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Junior Whitney Church
Nov. 15, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior Tani Costa (Honolulu, Hawaii) and junior Whitney Church (Ashburn, Va.) led the way for the No. 24 Penn State women's soccer team on Friday night as the Lions shut out Monmouth (N.J.), 3-0, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Jeffrey Field. Costa found the back of the net twice, earning her ninth and 10th goals of the season, and Church added another for her fourth tally of the year.
With the win, the Blue and White advance to the second round of the tournament where they will face the winner of the Wake Forest-Morehead State match-up next Friday in Charlottesville, Va. The Demon Deacons and the Eagles take the field on Saturday evening at 7 p.m.
"It was very good tonight, said seventh year head coach Erica Walsh. "The energy was so good. Just the whole feeling within the team was so positive, so I think there was a strong feeling coming into this match. We started the game off well and you get the goal and everything feels good. The crowd is into it and things go well and you have a beautiful night at Jeffrey Field and honestly that is why players come to Penn State - the feeling we had tonight."
The Nittany Lions (15-6-1) outshot the Hawks (17-2-2) 25-11 with 12 attempts coming on net and notched 10 corner kicks to Monmouth's two. MU goalkeeper Ashley Lewis collected a career-high nine saves while PSU keeper Britt Eckerstrom (Germantown, Md.) registered six saves for the third-straight match.
The Lions came out firing on all cylinders, recording their first shot at the 4:56 mark as redshirt junior Emily Hurd (Sammamish, Wash.) nearly blasted one it, but was just off target as the ball collided with the crossbar.
It did not take long for PSU to get on the board, however, as Costa buried her first goal in the seventh minute of action. Costa received the ball directly in front of the goal on a cross from sophomore Mallory Weber (Novi, Mich.) and sent it in from just outside the box.
Junior Kori Chapic (Novelty, Ohio) came close to extending the lead just four minutes later as she fired one off from 15 yards out but her aim was high as another attempt hit the crossbar.
Monmouth freshman Alexis McTamney looked to get the Hawks on the board in the 19th minute, making an attempt from inside the 18 yard box, but could not get past Eckerstrom, who made a fantastic diving save.
Penn State made several attempts to lengthen its lead before the break but could not get past Lewis, who tallied four of her saves in the first half. Julie Spracklin took the Hawks' final shot of the half but was unable to capitalize as the ball sailed wide of the net, leaving the count at 1-0 heading into the intermission.
The start of the second half was much like the first with the Lions churning out shots early on. After tying her career-high with the first goal of the match, Costa made it clear that she was eager for another and her efforts paid off as she sent in her second of the night and 10th of the season in the 51st minute to break her previous record of nine goals in one season from 2010. Hayes sent a through ball to senior Taylor Schram (Canonsburg, Pa.) just inside the 18 yard box and Schram used some quick footwork to flick the ball back to Costa, who was waiting 12 yards out. Costa drilled the ball and sent it flying past Lewis to give Penn State a 2-0 advantage with 38:59 remaining.
"I wanted to good for my teammates and I wanted to put on a good show for our crowd," said Costa. "I think we collectively accomplished that as a team and it was awesome, it was so much fun."
With the momentum in her favor, Costa looked to score again just over a minute later and nearly succeeded but Lewis came up with another big save for the Hawks.
Breynn Collazo took aim for the Hawks in the 61st minute and Monique Plescia made an attempt at the 64:13 mark but neither were able to capitalize as Collazo's flew high and Plescia's went right of the net.
The Blue and White capped the scoring in the 67th minute after being awarded their 10th and final corner kick of the match. Schram sent the kick flying toward the center of the box where it found the head of Church, who nodded it in to put the score at 3-0.
"I'm happy to help anytime I can it was just a great ball from Taylor Schram," said Church. "She has great service all the time and it's just a matter of fighting to be on the end of that ball, I found the end of it so it was good."
Dana Costello and McTamney looked to counter in the following minutes but both were stymied by Eckerstrom, who corralled two more saves. Costello made one final attempt for the Hawks at the 82:43 mark but Eckerstrom was in place again, collecting her 90th save of the season to preserve the shutout.
For complete coverage of Penn State women's soccer, please visit GoPSUsports.com/sports/w-soccer.
Follow Penn State women's soccer on Twitter: @PennStateWSOC.
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