Oct. 14, 2011
Behind a solid performance in goal by junior Cat Parkhill, the University of Minnesota women’s soccer team was unable generate enough offensive chances to put a goal on the board Friday night as it fell in a 1-0 heartbreaker to the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill.
Early in the game, the Golden Gophers (5-8-2, 2-3-2 Big Ten) were forced back into defending against the potent Illinois (10-4-1, 4-2-1 Big Ten) attack, and for the fourth time this season, the Maroon and Gold allowed its opponent to grab the first goal of the match.
In the 19th minute, junior Niki Read chipped a ball over the Gopher defense where an unmarked Vanessa DiBernardo, who leads Illinois with 30 points, ran down the pass in the box. With one touch, DiBernardo struck a low ball to the left corner of the net, and the shot skimmed under an outstretched Parkhill to garner the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal.
The Gophers were unable to equalize with a score of their own before the first half whistle blew, and head coach Mikki Denney Wright and her squad would head to the locker room down 1-0 for the second match in a row with hopes of designing a line of attack to score on the Illini defense.
Both teams recorded a total of 12 shots in the match while Illinois won the corner kick battle 5-2. The Maroon and Gold were unable to acquire a corner in the first 45 mintues.
Parkhill kept the score close for the Golden Gophers as she tallied a total of six saves on the night.
For the first part of the second half, the Big Ten foes played the ball back and forth, taking shots at one another. It wasn’t until the final 20 minutes of the match that Minnesota controlled possession of the ball to collect a few chances to even up the match.
The Golden Gophers’ first attempt to tie the score came in the 70th minute when freshman Taylor Uhl shifted her way to the top of the 18-yard box and unloaded a shot, which would soar over the goal.
Uhl would be back in the 88th minute, this time setting up junior Nicole Baier just inside the box, but the forward’s attempt hooked and flew high and to the right.
The Maroon and Gold’s final and most promising challenge came with 45 seconds remaining when junior Olivia Bagnall launched a ball to the upper 90 of the goal, but unluckily, her strike bounced off the crossbar, which ended the Gophers’ hopes of forcing overtime.
“Our team definitely made a good push in the final minutes,” said Coach Denney Wright. “Credit to Illinois; they have a very good midfield that is tough to handle.”
Minnesota now shakes off the disappointing loss to the Fighting Illini and turns its attention to Northwestern (2-11-1, 1-5-1 Big Ten), who is coming off a 1-1 draw with Wisconsin. The match beings at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon at Lakeside Field in Evanston, Ill., which is also home to the 2011 Big Ten women’s soccer tournament.