By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Frannie Crouse led a heroic second half comeback, but Penn State (1-1-1) conceded a late goal and fell to BYU 3-2 on Friday night at Jeffrey Field.
BYU's Ashley Hatch netted a hat trick to lead the Cougars to a rare victory at Jeffrey Field. The Nittany Lions have only lost five games at home since 2011.
After going down 2-0 in the 57th minute, all seemed finalized for Penn State. But Frannie Crouse had other ideas.
In the 62nd minute Crouse headed home a beautiful cross from Haleigh Echard to give PSU a glimmer of hope.
"The ball from Haleigh was absolutely perfect," said Crouse. "We've been working on getting on the end of those during practice. Once she beat the girl I kind of felt like I should finish it."
The goal was Crouse's first of 2016.
Four minutes later Crouse decided to share the love and let someone else get in on the fun. After beating her defender for a free ball, Crouse calmly sent a ball into the box in front of Charlotte Williams, who gathered and finished with a curling left-footed shot to tie the game at two.
"I had Charlotte who was wide open, and she was calling for it so I figured if I just slip her in she would have a wide open shot so luckily she finished it," said Crouse. "It was a great shot by her."
Williams' goal was her third on the young season. She leads the team in goals so far.
Crouse, being a junior, is stepping into a leadership role this season and illustrated it in this game. The team was down after surrendering two goals, but Crouse provided the spark to bring Penn State level.
"Frannie's always done that for us," said head coach Erica Dambach. "I think her pace is obviously terrifying for back lines, and when she starts to feel it then we can follow her."
With only seconds left on the clock, PSU almost tied the game again, but Laura Freigang's shot hit the crossbar and was cleared before anyone could recover the rebound.
The Nittany Lions are still trying to figure out the perfect substitutions and lineups with so many new players, but they showed a string of chemistry to come back and tie the game. The first half brought not enough pushing forward, but PSU looked much sharper in the second frame.
"We changed how we were playing," said Dambach. "In the first half we were trying to save some energy to attack, and that comes out in our defense right now. Certainly we can run, run, run if we have the depth to do it, but in some cases we don't, so we got to make sure we're smart on both sides of the ball."
Learning from early losses is a key part of developing as a team.
"You grow from these moments," said Dambach. "We're still trying to figure out the grit within this team, and if this team can come back from this loss and dig in, we've got a big road trip coming up ahead of us. We'll learn a lot from the way that we respond to this loss."
"This is a game we're going to have to learn from and take from," said Crouse. "Hopefully our games after this we'll take a little bit from this game and show it in the next couple and throughout the whole season."
Penn State gets a week off to work out the rust and get ready for UCLA and Long Beach State next weekend. The Nittany Lions will return to Jeffrey Field on September 9th to take on San Diego State.