Gopher Women’s Soccer Overcome No. 23 Ranked Gamecocks
On a picture perfect mid-August afternoon, the Minnesota Gophers took on the No. 23 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium and defeated them 2-1 in overtime in front of 653 fans.
The match was the second of a 2-game home stand for the Gophers. Minnesota lost to FSU 3-2 on Friday night with a goal given up in the final minutes of that match. Minnesota’s Taylor Uhl scored in the opening minutes of that game and Sunday’s match was no different. Just two minutes into the game, Katie Thyken fed Taylor Uhl near the halfway line with a great through ball as the Gopher Big Ten Freshman of the Year made a penetrating diagonal run. With much work to do, Uhl cut between her two defenders and effortlessly dribbled toward goal. As she approached the penalty box she faked the shot then calmly dribbled wide of South Carolina goalkeeper Darien Vercillo and drilled the ball low and into the Gamecocks net, putting the Gophers up 1-0 in the 2nd minute of play.
Taylor Wodnick got into the picture in the 13th minute when she went wide left of the South Carolina goal and made a perfectly lofted cross over traffic to find Uhl. The sophomore forward volleyed the ball just high over the net from 7 yards out.
The Gophers controlled most of the first half but really turned the pressure on the last several minutes. Minnesota received a free kick, 35 yards from goal with less then a minute left on the clock. Tamara Strahota took the kick and drove the ball over Vercillo but the Gamecocks keeper was just able to get her fingertips on the ball and push it over the bar.
On the ensuing corner kick Olivia Bagnall hit the ball over a crowd of players in front of the net and it looked like it might be goal-bound. But Vercillo came up big again, tipping the ball over the net.
It appeared as if the Gophers would finish up the half with a 6-1 shot advantage over South Carolina and a 1-0 lead. Instead the Gamecocks caught Minnesota in a mental lapse and knotted the score just at the buzzer. With just seconds left on the clock, South Carolina’s Lani Smith received a ball from Rae Wilson. She turned, fired a 25-yard blast and caught Parkhill cheating up. The Gopher keeper originally stopped the ball but it slipped through her hands. Parkhill lunged to keep the ball out of the net but it trickled in with 1 second showing on the clock.
In the 68th minute, the Gophers’ Thyken was fed wide and launched a driven shot at goal. Vercillo deflected the ball across the mouth of her net but Minnesota couldn’t get on the end of the ball for a shot. In an attempt to clear it out of danger, South Carolina’s Elizabeth Sinclair tried to hit the ball wide of her own goal but ended up hitting the goal post. Fortunately for South Carolina, the ball bounced clear of the Minnesota pressure.
About 10 minutes later, Gamecocks Coryn Bajema was fed square and beat her defender to take a 20-yard shot at the Gophers goal, but Parkhill was able to tip the ball over the net.
The Gophers had one more chance in regulation time. In the 88th minute Haley Helverson was fed through and went one-on-one with Vercillo, but the South Carolina goalkeeper came up big once again, smothering the ball and sending the match into overtime.
Just a few minutes into the first overtime, South Carolina’s Danielle Au played a ball wide to Bajema. The Gamecocks forward shot low and hard to the far post beating an out-stretched Parkhill. But the Gophers breathed a sigh of relief when her shot went just inches wide of the far post.
Then, in the 7th minute of overtime, Allie Phillips cut the ball square across the South Carolina penalty box after dribbling down the right flank and cutting back to the inside. The ball fell to Uhl who swung and only was able to get a small piece of it. Uhl’s presence was enough to draw the closest defender and the miss-hit almost appeared to be a dummy. This left Helverson wide open and 10 yards from goal. The Freshman forward settled, then blasted the ball through the South Carolina defense and past Vercillo to ripple the net and win the game for Minnesota.
“I just knew I had to get it done,” said freshman forward Helverson. “Coach told me press the ball, stay in your spot and get wide. Just do what you have to do. It worked out well for me. We ended up with a good result.”
“For us this year, we have to have 90 minutes of focus. Ten seconds of focus that lapses burned us,” said Gophers coach Stefanie Golan in regard to the late goal given up in the first half of Sunday’s match and the late goal that was given up in Friday night’s match to lose the game. “It kind of deflated us to give up that goal so late to FSU and lose it in regulation. But to rebound the way they did today and to find a way to pull it out late, that’s a grind and shows are team is ready to go.”