Fridays have not been Marquette's friend this season.
They've lost on both Fridays of the regular season so far, but have bounced back to snag a win on the ensuing Sunday. There is no Sunday game this week, though, so if Marquette can get the win over the Golden Gophers, they'll definitely exit the weekend with a record over .500 for the first time in 2015. If that isn't enough motivation, then there's also last year's 1-0 loss to Minnesota as Marquette was still trying to figure out what they were doing on the pitch last season.
Speaking of figuring things out, Erin Holland returned to the starting lineup this past Sunday, shifting Jacie Jermier off the backline and into the midfield. It resulted in what was probably Marquette's best performance of the season from beginning to end, even though Jermier didn't find her way onto the scoresheet like she did against Portland. The development of Madison Dunker and Kirsten Timmer into reliable defenders has more to do with Jermier's move up the pitch, to be honest, but it does adjust what the Golden Eagles can do. Instead of staying at home to protect keeper Amanda Engel, Jermier's now free to use her clearly noticeable speed to bend opposing defense as she advances both with and without the ball. MU hasn't allowed a goal in the run of play since shifting the lineup in that manner while scoring five of their own, so we'll see how that develops going forward.
Match #5: vs Minnesota (2-1-1)
When: Friday, September 4, 2015, at 7pm Central
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: Home matches have FREE video streaming, and live stats will be here.
Special Promotions: Student tailgate party before the match w/FREE Qdoba & an Xbox FIFA station, plus free admission for Faculty & Staff.
Twitter Updates: @MUWomensSoccer
Picked to finish sixth in the Big Ten in 2015 after finishing 11-9-1 last season, the Gophers seem to have gotten off to a good start this season. They're 2-1-1 so far, with wins over North Dakota State and Stephen F. Austin, which ok, maybe isn't super great. They went to a scoreless draw with #23 Kansas though, and ended up with a 1-0 loss to LSU on the road.
The Big Ten annoyingly doesn't pick a preseason all-conference team, but the three players that Minnesota nominated for "Players To Watch" are all performing well for them. Simone Kolander leads the team with four points courtesy of two goals, both coming against NDSU. That's half of the team's goals this season, and Josee Stiever has half of the Gophers' assists this season with two. Both of Stiever's helpers came in the NDSU game as well, but she only assisted on one of Kolander's goals. Defender Haley Helverson had the other assist in that game to wrap up our discussion of Minnesota's top three players.
Junior Tarah Hobbs has played every minute in net so far this season, but, even in such a young season, she doesn't have all of Minnesota's saves. Two shots have been cleared off the line by Minnesota's field players this season. Minnesota's smothering defense has held their opponents to just 32 shots this season, and Hobbs has made 14 saves (.933 SV%) along the way to a miniscule goals-against average of 0.24.