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Nov. 4, 2011
EVANSTON, Ill. - No. 11 Penn State women's soccer team downed Minnesota, 3-1, on Friday evening at Lakeside Field to advance to the Big Ten Tournament Championship. Jess Rosenbluth's (Gladwyne, Pa.) tally 4:08 into the match set the tone as the Nittany Lions dominated the Golden Gophers for PSU's 13th straight victory. Penn State will face second-seeded Illinois on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
"I'm extremely proud of our team, they brought great intensity from the start of the match," Head coach Erica Walsh said. "Jess Rosenbluth has worked really hard all season and it's great to see her get a goal to set the tone of the match. Minnesota played with a lot of spirit and [goalkeeper] Cat Parkhill was a force in net for them once again."
Penn State (19-3-0) got off to a dream start when a scramble at the top of the penalty area saw a ball fall to the feet of Rosenbluth. The senior midfielder blasted a half volley to the far left post from 20 yards out that caromed off the upright, then Minnesota (9-10-2) goalkeeper Cat Parkhill and into the net in the fifth minute.
The Nittany Lions nearly doubled the lead eight minutes later when Whitney Church (Ashburn, Va.) and Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.) teamed up for a through ball to Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.) into the penalty area, but Parkhill snagged it before Hayes could lift a shot into the net, and the score would remain 1-0 through the halftime horn.
In the second half, the Nittany Lions came out firing, putting loads of pressure on Parkhill's net. Parkhill saved five shots, two of which were from Hayes and Nairn, whilet he fifth was from Emily Hurd (Sammamish, Wash.).
Penn State would finally break through immediately after the TV timeout as Maddy Evans (Glenside, Pa.) lofted a long ball from far right wing over the Minnesota back line to an open Ali Schaefer (Las Vegas, Nev.). The senior wide midfielder cut her defender and struck a well-placed shot into the right-side netting for a two-goal lead in the 68th minute, her fifth goal of the year.
The Nittany Lions tacked on another goal nine minutes later when Evans slotted home a short pass from Carly Niness (Berwyn, Pa.) from about 12 yards out. Evans notched her third goal of 2011, while Niness posted her fourth assist.
Penn State's Erin McNulty (Winnipeg, Manitoba) made three saves in 83 minutes of action of shutout play, before Minnesota's Taylor Uhl tapped in a free kick five minutes shy of full time. Krissy Tribbett (Centennial, Colo.) gave up her first goal of the season in 11 appearances.
The three-goal output was the highest number PSU scored against Minnesota since an 8-1victory in 2003. It was also the first multi-goal victory in the series since a 2-0 win in 2008 at Jeffrey Field. Penn State improved to 19-3-0 all-time against Minnesota including a 4-0-0 mark in the Big Ten Tournament, while winning its sixth straight over the Gophers.
The victory was Penn State's 19th of the year, the most by a Nittany Lion squad during Walsh's tenure and most since the 2005 squad went 23-0-2. Meanwhile, Penn State upped its record to 15-0-0 when scoring the first goal this year as well as 8-0-1 in the Big Ten Tournament Semifinals. Sixteen of Penn State's 19 wins have come with the Lions scoring at least three goals.
The Big Ten Tournament Final against No. 18 Illinois will take place Sunday at Lakeside Field, with a first kick slated for 4:00 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on Big Ten Network with Penn State searching for its sixth tourney title.
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