80,000 cubic feet of snow had to be removed from Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium before Sunday’s round of 32 clash with the Texas A&M Aggies. The snow removal left piles as high as 5 feet that worked as natural dasher boards surrounding the field. Oh, and the temperatures? They were just a little above freezing at 34°.
“I didn’t think it was that cold,” said senior defender Kylie Kallman after Sunday’s big 2-0 upset of the #9 ranked Texas A&M Aggies. Senior midfielder Katie Bethke who scored the Gophers 2nd goal agreed. “I wore short sleeves and no gloves,” said Bethke who was also the only player on the field without tights.
“You’ve got to realize that we’ve played in a lot worst conditions that this,” said head coach Mikki Denney Wright. “To them they thought this was like sunny Florida. They were like, this isn’t cold! The surface is fantastic!”
“I want to give a lot of credit to our facility’s people,” continued Wright. Bethke and Kallman were nodding their heads in agreement. “I’ve played in a lot of games were it’s snowed this much, but this is the best job I’ve ever seen of clearing a field and getting it ready. They made it a very fair surface.”
Put us anywhere in the country, even in 100 degree heat and we are going to come out and play the way we play. Our attitude is, it doesn’t matter what’s going on in the environment. We just come to do our thing. That’s what we did today and we completely dominated them.
Gopher senior defender Kylie Kallman
But not everyone felt the conditions were fair or that the conditions didn’t play into the result.
“Weather, different type of field, different type of atmosphere, different type of environment,” were all reasons that Texas A&M head coach Guerrieri gave after the game for Minnesota dominating his 9th ranked Aggies.
“It’s taking a team and putting them on roller skates,” continued coach G. “I thought Minnesota did great. They used their home field advantage. They turned their chances into goals. We were clearly fish out of water in this environment.”
Coach G was clearly unhappy he had to play away in Minnesota let alone in the cold and snow-cleared field which he did admit was in fantastic condition for the circumstances. The Aggies coach went on to give what seemed like a thinly veiled criticism of the NCAA’s tournament hosting system.
“Obviously you don’t want to be a seeded team in this tournament,” said Guerrieri. “People will say, and this isn’t me talking, that the NCAA is just trying to save money on the tournament; that it’s not about the teams that work hard to try to get a good RPI and win their conference and send them on the road. I don’t believe that! That’s not something I would ever say. But I’ve heard that from people. Its tough to play a really solid team like Minnesota in such foreign conditions.”
But senior defender Kylie Kallman did admit that it helped that Minnesota was at home in front of their fans. But she also stated that it doesn’t matter where the Gophers play, her team will give the opposition a contest.
“Put us anywhere in the country, even in 100 degree heat and we are going to come out and play the way we play,” said Kallman. “Our attitude is, it doesn’t matter what’s going on in the environment. We just come to do our thing. That’s what we did today and we completely dominated them.”
In other D-I women’s NCAA playoff action, Georgetown beat Maryland today who are also in the Gophers bracket. With the #1 seed Maryland gone, Georgetown the winner chose not to host next weekends game which means Minnesota will play host for the first time ever to a Sweet 16 round game. The match will be held on Saturday, November 20th with the time to be determined.
“It’s such a great feeling, said Bethke after being told that the Gopher’s would host the Sweet 16 game. “We thought senior day was our last day here. Then we get to the NCAA and we got to host. It’s a great shock that we get to host again and get to have our fans come out, even in this weather.”
“I guess the Gophers just go big,” concluded Kallman. “Every time the Gophers get into the tournament we’re making a run. You got-to-be-good to beat us. In the beginning of the year we felt so good the way we were playing. Then there were a couple of games in the Big Ten where we felt a little let down. Those last two games in the Big Ten [season] you could see it in the eyes of our players that we were turning it around and we were hungry. When we got that bid [to host the first round games] it was like, it’s on — let’s go!”