No. 21 Penn State Women’s Soccer Overtakes No. 6 Michigan State 3-2 To Win Big Ten Tournament Championship
No. 21 Penn State women’s soccer (13-4-3, 6-3-2 Big Ten) took down No. 6 Michigan State (16-2-3, 9-1-1 Big Ten) 3-2 on Sunday afternoon to clinch the Big Ten Tournament championship.
Despite an own goal and a missed penalty kick, Ally Schlegel and Kaitlyn MacBean scored the Nittany Lions’ three goals to pull off a comeback victory.
How It Happened
Head coach Erica Dambach rolled her go-to starting lineup against the Spartans. Penelope Hocking began the match at the central attacking midfield spot, a transition that Dambach made in the Big Ten semifinal matchup that resulted in two assists from the transfer. Aside from that change, the rest of the starting 11 formation remained the same.
Kate Wiesner released a left-footed drive about 20 yards from the goal in the first minute to test goalkeeper Lauren Kozal. Wiesner’s attempt went high of Kozal’s net but emphasized Penn State’s dominance right out of the opening whistle.
That dominance didn’t last long after the Spartans possessed in Penn State’s half for the first time and ultimately forced an own goal by Jill Jennings. Lauren DeBeau and Abby Gardiner completed two crosses inside the box, and in an attempt to clear the ball, Jennings headed the loose ball into the side netting of Katherine Asman’s goal to put Michigan State up 1-0.
Hocking and Ally Schlegel almost turned the tide of the lopsided matchup in the 15th minute on a breakaway, but Schlegel was called offside.
Hocking kept knocking on Michigan State’s door and, with the help of Schlegel and Natalie Wilson, drew a penalty kick in the 16th minute. Hocking lined up for the kick, but connected with the goalpost and didn’t convert.
Ellie Wheeler sped up the sideline and sent a cross to Schlegel in the 26th minute, but Schlegel had two defenders on her and couldn’t break off. Kozal hesitated to make a save and left the ball loose in the penalty box. Wiesner took a fast, low-driven shot that ultimately slipped just wide of the net.
Penn State drew a foul in the 37th minute to set it up for a set play just beyond midfield. Hocking passed the ball to Dyke and the senior launched a lofting cross into the box to Schiemann. Schiemann settled the ball and headed it toward the six-yard line where Kaitlyn MacBean finished the ball to tie Michigan State at 1-1.
Neither team could find the back of the net in the remaining eight minutes and both squads headed into the locker room knotted at one.
Penn State opened up the second half with momentum at its back. In the 53rd minute, Hocking and Linnehan combined to connect with a wide open Schlegel inside the penalty box. Schlegel buried a far-post shot past Kozal to take the Nittany Lions’ first lead of the game.
Lauren DeBeau responded in the 75th minute with a rocket goal of her own. The senior found space in between Penn State’s midfield and defensive lines and placed her shot just out of reach of Asman to tie the game at two.
Schlegel scored her second goal of the match in the 83rd minute from a Wilson cross. Schiemann was the original target for Wilson’s cross, but couldn’t get around it. Schlegel cleaned up the loose ball and pounded a one-time shot past Kozal to take the 3-2 lead.
Michigan State couldn’t respond to Schlegel’s goal and the Nittany Lions took the game and the championship with the 3-2 win.
Player of the Game:
Cori Dyke | Midfield
According to Erica Dambach, Cori Dyke’s “the franchise,” and that couldn’t be more true following her performance against Michigan State. The Colorado native manufactured the play to tie the Spartans at one with a heavy, lofted ball placed perfectly into the penalty box.
Aside from her “should’ve been” assist, Dyke is a machine and the midfield and every play in transition goes through her. Dyke is Penn State women’s soccer’s playmaker and she is necessary to the success of this team.
The Nittany Lions will await their seeding in the NCAA Tournament, which begins on Friday, November 11. The bracket will be released at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, November 7.
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About the Author
Kotelnicki would be James Franklin’s sixth offensive coordinator at Penn State.
The Nittany Lions are now 11-0 all time against the Bulldogs.
The Blue-White Game returned to its traditional format in 2023.