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Nov. 20, 2011
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - No. 13 Penn State went up early in an NCAA Third Round match at No. 6 Wake Forest, but the Demon Deacons pulled out a 4-2 victory at Spry Stadium on Sunday. Sophomore striker Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.) scored the opening goal of the game, her NCAA-leading 30th of the year as Penn State ends its season at 21-5-0 despite a flurry of second-half chances that saw WFU counter twice and Hayes score her 31st in the 85th minute, but it wasn't enough to overcome a three-goal deficit. Hayes's two-goal effort gave her the all-time Penn State and Big Ten lead for points in a single-season at 70 and left her one goal short of the Penn State/Big Ten record for goals (32 by Tiffany Weimer, 2005).
"I thought it was a great game of soccer," Head coach Erica Walsh recounted. "It was a well-fought great battle and I thought both teams played extremely well. These games are won and lost by big players and Maya Hayes put two in the back of the goal and [Wake Forest forward] Katie Stengel did the same. All credit to Wake Forest today, they were more opportunistic than we were this afternoon."
In a game that Penn State dominated on the stat sheet, out-shooting Wake Forest 22-11 and 13-6 for shots on target, it was the Deamon Deacon (17-3-4) counterattack that propelled them to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the second time since 2009. Penn State was denied its first trip to the quarterfinals since 2006 in part by Stengel who tallied five points behind two goals and an assist.
The game got off to an explosive start as both teams capitalized on defensive miscues in the opening 11 minutes. Wake Forest's Rachel Nuzzolese provided a poor back pass that was intercepted in the 10th minute by Hayes 35 yards from net as the speedy sophomore raced past the flat-footed defense. Hayes crossed a 10-yard shot from right to left that found the back of the net for her 30th goal of the year as she became the second Nittany Lion to record 30 or more goals in a season.
Wake Forest wasted no time in responding as they took the ensuing kick-off down the right wing as a crossing effort skipped through the area and landed on the feet of Jackie Logue about 25 yards from goal on the left wing. She played a through cross in past a bunch of Demon Deacons and Nittany Lion defenders and the ball hopped into the far right post to knot the game up in the 11th minute.
Penn State nearly made it 2-1 a few minutes later when Hayes streaked in on net and beat goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe and was all alone from 15 yards out, but she was marked by a WFU defender that caused some contact and Hayes's shot went wide of net.
Penn State made some dangerous attacks on net that forced goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe into some tough saves. One such instance was a long-range effort by Carly Niness (Berwyn, Pa.) that was parried poorly by Bledsoe (career-high 11 saves), but she stopped Hayes's volleying effort from point-blank range to save the Deacons' bacon.
Out of halftime, Penn State controlled play early on including a Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.) blast, set up by Hayes, from 30 yards out that Bledsoe barely tipped over the crossbar. A minute later it was Stengel who broke free down the left wing, shook a couple Penn State defenders and slotted home a near-post effort from 10 yards out to make it 3-1 in the 51st minute.
Penn State forced the pressure on the Wake Forest defense, and the Demon Deacons withstood the constant Nittany Lion offense including Nairn's free-kick opportunity in the 74th minute that was saved by Bledsoe to her right. The Deacs blasted a ball down the length of the field to a rushing Stengel as she beat Erin McNulty (Winnipeg, Manitoba) to the left post to extend the lead to 4-1 in the 80th.
The Lions continued to press, looking for another goal despite a desperate WFU defense. Penn State's chance seemed as though it would never come when Hayes's half-volley was saved by Bledsoe from a Niness flick in the 81st minute. Hayes finally got her second goal when a similar play set up by a Lexi Marton (Aurora, Ontario) free kick from 60 yards out was headed onto a rushing Hayes as she slipped the shot past Bledsoe to the left post to make it 4-2 in the 83rd.
Penn State fell for the first time when scoring first, a 16-1-0 record, while also dropping its first game to an ACC opponent all year (2-1-0). Penn State doubled Wake Forest's shot count, 22-11, while the Deacons were the aggressor with nine fouls to PSU's three. Penn State took five corner kicks to Wake Forest's three and offsides were even at two apiece.
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