By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Laura Freigang had only scored two goals all season coming into Friday's Big Ten clash against Purdue. Both goals just happened to be overtime game-winners.
When the game is on the line and Penn State is in dire need of a savior, Freigang has been able to provide. The biggest moments at the end of games bring out the best in her play.
"She's proven that she can score goals late in games, and she's become kind of our go-to player in those moments and she wants the ball," head coach Erica Dambach said. "She's a pressure player. She wants to be on the ball late in the game."
With Penn State down 2-1 with just three minutes remaining on the clock, the Nittany Lions were in desperation mode as the regular season Big Ten title seemed to be slipping from the team's fingers. A loss would've sealed its fate, as Ohio State had beaten Minnesota to jump four points ahead of Penn State with one game to play.
With hopes fleeting, Penn State made one last push forward, and guess who was there to tie the game.
You got it. Laura Freigang.
There was a scrum in the box as the ball bounced off multiple players before finding Freigang's foot close to net. She said she saw Frankie Tagliaferri get a foot on it to nudge the ball to Freigang who finished calmly.
Penn State, however, was unable to push a winning goal across in the overtime period and ended with a 2-2 draw. Freigang's goal in the 87th minute was her earliest goal scored in a game all season long.
The sophomore from Oppenheim, Germany put on a footwork clinic all day, weaving in and out of trouble with clever touches and spins throughout the match. She was the ignition for an offense that put up 23 shots in the game.
Freigang made plenty of chances for herself aside from the goal. She recorded a team-high six shots in the match and hit the post on a close-range shot in overtime that seemed destined for the back of the net
She stepped up in Frannie Crouse's absence and played 102 solid minutes.
"Frannie is a major part of our team and losing her is not good, so I just try to do my best out there working with [Megan] Schafer and the attack," Freigang said. "Everyone else makes it easy for me to be honest. We have so many great players."
Penn state outshot Purdue 23-4 in the game and controlled the ball for most of the match, but star Boilermaker forward Maddy Williams found the net twice to spoil the Nittany Lions' home finale.
Williams is the all-time leader at Purdue in both goals (36) and assists (26). She is a contender to become an All-Big Ten First Team selection this season, and she showed why Friday night.
"That's a kid who doesn't want their season to end," Dambach said. "Maddy Williams decided before the game that she didn't want her season to end, and she decided that she wasn't going to need many chances to do it, so a ton of credit to them."
Elizabeth Ball scored the first goal for Penn State for her second of the season. She said the defensive group played well but that there are room for improvements in communication and leadership.
"I thought our team showed a bunch of grit. We need to come out stronger and faster and try to put these teams away early, and that's not happening right now," Dambach added.
The Nittany Lions finish the regular season with a trip to Madison, Wisconsin. To take on the Badgers of Wisconsin next Wednesday. They currently sit three points behind the Big Ten leaders, Ohio State. Penn State would need a win against Wisconsin and an Ohio State loss to Illinois next week to share the Big Ten regular season title with the Buckeyes.