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Penn State Women’s Soccer Takes Down Wisconsin 1-0 In Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals

No. 6-seeded Penn State women’s soccer (11-4-3, 5-3-2 Big Ten) knocked off third-ranked Wisconsin (11-5-3, 6-4-1 Big Ten) 1-0 in the opening round of Big Ten tournament play.

After scoring three goals against the Badgers on October 13, the Nittany Lions got off to a much slower, defensive start against a stout Wisconsin backline, resulting in a scoreless opening half for both squads.

Similar storylines reigned true for much of the second half until Ally Schlegel took over with just over 15 minutes to go. With the game on the line, the Nittany Lions’ veteran leader nabbed her 11th goal of the season to capture a game-sealing strike, leading to the 1-0 victory.

How It Happened

After taking down the Badgers 3-0 at Jeffrey Field earlier in the month, Erica Dambach’s group failed to jump out to a quick start similar to its first go-around against the familiar conference foe. Despite cultivating four shots through the opening 10 minutes of action, Penn State couldn’t shake the prowess of Wisconsin’s coveted backline.

While the Badgers’ defense appeared to be locked in from the get-go, the Nittany Lions took their shut-down identity to another level midway through the first half. Just over two minutes into the matchup, Wisconsin midfielder Natalie Viggiano notched the squad’s first shot attempt of the afternoon, but the home unit’s offensive production took a drastic dip from there.

For the next 23 minutes, the Nittany Lions buckled down by not allowing another look on the net until Izzy Verdugo answered the bell for the Badgers with a high bullet toward the chest of Katherine Asman. The veteran keeper cleaned up the attempt with ease, keeping the battle deadlocked at 0-0.

The early defense-centric theme continued until the conclusion of the opening half, with just five-combined shots between both squads until reaching the 45-minute halfway point. Amelia White proved to be a lone offensive bright spot for the Nittany Lions, who garnered two rips on goal to round out the scoreless first half.

Similarly to the first 45 minutes of play, the first sign of second-half offensive life came from Penn State midfielder Kate Wiesner, who provided Dambach’s rallying unit with a much-needed spark just over five minutes into the second half.

Opposing goalkeeper Erin McKinney cleaned up Wiesner’s calculated boot directed toward the bottom left corner of the net. From there, the Nittany Lions converted a slew of defensive stands into a few opportunities, but rips from White and Maddie Myers couldn’t shake the poise of McKinney deep in the Badgers’ territory.

The back-and-forth battle came to a quick halt with nearly 20 minutes left to go as Myers went down after a collision with the Penn State goalpost. While attempting to simply clear an opposing shot attempt, the veteran defender unexpectedly nailed her squad’s own goal, which warranted nearly 10 minutes of medical attention. Fortunately for the Michigan native, Myers was ultimately able to walk off the pitch under her own power and reenter the game about 10 minutes later.

With semifinal hopes on the line with nearly 15 minutes left to go, the Nittany Lions’ locker room leader Ally Schlegel took matters into her own hands. After coming up short on a pair of previous looks, the savvy forward converted a strike toward the lower-right corner to capture a 1-0 lead.

To end the defensive struggle, the Nittany Lions allowed just three more shots in a prevent look, allowing Dambach’s squad to advance in conference postseason play with the 1-0 road upset.

Takeaways:

  • With the game on the line, who do you call other than Ally Schlegel, folks? The veteran leader once again put Dambach’s group on her shoulders in the clutch, thanks to a game-changing strike that gave the Nittany Lions a never-look-back, 1-0 edge. If Penn State wants to make noise in a semifinal date with No. 2 Northwestern, the Nittany Lions will once again need their biggest stars to shine the brightest.
  • Katerine Asman proved to be a stonewall in the net against the Badgers. For the second time in the same campaign, the senior keeper shut Wisconsin out of the goal column for a total of 180 minutes of on-field action. In total, Asman’s performance proved to be the ninth shoutout of her super-senior stretch, which ranks top five in the conference at her position.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will take on Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 3, from Columbus Ohio. Folks can stream the matchup live on Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a junior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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