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No. 4 Penn State Women’s Soccer Ties Northwestern 2-2

No. 4 Penn State women’s soccer (11-0-4, 5-0-3 Big Ten) tied Northwestern (8-4-4, 2-4-2 Big Ten) 2-2 despite playing down a player since the 24th minute.  

Penn State came out early looking to take back its solo spot as the top team in the Big Ten. It looked like the Nittany Lions were going to do just that after Olivia Borgen scored in the 18th minute to put them up 1-0. But the game was turned completely on its head when Eva Alonsa was shown a harsh red card in the 24th minute. Northeastern took advantage of the 10-player Penn State team as it scored in the 24th and the 32nd minute to take the lead. Being down to 10 women didn’t stop Penn State and just five minutes after halftime Borgen scored a beautiful goal for her second of the match, knotting the game at two.  Neither team would find another goal as the match ended 2-2.

How It Happened

Penn State chose to make no changes from its starting lineup in the last outing against Purdue. Head coach Erica Dambach stayed in the 4-5-1 formation that incorporates one extra midfielder than the typical 4-4-2 formation that the Nittany Lions normally use.  

The first opportunity came for Northwestern in the 7th minute. The Wildcats executed a very well-timed cutback that found Ella Hase’s foot inside of the 18-yard box. The subsequent shot rattled off the crossbar before Penn State cleared it. 

For the next five minutes, Penn State found its footing and took control of the ball and the game. The Nittany Lions were unable to create much from the possession though and didn’t record any shots in that span.  

When Penn State finally did get its much-deserved shot, the Nittany Lions did not waste it. Kaitlyn MacBean rolled the ball perfectly to Borgen who took a shot on her first touch, placing it past the keeper. Penn State led 1-0 in the 19th minute.  

Northwestern did not go away after being down, and following the goal it was the Wildcats’ turn to get some opportunities. All they lacked was the final product, and like Penn State, had a tough time turning possession into concrete chances. 

Eventually, the Penn State defense lost some concentration, and Eva Alonso had to pull down a Northwestern attacker to stop her from having a one-on-one with the Penn State keeper, Kat Asman.  

The referee went to a VAR check but concluded Alonso had conceded a penalty and earned a red card. Alonso had to leave the field after the harsh decision and Penn State had to play with 10 women for the rest of the match. 

The player that stepped up for the Wildcats was Hase. She put the ball on the right side of the net and equalized the game in the 24th minute on her ninth goal of the season.  

Dambach decided to make a change now that she only had 10 women to work with. Olivia Damico was taken off for ex-Northwestern midfielder Rowan Lapi. 

Northwestern, now up a player, gained confidence and held onto most of the ball. The first chance it had after the red card did not take long, as Caterina Regazzoni took a fast shot from outside of the box forcing a save from Asman. 

With 13 minutes to go in the first half, Hase would put Northwestern up 2-1 after a nice finish. She was tightly marked once again except this time she was not taken down and made no mistake on the finish. The goal was assisted by Aurea Del Carmen who sent the ball to Hase from just to the left of the box.  

The final 10 minutes were more of the same, as the Wildcats took advantage of the extra player and rarely gave Penn State even a look at the ball. The match went into halftime with the Nittany Lions down 2-1.  

Coming out of halftime Penn State’s formation showed it was not about to accept defeat. The Nittany Lions left the back four but moved one of their pivots up the field to have a little more attacking presence. Cori Dyke was the player that stayed in the holding midfielder position. 

In the 50th minute, the change in formation paid off as Penn State knotted up the game from an awesome individual display from Borgen. Borgen proved her strength as she fought off a Northwestern defender and then also showed off her accuracy as she found the perfect top left of the net which was the only spot the ball could have gone. 

The goal opened the game up as Penn State now felt like it had a chance to win, and Northwestern realized this would not be easy even if up a player. Within the next five minutes, both teams had chances to take the lead, but neither could take advantage.  

With 33 minutes remaining in the match, Penn State brought on Riley Gleason for Natalie Wilson. Off the back of the substitution, Mieke Schiemann tried to play MacBean past the Wildcat backline, but the ball was too short for MacBean, and Northwestern took back control. 

Despite the Nittany Lions’ newfound confidence, Northwestern still outshot Penn State. Going into the 63rd minute the Wildcats had 20 shots to Penn State’s four. The shots were well-defended by Asman and the rest of the Penn State defense up to this point, which kept the Nittany Lions in the game.  

Julia Raich went down and needed to be subbed off in the 63rd minute. Raich had played the whole game up to that point and she was fatigued from having to play down a player. Kaelyn Wolfe was put on to fill in her place. 

One of Penn State’s best opportunities to take the lead came with 25 minutes remaining. A handball from Northwestern led to a corner won for the Nittany Lions. The ball was whipped in just a little bit short of the mass of Penn State players, but it eventually reached a Penn State attacker who would have made it 3-2 had it not been for a great defensive play.  

Both teams continued to look for the go-ahead goal but struggled to get anything going. Penn State was very disciplined on defense but struggled to get a chance because of the disadvantage in the number of players.  

In the 78th minute, Northwestern took one of its more dangerous shots of the half thanks to Regazzoni but Asman was able to swallow up the chance as she made another great save. That pushed her to 8 on the day.  

Asman’s ninth save of the match was not any easier as with six minutes to go as she dove left and barely got her hands on the ball, knocking it out of bounds.  

In the 84th minute, Northwestern was shown its first card of the game when Maddie Finnerty took down a Penn State player just past midfield. The free kick that followed gave Penn State a chance to take the lead, but no one was able to get a head on a great delivery from the Nittany Lions.  

The rest of the game neither team really had any big opportunities and the game ended knotted at 2-2. Penn State remained at the top of the Big Ten table with one point from this match.


  • The Alonso red card completely changed the game, even if it was a harsh decision. Following the sending off Northwestern equalized and took the lead in under 10 minutes. From that point on, Penn State was never going to get three points from the game 
  • Asman was a huge reason the Nittany Lions did not lose the match. She faced 28 shots from the Wildcats and had a season-high 11 saves. If Asman weren’t as good as she was, this game could have gotten away from Penn State.  

What’s Next?

Penn State will come back home to Jeffery Field on Thursday, October 19, to play Indiana in another Big Ten matchup. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the match will be streamed on BTN +.

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About the Author

Collin Ward

Collin is a first-year majoring in digital/print journalism. Born in Hartford, he now lives in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. As a die-hard Chelsea FC fan you can normally find him yelling at his TV screen each weekend. To reach him, follow him on Instagram: @cward829, or email him at [email protected].

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