The Gopher Soccer team has righted the ship with two wins over Purdue and Maryland after rough losses on the road to Penn State and Rutgers. They now sit in position to win the Big Ten West with a win against Wisconsin this Saturday -- a division that didn’t exist before this year, may not even exist now, but apparently does exist for the purposes of the Big Ten Tournament (more on that later).
Where Minnesota stands
As of now, Minnesota is tied for 5th place in the Big Ten with 17 points. But among western teams (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Northwestern, and one of the teams from Indiana…?), they are only two points behind Wisconsin. And, apparently, the wildcard weekend is not just broken into east-west regionals. It’s actually broken into 4 clusters (two from each region) -- tweet above -- and the top seed from each region gets a bye for the first round of wildcard weekend -- Wisconsin post-game video below, legitimately nice flex with the Lavelle jersey, btw -- to even out the 7 teams per region.
Then, the winners of each of the four clusters go to the Big Ten Tournament. But for all intents and purposes, the Big Ten Tournament includes all teams this year because whoever wins through the cluster goes through. Still, getting that top seed by winning against Wisconsin and skipping the “first round” would be pretty damn huge considering the anyone-can-win-against-anyone nature of the Big Ten.
What Wisconsin’s been up to
Wisconsin has essentially been doing what Minnesota’s been doing, but maybe -- on paper -- slightly better. Minnesota is 3rd in the Big Ten with only 9 goals allowed, but Wisconsin leads the conference by giving up only 6. Minnesota has struggled to score with only 6 goals scored on the season (13th in the B1G) while Wisconsin has scored 8 times (10th).
They beat Rutgers on a nice clean up goal (below), but they also lost to Purdue (who Minnesota beat) and to Indiana (who sits at 5-4, right behind MN in the standings). In other words, this game may come down to what most Big Ten games come down to: mentality, limiting mistakes, and converting on the set pieces and opportunities that do happen to come your way.
And, not to boil it down to goalkeepers, but Megan Plaschko currently owns an .827 save percentage and Jordyn Bloomer sits at .833. So, not saying it’s a #BorderBattleKeeperShowdown between two super stout defensive units but I’m also not *not* saying that.
Outdoor soccer is better
Not just because we get to be there as fans, reporters, and announcers but because Jeremy gets to be there to take fantastic photos! Check them out in the thread below.
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