On a hot Labor Day at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium, the University of Minnesota women’s soccer team grinded out a 1-0 victory over Western Kentucky to improve to 4-2-0 on the season. The lone Gopher goal was scored by sophomore Katie Thyken in the 52nd minute of play.
In the first half, it was a struggle for the Maroon & Gold to get any rhythm going as WKU packed their backline in an attempt to slow down a Gopher offense that notched seven goals four days ago. The defensive mindset worked for the first 45 minutes as Minnesota headed to the locker room at half without the lead for the first time this season.
The Gophers’ best chance came in the 44th minute as freshman Haley Helverson used quick footwork to get around a Western Kentucky defender and launch a shot from the top of the box. Helverson’s strike faded to the right and would bounce off the cross bar. Olivia Bagnall would control the rebound and service a ball back in the box, but the squad couldn’t capitalize on the offensive surge.
Minnesota had an 8-1 shot advantage at the break with four being on frame.
After getting words of encouragement from head coach Stefanie Golan about being patient, the Gophers came out and tallied the lone goal of the match within the first 10 minutes of the second half.
In the 52nd minute, Helverson poked a ball away from a WKU midfielder and quickly serviced a long ball to sophomore Taylor Uhl, who was setup on the right side of the box. After a number of shifty moves, Uhl shook her defender and crept towards goal. The Eden Prairie, Minn. native would draw the keeper and quickly dish off to fellow sophomore Katie Thyken. The midfielder swiftly drove the ball under the sprawled out goalkeeper to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. Both Helverson and Uhl were credited with an assist on the play.
Minutes later it looked as if the lead would go to 2-0 as sophomore Brianne Price launched a ball from 25-yards out, but her strike would find the crossbar.
The Golden Gophers would continue to bombard the Toppers with shots but wouldn’t find the back of the net the rest of the match despite having a 17-3 shot advantage.
The most threatening shot Western Kentucky took was in the 89th minute as they worked the ball into the six-yard box and flicked back to Chrissy Tchoula, who was waiting at the top of the 18-yard box. The midfielder took a quick touch before drawing back and firing a ball to the right post, but redshirt senior Cat Parkhill would come up with the diving safe.
The Golden Gophers takes its three-game winning streak into next weekend’s Minnesota Gold Classic, which will feature DePaul, Iowa State and San Diego State. The Maroon & Gold take on SDSU on Friday night at 7 p.m. and then DePaul on Sunday at 1 p.m. Prior to each Gopher match, Iowa State will play the compliment of Minnesota’s opponent.