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No. 8 Penn State Women’s Soccer Pushes Past No. 16 TCU 1-0

No. 8 Penn State women’s soccer returned to Jeffrey Field to host the TCU Horned Frogs Sunday, winning the top-25 matchup 1-0.

Following a successful road trip to West Virginia, the Nittany Lions seem to have figured out what works. The unit utilized a quick counterattack and oppressively cut out passing lanes to control a physical game and consistent pressure from the Horned Frogs.

Kaitlyn MacBean’s game-winner felt inevitable as Penn State took over in the second half and sailed past its opponents without conceding a goal.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions started the game in a 4-4-2, giving the starting nod to the in-form, redshirt sophomore Kaitlyn MacBean to play alongside Payton Linnehan on attack.

Penn State got on the gas pedal early, earning a corner kick in the first minute of play. The cross, directed at Mieke Schiemann, connected with the post before being cleared. A second corner attempt in the first minute was directed toward the goal by MacBean, but the shot was lost in traffic and didn’t make it to the net.

TCU got a chance of its own in the fifth minute with a cross in from the left that Horned Frog attacker Seven Castain couldn’t put a solid header on. The Nittany Lions ended up clearing the zone without much trouble following the missed strike.

Castain regained the attacking box for TCU after a threaded pass from Remini Tillotson burned the backline with 38 minutes to play. Still, goalkeeper Katherine Asman had just enough reach to keep the game level and deflect the well-placed shot from finding the bottom corner.

TCU noticeably slowed the pace of play as the 10-minute mark passed, choosing to retreat with the ball when pressed and prioritize possession. Keeping the Nittany Lions off the ball proved to be a solid plan to defend against Linnehan and Co., producing a lengthy stretch of play without an opportunity for the blue and white. The Horned Frogs didn’t make much progress either, though, as the ball pinged around their backline and midfield without any forward momentum.

The Nittany Lions finally took meaningful possession back from the Horned Frogs in the 20th minute and subbed in Amelia White for Linnehan to freshen up the attack. Penn State threatened to break the ice with 22 minutes to play as Wiesner streaked into the attack from left back. Her low cross couldn’t connect with either forward, though, as the backfilling Horned Frog defense congested the box to keep the game even at 0-0.

Wiesner continued to push the tempo up the wing and take advantage of the void left by an overly central defense as she dished cross after cross on a platter to her attackers. A consistently physical defensive effort kept the forwards from receiving the passes, but the official started to take note and punish the aggressive play as Gracie Brian was shown a yellow card following a scuffle at midfield.

Both sides made a number of substitutions during this stretch of play to switch up the standstill and keep energy high on the field. Notable moves for Penn State include installing Rebecca Cooke in an attacking midfield role as well as checking in Michela Agresti and Lapi Rowan to refresh the holding midfield and defense.

TCU held a golden opportunity to push ahead with six minutes to play in the first half as Sandra Jakobsen received a pass at the top of the penalty area. Cori Dyke managed to wrap around the attacker and stuff the shot with a clinical slide tackle before Asman pounced on the rebound to rebuff the sure goal.

On the counterattack, Cooke dribbled the ball through midfield with purpose as Nittany Lions filled the box to wait for her pass, but she was cut down from behind. Marli Galdamez was shown a yellow for the foul, but the opportunity lost its teeth after the pause.

Julia Raich and Olivia Damico checked in for the final five minutes of the half, giving fresh legs to the squad on a hot State College day. Following the move, both teams shared possession as the ball bounced around midfield, and the half expired with a score of 0-0.

Penn State returned to the field after halftime with the majority of its starting lineup back on patrol. The Nittany Lions were quick to push the pace of play with long lead passes. The first for Borgen was called offside, but Linnehan received the second feed with space in the box less than a minute later. She opted for the slow roller, slotting the ball past Lauren Kellett, but her shot ricocheted off the post and stayed put for TCU to clear the line.

