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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – An early goal and a stout defensive effort propelled the No. 5 Penn State women’s soccer team (4-1-0) to a 1-0 victory over the No. 6 North Carolina Tar Heels (4-2-0) Thursday night at Jeffrey Field.
“Obviously, it was a special night out on Jeffrey Field,” head coach Erica Dambach said. "It was a tremendous crowd playing against the best program in the history of women’s soccer; and we were not only able to put one in the back of the net, but also keep them from putting one in the back of the net.
In over 900 games, they’ve only been shut out a couple of times and I’m proud of everything that went on here tonight. I’m proud of our fight, proud of our crowd, and it was just a great night for Penn State women’s soccer.”
Heading into Thursday night, the Tar Heels were averaging 19.2 shots per game, but against the Nittany Lions, they recorded six shot attempts.
The Penn State offense came out pressing and just over six minutes into the contest, it paid dividends.
Five minutes into the match, Charlotte Williams (Rochester, N.Y.) played the ball into the 18-yard box to Frannie Crouse (Greensburg, Pa.), but Crouse was called for a foul on the play. Fast forward one minute later and the duo would connect to put the Nittany Lions on the board.
Similar to the previous play, Williams played the ball to Crouse inside the 18-yard box and she extended her right foot to put the ball past North Carolina goalkeeper Samantha Leshnak from 12-yards out for her second goal of the year at 6:17.
Behind a defensive outing between the two teams, Penn State and North Carolina combined for six shots in the first 45 minutes of play. The Nittany Lions outshot North Carolina, 4-2, over the first 45 minutes with a shot on goal advantage of 3-0.
Though her name was only called twice on Thursday night, goalkeeper Rose Chandler (Atlanta, Ga.) came up huge with a pair of saves. Looking for the equalizer early in the second half, UNC’s Alessia Russo fired a shot on goal in the 48th minute, but Chandler was there for her first save of the night.
With the game still close heading into the final 10 minutes of regulation, both goalkeepers came up clutch to keep the score at 1-0 in favor of the Nittany Lions.
Leshnak made her final save of the night during the 83rd minute of action, as she made a fingertip save on sophomore Laura Freigang (Oppenheim, Germany). Junior Marissa Sheva (Sellersville, Pa.) played the ball past the UNC defense to Freigang. With just the goalkeeper to beat, Freigang fired a shot on goal from 13-yards out, but Leshnak was there to keep the game at 1-0.
North Carolina kept pressing down the final minutes looking for the equalizer and tallied one of its best scoring chances of the night during the 87th minute of action.
From almost 30-yards out, Russo placed a shot just underneath the crossbar, but Chandler stepped up for a leaping one-handed save to punch the ball out of play and keep the Tar Heels off the board. Following the Chandler save, UNC tallied its first of two corner kicks of the night, but were unable to convert on either attempt.
With 21 seconds left in regulation, Joanna Boyles fired a shot high of the goal, and the Nittany Lions were able to close out the game for their fourth victory of the season.
In net, Chandler finished the night with two saves, while Leshnak recorded a five-save outing.
The No. 5 Nittany Lions close out their non-conference schedule on Sunday, Sept. 10, at No. 8 Virginia. The match is slated for a 2 p.m. start at Klöckner Stadium.
NOTES: North Carolina leads the series against Penn State, 6-2-0…Penn State outshot North Carolina, 7-6…Frannie Crouse scored her 35th career goal, which ranks 11th all-time at Penn State…Crouse also moved into a tie for 12th all-time in points scored at PSU with 82 (Bonnie Young ’01 & Kelly Convey ’99)…Crouse scored her 13th game-winning goal, which ranks 10th all-time at Penn State…Penn State recorded its second shutout of the season...The Nittany Lions improve to 67-6-6 at Jeffrey Field since the start of the 2011 season.