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Nov. 8, 2009
ANN ARBOR, Mich.--After celebrating at least a share of their 12th-straight Big Ten championship on Friday at practice, the No. 22 Penn State women's soccer team made sure there was no share of this year's crown by defeating Michigan 2-0 on Sunday. The Nittany Lions dominated from beginning to end behind goals from Katie Schoepfer (Waterford, Conn.) and Jackie Molinda (Pittsburg, Pa.).
"This team is really good," Walsh remarked afterward. "They had a great October and are really deserving of the title."
Penn State (12-5-3, 8-1-1 Big Ten) extended its unbeaten streak to nine games with the win over Michigan (6-9-5, 1-4-5 Big Ten), which was the fifth-straight in the series. The Nittany Lions dominated in nearly every facet of the game, out-shooting Michigan, 21-3, and 9-0 in shots on goal.
PSU's onslaught began in the first half, where it registered 11 shots in the stanza, finally capitalizing when Jess Rosenbluth's (Gladwyne, Pa.) back pass to the top of the penalty area found Schoepfer, who slotted the ball home in the 36th minute. Schoepfer broke a two-game scoreless drought with her 11th goal of the season.
"Both goals were off good buildups," Walsh said. "It was a classic Schoepfer turn and a low, hard shot to the far post."
Penn State continued to pressure the Wolverines and goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer (seven saves) as the Nittany Lions had three balls hit the post and another get the crossbar throughout the proceedings. Penn State finally broke through with an insurance goal late in the second half as Nikki Watts' cross found Molinda and she scrambled to knock the ball home in the goal area. The tally was Molinda's first of the season, and she's the third freshman on the team this year to record a goal. The other two are Christine Nairn (Bowie, Md.) and Maddy Evans (Glenside, Pa.).
"Jackie played extremely well," Walsh added. "She did more than the goal, before the game [assistant coach] Michael Coll said to the team that the players off the bench need to give us a spark. Nikki [Watts] had a wide ball and played a left-footed ball into the goal mouth and Jackie crashed the goal there to finish it."
For the game, PSU was the aggressor as evidenced with 18 more shots than the Wolverines and an 8-2 edge in fouls. Michigan took three corners to Penn State's two and was caught offside twice, while the Lions were flagged just once.
Penn State moves to 15-5-3 all-time against Michigan, the most-played series in PSU women's soccer history. The Nittany Lions also upped their all-time record to 7-1-2 in Ann Arbor.
The Nittany Lions haven't dropped a game since Sept. 27, a 3-2 overtime decision at Michigan State. The nine-game unbeaten mark matches a nine-game stretch in 2007, when Penn State won nine-in-a-row. The Nittany Lions haven't had a 10-game unbeaten streak since a school-record 26-game stretch from Aug. 26, 2005 to Aug. 25, 2006.
Penn State awaits to hear its destination Monday night on ESPNews when the NCAA Selection Show reveals the bracket on ESPNews at 8:00 p.m. The Nittany Lions are in prime position to earn a national seed and possibly host the first two rounds as it currently sits 10th in the NCAA RPI, top in the Big Ten and among the best in the northeastern region. First and second round games are set for Friday, Nov. 13 and Sunday, Nov. 15, respectively.