A first half header from redshirt freshman forward Steph Brandt gave the Minnesota women's soccer team an early lead, but it would not be enough as the No. 15 Gophers fell to Penn State 2-1 on Friday night in University Park.
"It was a typical Big Ten grudge match. We definitely came to battle today, and hats off to Penn State. They are a very good and very dangerous," Minnesota head coach Mikki Denney Wright. "Now we just have to regroup and bring that same effort on Sunday against Ohio State."
In cold, windy conditions, both teams struggled to mount an offense throughout the 90-minute battle. Brandt's header in the 43rd minute capitalized on one of the game's few chances in the first half. Minnesota (10-3-2 overall, 2-2-1 Big Ten) got on the board first when senior midfielder Julie Rezac laced a cross towards the far post, where Brandt was streaking towards the goal. The redshirt freshman sent her header back across the goal, past sophomore goalkeeper Krissy Tribbett in goal for the Nittany Lions and in for her fourth goal of the year. Senior midfielder Molly Rouse also assisted on the goal.
Defensively, sophomore goalkeeper Cat Parkhill tied her season-high with seven saves in the contest and came up with several big stops to keep Minnesota in the game. The keeper opened the game with a leaping save at the 1:34 mark to keep a long Penn State shot out of the net and added a trio of diving stops in the opening minutes of the second half.
But the Nittany Lions eventually worked their way onto the score sheet when freshman midfielder Taylor Schram headed in her second goal of the year in the 73rd minute from the six-yard box off a cross from senior forward Danielle Toney. Less than three minutes later, Penn State took the lead with another cross - this one from sophomore midfielder Maddy Evans, who tipped in a corner kick from sophomore midfielder Christine Nairn for Evans' first goal of the year to clinch the win for Penn State.
Minnesota returns to action this Sunday at Ohio State. Reminder that the start time for that game has been changed to 11 a.m. CST.