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Penn State Women’s Soccer Tops Monmouth 3-1 To Advance In NCAA Tournament

Penn State women’s soccer (12-7, 5-5 Big Ten) dominated Monmouth (15-4-2, 8-1-1 MAAC) en route to an easy win Friday night to open the NCAA Tournament.

Goals from Ally Schlegel, Payton Linnehan, and Rachel Wasserman sent the Nittany Lions to the second round of the bracket.

How It Happened

Coach Erica Dambach started a veteran group for the Nittany Lions’ first-round NCAA Tournament matchup. The senior-heavy lineup did not last long, and Dambach made several early substitutions and inserted freshmen Jilly Shimkin and Riley Gleason, who each posted a good number of minutes in the match.

The Nittany Lions were fired up right out of the gate and forced Monmouth goalkeeper Rebecca Winslow to stay alert. Sam Coffey created moments of opportunity often but was man-marked for the majority of the match.

Natalie Wilson, Kate Wiesner, and Ally Schlegel posted shots early in the match, but were off target and did not force Winslow to make saves. However, the shots kept coming and the early momentum was most definitely in favor of Penn State.

Coffey and Schlegel had a dangerous combination in the 12th minute, but Schlegel’s shot soared high over went Winslow’s net.

Monmouth forward A’liah Moore’s blistering speed was showcased a few times in the first half, but the senior often had little help from her teammates in the final third of the pitch. Because she acted as the lone high forward, Moore could not convert on her team’s opportunities with the little help she received. Freshman Mieke Schiemann was responsible for covering Moore for the majority of the first half and was highly successful.

The Nittany Lions struck first in the 25th minute. Kerry Abello beat a defender on the left wing and sent a cut-back cross directly to the forehead of Schlegel. Schlegel beat Winslow to the near-post and swiftly sent the header into the net.

Monmouth responded with a quick counterattack but could not convert as Ellie Wheeler and her defensive unit recovered nicely and forced Olivia Ramiz’s shot to go high over Kat Asman’s net.

Payton Linnehan entered the match in the 30th minute for her first minutes since September after a knee injury. Two minutes later, Linnehan was able to put a shot on goal and force a Winslow save, clearly able to move well despite her large knee brace.

Linnehan is back, folks. In the 39th minute, Kershner cut back a heavy ball from Jordan Caniff and immediately connected with Linnehan. Linnehan sent a one-touch shot past Winslow and re-entered the Nittany Lion lineup with style.

The Nittany Lions maintained the momentum for the remainder of the first half and didn’t allow any Monmouth offensive opportunities. Penn State confidently headed into the locker up two goals.

The Nittany Lions kept the pressure on to start out the second half. Schlegel and Coffey stirred up chaos for the Monmouth defense but were not able to get the ball behind Winslow. Penn State maintained consistent possession for the first 15 minutes of the second half. Monmouth was unable to create any offensive energy and looked flat coming out of the locker room.

Monmouth had its first real opportunity of the half in the 68th minute. Rachel Ludwick beat two Nittany Lion defenders and found space just outside of the penalty box, but she sent her shot high and wide of the goal.

Penn State made it 3-0 in the 75th minute. Gleason passed to Schlegel at the top of the penalty box. Rachel Wasserman slid across Schlegel’s path, pulling a Monmouth defender with her. The Monmouth defense anticipated Schlegel to take it herself, but a sneaky pass to Wasserman and a composed finish from the senior gave the Nittany Lions a final insurance goal.

Monmouth responded two minutes later with a goal of its own. Lauren Karabin connected with Rachel Ludwick who was able to sneak a powerful shot past Asman. This goal was Monmouth’s first critical offensive play of the match. The Nittany Lions were seemingly caught on their back foot after Wasserman’s goal.

Takeaways

  • This Nittany Lion lineup was cool, calm, and collected against a hot Monmouth team on a five-game winning streak. Dambach’s squad looked like the confident, winning soccer team that we know and love.
  • Ally Schlegel and Sam Coffey led the way from the get-go and set the pace for the evening. Monmouth was never able to compete with the Nittany Lions. The team’s only goal came from an impressive but uncommon counterattack. Otherwise, Penn State outshot Monmouth 21-4 during the match.
  • Perhaps the Nittany Lions knew that this game could be the end of their season, so they kicked it into high gear. Veterans Sam Coffey and Kerry Abello are nearing the end of their Penn State careers but turned in excellent performances.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will face off against the winner of Grand Canyon and No. 3 Southern California on Friday, November 19. Location and kickoff time are currently up in the air.

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a sophomore journalism major from Richmond, Virginia, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She also talks sports on our podcast, Podward State. Keeley is a lover of grilled cheese, naps, and Kevin Jonas. If you would like to discuss your thoughts on the superior Jonas Brother, feel free to contact her on Twitter @lammkeeley or send your best Spotify playlist to her email [email protected]

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