Damico was next for the Nittany Lions to push the cage, this time chasing a lead pass deep into the box. The run resulted in a three-player crash after Kellett’s brave dive toward the ball. Damico received a yellow after the collision, though.

Penn State’s downhill momentum extended to the midfield and defenders as well as its players charged into passing lanes and met heavy touches with strong challenges. The official thought the effort was a little too headstrong, though, and after chatting with Alonso following a foul gave her a yellow card.

TCU looked to have righted the ship following the referee’s admonishment of Penn State’s defense, finally pushing the ball into the box with control. Asman and her center backs held strong against the newfound push and easily contained the high-arcing crosses and penalty-baiting keep-away employed by TCU.

Penn State saw a second wind as cloud cover finally sheltered the field from the beating sun. The side looked instantly refreshed, especially when Cooke returned to the field in the 67th minute. Raich almost set up the go-ahead goal with the ball at her feet in the area. She sent the ball to Linnehan with speed, who deftly tapped it forward with her back to the goal, but the shot didn’t have the pace to beat Kellett.

Gracie Brian conceded a foul right outside the box in the 70th minute, luckily avoiding picking up her second yellow of the game, but gifting the Nittany Lions with a 20-yard opportunity. Dyke struck the ball well, but it grazed the top of the net and left the play with no scraps for the attackers in the box to feed on.

Tensions finally bubbled over after a questionable call on Lapi stirred Jeffrey Field into a frenzy with 18 minutes to play. She was granted a yellow card, but continued comments from Horned Frog coach Eric Bell earned the bench a yellow card as well.

Penn State, spurred on by the crowd, doubled down on its advance in the 76th minute. A cross by Wiesner stayed up and over Kellett’s gloves to land at Raich’s feet. She crossed it the other way, this time to MacBean, who rose up above the entire Horned Frog defense to put a powerful header in the bottom right corner of the net and push the Nittany Lions ahead 1-0.

Asman was called upon to defend the lead with 12 to play, saving AJ Hennessey’s quality shot with a simple trap against the ground. The Horned Frogs continued to push the net, earning a threatening corner with three minutes to play. A compact, parked, Penn State defense didn’t look threatened with the set piece, nor TCU’s follow-up attempts at entering the penalty area. The Nittany Lions chose to boot the ball back to Kellett and force the team in purple to chase it down, effectively defanging whatever comeback the Horned Frogs could muster. The final score would be sealed at 1-0 for Penn State.

Takeaways

  • The Nittany Lions were quick to jump on the offensive, sending two quality shots on net in the first few minutes. After their opponents decided to maintain possession, though, it didn’t seem that Penn State could find an answer until the Horned Frogs changed their minds. Once the Nittany Lions returned to holding the ball, though, they looked as deadly as ever.
  • Penn State utilized its skilled outside backs, Ellie Wheeler and Wiesner, to start its attacks through the first half. Playing against an ultra-defensive side, the lofted threats were a good option to siege the populated box.
  • Penn State’s confidence out of the tunnel through the first 15 minutes of the second half was undeniable. They dominated possession and pushed the ball upfield into dangerous areas at will. The offensive unit produced five shots and kept the Horned Frog backline in a visible panic through the start of the period.
  • Amid jawing and pushing with the Horned Frogs, earning some questionable fouls, and missing out on others, the Nittany Lions kept their cool and maintained order on the field. The consistently smart passes and deliberate runs started to make serious headway against a now overly aggressive TCU defense that seemed to only see red. Kaitlyn MacBean’s game-winner looked to have been scored, in part, due to the over-pursuit of the entire TCU backline that left the forward open for the cross-back.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will continue their tour of the Big 12 when they welcome UCF to Jeffrey Field on Thursday, August 31. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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About the Author

Jack Scott

Jack is a junior industrial engineering major from Pittsburgh, PA. Sometimes, he enjoys the misunderstanding of his friends and family that Penn State Club Ski Racing may be a D1 sport and usually won't correct them. Jack is way too into Thundercat for his own good. Follow him on Twitter @joscottIV and Instagram @jackscott._iv

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