, we need.”

Minnesota 0, UC Santa Barbara 1

Sept. 1, 2017  St. Paul

The Gophers dropped their first game of the season Friday night, on what could only be called a questionable penalty kick.

The rest of the game followed a familiar script for Minnesota: a solid back line kept them in it, a dynamic attack meant they outshot their opponent (19 to six), but a lack of finishing in the final third ultimately held them back.

Minnesota 1, Providence 0

Sept. 3, 2017 – St. Paul

The Gophers didn’t have to wait long for their shot at redemption. Just two days after suffering their first defeat of the season, they took on Providence in some serious September heat. Though Minnesota dominated possession and did their best to break through the 4-5-1 bus that Providence had parked in front of goal, it seemed like the Gophers were destined for another exhausting double overtime draw. Enter Senior Maddie Gaffney.

With 26 seconds on the clock, Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium was rocking as April Bockin stepped up to take a 25-yard free kick. Bockin’s shot was well taken, but saved by Providence goalkeeper Shelby Hogan – who had single-handedly kept the Friars in the game with magnificent save after magnificent save. In the scramble for the rebound, Gaffney pounced, giving the Gophers their first overtime win in three tries this season.

Maddie Gaffney’s teammates mob the senior after her game-winning goal. Photo by Jeremy Olson –

“I like being able to make more of an impact,” Gaffney said. “Normally I’m not really there. I’m normally toward the top of the box. But I saw the ball go out wide and thought ‘this is my chance to put it away.’”

Next up

7 p.m., Sept. 8: Utah State, Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium

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