JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University women’s soccer team battled hard on Sunday afternoon, but couldn’t break through against the No. 21 Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-1-0) at Southern Oak Stadium. A pair of second half goals broke open a closely-contested match and allowed Minnesota to head home with a 3-0 win.
Though the teams played a very even first half, Minnesota took the lead in the 22nd minute off a corner kick. MacKenzie Misel delivered the in-swinger to Lauren Bauer, whose header was well-struck and went high over the top of a leaping Sarah Sierra to put the Gophers on top at the midway point of the half.
Minnesota had five corners to Jacksonville’s zero in the first half, but the Dolphins (4-3-0) applied plenty of pressure of their own. With the Gophers’ defense playing high and flat, a number of quality attacks from JU ended with someone narrowly being whistled for offside. The Dolphins were caught off five times in the first stanza, but also managed some pressure at the Minnesota end as well. Sarah Moghadas provided a few moments of invention for Jacksonville in the first half, and her dance through the box and low cross across the face of goal could have easily tied the match if it had found a Dolphin foot. Nearing halftime, Brooke Comans played a through ball to Meghan Kelley who stayed onside with a diagonal run but couldn’t quite wrap her foot around the ball, instead pushing it off to the right of goal.
Jacksonville’s lone corner of the match gave them a chance to even the proceedings early in the second half, but Moghadas saw her header go straight down. Keeping possession in the Minnesota final third, Jessica Cataldo-Ramirez followed with a shot, but it took a deflection and was fielded by keeper Tarah Hobbs.
The Gophers doubled their lead 10 minutes into the second half. Simone Kolander pushed a ball forward to Haley Helverson in the right corner. Helverson’s low angled pass into the box found Steph Brandt, who delivered a clean strike that gave Sierra no chance to react. After another 10 minutes had passed, Minnesota reached its final score line with a goal from Katie Thyken. Thyken’s header came out of a scramble in front of net after a corner was saved from clearance by Taylor Stainbrook.
Cataldo-Ramirez led the Dolphins on the afternoon with two shots, both on frame. Kaitlyn Bassett added another two shots, with one of them forcing a save.
"We're very disappointed in today's outcome, though we did go up against a very good team," said Head Coach Brian Copham. "When you go up against a Top 25 team, you have to be at your very best, and I don't think that happened for us today. We never forced Minnesota to play the way we wanted them to. We have to be more disciplined and stick to what we know, and they did a good job of getting us to go away from our strengths rather than playing to them."
Jacksonville will try to enter Atlantic Sun play on a high note, hosting its final two non-conference matches at Southern Oak Stadium next weekend. The Dolphins get together with FIU on Friday night at 7 p.m., before welcoming in Furman on Sunday for a 2 p.m. match.