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Penn State Women’s Soccer Completes Comeback To Win 2-1 Over Illinois

Penn State women’s soccer (10-6-1, 6-3-0 Big Ten) came back from a one-goal deficit to defeat Illinois (8-7, 2-5 Big Ten) 2-1 Thursday evening at Jeffrey Field.

Second-half goals from Sam Coffey and Kerry Abello propelled the Nittany Lions to their tenth victory of the season as the end of the regular season approaches.

How It Happened

Head coach Erica Dambach’s side had some extra support on their bench Thursday evening, with two-time World Cup champion Ali Krieger returning to Jeffrey Field and honoring Dambach’s 250th win against Purdue last week.

The Nittany Lions were brilliant in the attack in the early stages of Thursday’s match. Payton Linnehan finished a tap-in in the second minute of the match from a Frankie Tagliaferri cross, but the goal was called back for offside.

As the game settled into a rhythm, the Illini found space in midfield and orchestrated several counter attacks. Shots from Kerry Abello and Tagliaferri missed the target.

The Nittany Lions continued to press and were the better team throughout the half, but Illinois forwards Makena Sibler and Amaya Ellis threatened their clean sheet throughout the early stages.

Jordan Canniff came close to notching her second career goal for the Nittany Lions when Linnehan broke into the penalty area and squared a cross in the 29th minute, but the freshman’s shot was blocked. She was unlucky throughout the first half, making dangerous chances but always seeming to lose possession just before the shot. Penn State continued to push forward, but couldn’t crack an overall solid Illinois defense.

A half of back-and-forth played mostly in midfield ended without a goal to separate the two teams.

But it didn’t take long for the attacking side of the match to explode into life in the second half. Hope Breslin slid to fire the Illini into the lead in the 49th minute, but their lead wouldn’t last long. Payton Linnehan volleyed a cross into the crossbar less than a minute later. The Illinois defense failed to clear their lines properly, and Sam Coffey, collecting the ball at the top of the penalty area, hit a clean volley off the post and in to level the score at 1-1.

The Nittany Lions continued to attack confidently after the goal, with several near-misses from Tagliaferri, Schlegel and Coffey. Payton Linnehan tested goalkeeper Jaelyn Cunningham with two back-to-back close range shots in the 60th minute, but the Illinois goalkeeper was equal to her efforts.

Kerry Abello gave the Nittany Lions their winner in the 68th minute, beating her defender in the penalty area and firing a shot into the roof of Cunningham’s net.

Solid play from the backline quartet of Jean, Kaleigh Riehl, Caitlin Haislip and Laura Suero, along with some comfortable saves from Dennis, limited the Illini’s attacking opportunities in the closing moments. Penn State managed to close the match out professionally, and held on for a 2-1 win.

Player of the Match

Kerry Abello| Junior|Winger

The skillful winger plays with unmatched joy on the left side, taking on defenders, sending dangerous crosses, and taking daring shots. She continued her excellent run of form with a goal Thursday evening.

What’s Next?

Penn State welcomes Northwestern (5-7-2, 3-3-1 Big Ten) to Jeffrey Field for the final regular season home match of the season Sunday, October 20 at 11 a.m.

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About the Author

Jim Davidson

Jim is a junior English and history major and the features editor for Onward State. He, like most of the Penn State undergraduate population, is from 'just outside Philadelphia,' and grew up in Spring City, Pennsylvania. He covers a variety of Penn State topics, but spends nine months of every year waiting for the start of soccer season. You can reach him via email at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @messijim.

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