Blowing a two-goal lead at home isn't a great way to open a season.
It was good enough, however, for the Gophers soccer team to remain in high spirits Friday night. Minnesota lost 3-2 to No. 4 Florida State at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in head coach Stefanie Golan's debut, but it showed it could compete with an elite opponent for a full game.
The Gophers led 2-0 in the opening minutes after Taylor Uhl and Katie Thyken scored 82 seconds apart. Then the Seminoles slowly battled back, cutting the lead to 2-1 at halftime and striking twice in the second half.
FSU's Ines Jaurena scored the game-winner with 3:52 left.
"We were definitely in it to win it," said Golan, who previously coached at Army. "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."
Uhl, Minnesota's leading scorer and the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2011, failed to capitalize on a number of breakaway chances. Her best chance came on a cross-field shot that deflected a foot wide off FSU goalie Kelsey Wys' fingertips.
"I'd like to have that one back," Uhl said.
The Seminoles controlled possession throughout the game, but Minnesota maintained its high-pressure defense and created many quality scoring chances. Golan and Uhl said the team tried to stay aggressive after going up 2-0.
"We knew we probably needed another goal because [the Seminoles] are a high-attacking offense," Uhl said. "We didn't really change at all. We kept trying to go forward and score more goals."
Minnesota goalkeeper Cat Parkhill was solid throughout the match and made no visible mistakes, unlike Wys, who was 15 yards out of position when Thyken found an empty net to make the score 2-0.
But the Seminoles outshot the Gophers 21-11 and never appeared rattled by the deficit. Their crisp passing and speed in the open field showed a clear difference in the teams' skill levels.
Picked eighth out of 12 Big Ten teams in a preseason poll, the new-look Gophers will likely be an enigma for much of the season. But that's not for a lack of confidence -- at least not yet.
"We were ready to win and wanted to win," Parkhill said. "That was fun to play with that type of mentality and attitude."
The Gophers return to Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on Sunday to play No. 24 South Carolina.
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