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Penn State Women’s Soccer Reaches Big Ten Final With 2-0 Victory Over Purdue

Penn State women’s soccer (14-6-1, 10-3-0 Big Ten) broke through a compact, aggressive, and organized Purdue side (8-9-3, 3-7-2 Big Ten) to win 2-0 Friday afternoon in Piscataway, New Jersey and secure a spot in the Big Ten Tournament final.

Friday’s match was a classic semifinal—a tense struggle between a dangerous attacking side and a defensively compact team too vulnerable to take risks. Penn State dominated possession throughout Friday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal, but goalkeeper Marissa Bova’s excellent performance preserved a Boilermaker shutout until the 62nd minute when Ally Schlegel put the Nittany Lions ahead. Sam Coffey coolly finished a penalty kick ten minutes later, securing a crucial tournament victory and an eighth consecutive win for the Nittany Lions.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions started Friday’s 11 a.m. semifinal in Piscataway strong, with Payton Linnehan latching onto an errant pass in the attacking third and sending a shot just high of Marissa Bova’s crossbar. The ball rarely left the Boilermaker’s half in the early stages of the match, with Ally Schlegel, Linnehan, and Frankie Tagliaferri creating multiple chances and winning corners.

Though the flow of chances eventually began to ebb for Penn State, possession remained steady for the Nittany Lions, and Bova looked anything but confident when facing their sporadic shots. Purdue’s attack failed register a shot or even a chance throughout the first 25 minutes of the half.

The Nittany Lions failed to create many meaningful attempts on goal until the 25th minute, when a corner kick and Sam Coffey shot forced Bova to make two saves. She made a world-class stop to deny Linnehan’s close-range volley. Suero latched onto a bouncing ball in the penalty area with seven minutes remaining in the first half, but her shot went straight into Bova’s hands.

The Nittany Lions were unable to break the deadlock in the first half, and entered the break without a goal to show for their six shots.

They finally found the net in the 62nd minute. Sam Coffey lofted a pass toward the back post to Jordan Canniff, who volleyed the ball back across goal and onto the head of Schlegel. Schlegel calmly nodded the ball home to put the Nittany Lions ahead 1-0 and score her 12th goal of the season.

Purdue tired as the second half wore on, drained by its desperate pursuit of an equalizer. The Boilermakers conceded needless fouls as they tried to catch up to the in-control Nittany Lions, who never seemed likely to concede.

Penn State doubled its lead in the 73rd minute. Caitlin Haislip blasted a volley towards the net from a corner kick, and Sydney Sparks blocked her shot with an outstretched arm in the penalty area. Coffey calmly slotted the penalty kick home, and Penn State’s final berth was all but secured.

Penn State closed the match calmly with unhurried possession and solid defense, its march to the tournament final complete. They’ll face either Michigan or Rutgers Sunday—teams that defeated the Nittany Lions by narrow margins during the regular season.

Player of the Match

Kaleigh Riehl| Senior|Defender

Riehl and her center back partner Caitlin Haislip were unbeatable against the Boilermakers. The senior’s calm presence on defense and ability on the ball holds Penn State’s backline together, and she never loses an aerial battle. Her performance ensured that goalkeeper Amanda Dennis faced a single shot on goal Friday, and lead Penn State to a third consecutive shutout.

What’s Next?

Penn State will now face the winner of today’s matchup between No. 2 Rutgers and No. 3 Michigan on Sunday in Piscataway. 

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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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