The Minnesota women's soccer team scored three-unanswered goals in the first half to record a 3-1 come-from-behind victory over No. 20 South Carolina on Thursday night in Columbia.
After falling behind 1-0 less than six minutes into the contest, Minnesota (7-1-1 overall, 0-0-0 Big Ten) rallied off back-to-back-to-back goals from sophomore forward Allie Phillips, and junior defenders Josie Solie and Tamara Strahota and then held off the nationally ranked Gamecocks in the second half to extend its unbeaten streak to eight games. Solie's goal - the eventual game winner - was the defender's first career goal.
"I think it's a great road victory, and I think it was an excellent example of a team win. Every single kid was important in this win tonight, and it was a huge team effort to pull off a win like this against a very good South Carolina team." Minnesota head coach Mikki Denney Wright said.
South Carolina's loss marks just the fifth time the Gamecocks have lost at Stone Stadium since the 2007 season and the first time in that span that South Carolina has given up three goals at home. In fact, the Gamecocks defense has been incredibly strong in the last five seasons, giving up three goals just six times dating back to the 2006 season.
The Gamecocks, who outshot Minnesota 14-11 in the game, jumped out to an early 1-0 lead 5:56 minutes into the game when junior forward Kayla Grimsley slipped through the Minnesota defense with a long pass down into the South Carolina offensive third. Grimsley's pass found senior forward Brooke Jacobs low in the zone to the left of Minnesota goalkeeper Cat Parkhill. Jacobs' wide-angle shot snuck in the senior's first goal of the year and marked just the second goal the Gophers have given up in the last eight games. Junior forward Maria Petroni also earned an assist on the goal.
But the Gophers would soon answer back as Phillips recorded her team-high fourth goal of the year less than five minutes later at 10:25. Controlling the ball near the top of the box, the sophomore forward sent a low strike towards the far goal post. The shot bounced off the inside of the post and in to even the score at 1-1. Just over 20 minutes later, Minnesota would take the lead when senior midfielder Kylie Kallman sent a booming corner kick into the box when Solie was able to tip the ball into the back of the net for her first career goal at 32:49. The Gophers, who held a 4-2 advantage on corner kicks, would quickly add an insurance goal 3:02 later when Kallman sent another corner into the box, this time it would be Strahota who found the scoring touch in the middle of the scrum to put Minnesota up 3-1. Phillips, Eckstrom, Strahota and senior forward Katie Shelander would pace Minnesota with two shots each in the win, which moved the Gophers to 2-1-0 against ranked teams this year.
From there, Minnesota rode out a sometimes turbulent second half thanks to an impressive effort by Parkhill and the Gophers defense. In arguably her toughest test since the season opener at Notre Dame, Parkhill rose to the occasion in the second half, making all four of her saves in the final 45 minutes including a diving block that got just enough of a shot from Petroni to send the ball careening off the far post and out of harm's way. On the backline, Solie, Strahota and sophomore Marissa Price limited the Gamecocks to just three shots in the first half and rode out the storm in the second half with Parkhill. Solie came up with a clutch save of her own in the final seconds when she got in front of a South Carolina shot just outside of the goal line to help secure the win for the Gophers.
Minnesota closes out the nonconference schedule this Sunday at home against Illinois State. Follow the action with steaming video, live stats and a running blog, all available at Gophersports.com. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m. (CST).
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