Gophers soccer loses 3-2 against Purdue, concede three goals in the second half

The sophomores got it done for the Gophers. Sophia Boman scored her fourth goal this season, while Christa VanLoon scored her first.

Sophomore+Christa+VanLoon+fires+the+ball+upfield+in+a+match+against+Penn+State+on+Sunday%2C+Oct.+3%2C+2021%2C+at+Elizabeth+Lyle+Robbie+Stadium+in+Falcon+Heights%2C+Minn.

Kelly Hagenson - Gopher Athletics

Sophomore Christa VanLoon fires the ball upfield in a match against Penn State on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in Falcon Heights, Minn.

Michael Lyne , Sports Reporter

Gophers soccer (6-4-3) dropped their fourth match this season against No. 25 Purdue Sunday evening as they conceded three goals for the first time, all coming in the second half of play.

“We are disappointed with the result today,” Gophers head coach Erin Chastain said. “Anytime you go into halftime with a 2-0 lead, it can be a dangerous scoreline because you can sometimes feel a little too comfortable. Even though we prepared our group for that, Purdue came out and set the tone in the second half.”

The backline played outstanding throughout the first half for the Gophers, preventing Boilermakers star Sarah Griffith and company from gaining high-quality looks at junior goalkeeper Megan Plaschko.

Just like the backline’s strong play, the Gophers’ offense pressed on the attack and created many opportunities in the first half as they found the back of the net just 16 minutes into the match.

Senior Megan Gray found her way into the bottom right side of the box and dribbled the ball between two Boilermakers defenders, forcing them to trip her up before she had a chance to continue her creative play. The referees then awarded the Gophers a penalty kick.

Chastain selected sophomore Sophia Boman to take the penalty kick. She made no mistake on her opportunity as she fired a low shot into the left side of the net to give the Gophers an early 1-0 lead. Boman’s go-ahead marker signifies her fourth goal this season.

Continuing to play stingy defense for much of the first half and eliminating any high-quality chances from Boilermakers attackers, the Gophers finally registered their first shot since Boman’s opening goal, which also found the back of the net.

Sophomore Maddie Baker received a service in the box from graduate student Makenzie Langdok and redirected the ball toward the penalty kick dot. Her sophomore counterpart Christa VanLoon possessed and fired a low shot into the lower-left corner of the net to put the Gophers ahead 2-0. VanLoon’s goal is her first this season as Baker also tallied her third assist.
The Gophers had a near-perfect first half. They held Purdue to just one shot on goal and one corner kick. However, the second half was nowhere near the same.

The Boilermakers started to break through the Gophers’ backline as Emily Mathews scored Purdue’s first goal at the 63-minute mark.

Just seven minutes later, the Boilermakers equalized the match after senior Delaney Stekr misdirected a header in the box into the back of the Gophers’ net.

The Gophers didn’t register their first shot until the 78th minute. Then, they continued to control possession of the ball in Purdue’s half, tallying two more shots on goal.

However, the Boilermakers went back on the counter-attack. Griffith created space at the top of the box and fired a shot into the left corner of the net to give Purdue its first lead with less than six minutes remaining in the match, which eventually was the match-winner.

“We never really had anyone step up and set the tone on our side in the second half,” Chastain said. “They are a top-25 team for a reason and have gotten a lot of results this season. I really felt like we just didn’t perform in the second half today.”

The loss marks the first time the Gophers have lost a match this season after leading at halftime. Before this match, they were an undefeated 5-0-0 when leading at halftime.

The Gophers will host Illinois at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 8 p.m. as they look to get back in the win column.