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Oct. 26, 2008
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Through howling winds in a crucial Big Ten matchup, the Penn State women's soccer team upended Purdue 2-0. The No. 21 Nittany Lions are now 13-6 overall and 8-1 in the Big Ten while the Boilermakers fall to 11-5-3 overall and 5-2-2 in conference play. Scoring in the championship performance was Nikki Watts (Hungerford, England) and Katie Schoepfer (Waterford, Conn.). Today's win guarantees Penn State at least a share of the Big Ten Championship as the strength of the dynasty continues for the 11th straight year. The Nittany Lions are now second all-time in consecutive Big Ten Championships behind Michigan women's swimming and diving with 12.
"This team went through a lot of adversity at the beginning of the season," said head coach Erica Walsh. "We got a lot more consistent and are now playing the best soccer all season. This is right where you want to be going into championship tournaments."
Purdue went on the attack quickly putting up three shots in the first five minutes. Once the Nittany Lions got settled they took back control quickly as Watts worked the ball up the left side of the field and cut inside former Big Ten Freshman of the Year Jessica Stellhorn. Watts struck the ball sending it to the far post past the outstretched arms of Boilermaker keeper Jenny Bradfisch in the 12th minute for her fifth goal of the season. Each team worked through back-and-forth control for the remainder of the half while the Penn State defense and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (Seymour, Conn.) were relentless in their efforts to keep the Boilermakers scoreless.
The Nittany Lion offense came back in the second half with a vengeance as they fired 11 of their 15 total shots in the final stanza. Within seven minutes, Schoepfer scored her 10th goal of the season from five yards off the goal. Danielle Toney (Northville, Mich.) was credited with the assist as she chased down the ball and drew Bradfisch out of the goal and finding Schoepfer with the open shot. The Penn State offense kept up the pressure on the Boilermaker net while the defense maintained the standard it has been playing with all season tallying the 10th shutout of the year and eighth in Big Ten play.
"We had an extremely challenging weekend and came out with big wins," said Walsh. "It was an emotional weekend between our win on Friday and football winning last night so we started out a little fatigued. We had a huge lift off the bench and the defense and Alyssa did a great job continuing the shutouts."
Throughout the match Penn State and Purdue were even in shots at 15 a piece. Purdue had the advantage in corner kicks 2-3. Naeher scooped up six saves for her fifth shutout while Bradfisch added three of her own.
The Nittany Lions will return to Jeffrey Field Friday, Oct. 31 for the final Big Ten match of the regular season with Ohio State at 4 p.m.