By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's soccer true freshman Laura Freigang arrived just in time to lead the second-ranked Nittany Lions to a 1-1 draw in the 2016 season opener against West Virginia Friday evening at Jeffrey Field.
Making her collegiate debut in the Blue and White, Freigang entered the match at 30:47, stepping on to Jeffrey Field for the first time in front of a record-setting crowd of 5,791 fans in attendance.
Remaining in the game at the start of the second half, it was Freigang who netted her first collegiate goal just 10:10 into the second frame to break open a tied score (0-0).
Curving just enough after her release, Freigang's shot bounced off the left post and into the goal past West Virginia keeper Rylee Foster to give the Nittany Lions at 1-0 lead.
"I was pretty lucky to be honest," Freigang said. "It [the ball] took a curve to the left and just hit the post. That was pretty close, but I'm lucky."
Prior to her impressive Nittany Lion debut, Freigang had been in the United States for less than a week, having arrived in Happy Valley on Monday, Aug. 15.
Freigang's arrival to Penn State was delayed by the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) Women's Under-19 Championship, where she was playing with the women's German Under-19 team.
Traveling from Europe to University Park was no easy task though, as she had just a few days to meet her teammates and prepare to open the season against the sixth-ranked Mountaineers.
"The transition was pretty crazy at first because there was long travel and I had a bit of jetlag for a few days," Freigang said.
Jetlag and significant travel time presented no reason to be concerned, as the Oppenheim, Germany native mentioned that she's now arrived and feeling fine, having made an immediate impact for the Nittany Lion offense.
"I feel very welcomed and I think we have a great team," Freigang said. "I think we played a good game, we just didn't finish like we should have."
The Nittany Lions looked to hold on to the lead following Freigang's goal, but West Virginia struck back with the equalizer at 76:59. With several opportunities in regulation and a pair of overtime periods, Penn State could not convert on its opportunities seeing its season opener end in a draw.
The future is bright for Freigang though, who will return with the rest of the No. 2 Nittany Lions to take on Hofstra Sunday, Aug. 21 at 2:30 p.m. in Jeffrey Field.
"Obviously with Laura's international experience and playing with the German national team, she brings a wealth of experience," head coach Erica Dambach said. "And you could see, she stepped in there and it's as if she had been with us for months and months."
"I think she's going to find herself in a couple different positions for us and play a good role for us," Dambach added. We're going to ask her to continue doing what she did tonight."
Check out Freigang's first collegiate goal below.