Defense Once Again Shines as Nittany Lions Blank Wake Forest 2-0 to Advance to National Championship Game
Nov. 16, 2007
College Park, Md. - Mallory Weisen scored a first half goal in the 14th minute and Shaun Banta added a late goal with just over 10 minutes to play in the second half and the Penn State defense once again stifled one of the country's top ranked teams as the Nittany Lions knocked off No. 2 Wake Forest 2-0 in the national semifinals on Friday night, five days after knocking off third-ranked Maryland on the same field.
The win pushes the Nittany Lions into Sunday's national championship game, where they will face North Carolina, who topped Connecticut 4-2 in the first semifinal game. Penn State will make its second appearance in the NCAA championship game. The Nittany Lions first appeared in the NCAA national championship game in 2002, falling to Wake Forest.
Friday's game was the first meeting with the Demon Deacons since that 2002 meeting and it was also Penn State's first win ever over Wake Forest.
The game was played around the middle of the field for most of the first 14 minutes of the game. Wake Forest had the only shot of the game to that point, which was wide. Penn State had a couple of breakaway opportunities in the first 14 minutes but was not able to get off any shots.
In the 15th minute, after another such advantage on the offensive end, Penn State was awarded the first penalty corner of the game. Mallory Weisen's shot went off the foot of a Wake Forest defender and deflected into the cage to give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead at the 14:03 mark. Jen Long and Allison Scola were credited with assists on the play.
Penn State yielded a pair of penalty corners to Wake Forest late in the first half but the Demon Deacons were unable to convert on either chance. Jen Beaumont made a save on one and on the second one, the shot was called for being too high.
The ball spent much of the second half on Penn State's end of the field as Wake Forest possessed the ball frequently on the Nittany Lions' side of the field. But Penn State stifling defense greatly limited what the Deacons were able to get on offense. Just as they did against Maryland on the same field in the second round last weekend, the Nittany Lions disrupted the timing and picked off several Demon Deacon passes while they were on the attack.
The Nittany Lions picked up an insurance goal at the 59:28 mark as Shaun Banta did some nifty dribbling to free herself to a shot, which she finished unassisted to make it 2-0. Banta stole the ball from a Wake defender just inside the 25 and dribbled around several defenders and into the circle, where she was able to free herself for just long enough and at just the right spot just to the right of the goal before unleashing a one-timer for her eighth goal of the year.
Wake Forest had two good scoring chances in the second half but when the defense did let a shot go through, Beaumont made outstanding saves each time. In the 55th minute, just before Banta scored the insurance goal, Wake's Chelsea Cipriani deflected a shot in front of the cage but Beaumont made a nice save and the ball was cleared.
Then, with just under three minutes remaining in the second half, Wake a sequence in which it got off two straight shots from very close range but Beaumont made two more outstanding saves to preserve the shutout.
Sunday's championship will begin at noon and it will be televised live by CSTV.
- Penn State has now defeated three straight ACC teams in its first three games of the NCAA Tournament. The Nittany Lions will have the opportunity to make it four straight against North Carolina on Sunday.
- The Nittany Lions have met the Tar Heels six times in the NCAA Tournament and are 1-5 against them. The last meeting was in last year's first round, also in College Park, and the Nittany Lions won 4-3.
- Four of Penn State's previous six meetings with North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament came in the final four, but this will be the schools' first ever meeting in the national championship game.
- Banta now has six points on two goals and three assists in five postseason games
Head Coach Charlene Morett
On the defense
Goalkeeper Jen Beaumont
Forward Shaun Banta
Midfielder/Back Allison Scola