The Minnesota Gophers met an evenly matched Mankato State Mavericks for a MCLA/UMLC conference game at Shattuck St. Mary’s on April 5, 2014.
Both teams have seen significant growth over the past couple of years, each showing great gains on both offense and defense. In fact, Minnesota’s head coach, Rich Limpert was recently named Head Coach of the Month by Inside Lacrosse because of his team’s victories this season, for how he has restructured his team.
The Maverick’s took an early 2-1 lead in the first quarter, playing a quick offense that featured good clears from goal, lots of shots on goal, and an incredibly tight man-to-man defense that limited the Gopher’s shooting opportunities. The Gophers seemed to have trouble getting their defense to click while their early offense, relying on their attackers’ speed and ability to get in close, took too long in getting off shots on goal, causing them to miss two good scoring opportunities in the first quarter.
It was not until half-way through the second quarter, with the score tied at 2-2, that the Gophers’ offense was able to move the ball around and get off some shots. The Mavericks’ defense and goalie were able to counter the surge effectively, and countered, down a man down halfway through the second half, by bringing the score to 3-2. However, with only 15 seconds left of the half, Gopher middie, Connor Gatenby put on a powerful press against the Mankato defense, ripping a shot that tied the score at 3-3.
The third quarter started off strong for the Mavericks, due both to their tenacity and by two face-offs lost by the Gophers due to illegal procedures. This allowed Mankato to take a 5-4 lead with some beautiful low-to-high shots on goal. Halfway through the quarter, Mankato scored again, bringing their lead over then the Gophers to 6-4. However, within minutes, the Gophers are able to score twice, tying the game at 6-6 by the end of the third quarter.
Knowing what to anticipate from the Maverick’s defense and taking a lot more shots from both inside and outside, The Gophers were able to take an 8-6 lead eight and a half minutes into the fourth. This allowed their lightning fast attackers and strong shooting middies the opportunities they needed. By the end of the game, there was no question which team had dominated the last quarter, as the Gophers won the game 10-6 over Mankato .
Both teams deserve respect and kudos. The Mavericks have developed an aggressive style offense with strong shooting and good passes to their cutters from behind the GLE. With their quick footed and dogged man-to-man defense, steady offense and a superb goalie, they are absolutely contenders. The Gophers have developed great discipline on both offense and defense, and they have one of the fastest group of attackers in their conference. That, coupled with a great group of middies and a solid defense, it will be interesting to see how these teams stack up as the season evolves.