By Meghan Gill, Redshirt-Senior Midfielder
It was a great Homecoming weekend for the Penn State Women's Soccer Team as we got to tailgate with our alumni before the football game, and came away with two key wins against Nebraska and Iowa. These games were not only about competing and winning, but also to celebrate our alumni and those who have come before us who have built a winning tradition of protecting Jeffery Field. We continued that tradition this weekend and are now 7-1 in the Big Ten heading into our final three games against Michigan and Michigan State away this weekend, and our final home game Purdue on October 28th.
If you weren't at our game on Friday, you sure missed a high scoring game with nine goals between both teams! Luckily, we can say we came out on top with the win. Friday's game against Nebraska was a bit of an eye opener to what kind of team we can expect from the newest addition to the Big Ten. From the scout we knew they played an untraditional formation and were very physical as you can find with any Big Ten team, but it was going to be new to us playing against anything like them.
We got on them early with a goal in the first three minutes of the game by leading scorer Maya Hayes, yet Nebraska didn't give up without a fight. They actually took the lead 2-1, but just over a minute later Maya Hayes showed off some fabulous dribbling skills, beating three players before passing it to Taylor Schram who slotted it home to go into halftime with a score of 2-2. After halftime, we knew we had to come out fired up and go right at them to put them out of the game. Come out on fire we did, scoring two goals to take the lead 4-2.
One was an Emily Hurd rocket that knocked the goalie backwards into the net and a set piece goal by Taylor Schram from a Jess Rosenbluth free kick! Yet, those pesky Cornhuskers continued to fight and eventually tied the game up at 4-4 a piece. However, on our home field in front of our family, friends, alumni, and fans we weren't going to walk away with anything less than a win. So, in the 78th minute we buckled down on our corner kick as we work on every day in practice and freshman Whit Church put away her first collegiate goal on Jeffery Field. It was an exciting game and one that was up and down, and even with a win, we still learned a lot about our team in that we didn't put our heads down when we went down 2-1. Instead, we fought back and were able to pull out the win in the end.
The game on Sunday was not quite as high scoring as Friday, but there were still lots of goals for us in a 4-0 win over Iowa. We knew Iowa was coming off a 1-0 win at Ohio State on Friday and that they were going to put up a fight to try and knock us off. We were out to protect Jeffery Field and not let anyone put any more goals in the back of our net after Nebraska put in four on Friday.
So, not only was this a great game for our offense but also our defense who kept a clean sheet in the shutout! We didn't start out as quickly as we wanted but some scrappy play by Emily Hurd led to our first goal as she beat a defender and slotted a ball to Maya Hayes for a placement finish, and a 1-0 lead at halftime. For the first 45 minutes, we didn't play up to our high standard though and came out with more energy and put up three goals in the second half to win the game 4-0! Taylor Schram had two of the goals for a total of four goals over the weekend and Maya Hayes had another for her Division 1 leading 21st of the season. It was a great weekend, and with two wins, we were able to stay atop the Big Ten standings with just three conference games left to play.
Yet, these next three games can't be taken lightly, especially this away weekend at the Michigans. We take on Michigan State on Friday at 3 p.m., as their field does not have lights. In my four years at Penn State, it has always been a tough place to play, with a one-goal loss and an overtime loss when we were away at Michigan State. However, a new year brings a new team, and why not this year be the year that we get a win away against Michigan State? Then on Sunday, we take on Michigan at noon and it will be our first live televised game on the Big Ten Network! Therefore, all of our fans back in State College who can't make the trip and our fans from all over the country can catch our game on Friday vs. Michigan State on Gametracker and live on Sunday vs. Michigan on BTN!
As we continue to get players back from injury our team is feeling stronger than ever, and as the Big Ten Conference is coming to a close, we hope to continue the tradition of those that came before us and close out our away weekend with some wins!