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Sept. 20, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Junior defender Whitney Church (Ashburn, Va.) posted two crucial goals on Friday night to lift the ninth-ranked Penn State women's soccer team over Big Ten foe Northwestern, 3-2, in a double overtime thriller at Jeffrey Field. Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.) also came up big for the Lions, netting the game-tying goal in the conference opener for both squads.
The Nittany Lions (7-1-1, 1-0-0) improve their winning streak to six consecutive matches and are now 21-2-0 against the Wildcats (2-5-2, 0-1-0) all-time.
"It typical in sport that you make a late push," said Nittany Lion head coach Erica Walsh. "But we have got to get this team to understand that that's got to come at the beginning of the game and, also, that right when you think you're exhausted, you've got so much more in you. I am very proud of the way that we dug it out but we can't keep putting ourselves in this hole."
The Blue and White outshot Northwestern 29-11 with 14 of their attempts coming on goal. Freshman keeper Jenna Hascher came up big for the Wildcats, collecting a career-high 11 saves while PSU keeper Britt Eckerstrom (Germantown, Md.) also performed well, coming up with six saves.
NU senior Kate Allen put the Wildcats on the board early, netting the first goal of the match in the fourth minute of action. Sami Schrakamp crossed the ball to Allen, who then fired it into the top of the net over Eckerstrom to give NU a 1-0 lead.
Raquel Rodriguez (San Jose, Costa Rica) attempted to counter with a header less than a minute later but was unsuccessful as the ball sailed high. Bri Hovington (Lothian, Md.) and Kori Chapic (Novelty, Ohio) also had good looks but were stopped short by Hascher, who came up with her first two saves of the match.
Northwestern looked to extend its lead in the ninth minute as Allen got another scoring opportunity but Eckerstrom was prepared for the shot and made an easy save.
The Lions got their best two looks of the first half in the 15th and 21st minutes. Emily Hurd (Sammamish, Wash.) fired one off from 18 yards out at the 14:11 mark and Mallory Weber (Novi, Mich.) attempted to put one in at the 20:46 make but neither could get past Hascher as the freshman collected two more saves.
Taylor Schram (Canonsburg, Pa.) had an excellent scoring opportunity in the 67th minute of play. The senior had an open look straight ahead of the goal from 15 yards out but was stymied by Hascher who made a beautiful diving save to preserve the Wildcats lead.
Penn State was awarded a corner kick at the 73:29 mark, giving the Lions another chance at putting one in the back of the net. Rodriguez played the kick to Chapic, who attempted a header but could not capitalize as the ball went just high.
Four minutes later Allen netted her second goal of the game,stretching NU's lead to 2-0. Georgia Waddle dropped the ball to Allen and the forward fired one past Eckerstrom to give the Wildcats a two goal advantage with 12 minutes remaining in regulation.
The second Northwestern goal seemed to motivate the Nittany Lions as they fired back with their first goal of the game just two minutes later. The Blue and White were awarded another corner kick and this time they made it count. Rodriguez sent the ball to Church, who headed it in from six yards out to bring the score to 2-1.
"We have some of the best service from Rockie (Raquel Rodriguez)," said Church. "She knows exactly where to put it so all I have to do is beat my defender and I just happened to do it on that exact play and got it in the back of the net."
Hayes added another goal for PSU in the 84th minute. Hayes got the ball on a long pass from Chapic and then went on to beat Hascher one-on-one, tapping the ball into the net to tie the game at 2-2 and send the match into overtime.
Hurd had the only clean look of the first overtime period for either squad, attempting a shot at the 98:43 mark, but Hascher was prepared, once again, as she tallied another save.
Tani Costa (Honolulu, Hawaii) put up a quick shot twenty seconds into the second overtime period and Rodriguez made another attempt three minutes in but neither were able to put it in the net as Costa's went just high and Rodriguez's sailed wide.
Church sealed the deal for the Blue and White with 3:35 remaining in the game. The defender got the ball after it bounced off of several PSU and NU players and drilled it into the far corner of the net from 20 yards out to leave the final score at 3-2.
"I thought Whit(ney) Church was spectacular tonight," said Walsh. "She deserves a lot of credit for her effort tonight."
The Nittany Lions return to Jeffrey Field for two Big Ten matches next week. The Blue and White host Purdue on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. before taking on Indiana on Sunday in a noon match-up.