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Oct. 23, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- No. 14 Penn State women's soccer won Big Ten title No. 14 on Sunday in a 4-0 victory at Michigan. The title signaled the most consecutive titles by a Big Ten women's program in any sport, putting PSU one ahead of the current Northwestern women's tennis squad.
Sophomore Taylor Schram (Canonsburg, Pa.) opened the scoring in the 22nd minute with a goal from Jackie Molinda (Pittsburgh, Pa.) as Penn State cruised to victory. Super sophomore Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.) capped an impressive weekend with two more goals on Sunday, giving her four for the weekend. The Nittany Lions also captured their 10th straight win in the process, the longest winning streak since 2005. For the third straight year, Penn State celebrated a Big Ten title against Michigan including for the second time in three years in Ann Arbor.
"Today was a great performance in execution as we finished our chances well," Head coach Erica Walsh said. "Winning another Big Ten title is one of the many goals that this team has and it was important for us to win the championship for the alums that were here before us. The players have bought into the system and really played excellent during our Big Ten games.
The Pittsburgh connection paid dividends for Penn State (16-3-0, 9-1-0 Big Ten) when Jess Rosenbluth (Gladwyne, Pa.) laid a quick ball 35 yards from net on the right wing to Molinda. The junior defender took a few touches toward net and sent a ground cross through the goal mouth that Hayes let go through as Schram knocked home her 11th goal of the season past U-M netminder Haley Kopmeyer (five saves). The assist by Molinda was her second of the season and set a new Penn State single-season record for helpers in a season with 68.
Penn State kept pressing the attack with loads of possession all over the field, but Michigan's (9-7-2, 4-5-1 Big Ten) stingy defense kept the Nittany Lions at bay. In fact, U-M earned two golden opportunities to level the score after the initial PSU offering with a breakaway chance by Claire Stachel and a follow up chance on a free kick that was saved by Erin McNulty (Winnipeg, Manitoba).
Nevertheless, Penn State would catch the Wolverines unguarded in the back with a combination play from Schram, Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.) and Hayes to Ali Schaefer (Las Vegas, Nev.) at the top of the penalty area. Schaefer's left-footed attempt toward the far post was saved by Kopmeyer that caromed to Hayes as she slotted her 24th goal of the year just 27 second short of the halftime horn for a 2-0 lead. Schaefer earned her fifth assist of the season on the play.
Hayes doubled her output at the hour mark when she took a long ball out of the back and navigated through the Michigan defense driving to goal. She turned her defender and drove a left-footed ground shot that ricocheted off the right post and in for Penn State's first unassisted tally of the season. Hayes's 25th of the season came against the grain of play as Michigan mounted an attack that had an open shot, but PSU cleared to Hayes and the one-on-one marker.
The Nittany Lion offense would continue late in the game with many reserves on the field. A combination play of Kinrdah Kohne (Homer, N.Y.), Meghan Gill (State College, Pa.) and Rosenbluth led to a failed Michigan clearance to Schaefer about 10 yards from net on the left wing. Schaefer took a touch to her left and rifled home her fourth goal of the season, all in Big Ten play, to conclude her three-point afternoon in the 80th minute at 4-0.
Penn State had the opportunity to make it a five-goal game when a Michigan foul in the 89th minute resulted in a penalty shot. Senior Carly Niness (Berwyn, Pa.) stepped up to take the spot kick and sent a pinpoint shot to the lower left post that required a fantastic save by Kopmeyer. It was Penn State's first PK attempt of the season.
Penn State's triumph extended its 11-game unbeaten streak against Michigan (10-0-1) with a seven-match winning streak against the Wolverines. The Nittany Lions now own a 17-3-5 all-time record including an 8-1-2 mark in Ann Arbor. Penn State also improved to 14-1-0 this season when Hayes tallies a goal. Moreover, Penn State solidified a perfect 9-0-0 regular season record on Sunday.
The Lions dominated the stat sheet, out-shooting the Wolverines 21-11 with a 9-2 edge in shots on frame. Penn State's McNulty and Krissy Tribbett (Centennial, Colo.) combined for PSU's Big Ten-leading 11th shutout of 2011, with two saves combined. Penn State also had five corners to Michigan's two, while fouls were 15-8 with U-M being the aggressor. There were no cards booked during the match.
Penn State's next match is Friday at Jeffrey Field against Purdue at 7:00 p.m. The match will be televised by the Big Ten Network on tape delay (Sunday, Oct. 30 at 6:00 p.m.) and will be Penn State's Senior Night. Additionally, the Nittany Lions will be hosting a Halloween Contest at halftime with a winner earning a prize.
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