Penn State Women’s Soccer Advances Past Alabama State 5-0 In First Round Of NCAA Tournament

Penn State women’s soccer (11-2-1) calmly dispatched SWAC champion Alabama State (8-3-2) 5-0 in Cary, North Carolina Wednesday evening in the NCAA Tournament first round.

Despite Madison Roop’s best efforts in Alabama State’s goal, the Nittany Lions were ruthless in the first half. Frankie Tagliaferri scored twice, Olivia Damico and Payton Linnehan added a goal apiece, and a second half own goal led to the five-goal dismantling.

The Nittany Lions advance to play No. 16 Vanderbilt in the second round this weekend.

How It Happened

Head coach Erica Dambach pulled no punches in the starting lineup, despite lining up against inferior opposition.

The Nittany Lions got off to their expected start: on the front foot, dominating possession, and creating chances.

However, it was the Madison Roop show in the early going. The freshman goalkeeper for Alabama State stood on her head for the first quarter hour, withstanding a half-dozen shots before finally conceding in the 18th minute.

Frankie Tagliaferri got things started for Penn State off of a deflected shot. It seemed as if the Nittany Lions needed an easy tap in to get off the mark, because the team began playing with loads of confidence after the opening goal.

The second goal came eight minutes later off of a beautiful team move. Sam Coffey, Ally Schlegel, Payton Linnehan, and the rest of the Nittany Lions walked the ball downfield in a way that the 2010 Spanish national team would be proud of.

The finishing touch was provided by Tagliaferri once again, a tap in from about the same distance as her first to take the 2-0 lead.

Penn State had trouble timing the runs of Ally Schlegel and the other forwards early in the first half, leading to a handful of offside calls.

However, the team finally got it right in the 29th minute.

Sam Coffey played a deep ball to the onrushing Linnehan, who cooly beat Roop for the third. Four minutes later, Elle Kershner played a cross to Olivia Damico, who scored her first Nittany Lion goal to increase the lead to 4-0.

The Nittany Lions went to the locker room 4-0, and came out a bit lackadaisically. After Alabama State got a few early attempts, however, Dambach’s squad took control once again.

It was a classic soccer performance seen all over the globe. The dominant team stomped inferior opposition early, then played the possession game in the second 45 minutes.

The Nittany Lions did get their chances, although lacked a lot of finishing quality. Between Roop’s saves and the goalposts, Alabama State didn’t have to pick the ball out of its own net again until the 74th minute, this time coming from an own goal off of Elle Kershner’s attempted cross.

After a heartbreaking defeat to Iowa in the Big Ten semifinals, the Nittany Lions proved they could bounce back. This weekend’s matchup with the Commodores will be a blockbuster affair.

Player Of The Match

Frankie Tagliaferri | Senior |Attacking Mid

It was a cakewalk for the Nittany Lions, and that can be accredited to the ruthless finishing of Tagliaferri. The senior had the first two goals to set the tone, and was a factor in all of Penn State’s attacks.

What’s Next?

Penn State advances to Saturday’s Round of 32 match against No. 16 Vanderbilt. The match will kickoff at 7 p.m. in Cary, North Carolina. The streaming information is currently TBD.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He lives just north of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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