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Nov. 6, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The No. 20 Penn State women's soccer team used goals from Taylor Schram (Canonsburg, Pa.) and Mallory Weber (Novi, Mich.) en route to a 2-0 victory over Wisconsin in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday afternoon. With the win, the third-seeded Nittany Lions advance to the semifinals, where they will face seventh-seeded Iowa in an 11 a.m. match-up on Friday at the University of Illinois Soccer Stadium.
"I thought that the energy from the group today was fantastic," said Nittany Lion head coach Erica Walsh. "In particular, I thought Britt Eckerstrom was fabulous, coming off the line and taking command of her box. Overall I thought the defense was very good."
The Blue and White improve to 14-5-1 overall while UW falls to 10-7-2 this season. Wisconsin outshot PSU 12-8 but could not get past goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom (Germantown, Md.), who collected six saves in the Lions' second-straight shutout. The Badgers also had more corner kick opportunities in the match, tallying nine to Penn State's six.
Schram got things started early for the Nittany Lions, netting her fifth goal of the season in the 11th minute of action. The senior received the ball in the center of the box on a cross from Emily Hurd (Sammamish, Wash.) and fired it in to give Penn State a 1-0 lead.
Both defenses controlled the ball over the next 10 minutes as neither team made an attempt until the 21st minute. UW's Alev Kelter registered the Badgers' first shot of the day but was off target as the ball sailed high.
Weber extended the Lions' lead and posted her ninth goal of the year just over a minute later. Tani Costa (Honolulu, Hawaii) sent a left-sided cross to the center of the box, where Weberwas waiting, and the sophomore tapped it to put PSU up 2-0.
"The seniors are playing like seniors right now," said Walsh. "They are playing like it's their last go-around and it is kind of what you wait for all season long. They are realizing that and they are carrying the team with their energy and their smiles and they're just having a good time."
Senior Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.) looked to get on the board at the 34:36 mark but could not get past UW keeper Genevieve Richard, who notched her first save of the match.
Rose Lavelle made the final attempt of the half but was stymied by a PSU defender, who cleared the ball to leave the count at 2-0 heading into the intermission.
Wisconsin came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, registering five shots in the opening 10 minutes. Lindsey Holmes and Kylie Schwarz had the best looks of the group but were unable to beat Eckerstrom as she corralled her first two saves of the game.
The Badgers continued to control the momentum through the remainder of the game, holding the Lions to just three shots in the second half, but could not find the back of the net as Eckerstrom and the Penn State backline picked up their fifth shutout of the season.
"We have been tinkering with our backline," said Walsh. "We seem to have the right combination right now and Bri Hovington and Whit(ney) Church are leading that line. I think the team is more committed to our defending at this point and that's obviously the key to success at this point in the season."
The Blue and White are now 18-3-4 against UW all-time and 3-1-1 against the Badgers in the Big Ten Tournament.
Friday's semifinal match will air live on the Big Ten Network.