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Oct. 14, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 15 Penn State women's soccer won a thrilling nail biter against Nebraska, 5-4, Friday night at Jeffrey Field. Whitney Church (Ashburn, Va.) tallied her first collegiate goal, a game-winner in the 79th minute, to cap a nine-goal outburst between the two squads which was the most goals in a Penn State match since a 7-2 win vs. Pittsburgh in 2002. The game featured a bushel full of goals along with 11 assists for 29 points in the match.
"Nebraska had great fight tonight," Head coach Erica Walsh said. "Nebraska's fight and determination was absolutely fantastic and I think that's a team on a given day can beat anyone in the country. I'm not happy about giving up four goals at home, but we found a way to win with some injuries. We only had 13 players [see time on Friday] and I'm really proud of them tonight."
In a 4-4 match after Nebraska (5-8-1, 2-5-0 Big Ten) stormed back from two goals down mid-way through the second half, Penn State (13-3-0, 6-1-0 Big Ten) earned a corner kick on the nearside of the goal. Ali Schaefer (Las Vegas, Nev.) lofted a curling corner to Carly Niness (Berwyn, Pa.) who headed a short ball to Church, as she put the goal away and sent the nearly 800 fans in attendance into a frenzy.
Taylor Schram (Canonsburg, Pa.) led all players with five points on the evening with two goals and an assist, while Schaefer tallied a game-high two helpers to lead PSU. Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.) tallied three points behind a goal and an assist. Hayes has scored 19 times with 44 points this season, moving into second in both categories for a PSU sophomore in a single season.
The back-and-forth affair started in the third minute when the NCAA leader in goals, Hayes, took a Schram header past the defense and slipped by NU `keeper Emma Stevens (three saves) about 35 yards from goal and scored the empty-netter. The play was set up by left back Kori Chapic (West Geauga, Ohio) who played a perfectly placed ball to Schram in the midfield.
Nebraska returned fire in the 23rd minute when Blair Slapper played a long ball to a rushing Jordan Jackson about 20 yards from net on the left wing. Jackson took a couple touches and shot an inch-perfect shot to the far post past Erin McNulty (Winnipeg, Manitoba) to tie things up at one.
Less than three minutes before halftime, the Huskers gained the lead when Mayme Conroy's tallied an unassisted goal when she cleaned up a mad scramble in the penalty area. A ball was played to Caroline Gray who took out McNulty (four saves) clearing the way for Conroy's go-ahead tally, her first of the season.
The Nittany Lions wasted no time in response as Hayes made a great individual play down the left wing and beyond a couple defenders, dribbling her way up the end line toward the goal. She laid a short pass to a rushing Schram who tapped in the tying goal just 78 seconds after Nebraska's tally. The half was evenly played with each squad taking 10 shots and four corner kicks and a 2-2 score.
Penn State struck eight minutes into the second stanza when Emily Hurd (Sammamish, Wash.) caught Stevens napping off her line and fired a near-post shot from about 35 yards out as Stevens couldn't get back in time to stop the goal. Hurd's marker, her fourth of the year, was set up by Schaefer who sent a long crossing ball from the top of the penalty area.
Schram would score her second of the night, capping a five-point evening, when she headed home a free kick sent in by Jess Rosenbluth (Gladwyne, Pa.) in the 64th minute for a 4-2 lead. Nebraska would have none of that as Gray scored her first goal of 2011 on a nice combination passing play set up by Jackson and Maddie Hansler in the 72nd minute, cutting the PSU lead to 4-3.
Nearly five minutes later, Hanssler got into the act, scoring a header off a Morgan Marlborough corner kick in the 76th minute to tie the game at four apiece. That's when the heroics of Church kicked in and the Nittany Lions left Jeffrey Field with a 5-4 win and kept its perfect mark at home intact.
The five Penn State goals matched the season-high for the year (5-0 vs. West Virginia), while the four goals allowed matched the season high as well (4-0 at Stanford). The second half goals by Nebraska are the first by a PSU opponent since the Stanford match breaking a 1,322-minute scoreless streak in the second period.
The match featured the two newest members of the Big Ten as Nebraska visited Happy Valley for the first time as a Big Ten participant in any sport. The match was also the first meeting between the two squads in women's soccer. The Nittany Lions improved to 84-3-3 all-time at Jeffrey Field in Big Ten matches with an overall record of 164-20-6 at home.
Penn State out-shot Nebraska, 20-14, including a 10-4 edge in the second half. PSU earned an 8-6 margin in corner kicks, while Nebraska was the aggressor on the field, committing 13 fouls to Penn State's nine.
The Nittany Lions next take on Iowa on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. The Hawkeyes were 1-0 winners at Ohio State on Friday as they take on PSU on Kids Club Day and Military Appreciation Day. Penn State stretched its Big Ten lead to five points at 6-1-0 for 18 points, leading Illinois (4-2-1, 13 points). Iowa enters Sunday's match in fifth place at 11-2-2 overall and 3-2-2 in Big Ten competition.
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