By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Meister.
Translation: champion. That is how German-born Laura Freigang can describe herself and her Penn State teammates following their game Wednesday night at Jeffrey Field.
Freigang, a freshman from Oppenheim, Germany, led the charge for the Nittany Lions in route to their 2-0 victory over Ohio State on Wednesday. The win ensured Penn State its 18th regular season Big Ten title in the last 19 years. The Nittany Lions will share the trophy with Minnesota and Northwestern.
Freigang got the Lions on the board in the 51st minute by heading home a curling ball from Haleigh Echard for her second goal of the season. Her two goals came in the first and last regular season games of the year, and both came in the 51st minute.
"I was so happy when I scored the goal because last week against [Michigan State] we had a very frustrating game, and there was a similar situation where I hit the ball way over the goal," Freigang said. "I kind of saw it coming and I was like I need to score this one because it was 0-0. I felt it coming. Everybody felt it coming, the first goal."
Head coach Erica Dambach noted Tuesday how the experienced players needed to step up in this match for Penn State to walk away with the win. Instead, the freshman made the most crucial play of the game and possibly the entire season.
"That is Laura Freigang through and through, coming up in a moment like she started the season against West Virginia," Dambach said. "She's just as dangerous as they come in NCAA soccer, and she proved it tonight."
Freigang has mostly come off the bench this season, starting just two games all year, but she's been aggressive when her number is called.
She has played 769 minutes this season and scored her two goals on 29 shots. She said following the win that she wished she could've done more offensively in her first year, but that the season isn't over yet.
Although she hasn't filled the stat sheet as much as she hoped, Freigang came through for Penn State when it mattered most on the biggest stage.
"It's always great when the work you put in comes out in such a game," Freigang said. "Props to Haleigh. The cross was great, I just had to finish."
In the 73rd minute Charlotte Williams added the insurance goal off a pass from Megan Schafer to make it 2-0. It was her fourth goal of the season.
The back line held a potent Ohio State offense to 10 shots and only one on goal. The defense didn't allow the Buckeye forwards anywhere near goalkeeper Amanda Dennis.
The title marks Dambach's ninth conference championship in her 10 years at Penn State. One might think she'd be used to it by now, but Dambach said this one is extra special.
"That was the first time in 10 years that I shed tears after a Big Ten championship, and that's just out of pure pride for what they did all season long," Dambach said. "We had our ups and downs but they came out here tonight with a set of belief. I'm just incredibly proud of this group."
Senior midfielder Nickolette Driesse is no stranger to championships either. She's been to the national title in all three of her collegiate seasons, the first two with Florida State and last year with Penn State.
Driesse, who is the only senior and a true leader in the lineup, was also emotional after the win.
"I don't think I could be happier, especially because we haven't really been playing to our potential and tonight it really clicked," Driesse said. "We saw how good we could be and we all believed in each other and that's why we got the result we did."
On a night filled with jubilation, tears of joy, and trophy-lifting, Penn State did what some thought it couldn't. Despite their ups and downs, nothing could stop the Nittany Lions from achieving their season-long goal.