Gophers Drop to No. 10/11 Penn State in Semifinals of Big Ten Tournament

Go Gophers!
Shari Eckstrom

Go Gophers!
Shari Eckstrom
Go Gophers!

Nov. 4, 2011

Final Stats

The University of Minnesota closed out its season Friday afternoon in Evanston, Ill. as it fell in the semifinal round of the Big Ten Conference Tournament to the regular-season conference champions No. 10/11 Penn State, 3-1.

"We fought throughout the whole match and had a good defensive plan," said head coach Mikki Denney Wright, who had freshman Becca Roberts shadow the nation's leading scorer Maya Hayes. "After allowing the first goal, we stuck with our scheme, but that second goal really made us change our game plan to generating some kind of an offensive attack."

The Nittany Lions (19-3-0) snagged an early lead when Jess Rosenbluth had  the ball fall to her feet around the 18-yard box, and the midfielder put home the first goal of the match by ricocheting a strike off the left post and in to put PSU up 1-0 in the 5th minute.

Minnesota (9-10-2) would stall the powerful offense and head into the locker rooms down only 1-0 after Penn State controlled play for much of the first half. Despite PSU owning the advantage in time of possession, the Gophers and the Nittany Lions were all even with each having two shots in the first 45 minutes.

The Golden Gophers’ luck would not change much in the second half as PSU continued to direct play and tack on a pair of goals.

Penn State closed the door on the Golden Gophers in the 68th minute when they chipped a ball over the Gopher defense to Ali Schaefer, who drew made a right-footed strike and drilled a shot to the left of a sprawling Cat Parkhill to improve their lead to 2-0.

Minnesota would allow another Penn State goal in the 77th minute to make the score 3-0.

The Gophers’ highlight of the match came in the 86th minute when freshman Taylor Uhl volleyed a Lauren Bauer pass to the back-left corner of the goal. The score was Uhl’s 15th of the season, which is the fourth most by any Gopher in the program’s 19-year history.

The Nittany Lions would hold on for the 3-1 triumph and advance to face Illinois in Sunday’s Big Ten Tournament championship game.

"Myself and the rest of the Gopher soccer family would like to thank our four seniors for their dedication to the program," added Denney Wright.

The semifinal loss caps off stellar careers for a quartet of Gopher seniors in Shari Eckstrom, Alex Pafko, Katie Roberts-Carlson and Josie Solie.

"The team continued to grow and get better all year, so I expect to have a good season next year with having so many girls returning," Denney Wright mentioned.