By Meghan Gill, Redshirt-Senior Midfielder
Another weekend and two more wins. This past weekend was a big weekend for us, as not only did we leave Michigan with two wins, but also clinched our team's 14th consecutive Big Ten Title! If you watched the game on the Big Ten Network on Sunday, you realized that we didn't celebrate our championship on the field. That was because we wanted to celebrate as a team, and since we were away we weren't able to travel everyone and celebrate as a team, we kept it subdued. Every individual brings something different and unique to this team, even if they are injured or unable to travel, and that is what has made this team so successful. So, to wait and celebrate with everyone was an easy decision for our team to make. Before I talk about this Friday's game, I will recap this weekend and how we were able to clinch the title in Michigan.
Our first game this past weekend was at Michigan State, a place we have struggled to get a win at since 2005. Yet, not only was this a game, but also a celebration of the great life of Adalin Farnum, the 9-year-old daughter of Michigan State's associate head coach Tammy Farnum, who had lost her battle with cancer earlier in the week. Before the game both teams walked out with pink balloons in hand, and after a moment of silence released the balloons in her memory. Both teams also wore armbands with her initials on them during the game to honor her. So, it was a bit of an emotional start to the game and you could definitely see that as Michigan State had something more to play for, and went up 1-0 going into halftime.
However, we knew going into the second half that we needed to come out with a lot of intensity as this is a tough place to play, but if we can match their intensity we felt we could get the goals and come out with the win. We came out in the second half refocused and looking for a "finishing frenzy!" Maya Hayes came out and scored two more goals to add to her Division 1 leading tally and Maddy Evans put her stamp on her first game back from injury with a set piece goal off a free kick. It was a very tough game but a great win and one in which we were so happy afterwards to finally be able to get a win away at Michigan State! With this win, we also knew a win on Sunday at Michigan would give us our 14th Regular Big Ten Season Championship.
Once a Penn Stater, always a Penn Stater! That saying rings true throughout our soccer team as well, as our alumni keep in touch and are constantly coming to our games throughout the country. Dani Toney, a 2010 senior, is from Northville, Michigan, and her and her family invited us over on Saturday for dinner and to hang out at their house. Anytime we can get a home cooked meal and a chance to relax on an away trip our team definitely takes advantage of these opportunities. We want to thank The Toneys for everything, from a great meal (especially Mrs. Toney's banana pudding!), a fun time, and especially the goody bags for the trip home. THANK YOU!
Knowing that we could clinch the title was all the motivation we needed as we went into the game on Sunday. This was Michigan's Senior Day, and they showed their appreciation for our seniors, announcing our seniors and giving us flowers as well. With all the motivation we needed we came out strong and had a great 90-minute game, not just a good half, but finally put it together for 90 minutes. A big key to our success was our wide play and switching the point of attack, which kept Michigan off the ball and us dictating the play. This resulted in a 4-0 win with many great goals from Taylor Schram, Maya Hayes, and Ali Schaefer. Schram's goal came off a cross from Jackie Molinda as she made a run up from right back to slot the ball across the box, Maya Hayes dummied it, and Schram placed it in the corner of the net to start another "finishing frenzy!"
The second goal came from Maya Hayes' rebound off a shot from Ali Schaefer, which put us up 2-0 going into the half. The second half was just as fun and I hope entertaining for those watching on the BTN as Maya Hayes had an amazing goal! She nutmegged one defender and split another two before finishing a low line drive past the goalie for her second goal of the game and her 25th of the year. To finish off the scoring, Ali Schaefer got control of the ball that was mis-cleared out of the box and rocketed home a shot to the far post! With the result, we clinched the Big Ten Title, but as I said, we still have one last home game against Purdue on Friday!
This Friday's game will be one you won't want to miss We will be celebrating our seniors: Ali Schaefer, Jess Rosenbluth, Krissy Tribbett, Carly Niness, Emma Thompson, and myself before the game, and our 14th Consecutive Big Ten Championship after the game! As we take the time to reflect on our years on the Penn State Women's Soccer Team, us seniors are proud to be part of the great tradition here and hope we have passed that tradition on to the underclassmen for many years to come.
We will also be hosting a halftime Halloween contest with the best costume winning a prize! So come on out and help us celebrate Senior Night and our Big Ten Championship as we continue to defend Jeffery Field against Purdue this Friday and help send us into the postseason with a win!