Penn State Women’s Soccer Wins Big Ten Tournament Title With 2-1 Overtime Win Over Michigan
Penn State women’s soccer (15-6-1) defeated Michigan (15-5-1) at Rutgers’ Yurcak Field Sunday afternoon to claim the program’s eighth Big Ten Tournament title.
Sunday’s match had all the ingredients of an exciting final — hard tackles, individual brilliance, controversy, and dramatic, late goals.
Michigan’s controversial opener in the 82nd minute seemed to seal a victory for the Wolverines, until Frankie Tagliaferri drew a penalty that Sam Coffey converted to send the match into overtime. Tagliaferri then dropped a long pass into the path of Payton Linnehan that the freshman deftly chipped over Hillary Biell to win the game with a golden goal in the 93rd minute.
How It Happened
Individual moments of brilliance often define matches. On Sunday, the brilliance came from Penn State’s designated playmaker — the skillfull and visionary Frankie Tagliaferri.
After a slow first half that featured several brilliant saves from Amanda Dennis and attacking opportunities for both teams, Michigan opened the second period with newfound energy and grit. They forced turnovers and created dangerous opportunities for for forwards Sarah Stratigakis and Nicki Hernandez that forced Dennis and the Penn State backline to make last-ditch saves to keep the match level.
Tagliaferri turned the tide in the 78th minute. Winning a challenge in her own penalty area, she broke forward, beat several defenders, and slid a pass wide to Rachel Wasserman, who blasted a shot past the left corner of Hillary Biehl’s net. Tagliaferri combined with Jordan Canniff and Sam Coffey to create several other chances, and it seemed as if the Nittany Lions had weathered the storm and were on their way to a winner.
Then the Wolverines broke forward, sending a cross off Linnehan’s foot and into the net to go up 1-0 with eight minutes remaining. The goal should have been ruled offside — Surra Yekka, the attacker behind Linnehan, was in an offside position and clearly effected the run of play. But the goal stood, and Penn State hearts appeared to be broken.
Tagliaferri picked up where she left off. The midfielder burst into the box less than a minute later, turning and forcing Skylar Anderson to bring her down in the penalty area. Coffey blasted the ensuing penalty kick into the upper-right corner of Biell’s net, sending the match to overtime.
There, only three minutes into the first period, the junior collected the ball just behind midfield in her own half. She looked up, and spotting the streaking run of lightning-fast Payton Linnehan, sprayed a perfectly weighted, volleyed through ball that dropped directly into the freshman’s path. Linnehan read the bounce perfectly, calmly lofting a chipped shot over the onrushing Biell and into an open net to win the match and the title for the Nittany Lions.
The Nittany Lions ran from the touchline to congratulate the freshman star, who has already become one of the most threatening attacking options for Penn State in her first season. Shea Moyer and Ally Schlegel pretended to shine her right cleat before kissing it. Kaleigh Riehl, captain and the all-time minutes leader among Division I outfield players, lifted the trophy with a smile on her face. And Penn State, winning its ninth straight match to complete an improbable campaign comeback, marched on into NCAA tournament season.
Player of the Match
Frankie Tagliaferri| Junior|Midfielder
Quiet throughout the first half of Sunday’s match, Tagliaferri appeared when Penn State needed her most on attack and defense. Her offensive drives produced momentum-shifting moments, including a penalty and an assist, and ultimately provided the final pass and touch that Penn State has struggled to find throughout the season.
Penn State will now move on to compete in the Division I National Championship as a conference title winner, and will receive its seeding at Monday’s selection.
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