After leading 2-0 within the first 20 minutes, the University of Minnesota women's soccer let their two-goal lead slip away as San Diego pulled off a 3-2 double overtime comeback victory on Friday night at Torero Stadium. The Golden Gophers controlled much of the match but a pair of goals off corner kicks dropped the Maroon & Gold to 1-2-0 on the season.
"It was a heartbreaking loss, and we certainly didn't lose due to lack of effort," said head coach Stefanie Golan. "But we didn't bury our opportunities and show composure in the attacking third. Also, we gave up two goals on corners, so that is something we definitely have to fix. Luckily, it is early in the season, and we have time to get better at all these things."
The Golden Gophers played true to form in the beginning of the match as they notched the first goal of the match inside the 10-minute mark. Taylor Wodnick would dice through the Torero defense and get into the box, but USD poked the ball away. Luckily for the Gophers, it came to the feet of Steph Brandt, who crossed a ball to Taylor Uhl. The 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year then took two touches before drilling a ball inside the bottom corner of the left post, giving the Gophers a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute.
Ten minutes later, the Maroon & Gold were back on the attack mode with Uhl streaking down the far sideline. The Eden Prairie, Minn. native crossed the ball to the front post but had it deflected to the top of the 18-yard box where Brandt was standing. The redshirt junior quickly controlled the rebound and ripped a ball into the upper 90 of the far post. The score was Brandt's first of the season and put the Gophers up 2-0 on San Diego in the 18th minute of the match.
The Gophers nearly went up 3-0 in the 28th minute when Becca Roberts ricocheted a ball off the crossbar. The sophomores' shot would be kept alive on the baseline by Allie Phillips, who based to Olivia Bagnall. The senior would then mimic Roberts' shot attempt and have her strike bounce off the crossbar.
The Maroon & Gold would not extend their lead, but they held on to the two-goal lead and carried it into halftime. Minnesota's high press helped the visiting squad control possession for most of the first half as the Gophers outshot the Toreros, 12-1.
San Diego came out in the second half with a different mindset as they started generating offensive chances. With a constant pressure on the Gopher backline, USD was able to generate a penalty kick when senior Tamara Strahota was called for a rough tackle inside the box. Meghan O'Rourke would step up for the Toreros strike home a nearly untouchable ball to the left upper 90 of the goal.
After allowing the goal, Minnesota settled down and again started to control possession like they did in the first half. Behind six corner kicks, the Golden Gophers added seven more shots in the second period.
Arguably the best opportunity came in the 73rd minute when Katie Thyken chased down a ball to the USD baseline. The sophomore forward would chip a ball into the box for Uhl, who headed the ball over an open goal.
Uhl again recorded a pair of good chances to extend the Gophers lead in the 81st and 82nd minute when she breezed a pair of balls just outside of each post.
After a number of Gopher opportunities, USD was able to crawl back in the game with a game-tying goal in the 84th minute.
After a press towards the Gophers' goal, the Toreros forced only their second corner kick of the match. Kelley McCloskey would setup for the kick and service a ball to Dani Russell, who headed home the equalizer.
Two of San Diego's five corner kicks resulted in goals while the Golden Gophers were unable to convert on any of their 11.
With the clock winding down, it was unknown if the Maroon & Gold would notch a game-winning goal, but in the 86th minute, Brandt slipped through the defense and dribbled down to the baseline uncontested. She would strike a low ball to the near post, but her shot was deflected by the keeper and bounced off the post. Brandt's attempt would be the final scoring chance for either team, and overtime would be forced on the Gophers for the second-straight match.
The two foes would battle back and forth in the first 10-minute overtime but neither team could get any good chances. San Diego had most of the momentum for the first overtime period as they tallied five shots to the Gophers zero.
In the second overtime, Car Parkhill saved the day for the moment as she made a diving save in the 102nd minute. The game-saving goal was one of the redshirt senior's four saves, which all came in the overtime periods, but later in the second overtime, Parkhill would narrowly miss punching out Gulczyski's corner kick to force a draw as Deol sealed the victory for San Diego.
"Despite this loss, we still think that we can accomplish great things, and that is what we are setting out to do starting tomorrow at training."
Minnesota must brush off this heartbreaking loss fast as they head to Los Angeles, Calif. tomorrow and plays USC on Sunday afternoon.
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