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Sheva Key in Opening Victory

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nearly three months ago junior midfielder Marissa Sheva was competing on the Nittany Lion Outdoor Track, helping to guide the 2017 Big Ten Champion indoor Penn State women's team to a third-place finish at the outdoor track and field championships. 

A rare two-sport athlete in the collegiate setting, even Penn State head coach Erica Dambach noted that without Sheva's presence in the spring season, the staff wasn't quite sure what to expect. 

When the big lights came on and the fervent crowd at Jeffrey Field showed up, so did Sheva.

"Marissa has proven to be someone who can handle those big moments, obviously she is a two-sport athlete so she has been in those big moments so many times and just thinking about putting on frame and giving it the chance and she did a great job with it," Dambach said.

Less than 10 minutes into the official start of the 2017-18 Penn State Athletics slate, junior midfielder Charlotte Williams found Sheva wide open on a breakaway, where she finished from fewer than 10 yards out to give the Nittany Lions an early 1-0 edge against eighth-ranked BYU.

"I just really wanted to get it off my foot as soon as possible because I knew I had a defender coming on me and I knew that an early lead would really give us some energy that we needed," Sheva said.

Penn State's stifling defense limited BYU to just three shots in the opening half, as the crowd of 3,570 at Jeffrey field heightened the intensity giving the Nittany Lions a needed boost in the second half.

The Cougars though, would not remain silenced as Cameron Tucker slipped the equalizer in the second half past an outstretched redshirt junior goalkeeper Rose Chandler 

"I wasn't even nervous," Chandler said. "They came back with that goal and I was like, we're going to go get another one, you could feel it in the energy, no heads went down. I grabbed the ball out of the back of the net and I said okay we have to go score and we scored once and we said, okay, we have to go score again, and I love that energy from our team because we trust each other and we're really excited."

It was junior Alina Ortega-Jurado, who came off the bench in the first half, netting the go-ahead for the Nittany Lions in the second half, sparking just enough momentum for Sheva to strike again in a short stretch of time.

Finishing in a key moment once again, Sheva placed her second goal of the night in net off of a pair of rebounds from freshman Frankie Tagliaferri and Williams to send Penn State ahead 3-1.

Tagliaferri was one of three Nittany Lion newcomers to see the field, all from a freshman class ranked as high as fourth nationally by TopDrawerSoccer.com. She finished tied for first on the team with Williams with three shots.

"It was great to see the freshmen implementing a lot of the things that we've been working on and catching on so quickly" Sheva said. "They really play a huge part in the team, we have a lot of depth, so they're definitely going to help us this year." 

That wouldn't be all from BYU, as the Cougars continued to pepper Chandler. Making her first career start for the Nittany Lions, Chandler all but locked up the victory with a spectacular save in the final five minutes of play.

"Rose is a very good goalkeeper and I think everybody had to get the jitters out a little bit and then once you did, a huge save from her toward the end there and that's a game-changing save there," Dambach said.   

Penn State has a quick turnaround as it turns the focus toward Hofstra. The Nittany Lions close out opening weekend Sunday, Aug. 20 with an afternoon matchup set for 1 p.m. at Jeffrey Field.

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