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No. 6 Penn State Women’s Soccer Shuts Out Princeton 3-0

No. 6 Penn State women’s soccer (6-0-1) blanked Princeton (3-1-1) at home this Thursday with a score of 3-0.

The Nittany Lions were a force to be reckoned with after the starting whistle, containing the play to Princeton’s half and earning an early free kick. Mieke Schiemann flicked it home to give Penn State an early 1-0 lead that it’d take to the half. After intermission, the blue and white forced the issue again, this time from the corner where once more Schiemann directed it goalwards. An Olivia Borgen insurance goal sealed the deal, seeing the Nittany Lions finish their out-of-conference schedule undefeated.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions fielded their trademark 4-4-2 with familiar strike partners Payton Linnehan and Kaitlyn MacBean heading up the attack. Katherine Asman took position between the pipes with Eva Alonso and Schiemann centering the defensive line.

Penn State almost struck first in the third minute when Borgen played a crafty pass to Linnehan that split the Tigers’ defensive pairing and set up a one-on-one with the goalie. Keeper Tyler McCamey closed the distance quickly, forcing Linnehan to push the ball outside but her touch was too strong and Princeton won the ball back.

Princeton tried its hand with a shot seven minutes into the half on the boot of Aria Nagai. It was a far attempt but it still challenged Asman to dive after it. She secured it with a trap against the ground and kept the game level at 0-0.

In the eighth minute, Zoe Markesini was caught holding Linnehan’s jersey, presenting the Nittany Lions with a mid-range free kick. Alonso took it cleanly, lofting the ball into the box where a diving Mieke Schiemann hammered it home. The redirect caught McCamey out of position and the shot hit the twine for the 1-0 goal with 38 to play.

As play continued early on, both teams held possession for extended stretches of play, settling outside of their respective boxes and poking the defense for openings. Princeton earned a premium free kick about five yards from the box after Alonso tripped up Pietra Tordin in an aggressive challenge. The Tiger set piece landed squarely in Asman’s gloves, ending the threat with 32 minutes to play.

Penn State had an opportunity to double their lead with 25 minutes to play in the first half as two consecutive corner kicks resulted in Linnehan receiving the ball in space. She fired a howitzer at the top of the goal but McCamey stretched just far enough to push the ball over the crossbar and keep the score 1-0.

With 20 minutes left in the half, the Nittany Lions switched to a 4-3-3 formation, pushing Linnehan to the left wing, pulling Borgen up to the right wing, and keeping MacBean in the striker role. Coach Erica Dambach wanted more speed on the pitch in the 28th minute, subbing in the pacey Amelia White to play wing for Borgen.

Thirty-three minutes into the half, Princeton caught a break as it lofted a ball high into Penn State’s backline. A contested header saw the ball bounce into the box where Lexi Hiltunen controlled it but she couldn’t put the ball on net. A quick challenge by Cori Dyke won the ball back easily. Dyke played hero again two minutes later, locking off Madison Curry from receiving a dangerous ball in the box before turning it and pushing possession back to her midfield.

Princeton kept the pressure up, holding the ball in and around Penn State’s defensive box. A cutting pass to Kayla Wong forced Rebecca Cooke to break up the play, but in doing so she gave the Tigers another threatening free kick with seven minutes to play in the half. This time, the set piece went to Marissa Hart but she was unable to head the ball with power and Asman snagged it out of the air.

For the final five minutes of the first half, the ball pinged between midfielders and didn’t worry either keeper. The score held 1-0 for the Nittany Lions going into intermission.

The Nittany Lions came out of the tunnel swinging as MacBean dribbled through the Tiger defense and fired low on the cage. The shot was deflected out of play for a corner kick. Riley Gleason lined up over the ball and curled it towards the near post where Schiemann jumped up to flick it onto the back post and into the net for her second goal of the match, the score 2-0 for Penn State a minute into the second half.

Penn State survived a pair of fouls as both Kate Wiesner and Kaelyn Wolfe were warned in their own half after strong challenges. The aerial defense was dominant for the blue and white, though, rebuffing both set pieces without a fuss.

The Nittany Lions no longer looked threatened by the Tiger offense, now inviting their go-to long ball into a trap. By staggering its backline and doubling the receiver, Penn State was able to absorb the ball and peel off the attacker, effectively neutralizing the attempt.

With 30 minutes to play in the match, Penn State made a pair of substitutions, with Schiemann checking out for Alonso and ending her day with a brace, while Julia Raich entered the midfield for Lapi Rowan. The refreshed midfield and back line would be tasked with a long defense as the Tigers became more comfortable on the ball and refused to give it up for long.

Penn State created a quick counterattack opportunity in the 67th minute, winning the ball on a botched throw-in and quickly gaining the box. Natalie Wilson and MacBean created a flurry of shots but they couldn’t beat the keeper. After the ensuing goal kick, Wilson was granted a second chance as she received a perfect cutting pass behind the Princeton lines. She deftly steered it around McCamey who was well outside the box, but with a low angle and closing defenders, she wasn’t able to put a shot on the open cage, hitting the post.

The Tigers tried desperately to create offense as the game eclipsed the 70th minute, forcing the ball into the Nittany Lions’ half quicker and quicker with each possession. Princeton’s shot selection suffered too, and though it forced Asman to make saves by putting the strikes on target, the distances made the saves all too easy.

Princeton had a golden opportunity to claw back into the game with 13 minutes to play as Hart sent an incisive cross into the box. Hiltunen corralled the pass and fired on Asman at point-blank range. Though the offside flag was already raised, Asman’s unreal reaction time kept the ball clear of the net.

Penn State absorbed an unreal amount of pressure from the Tigers as they hunted for a goal, but as Princeton committed more players to the offense, the Nittany Lion counterattack looked even more dangerous. With six minutes left in the game, Alonso won the ball back from Princeton deep in her defensive half and whipped it far in front to Borgen. She tracked it down and chipped the keeper for the 3-0 insurance goal.

Penn State parked the bus in the final five minutes, content to let Princeton spin its wheels as the game expired. The score remained 3-0 for Penn State.

Takeaways

  • As in its past matchups, Penn State pushed the tempo from the opening whistle and earned a goal early. After swapping formations in the 30th minute though, Princeton looked much more in control as they slowed the pace of play and pinned Penn State in its own half with a high-pressing midfield. Asman’s four saves kept the Nittany Lions out of trouble during the siege.
  • Penn State has found its set-piece star in Schiemann. The junior defender is an aerial ace and has scored a number of clutch goals this season including two today and the game-winner against UCF.
  • The last time Penn State carried an unbeaten record through its out-of-conference slate was in 2005. That squad finished 23-0-2 and played in the Women’s College Cup. This campaign is in good company.

What’s Next?

Penn State begins its conference slate on Friday, September 15 with a home match against Maryland. Kickoff is set for 6 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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