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No. 6 Penn State Women’s Soccer Breezes Past Monmouth 4-1

No. 6 Penn State women’s soccer (5-0-1) defended Jeffrey Field Sunday with a 4-1 win over Monmouth (1-3-0).

After the Nittany Lions took an early lead in the opening five minutes on a Cori Dyke penalty shot, Riley Gleason and Olivia Borgen tacked on goals to put the Nittany Lions up 3-0 by the fifteenth minute. Penn State dumped the bench around the 30th minute, paving the way for Elle Kershner and Olivia Damico to team up for a goal of their own. The Nittany Lions conceded a late goal on a defensive miscue but held on to take the victory.

How It Happened

Penn State had its starting lineup figured out, fielding a 4-4-2 with Katherine Asman between the sticks. Kaitlyn MacBean joined Payton Linnehan on the attack while Dyke and Gleason set up to control the midfield.

The Nittany Lions quickly secured possession from the Hawks following kickoff, immediately tilting the field towards their opponents and getting their attack online early. A shot by MacBean couldn’t find its target in the 2nd minute but Penn State retained possession with some aerial domination on the goal kick.

Linnehan dribbled into the box in the fifth minute and feigned left before cutting right. She shook defender Lauren Bruno, but Bruno tripped her up on her way past giving the Nittany Lions a penalty shot. Dyke was called on to take the shot and she slotted it home to give Penn State an early 1-0 lead.

30 seconds later, Eva Alonso and Gleason played some give-and-go to advance the play back into the penalty box. Alonso found Linnehan waiting in the box, who quickly crossed the ball back across to Gleason. She fired it home to score her first goal of the season and push Penn State’s lead to 2-0 only five and a half minutes into the game.

Penn State continued to hold the majority of possession through the first fifteen minutes, taking advantage of Monmouth’s insistence to play long balls to its wingers. Kate Wiesner and Ellie Wheeler were more than happy to track the attackers down and turn them aside, usually winning the ball outright.

In the 14th minute, Linnehan charged after a heavy pass that looked sure to beat her to the end line. She managed to keep it in play and put the ball through her defender’s legs as she brushed by her. Linnehan then crossed it high into the box, hoping to find MacBean, but a swarm of Monmouth defenders kept her from making a play on the ball. Borgen was all alone at the far post following the migration of the Hawks backline, and after controlling the ball, she put it away for the 3-0 goal.

With 22 to play in the half, Penn State gave its substitutes time on the field, swapping in Kaelyn Wolfe, Amelia White, Damico, Julia Raich, and Rebecca Cooke. The fresh legs kept Monmouth locked into their own half when on the ball, its only opportunity in the following 10 minutes coming from a long attempt on Marisa Tava’s boot that missed the net.

In the meanwhile, the Nittany Lions continued to poke and prod the Monmouth defenders, not satisfied with their three-goal lead and looking for openings on goal. As the blue and white got more aggressive, it brought more and more personnel on the attack.

With 11 to play in the first half, Monmouth took advantage of the lack of Nittany Lion defenders with a quick counterattack that saw Loren Gehret open on top of the box. She sent a powerful curler towards the cage but Asman snagged it out of the air to keep the clean sheet.

As play passed the ten-minute mark in the half, it was clear that Monmouth had acclimated to the pace of play and became more comfortable on defense. Despite its best efforts, Penn State’s side was unable to penetrate the Hawk backline like it used to, regularly conceding possession just as it looked to enter the box. The Nittany Lions won the ball back in a few touches every time though, unwilling to part with the ball for long. The half would come to a quiet close with the Nittany Lions taking a 3-0 lead into the locker room.

Penn State returned from the tunnel with a renewed motivation for the goal, taking back the opening kickoff in short order and sending the ball to a streaking White. She corralled the ball down the left wing and put a powerful shot on net from up close but goalie Cassandra Coster put a glove on it and sent the ball out of play.

In the 49th minute, Penn State broke through again, this time on Kershner’s boots. Her shot was blocked deep in the box and stayed up for grabs at the goal mouth for Damico but a sliding defender kept the ball out of the net.

Kershner and Damico teamed up again five minutes later as Kershner waded through three tackle attempts with the ball glued to her foot. Creating the one-on-one look with the goalie, she baited Coster forwards before zipping the ball to Damico who scored on the open goal to push Penn State’s lead to 4-0 with 35 minutes left to play.

In the 65th minute, the Nittany Lions further rotated their side with Kara Ogden and Ava Minnier checking in for their first runs of the season. With 20 to play, Amanda Poorbaugh took over in net, marking the final Penn State starter leaving play to join the cheering section at the bench.

Monmouth created a dangerous opportunity with 17 minutes left in the half, finding Julia Evernham flying down the left wing. She settled the ball at the top of the box and crossed it towards Maddison Perna, but her first touch shot was blocked in traffic and the following corner kick was cleared out quickly.

Penn State’s depth squad had sights for goal but its eyes were often bigger than its appetite. The blue and white struggled with miss-kicks, miscommunication, and forced the ball into non-existent windows where Monmouth would easily win the ball back. The Nittany Lions were caught out after Ogden tried to play a back pass to the center backs, but Gehret was quick and plucked the pass off its line. She dribbled past Poorbaugh and let the ball roll into the net to cut Penn State’s lead to 4-1 in the 80th minute.

Penn State had one last chance on goal as Kershner approached the box and stared down three defenders with two minutes to play. She feigned two of them and opened up to shoot, but was blocked by the last line of defense and couldn’t get the shot on net. The game would expire 4-1 for Penn State.

Takeaways

  • The Nittany Lions proved how disciplined they are on defense, showing patience and caution on tackles while knowing that their teammates are near to help with the challenge. Only conceding six fouls to Monmouth’s 12 helped Penn State maintain possession for five to ten minutes at a time.
  • Though skilled, it’s clear that the Nittany Lion substitutes need a little bit more time to gain chemistry with each other. They allowed Monmouth to dictate the last half hour of play and couldn’t get much brewing in the attacking ed.
  • Kershner looked dominant after being subbed in at the 37th minute. She was the spark the substitutes needed to get in on goal, creating multiple quality chances with her ability to retain the ball through contact.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions return to Jeffrey Field on Thursday evening to close their out-of-conference slate with a match against Princeton. Kickoff is set for 7:30.

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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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