Uhl’s record-breaking start carries Gophers

Betsy Helfand

After making an offseason coaching change, the Gophers women’s soccer team won three of its first five games, including one against a nationally ranked team.

New head coach Stefanie Golan’s offense has been anchored by Taylor Uhl, last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Uhl recorded eight goals and three assists in Minnesota’s first five games. She had scored a goal in nine straight games as of Aug. 30, a program record.

In three of the five games, Uhl scored the first goal of the game to give the Gophers an early lead. She has already posted two multi-goal games.

Through five games, goalie Cat Parkhill sported a 1.57 goals-against average and a .714 save percentage.

Minnesota will host San Diego State and DePaul before beginning Big Ten play Sept. 16.

“We need to keep the defensive pressure high … and then also put our chances away,” Uhl said Aug. 30 about the team’s key to success this homestand.

August 17: No. 4 Florida State 3, Minnesota 2

The Gophers faced their toughest competition to date in the first game of the season against the No. 4 Seminoles but fell despite jumping out to an early two-goal lead.

Uhl picked up where she left off last season in the sixth minute, scoring off an FSU turnover.

Just 82 seconds later, fellow sophomore Katie Thyken netted her first goal of the season.

FSU cut the lead in half in the 14th minute, and the Gophers were unable to extend their lead, despite a few good chances.

The Seminoles tied the game in the 62nd minute and took the lead on a header from Ines Jaurena in the 87th minute.

“We were definitely in it to win it. We’re really proud of the battle that we gave for 90 minutes. We certainly had some additional chances that we didn’t put away,” Golan said Aug. 17.

August 19: Minnesota 2, No. 24 South Carolina 1 (OT)

The Gophers upset nationally ranked South Carolina in their second game of the season. The win was Golan’s first with the program.

Freshman Haley Helverson picked the right time to score the first goal of her Minnesota career. Assisted by Allie Phillips and Uhl, she netted the game-winner in the game’s 97th minute in sudden-death overtime.

Golan moved Helverson from midfield to forward during the game, and the move paid off.

“It just wasn’t her day [in the midfield],” Golan said Aug. 19. “She was having a hard time finding the game, and you could see that her confidence was up and down. We made the change of moving her up front … and she made a difference.”

Uhl scored just 87 seconds into the game to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.

Parkhill allowed a goal in the waning seconds of the first half, but she recovered and held the Gamecocks scoreless in the second half.

August 24: San Diego 3, Minnesota 2 (2OT)

Minnesota lost the first game of its California road trip 3-2 to San Diego in double overtime.

It was the second time in three games the Gophers blew a two-goal lead and lost.

Minnesota outshot San Diego 12-1 in the first 45 minutes and led 2-0, but the Toreros forced overtime and then scored in the 109th minute off a corner kick to complete the comeback.

Uhl gave the Gophers a lead in the game’s eighth minute, and 10 minutes later Steph Brandt scored off a deflection by a San Diego defender.

San Diego scored in the 50th minute off a penalty kick and again in the 84th minute.

Both San Diego’s game-winning goal and its first goal came off headers from corner kicks.

“It was a heartbreaking loss, and we certainly didn’t lose due to lack of effort,” Golan told GopherSports.com on Aug. 24. “But we didn’t bury our opportunities and show composure in the attacking third.”

August 26: Minnesota 4, USC 1

The Gophers salvaged the second game of their two-city California road trip with a 4-1 win over USC.

Minnesota allowed the first goal of the game for the first time this season, but Uhl tied it less than a minute later on a shot from the far post.

Shortly after, sophomore Taylor Wodnick scored her first goal of the season off a rebound. Wodnick’s goal was the eventual game-winner.

Uhl and Phillips teamed up twice in the second half to cement the lead.

Assisted by Phillips, Uhl scored on a one-on-one with USC’s goalie Caroline Stanley in the 69th minute, and four minutes later, Phillips scored her own goal on a long pass from Uhl.

USC narrowly outshot Minnesota 16-15, but Parkhill blanked the Trojans from the 25th minute on.

August 30: Minnesota 7, Bowling Green 0

The Gophers handled Bowling Green with apparent ease both offensively and defensively.

Uhl delivered a three-goal, one-assist performance, and the defense held the Falcons to just three shots the whole game.

“We knew their goalies were on the weaker side, so we took any half-chance — especially when you’re close to the net, we knew we had to do that,” Uhl said.

Uhl’s hat trick was the third of her career and the 13th in program history. She is the only player in the program to record three hat tricks.

Uhl’s three goals were part of a five-goal second half. Phillips and Helverson both scored in the first half, and Wodnick and Allie Reinke also scored in the second half of the blowout victory.

 

—Charlie Armitz and Drew Claussen contributed to this report.