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Oct. 2, 2011
ST. PAUL, Minn. - No. 24 Penn State women's soccer tallied a crucial 1-0 road win at Minnesota's Robbie Stadium on Sunday. Sophomore strike Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.) scored her nation leading 16th goal and sixth game-winner of the season in the 84th minute to push the Nittany Lions past the Golden Gophers.
"This just shows the heart our team has," Head coach Erica Walsh said. "This field is the hardest place to play in the Big Ten on the road and Minnesota defends it so well and they have so much pride, so it means a lot for us to get out of here with a win."
Penn State (11-3-0, 4-1-0 Big Ten) was struggling to find its scoring touch for over 83 minutes, but a quick combination pass between Carly Niness (Berwyn, Pa.) and Emily Hurd (Sammamish, Wash.) sent Hayes in alone on net as she snuck a ball under the out-stretched arms of Car Parkhill (three saves) for the game-winning goal.
It was all PSU needed to win its fourth straight in Big Ten action and maintain its first-place footing. The goal by Hayes capped a five-point weekend for the sophomore phenom, as she tallied a career-high three assists in PSU's 3-1 win over Ohio State on Thursday night.
Penn State came out firing early with two superb opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the match. A bouncing ball on a cross came to Taylor Schram (Canonsburg, Pa.) as her two headers resulted in a crossbar in the seventh minute. Two minutes later, Schram's running mate Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.) headed a ball off the crossbar, as the woodwork kept the game scoreless early.
Minnesota (4-7-2, 1-3-1 Big Ten) controlled the middle portion of the first half with inspired play, possessing the ball and putting pressure of the Nittany Lion defense. Opportunities in the 17th and 21st minutes nearly put the Gophers ahead, but Penn State would respond.
In the 27th, Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.) fired a canon from 20 yards out off a darting Jackie Molinda (Pittsburgh, Pa.) run, forcing a save by Minnesota's Parkhill. A minute later Hayes nearly headed home the game's first goal off a Nairn cross but it skimmed wide of frame.
Two minutes before the halftime whistle saw Schram head a shot from 15 yards out as Parkhill punched away the awkward shot for a corner kick. PSU out-shot Minnesota 9-4 in the opening stanza with its two shots on goal and two more shots hitting the crossbar.
The Nittany Lions again came out with a vengeance when Nairn nearly made Parkhill pay for a poor give away in her own end. Nairn collected the ball 25 yards from goal with Parkhill off on the side, but Nairn's shot was wide left in the 48th minute.
A series of through balls in the 49th and 54th minute gave Hayes excellent chances on net, but a breakaway went wide and Parkhill tipped another shot to preserve the early clean sheet. For the majority of the second half, midfield play won out as Minnesota kept Penn State at bay before the lightning quick tally by Hayes.
Penn State out-shot Minnesota 16-5 with a 4-1 advantage in shots on goal, not including the two balls that hit the frame. Erin McNulty made one save for her third shutout of the season and Penn State's conference leading eighth of the year. McNulty and Penn State have yet to allow a second-half goal since the 65-minute mark at Stanford on opening night, a span of over 620 minutes.
Penn State improved to 18-3-0 all-time against Minnesota with its fifth straight win over the Golden Gophers and second straight in St. Paul. PSU has won 17 of its last 18 matchups against Minnesota in the past 14 years.
The Nittany Lions have a week off before their next game as they travel to Bloomington, Ind. to take on the Hoosiers of IU. Game time is set for Noon at Armstrong Stadium.
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