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Nov. 23, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's soccer team (20-3-2) earned a 1-0 victory over the Duke Blue Devils on Friday night to earn its fourth ever trip to the Women's College Cup and first appearance since 2005. Senior midfielder Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.) scored the game winning goal on a penalty kick in the 13th minute. Penn State will take on Florida State next Friday in San Diego, Calif.
A very talented Duke team controlled the majority of the second half, as Penn State dropped back a fourth defender shortly after Nairn's goal in the first half. The Blue Devils recorded 19 shots, but a patient Nittany Lion defense held its ground and senior keeper Erin McNulty was brilliant in goal, making five big saves. With the win, Penn State improved to 3-0-0 against ACC teams this season.
In the 13th minute, Nairn chased a loose ball that was bouncing near the top of the 18. Duke's Natasha Anasi tripped up Nairn at the top of the box, forcing a penalty kick in Penn State's favor. Nairn converted on her third penalty kick of the season, blasting it by the Duke keeper on the left side to give the Lions a 1-0 lead.
Duke had plenty of opportunities in a contest that was affected by gusting winds on Jeffrey Field. Just five minutes after Nairn's PK, Duke's Nicole Lipp had a wide open look that scraped the crossbar. Laura Weinberg later in the half fired a shot on McNulty, but the keeper made her second save at that point to keep the Nittany Lions in front heading into the half.
The Blue Devils outshot the Nittany Lions 11-2 in the second half. Penn State's closest opportunity in the second stanza came in the 54th minute when Raquel Rodriguez's (San Jose, Costa Rica) corner kick found senior Maddy Evans' (Glenside, Pa.) head. The captain put a good lick on it towards the upper right corner of the goal, but the ball was deflected out.
Duke's best opportunity came in the 69th minute. From about 12 yards out, Weinberg ripped a shot that McNulty dove and made a great stop on. However, McNulty did not have complete possession of the ball and Kim DeCeasre took one more crack at it. McNulty wrapped it up and took a minute to get up, but was alright.
McNulty will be making her second ever trip to the College Cup, earning her first trip when she was a freshman keeper for the Florida State Seminoles. Head Coach Erica Walsh will be making her first trip to the National Semifinals as a head coach. Penn State also earned trips to the College Cup in 1999, 2002 and 2005.
The Nittany Lions and the Seminoles will face off in the semifinals next Friday night at 8:30 p.m. ET. The game will be played at San Diego's Torero Stadium.
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