More Wi-Fi troubles and an extended period of wanting to cry because of how busy I was with school leads to another late entry in the Gopher Spring Break Saga. So college.
On March 10th we traveled to Berkeley, CA to take on the Bears of University of California-Berkeley. We knew the Bears would be a challenge but we came to the field ready to give it 100% despite the wet AstroTurf.
The Bears clearly also came ready for whatever we had for them as they dominated the first half, beating the Gophers in scoring 10-2. The second half developed in the same fashion, with the Bears scoring 6 to our 2. The final score was 16-4 Cal. On the bright side of this difficult loss, freshman attackman Brady Haider scored half of Minnesota’s goals in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and senior Matthew Puskarich/freshman Tommy Bales collectively scooped up 12 groundballs to give the Gophers several necessary possessions.
Next we found ourselves in the town of Chico, three hours away from the hotel, to play Chico State. This game would also prove to be a challenging one, as the Wildcats were a top 25 team at the time and had the home field advantage. The game began more equally than at Cal, with both teams trading possessions and goals equally during the first quarter. After the second quarter began, Chico’s obvious talent became more evident as they won most of the faceoffs and outscored us by 4. The Gophers were not ready to give up in any way and kept the scoring the third quarter even. The final quarter had Chico securing their lead with 4 goals to our 2, and they won 14-8. Notable performances from several Gophers include senior middie Tom Van Valkenburg who had two goals, an assist, and six groundballs and junior Max Alexander with 2 goals.
Our final game in California took place at the University of San Diego against the Toreros. San Diego’s campus was breathtaking much like their custom Nike Vapor Elite gloves.
The Gophers refused to leave California winless so this game had a greater sense of urgency for the entire team. Both our offense and defense were extremely determined, allowing for long Minnesota possessions and forcing several San Diego turnovers at crucial points in the game. Tom Van Valkenburg owned the X with all but 2 faceoff wins and 12 total GB’s. Puskarich also racked up 6 and senior LSM Dan Osborne had 5, allowing the offense ample opportunities for scoring. The two teams fought hard against one another and in the fourth quarter Minnesota was up by 1 with :15 seconds left when San Diego slipped a shot past goalie Josh Hofstad to tie it up at 5. Neither team scored during the first overtime and going into the second, Minnesota was man down after a slashing call was made against the Gophers. San Diego attempted to capitalize after winning the first faceoff but soon turned over the ball to groundball king Van Valkenburg who streaked down the field and scored the game winner.
This win was crucial for the Gophers as they head into the second half of their season to take on the rest of their conference rivals as well as keep the goal of heading to Nationals alive.
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