Top-Seeded Women’s Soccer Upset in Big Ten Tournament
Welp, I guess I’m gonna have to eat my words. Or maybe I jinxed Penn State?
Either way, Northwestern, as it turns out, is not such a pushover after all.
The top-seeded Nittany Lions women’s soccer squad, which looked poised to run the table in the Big Ten tournament, faced a re-energized Northwestern team in the first round of the Big Ten tournament on Wednesday. The Wildcats were looking for vengeance after a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Penn State during the regular season, and they got it.
One goal from Michelle Manning on a bad turnover was the difference, as the Nittany Lions fell 1-0 and were forced to leave West Lafayette earlier than anyone expected.
The Wildcats bent but did not break, allowing 16 shots (seven on goal) from Penn State but holding them goalless. Salina Williford and Frannie Crouse bombarded the net with five shots apiece but simply could not get through in what was more a war of attrition than a soccer match.
Despite the constant barrage, Northwestern goalkeeper Lauren Clem was more than up to the task, recording seven saves. It was highly reminiscent of the type of performances we have seen from her counterpart — Penn State’s Britt Eckerstrom — all season.
While looking solid in goal as usual, Eckerstrom made the only mistake of the match, and it proved costly. She turned the ball over in the box with Manning nearby, and Manning took advantage. She put the ball past a diving Eckerstrom in the 70th minute for what would prove to be the game-winner. Last ditch efforts, including a late look from Big Ten Freshman of the Year Emily Ogle, fell short, and the Lions lost for the first time in nearly a month.
No. 6 Penn State’s fate is now in the hands of the selection committee, who will announce the bracket for the 64-team tournament on Monday at 4:30 p.m. Onward State will post an update as soon as Penn State’s at-large seed is known.