Minnesota Falls Short Against Purdue in Comeback Attempt

Go Gophers!
Shari Eckstrom

Go Gophers!
Shari Eckstrom
Go Gophers!

Oct. 23, 2011

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Hopes of a second half comeback lingered as the University of Minnesota women's soccer team cut Purdue University's 2-0 lead in half when freshman Taylor Uhl scored in the 81st minute of play off a Nicole Baier free kick. But the Golden Gophers' late surge was too late as the Boilermakers would hold on for a 2-1 victory Sunday afternoon at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

The Boilermakers made their presence known early when senior Kellie Phillips surprisingly launched a shot from 20-yards out in the 13th minute and had the ball sneak under the left side of the crossbar and just out of reach for Gopher goalkeeper Cat Parkhill, giving Purdue the 1-0 advantage.

As the first half winded down, it looked as the Golden Gophers would head into the locker room down by only a goal, but the Boilermakers had other thoughts on their mind.

With 15 seconds remaining, Purdue serviced in a corner kick, but it was punched backwards by Parkhill, who met the ball at the near post. The ball was then corralled at the backside of the goal by Purdue's Marta Lynch, who darted a shot towards an open net, but freshman Katie Thyken stood strong and boldly headed Lynch's attempt away only to have her denial land at the feet of Mollie Kuramoto. The Purdue midfielder quickly tapped in a shot, which improved Purdue's lead to 2-0 at half.

After a disappointing first 45 minutes of the match, the Gophers came out looking to inch their way back into the game, but it would not be easy for Minnesota as they struggled to generate shots on goal until late in the match.

The two Big Ten foes shot count ended 15 all, but Purdue would hold the distinctive advantage in shots on goal with 11 of their shots being on frame to the Golden Gophers' five.

With a crowd of 863 urging the Gophers forward, Minnesota was given a free kick opportunity a few yards away from the right corner of the pitch in the 81st minute. Baier serviced in the free kick, and just when things started to look murky for the Gophers, Uhl headed home a goal for the Maroon and Gold, which put Minnesota only down by one goal with nine minutes remaining in the match.

Coach Denney Wright's squad continued to press forward late in the half as they shifted Lauren Bauer up top to increase the Gopher attack, but it was too late for Minnesota as the clock expired with Purdue claiming the road victory 2-1.

"I thought we played a strong second half," said head coach Mikki Denney Wright. "We started to increase our pressure on Purdue and generate more offensive chances, but we just came up short."

Uhl's late second half goal is her 10th on the season, which ranks her fourth all-time in goals scored for a freshman in Minnesota history. It also gives her sole possession of sixth place in the Gopher record books for points by a freshman (23), as she entered the match tied with former Gopher Nicole Lee (21 points in 1996).

The Golden Gophers now shake off this loss and turn all of their attention to next Friday's match against Nebraska, which holds a great deal of Big Ten Tournament implications for both squads. The match versus the Huskers kicks off at 7 p.m. at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

"Right now, we just aren't playing consistent," said Denney Wright. "We have struggled all year with trying to be consistent from our Friday matches to our Sunday matches. Even in practice we have had lapses of being inconsistent, so trying to get this team to play consistent is what we will continue to work on heading into Friday's match against Nebraska."