On a chilly night in St. Paul, Minn., the University of Minnesota capped off a high-scoring affair when freshman Taylor Uhl tallied a hat trick to give the Golden Gophers a 6-3 victory over Nebraska on Senior Night. With the win, the Maroon and Gold solidify the fifth seed in the Big Ten Tournament on November 2-5 in Evanston, Ill.
"Our back was against the wall, and we needed to win to get in to the Big Ten Tournament," said head coach Mikki Denney Wright. "The team came into tonight's match with the right mentality. They put the pedal to the medal, and went after Nebraska. We finished some great opportunities and really controlled possession."
One of the main highlights of the night was Uhl's second hat trick of the season. The Eden Prairie, Minn. native's first goal tied up the match in the 12th minute after Nebraska scored 19 seconds into the contest. She was assisted by the senior duo of Shari Eckstrom and Josie Solie.
Her second was a chip shot over the Husker goalkeeper in the 55th minute, which was assisted again by Eckstrom along with high school teammate Katie Thyken. The final goal for Uhl and the team as a whole came in the 89th minute when Phillips slipped a ball through to the freshman forward, who poked the ball under the approaching keeper.
The hat trick is only the 12th in Minnesota's 19-year history. Uhl is the fourth Gopher to tally two hat tricks in a career and only the second to do so as a freshman.
The second highlight of the night was the quartet of Gopher seniors getting a huge win on their final match at ELR Stadium.
Eckstrom not only assisted Uhl on a pair of goals, but she also notched her own in the 25th minute to give the Golden Gophers a 2-1 lead. Solie capped off her final match at ELR Stadium with the assist in the 12th minute along with having a plethora of tackles that halted the Husker attack.
Seniors Alex Pafko and Katie-Roberts Carlson got into the match as well. Pafko added depth at the forward position when junior Nicole Baier went down with a leg injury in the first half. Roberts-Carlson, who is listed as a goalkeeper, was also put in as a forward with five minutes remaining in the game. The fifth-year goalkeeper turned forward recorded a shot in the 88th minute, but her sliding attempt dribbled wide right of the open goal.
"This is a special senior group, and we played for them tonight," added Coach Denney Wright. "I am glad we could send them out the right way."
The Gophers' other two goals came from junior Olivia Bagnall and freshman Sheridan Reiners with each being the first of the season for the two. Bagnall's came in the 39th minute, which was assisted by Reiners, and put the Maroon and Gold up 3-1 heading into halftime. Reiners' score was the first of her career and was in the 54th minute.
Minnesota now waits to find out who they face in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament as Wisconsin and Michigan State are tied for the third and fourth place position. The Badgers host Iowa tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. while the Spartans travel to face Northwestern for Saturday night match. If the two have the same outcome, then Wisconsin will receive the third place seed, due to winning their head-to-head matchup earlier this season