No. 5 Penn State (14-1, 4-0 Big Ten) won its game against No. 16 Northwestern on Thursday night at Martin Stadium in Evanston, IL by a score of 14-13.
Junior Katie O’Donnell tallied five goals, including her 40th of the season, and sophomore Madison Carter scored three goals, including her 50th of the season in the winning effort. Sophomore Kelly Daggett also had four goals and two assists, and senior goalie Cat Rainone made 11 saves to help the Nittany Lions hold on down the stretch.
How It Happened
Penn State got off to a slow start, letting Northwestern strike first 5:36 into the contest. The Nittany Lions responded with an equalizer from Kelly Daggett, but then the Wildcats went on a run with five unanswered goals to take a 6-1 lead midway through the first half.
Penn State wouldn’t go away though as senior Taylor Bleistein, sophomore Madison Carter, and junior Katie O’Donnell all scored goals to help the team to a 7-2 run that closed out the first half. Carter scored her 50th, 51st, and 52nd goals of the season as part of the run to complete a five-minute hat trick, and O’Donnell and Bleistein scored twice in 27 seconds to end the half and tie the game 8-8 going into the intermission.
The Nittany Lions carried over the momentum from the end of the first half, starting off the second period with a natural hat trick from Kelly Daggett. Daggett’s three goals to begin the period gave her team their first lead of the evening, and Katie O’Donnell’s 40th goal of the season extended the Nittany Lions’ lead to four just 2:30 into the second half.
The otherwise-solid Penn State defense couldn’t shut the Wildcats down and keep hold of its newly found four-goal lead for long; four consecutive goals from Northwestern’s Christina Esposito, Sheila Nesselbush, Liza Elder, and Nicole Beardsley tied the game 12-12 with 22:31 left in the period.
After giving up four straight goals, Penn State’s defense, led by Cat Rainone, finally locked down the Wildcats’ attack, conceding just one goal in the final 20 minutes of the game. Katie O’Donnell scored twice in 6:50 to give Penn State a 14-12 lead with just more than 13 minutes remaining in the second half. Although Northwestern scored with five minutes remaining to cut Penn State’s lead to one, Rainone and the Penn State defense held on for a huge Big Ten victory.
Player Of The Game
Katie O’Donnell | Junior | Midfielder
O’Donnell led all goal scorers with five goals for Penn State, and all five of the junior’s tallies were crucial for the Nittany Lions. Her two goals in the first half came as part of the 7-2 run that changed the momentum of game, and her two goals toward the end of the second half gave Penn State a lead it wouldn’t look back from. Her leadership and goal-scoring ability were both huge reasons why Penn State came out victorious in Evanston.
Penn State returns home to the Penn State Lacrosse Field for one final home game next Thursday, April 20, against No. 1 Maryland at 7 p.m.