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Penn State Women’s Soccer ‘Peaking At The Perfect Time’ In NCAA Tournament Play

To no one’s surprise, Penn State women’s soccer has its dancing shoes on, and the team is heading to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Nittany Lions eased through the first round of the tournament with a 4-1 win over Quinnipiac on November 13. With a Big Ten Tournament title and history on its side, Penn State’s No. 2 seed granted head coach Erica Dambach’s squad a low-stakes opening opponent.

Kate Wiesner, Payton Linnehan, Penelope Hocking, and Cori Dyke each scored in the offensive showcase against the Bobcats and further emphasized the strength of Penn State’s power in its opponent’s final third of the field.

It’s important to note that household name and superstar Ally Schlegel was not among the goal scorers and only tallied a meager 28 minutes on the pitch. While she exited the game in an attempt to preserve her health throughout the tournament, Schlegel’s presence wasn’t hugely missed because of the talent throughout Dambach’s roster.

“I think moving into the tournament, a huge strength of ours is just how much we love each other and how much trust we have from the bottom to the top,” captain Maddie Myers said.

Twenty different Nittany Lions saw time on the field throughout the match against Quinnipiac, which highlighted the importance of roster depth and subsequently the confidence the players have in each other “from the top to the bottom.” Even backup goalkeeper Morgan Messner earned a few minutes in the net, resulting in roars of encouragement from the Penn State bench.

Depth is the backbone of the Nittany Lions’ success, and that comes in the form of super subs Amelia White, Rachel Wasserman, Olivia Smith, and Kaitlyn MacBean, just to name a few. Fresh legs in a long postseason are critical to maintaining team health and keeping high offensive performers like Schlegel and Hocking in good condition.

“Amelia [White], for one, was a complete difference maker [against Quinnipiac],” said Linnehan. “Her impact is invaluable to us.”

White started nine straight games in the midst of Big Ten play but has since transitioned into a sub role that provides a spark off the bench.

“People think that the NCAA [Tournament] comes around and you start flipping all the switches. Those switches have already been flipped,” Schlegel said.

There was no indication of hesitancy between the starting lineup or the group off the bench, and that showed that the Nittany Lions rolled into the tournament relying on experience, reserves, and confidence.

“We’re in the right place at the right time, and we’ve prepared and done the work. We’re peaking at the perfect time,” defender Jill Jennings said.

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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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