No. 1 Women’s Soccer Shuts Out No. 4 West Virginia 2-0, Advances To NCAA Semifinals
While the football team received a beatdown from Michigan State in East Lansing for its regular season finale on Saturday, top-seeded Penn State women’s soccer (20-3-2) held down the fort in University Park, shutting out West Virginia 2-0 at Jeffrey field. A full-field effort, stout goaltending, and unwavering defensive pressure secured Penn State a spot in the 2015 Women’s College Cup.
How It Happened
The quarterfinal match started out slow, with wide shots by Penn State’s Nickolette Driesse and Brittany Basinger serving as the lone highlights of the first 10 minutes. Emily Ogle’s seventh goal of the season, a free kick that soared over West Virginia defenders, broke up the monotony and gave the Nittany Lions an early lead 11:08 into the first half. Ogle came up with another chance off a free kick 21 minutes in, but West Virginia quickly snatched it up.
Both goaltenders proved hungry for a win throughout the middle of the half, answering good chances with great saves. Penn State goalie Britt Eckerstrom dove to pick off a pass crossed inside the box at 32 minutes in, and West Virginia’s goaltender thwarted close calls from Frannie Crouse and Megan Schafer. Crouse capitalized off a cross pass from Ellie Jean, sliding into the upper-left corner and giving Penn State a 2-0 lead at 38:03. At the close of the first half, Penn State led West Virginia 7-4 in shots.
The Mountaineers touted a more determined aggression at the start of the second half, earning the first possession and chances. A corner kick nearly put West Virginia on the scoreboard at 48 minutes into the game but Eckerstrom managed a save. West Virginia maintained possession early in the second half, putting Penn State’s defense to work. The Mountaineers controlled the ball via footwork and speed, but the Nittany Lions applied necessary pressure and robbed their opponent of any solid chances. At the 67 minute mark, Penn State’s bench was issued a red card off of a Driesse injury, but West Virginia kept all of its players on the field as Charlotte Williams replaced Driesse on the field.
Penn State’s offense took charge late in the half, with two more chances coming from Crouse and one from Raquel ‘Rocky’ Rodriguez. West Virginia’s goalie refused to give in, posting unlikely saves including one from the baseline. Her persistence wasn’t enough, as glaring offensive struggles prevailed. The unit attempted a futile late-game revival with six minutes left in regulation, but the shot from 25 feet out was easily swallowed up by Eckerstrom. Penn State maintained its early lead and finished out the quarterfinal matchup with a 2-0 victory.
Player Of The Game
Frannie Crouse’s presence reverberated throughout with a game-controlling goal, chances that allowed Penn State to maintain possession and capitalize on rebounds, and constant pressure. She has been a dominant force, and it’s translating smoothly into the postseason.
Penn State will take on Big Ten rival No. 9 Rutgers in the NCAA Division I semifinals on Friday, Dec. 4 in Cary, North Carolina.