Penn State Women’s Soccer, West Virginia Battle To 1-1 Draw
No. 8 Penn State women’s soccer (4-1-1) and No. 22 West Virginia (2-2-1) battled to a 1-1 double-overtime draw that seemed more like a conference playoff final than a regular season match Friday night.
Ally Schlegel’s third goal in as many games put the Nittany Lions ahead in the first half, but West Virginia had the match’s better attacking chances and equalized in the second half. Neither team was able to score a golden goal in overtime, thanks in part to excellent defending from center back Laura Suero. Penn State remains unbeaten in four straight matches, but ended its winning streak.
How It Happened
For the first time this season, Penn State seemed overwhelmed in the early stages of a match. The Mountaineers, playing in front of a sizeable, yellow-clad crowd at Dick Dlesk stadium, immediately put the Nittany Lions under pressure in athletic and aggressive style.
Shortly after the starting whistle, it became clear that the individual battle between winger Julianne Vallerand and right back Ellie Jean would be key to the match’s result. West Virginia seemed to overload the left side of their attack, giving Vallerand opportunities to go one-on-one with Jean. Despite giving up a dangerous free kick and getting caught once on the goal line, Jean held fast and, for the most part, limited her opponent’s chances.
West Virginia created several dangerous early chances, but an over-the-bar shot from Addison Clark and a world-class kick save from freshman goalkeeper Kat Asman on her debut kept the match level. Payton Linnehan had the best chance of the first half in the 21st minute when she latched onto a rebounded Ally Schlegel shot. Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, the freshman winger’s shot sailed over the bar.
Vallerand continued to be dangerous on the left side, but it was Penn State who struck first through a header from Schlegel, a redshirt freshman striker. Winger Kerry Abello dribbled past her defender and lofted a left-footed cross into the penalty area in the 30th minute. Schlegel timed her jump perfectly and rose above her defender to connect with the cross, sending the ball into the top right corner of the net and leaving her defender on the ground.
Though the goal gave Penn State a sense of increased attacking confidence, West Virginia continued to be dangerous. A brilliant sliding block from Jean preserved Penn State’s lead, and the Nittany Lions entered the break ahead by one.
Halftime saw Schlegel re-enter the game after a first-half injury and a switch to soft-ground cleats as rain began to fall.
Alina Stahl equalized for the Mountaineers in the 50th minute, turning deftly and firing an unstoppable shot into the top corner of Asman’s net. After the goal, West Virginia’s midfield took control of the match, limiting Sam Coffey and Cori Dyke’s time on the ball and forcing several dangerous giveaways.
The pace of the match eventually settled into a cagey stalemate as both defenses held fast. Schlegel dropped back into the midfield when Dyke went off injured, and added some necessary defensive steel to the middle third. Frankie Tagliaferri connected with a Kate Wiesner cross in the 70th minute, but her shot was easily saved by goalkeeper Rylee Foster.
From there, Penn State went into a stage of panic-mode defending as the Mountaineers poured on the pressure. Asman made an excellent save on Jordan Brewster’s driven free kick to deny the Mountaineers in the 75th minute. Penn State survived a barrage of late corner and free kicks to take the game to extra time.
West Virginia continued to have the better chances in extra time. Some last-ditch defending from Jean and Penn State’s midfield prevented a golden goal. But the best play of the first period came just as the buzzer sounded, when Laura Suero tracked Stahl back to the edge of the penalty area and made a brilliant sliding tackle to keep Penn State’s hopes alive.
West Virginia began the second period of extra time by earning their ninth corner, but the Nittany Lions were able to clear. Dyke and Abello combined to create a dangerous chance with three minutes left, but Foster was able to make a comfortable save.
Solid, if breathless, defending from Suero, Kaleigh Riehl, Jean and Wiesner managed to keep the match level, and the Nittany Lions escaped Morgantown with their four-game unbeaten streak intact.
Player of the Match
Ally Schlegel| Redshirt Freshman|Forward
Schlegel scored her third goal in as many games against the Mountaineers with a powerful header. But she showed her game’s versatility when she dropped into center midfield — making tackles, winning headers, and playing several impressive long passes.
Penn State returns to Jeffrey Field to face James Madison (1-4-0) Sunday, September 8 at 1 p.m.
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