Penn State Women’s Soccer Falls To Michigan 1-0 In Conference Opener
No. 23 Penn State women’s soccer (4-4-1) began Big Ten play with a third consecutive home loss Thursday evening, losing 1-0 to Michigan (6-2-0) at Jeffrey Field.
Though Penn State controlled the majority of possession throughout the the first half and orchestrated several chances, they were unable to find significant traction following Meredith Haackenson’s 10th minute goal. Despite a frantic last-minute push for an equalizer, the Nittany Lions couldn’t make the comeback, and the Wolverines recorded their second-ever win at Jeffrey Field.
How It Happened
The Nittany Lions came into their first Big Ten game in search of a win following two losses at home last week.
In the first few minutes of the match, Penn State’s defense looked confident and strong, taking command of the ball and making crucial tackles. After sustaining injuries in games last week, Laura Suero and Kerry Abello, signature front flip throw-in and all, were back on the starting lineup. Goalkeeper Amanda Dennis also returned to head coach Erica Dambach’s lineup after a five-match absence.
In the 10th minute, Michigan picked up a turn over and quickly cut through the Penn State backline, allowing Meredith Haakenson to face Amanda Dennis one-on-one. Haakenson finished past Dennis into the upper right corner of the net, putting the Wolverines ahead by one.
Penn State earned an indirect free kick practically from the penalty spot after Michigan’s goalkeeper Hillary Beall picked up a pass from one of her defenders. Sam Coffey and Frankie Tagliafferi combined over the ball, but Michigan was able to create a wall in the goal and force the ball out of the box.
Coffey saw an opportunity in the 28th minute to cross into the penalty area from the wing, but sent the pass too deep, and Michigan regained possession.
Michigan had several dangerous attacking opportunities as the half wore on, but the Nittany Lion defense was able to clear the ball quickly and efficiently to avoid further damage.
After a clearance from Penn State’s Cori Dyke, Rachel Wasserman showed incredible hustle to gain control of the ball and dribble at the Wolverine defense. She lost possession after her shot was blocked, and Frankie Tagliaferri’s follow up went over the crossbar.
In the 44th minute, Ellie Jean played the ball to Wasserman, who took a shot from the center that was also just high. Michigan entered the break with a 1-0 lead over the Nittany Lions.
Penn State’s Payton Linnehan started the second half with two fantastic runs; the first ending with a block from Beall and second ending in a tackle from the Wolverines.
The Wolverines were able to maintain control of the ball in the Nittany Lion half throughout the early stages of the second half. As they scrambled with the Penn State defense closing in, Sarah Stratigakis sent a right-footed shot to the far post that was stopped by an excellent save from Dennis.
In the 62nd minute Michigan’s Haakenson took a shot from outside the box which went soaring, and was tipped over the bar by Dennis’s fingertips.
Penn State’s Coffey made a dangerous dribbling run outside Michigan’s penalty area late in the half, sending a low and hard shot on the ground that just missed the goal to the left.
The Michigan defense held their ground as the Penn State front line began to feel the pressure of its ever-dwindling attacking chances.
Michigan’s late pressure and corner runs earned them a few surprising attacking opportunities. Dennis dove to block a shot that then ricocheted off her hands, allowing Lily Farkas to rebound the shot, which Dennis saved again.
Michigan earned a late corner, but Jean was able to clear. Samantha DeVichhi was able to get around her, though, and took a shot from the third quarter of the field which landed again in the hands of Dennis.
Penn State couldn’t find the back of the net, and the Wolverines ended the match in front with Haakenson’s goal the difference. This match also saw the end of Ally Schlegel’s six-match scoring streak.
Player of the Match
Ellie Jean|Senior|Right Back
Jean was seemingly everywhere on the field throughout the match. Her covering and attacking contributions were both excellent. Jean also demonstrated incredible ball control and grit in her tackles this match.
Penn State returns to Jeffrey Field to face Michigan State University (5-0-2) Sunday, September 22 at 1 p.m.
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About the Author
KJ Hamler’s phenomenal game propelled Penn State to a huge victory under White Out conditions.
Penn State’s linebackers played a huge role in Saturday’s nerve-wracking victory.
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