MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – A game-tying goal by junior striker Jodi Calloway in the 31st minute of play was not enough for the visitors as the LSU Soccer team dropped a 2-1 decision to the unbeaten Minnesota Golden Gophers in Friday’s nightcap to kick off the Minnesota Gold Classic being held this weekend at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.
It marked the inaugural meeting between the two sides on the soccer pitch as the Tigers dropped their second-straight match to fall to 2-2-1 and the Golden Gophers improved to a 5-0 on the season.
The Tigers nearly struck first blood a mere 90 seconds into the match when Calloway played freshman forward Summer Clarke in behind the Minnesota defense with a through ball. Clarke ran free on a breakaway, but Golden Gopher goalkeeper Tarah Hobbs denied the Tiger rookie her third goal of the season with a two-handed save on a 10-yard strike.
Sophomore striker Haley Helverson broke the ice for the Golden Gophers in the 16th minute of play after slipping past the LSU defense on a through ball by freshman midfielder Simone Kolander and finishing from just outside the six-yard box inside the right post. Helverson opened her account with her first goal of the season at the 15:48 mark of the first half.
The Tigers struck back in the 31st minute when Calloway netted her second goal of the season as the Gophers found themselves exposed in the left side of defense.
After receiving a pass from senior defender Addie Eggleston down the left flank, junior defender Alex Arlitt split the Minnesota defense with a run to the end line and centered to Calloway standing alone at the top of the six-yard box. Calloway’s one-timer drew the Tigers level at the 30:57 mark as the teams played to a 1-1 draw at the break.
With both teams looking to break the deadlock midway through the second half, senior midfielder Alex Ramsey came within inches of giving the Tigers the advantage in the 68th minute while rifling a 25-yard strike over Hobbs’ outstretched arms and off the crossbar. Sophomore midfielder Fernanda Pina was in position for the rebound, but her header from outside the six-yard box was denied by Hobbs.
The Golden Gophers then turned up the pressure on the other end, sparked by a Helverson free kick in the 79th minute that was taken from 20 yards directly in front of the LSU goal. Helverson’s effort was denied by a diving Megan Kinneman in goal for the Tigers and deflected off the right post to preserve the deadlock.
But Minnesota only had to wait another two minutes to take the lead for good when freshman Ashley Pafko scored her first career goal in the 81st minute when burying a loose ball from about eight yards out.
While Minnesota held a 14-9 advantage in the final shot count in the match, both teams attempted five shots on goal and two corner kicks during 90 minutes of action on Friday night.
The Tigers will wrap up this year’s Minnesota Gold Classic on Sunday morning when they face 13th-ranked Southern California in the first of two matches on the day that is set to kick off at 11 a.m. CT. Like Friday’s event with Minnesota, Sunday’s match marks the inaugural meeting between the Tigers and Trojans. USC played Ole Miss to a 1-1 draw in the first match of the Minnesota Gold Classic on Friday afternoon.