No. 7 Penn State Women’s Soccer Controls No. 13 West Virginia From Start To Finish In 2-0 Victory
No. 7 Penn State women’s soccer (4-0-0) took down No. 13 West Virginia (3-2-0) 2-0 in its first road contest of the season in Morgantown on Thursday evening.
The Nittany Lions began the matchup by delivering eight shots in the first half hour of the match, but were held out of the scoring column by the sturdy West Virginia backline. Late in the opening half, the road favorites were able to convert two goals in a quick two-minute span, including a savvy unassisted strike courtesy of Kerry Abello.
Penn State never looked back and was able to extend its shutout effort until the final whistle, allowing the top-10 squad to leave hostile Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium with an impressive 2-0 showing.
How It Happened
The action between the two regional foes began in back-and-forth fashion, but the Nittany Lions’ potent attack immediately quieted the home crowd with three quality goal-scoring opportunities in the opening minutes. The cluster of shots on goal began with Payton Linnehan sending a pinpoint cross towards Elle Kershner, who delivered a strike from her left foot, which landed hard off the right goalpost.
Erica Dambach’s squad continued to find a multitude of early chances, as Kerry Abello and Sam Coffey added a couple looks of their own, but both shots on goal landed within the arms of opposing keeper Kayza Massey. Penn State’s offensive dominance quickly shifted into a defensive scramble following a clear by the West Virginia defense.
On a breakaway opportunity, the Mountaineers came within inches of taking an early lead courtesy of attempts from Lauren Segalla and Julianne Vallerand. The two opposing forwards pestered Kat Asman within the six yard box, but Penn State’s defense was able to hold off the score.
Quickly after regaining possession, Nittany Lion forward Ally Schlegel changed the tide by producing two excellent shots inside the opposing zone. Her best look in the stretch consisted of a header that was just stopped by the outstretched arms of Massey towards the midway point in the half.
The Nittany Lion pursuit continued relentlessly, courtesy of midfielder Cori Dyke. The junior booted a long range bullet towards the top left corner, but came up empty on the look. Although the attempt finished just out of range, Penn State was rewarded with a corner kick.
On the corner kick, veteran Sam Coffey delivered a high arcing ball towards the middle of the box that was handled off the head of forward Ellie Wheeler. The sophomore’s header chance was unable to be corralled by the West Viriginia defense, and resulted in an own goal in favor of the Nittany Lions, allowing the visitors to take a late-half 1-0 advantage.
Just over a minute later, Abello found another scoring possibility on the left corner of the 18-yard box. The fifth-year senior was able to place a crafty in-and-out move on the defender, resulting in a high-flying left footed strike. This time, the veteran found the back of the net and extended the lead to a 2-0 mark.
Penn State’s offensive dominance let up with less than 10 minutes remaining in the half, leading to a multitude of West Virginia looks prior to reaching the halfway point. Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, defender Kate Wiesner saved the day by stopping a breakaway, and helped take the 2-0 lead into the locker room.
The established lead allowed Erica Dambach’s group to play defensively in the early stages of the second half. In the first twenty minutes of the period, neither team registered a shot due to the Nittany Lions’ controlling play style on the backend.
The Nittany Lions continued to coast by packing the unit into their own side of the field, which in turn limited West Virginia to just two shots in the half with 15 minutes remaining in the match.
Despite not registering a shot attempt in the final 45 minutes, Penn State was able to weather West Virginia’s final offensive push, and maintained the 2-0 lead up to the final whistle. With the win, the Nittany Lions earned their first victory of the season over a power five opponent.
Player Of The Match
Kerry Abello, Senior
The Illinois native shined under the lights by leading the way in the shot category for the Nittany Lions. On two shots, including one on goal, Abello was able to shake multiple defenders with quick, lateral changes in direction to free up space, leading to open looks.
At the 30-minute mark in the first half, Abello’s unassisted goal extended the lead to a 2-0 margin, allowing Penn State to put the contest out of reach for the overwhelmed Mountaineers.
Penn State will travel to UCF for its second leg of a three-game road stand. Kickoff from Orlando is set for 6 p.m. on Sunday, September 5.
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About the Author
We dance in 275, Penn State!
We dance in 275, Penn State!
Underwood is bringing her “The Denim & Rhinestones” tour to Happy Valley next spring.
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