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Penn State Women’s Soccer Focusing On Recovery Ahead Of Big Ten Play

On Thursday night, Penn State women’s soccer earned its fifth win of the season with a 2-1 victory over a talented Liberty squad. It was the Nittany Lions’ final non-conference match and the end of a long stretch of games and travel.

The team traveled to West Long Branch, New Jersey, to match up against Monmouth on Sunday, August 28, and the following Thursday, the Nittany Lions kicked off in Southern California against then-No. 12 Stanford. Three days later, Penn State closed out its California tour with a 1-0 win over Santa Clara before traveling back to Happy Valley.

Head coach Erica Dambach elaborated on the toll the travel took on her team following its match against Liberty. Although she acknowledged the team’s fatigue, she noted that she was proud of its result considering the circumstances.

“This group’s tired. It was never going to be pretty tonight,” Dambach said. “We had to find a way to win ugly, and to me, that’s the sign of a good team.”

While it might’ve been an “ugly win,” Penn State midfielder Cori Dyke tallied her first career goal in the 82nd minute off a set piece from teammate Penelope Hocking. Dyke, who plays at the center defensive midfield position, is essentially the channel that all offensive momentum flows through.

“Cori Dyke’s the franchise,” said Dambach. “As you can see tonight, sometimes she plays all sorts of different roles, but ultimately the play goes through her. We go as she goes.”

The senior set the Nittany Lions’ tempo on the pitch in the second half, despite their weariness, and pulled out a win heading into a week-long break before Big Ten play.

Dyke spoke about her goals during the break before Penn State’s Big Ten road opener against Indiana on Sunday, September 18.

“We’re going to use that [time] to recover,” Dyke said. “We’ll go over film, look to fine-tune some things, learn from this game, learn from all of our past opponents, and then it’s all eyes on Indiana.”

Penn State’s current record is 5-1-1 on the season, similar to its 5-1 record this time last year before heading into the Big Ten season. Dambach emphasized that it’s important to test her team’s boundaries before kicking off conference competition.

“If we’re going to be good come the end of the season, we have to know what our limits are, and these guys were pulled and stretched,” Dambach said. “Tonight — mentally, physically, emotionally — these guys were exhausted. It’s a good judge of character.”

With their limits in mind, the Nittany Lions have an opportunity to recharge before taking on Indiana. And, in the meantime, Dambach encouraged her players “to be college students.”

“I think right now it’s giving these guys a mental and physical break and letting them enjoy a Penn State weekend,” said Dambach. “That’s what we need right now, they need to be college students because we’ve been grinding.”

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a senior from Richmond, Virginia, majoring in journalism. She's an associate editor and talks about awesome stuff on our podcast, Podward State, too. You can usually find her on a porch, but if not, feel free to contact Keeley on Twitter @keeleylammm or [email protected].

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