No. 5 Penn State Women’s Soccer Beats No. 19 Saint Louis 4-3 In Second Round Of NCAA Tournament, Advances To Elite Eight
No. 2-seeded Penn State women’s soccer (16-2-4, 6-1-3 Big Ten) beat No. 6-seeded Saint Louis (19-3-2, 9-0-1 Atlantic 10) 4-3 in overtime in the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen on Sunday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions jumped to a 2-0 start but crawled their way back to a 4-3 victory in overtime on a sunny, windy day at Jeffrey Field.
How It Happened
Tensions were high to begin in the game, and nothing else was expected with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line. Physicality was a big factor between these teams before they settled into the matchup.
The first scoring opportunity for either team came as Kate Wiesner sent a pass near the penalty area for Payton Linnehan, who has four goals in Penn State’s last two games, but Linnehan rocketed it just left of the goal.
A few minutes later, Olivia Borgen nearly netted one for Penn State from the right side of the box, but it soared wide of the left post.
Penn State’s continued to control the possession and take its time with the ball.
In the 22nd minute, Ellie Wheeler put a pass from outside the box onto the chest of Kaitlyn MacBean in front of the net. MacBean controlled the pass and put one off her right foot past the outstretched arms of Saint Louis goalkeeper Emily Puricelli.
Less than two minutes later, MacBean did it again. While dribbling the ball in from the left corner, she danced around a defender and without missing a stride, let a shot fly.
The ball beat Puricelli again to the right side of the net, and MacBean’s ninth goal of the season gave Penn State an early 2-0 lead.
A brace for Bean pic.twitter.com/z4gZiWlde0— Onward State (@OnwardState) November 19, 2023
The blue and white had some more chances after going up by two goals, all of which came via the sharing of the ball between attackers. Despite its early possession struggles, the Billikens, who haven’t lost since August 31, found their stride.
With just under 15 minutes remaining in the first half, Katie Houck sent a cross from near the right corner flag to a cutting Hannah Larson.
Making a run at the net, Larson was unguarded, and from inside the six yard box, she stuck it past goalkeeper Katherine Asman to cut Penn State’s lead in half.
A Kaelyn Wolfe shot that hit the post and a pair of Puricelli saves kept Saint Louis from going down 3-1 before halftime.
The opening 45 minutes came to a close with Penn State on top 2-1. Despite having 10 shots compared to the Billikens’ two, the lead was just a goal for Erica Dambach’s team.
The second half began in a more balanced way, and neither team established lasting possessions or major scoring opportunities.
However, in the 65th minute, Saint Louis found its chance. Emily Gaebe weaved through traffic in the middle of the box, sent a slow bouncer on goal, and watched it trickle past Asman to tie the game at 2-2.
Just over six minutes later, Larson was fouled by Rowan Lapi just outside the top right corner of the box, setting up a free kick. Larson lifted the ball to the top left corner of the net, and it soared past a diving Asman just under the crossbar, giving Saint Louis its first lead of the game at 3-2.
In the 74th minute, MacBean dribbled through three defenders and nearly connected on her third goal of the game, but hit the post. Then, in the 79th minute, a foul in the box as Wiesner entered it set Penn State up for a penalty shot.
After moments of gathering herself with a silent crowd at Jeffrey Field looked on, Cori Dyke was set for the kick. She ran up and sent the ball to the bottom right, where it was met by Puricelli’s hands. A golden opportunity to tie the game for Penn State was shut down by the Atlantic 10 Conference Goalkeeper of the Year.
Penn State wasn’t done, though. In the 87th minute, Wheeler was fouled about 10 yards outside the box, and Dyke set herself up to take the free kick.
With “We Are” chants raining down from the stands, Dyke lofted it into the air to the middle of the box, where both teams looked up for the ball. Mieke Schiemann jumped above the cluster of players, got her head on the ball and directed it into the back of the net to tie the game at 3-3.
Regular time came to a close with the game still knotted up, and this crazy game wasn’t over yet. It was time for two 10 minute overtime periods.
Fatigue became evident on the pitch, as two minutes into the first overtime, Wiesner was down on one knee when the back-and-forth running finally got to her, but she decided to remain in the game after a brief moment of stoppage.
Eva Alonso almost headed Penn State to a lead in the first overtime’s fifth minute but put it far too high.
Three minutes later, Borgen, sprinting to the box put a light touch directly onto the right foot of Linnehan, who was heavily marked by two defenders. Despite the tight defense, Linnehan received the pass, switched the ball to her left foot to get around a diving Puricelli, and scored her third goal of the NCAA Tournament to put Penn State up 4-3.
The clock wound down after a short break, the second overtime began. The Nittany Lions were 10 minutes away from a comeback win and advancement to the Elite Eight.
The offense of Saint Louis went full throttle as the clock ticked, but Asman was there for every one of the Billikens’ shots.
Asman and Penn State continued to hold off all of Saint Louis’ attempts and won the hard-fought game 4-3.
- The offensive trio of Borgen, Linnehan, and MacBean was very effective when sharing the ball in this game. When the three of them exited the game in the second half, the Billikens scored two goals in the span of 6:05.
- There was no quit in the Nittany Lions today. After going up 2-0, they allowed three straight goals found themselves in a hole for the first time in the NCAA Tournament. However, they found a way to bounce back and regain a lead before winning the game.
- As Penn State looks ahead to its first Elite Eight in five years, it desperately needs rest. The team was fatigued today, and for good reason after this battle. Luckily, it has five days to regain energy and prepare for the quarterfinals.
Penn State will face the winner of No. 1-seeded Clemson and No. 4-seeded Georgia in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals on Friday, November 24 or Saturday, November 25. The exact date, time, and location have to be announced. It’s the Nittany Lions’ 14th Elite Eight appearance in program history.
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