Gophers beat No. 7 Penn State, improve to 9-3-1

Minnesota beat No. 7 Penn State 1-0 after tying Ohio State.

Minnesota goalkeeper Tarah Hobbs sets up for a kick against Louisiana State on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

Chelsea Gortmaker

Minnesota goalkeeper Tarah Hobbs sets up for a kick against Louisiana State on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.

Jace Frederick

The Gophers were more like giant slayers Sunday.

Minnesota (9-3-1, 2-2-1) beat No. 7 Penn State 1-0 at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. It was the first time since 2007 the Gophers have defeated the Nittany Lions (10-2-1, 4-1-0).

“The seniors, they had never beaten Penn State,” sophomore forward Haley Helverson said. “To do it for them, I love it.”

It was the second consecutive weekend Minnesota took down a top-15 opponent. The Gophers beat then-No. 13 Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., last Sunday.

Minnesota jumped on Penn State, the defending national runner-up, early Sunday.

Helverson finished a cross from senior forward Steph Brandt in the 16th minute to put the Gophers up 1-0.

“[Penn State’s] a team with very high intensity,” Helverson said. “We know if we could get one in right away, then we could bring that down and we could compose the game.”

And that was all freshman keeper Tarah Hobbs needed.

Minnesota took the lead into the locker room at the half. The Gophers’ backline allowed just one shot on goal against Penn State’s potent offense through the first 45 minutes.

“They played phenomenal,” Hobbs said of her defenders. “I can’t even explain how well they played.”

The Nittany Lions’ attackers responded in the second half and generated six shots on goal to go along with many scoring opportunities.

“We knew they were going to be much better than they were in the first half,” Gophers head coach Stefanie Golan said. “We were going to have to weather the storm a little bit.”

That storm was weathered, amid the rainy day on the pitch, and Hobbs played a major role in it.

Hobbs was unflappable in net and recorded seven saves for her third consecutive shutout.

Golan said the team gains confidence from Hobbs’ presence in goal.

“You look over at [Penn State’s] coaching staff, and they’re amazed at some of her saves,” Golan said. “It’s just another day for us.”

Minnesota’s upset ended Penn State’s 25-match unbeaten streak in the conference, dating back to September 2011.

The win came two days after Minnesota battled Ohio State to a scoreless draw through rainy, windy conditions Friday night during a game in which opportunities were few and far between.

Ohio State outshot the Gophers 20-7, but the on-goal total was 7-4.

Hobbs stood tall on those seven scoring chances she did see, recording seven saves.

After a 0-2 start to conference play, the Gophers have officially rebounded. Minnesota is 2-0-1 in its last three Big Ten matches.

“We’re very proud of this team,” Golan said. “For us to be able to rebound the way that we have over the course of the last couple games has been pretty big.”