St. Paul, Minn. – Sept. 30, 2012
Courtesy Gopher Sports.com
Three goals weren’t enough for the University of Minnesota soccer team as they were defeated, 4-3, by No. 8 Penn State. Sophomore Taylor Uhl was a catalyst on all three scores for the Golden Gophers, as she netted one goal and tallied an assist.
“We are very, very close to taking that next step,” said head coach Stefanie Golan. “The girls battled hard and put Penn State under a lot of pressure, possibly more than they have had the majority of this season. We were able to score three goals against a good team, but unfortunately, we had small errors that limited us from pulling out a win.”
Things bounced the right way for the Golden Gophers in the beginning of the match as they got on the board in the fourth minute with an own goal by the Nittany Lions.
Uhl got the left flank and serviced a ball into the box chest-high. With the Penn State defenders running back to defend the cross, Uhl’s pass would not reach a Gopher, instead it bounced off a PSU defender and went into the back side of the goal.
The Maroon & Gold hoped to maintain the lead for the majority of the first half, but Penn State netted back-to-back goals in the 17th minute.
Their equalizing score came off a corner from Raquel Rodriguez who serviced a looping ball into the box. Senior Cat Parkhill would come out of goal and attempt to bat the ball away, but Parkhill only got a hand on the ball before Rodriguez’s ball would meet the head of Whitney Church to even the score at 1-1.
Nine seconds later the Nittany Lions were knocking on the door again as Maya Hayes got through the Gopher defense and blasted a ball to the right post. Her shot would ricochet off the post, but luckily, it bounced back to her. Hayes would then bury the shot to give PSU a 2-1 lead.
But the pair of goals didn’t faze the Gophers as sophomore Katie Thyken would launch a ball into the top right corner of the goal from 18-yards out. Thyken’s score, which was assisted by Uhl, would even the match up again.
The knotted score didn’t last long though, as Hayes found the back of the net again in the 27th minute.
On a long ball just on the Penn State half of the field, Tani Costa won the ball and played it ahead to Hayes. The junior forward would then dribble down and tally her second goal of the match, which gave the Nittany Lions a 3-2 lead.
The 3-2 PSU advantage would be carried into the locker room as the Gophers schemed on how keep pace with the potent Nittany Lion offense.
Penn State came out firing in the second half as Church would utilize her head again on a corner kick from Rodriguez to extend their lead to two goals.
Minnesota would battle back late in the half as Uhl netted her lone goal of the match in the 81st minute.
Senior Nicole Baier would beat her defender and attempt a shot on goal, but the PSU defender deflected the shot. The rebound fell at the feet of Uhl, who spun by her marker and dribbled to the end line. With a narrow window on the right side of the goal, Uhl blasted a ball just inside the post and beat the keeper, making the score 4-3.
The Maroon & Gold would maintain possession for much of the remainder of the game, but their late surge wasn’t good enough to even the match against the 14-time defending Big Ten Champion.
Minnesota now takes a week off from play to prepare for Iowa. The Gophers and Hawkeyes are slated to kick off at 1 p.m. on Oct.7 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. The Iowa game is the first of three-straight home matches for the Gophers.
“We are on the brink, and I feel good about our team as we come home and prepare for Iowa. We will get after it this week at practice and be back on the upswing of things heading into next weekend.”