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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Megan Schafer isn't used to long stretches without a goal to her name.
She had scored 27 career goals before Friday night's match against Michigan, and she scored 13 in her sophomore season. However, goals have been hard to come by this year for the senior out of Langhorne, Pa.
Schafer only netted two goals in the 2017 season and hadn't scored since September 14 against Northwestern, so she decided to change that Friday night.
With Penn State riding a one-goal cushion in the second half of the match, Schafer made a run up the right half of the pitch in the 76th minute. Charlotte Williams placed a perfect through ball to her foot and Schafer finished to the bottom left corner for her third goal of the season.
"We knew going into halftime up 1-0 we didn't want to be complacent," Schafer said. "We needed to come out strong in the second half, and we were going at them really hard and it just wasn't coming. We knew how important getting that second goal would be."
Schafer said it was relieving to get back in the scoring column after a fairly long dry stretch by her standards.
The game was especially physical between the two rivals, as the Nittany Lions and Wolverines combined for 12 fouls. Luckily for Schafer--and unluckily for Michigan--those are her favorite types of games.
"Not a lot of people do like [physicality], and it's weird that I do like it. I just think it's the fun of the Big Ten and you have to rise up to the challenge," Schafer said.
Schafer said her freshman year playing against Big Ten teams made her strive to get stronger and more physical. She has grown to love the body-banging conference matchups.
Head coach Erica Dambach said physical Big Ten games bring out the best in Schafer.
"This is a perfect example of 'this is a game for Megan Schafer,'" Dambach said. "That goal came at such a key moment by a senior. We needed it. We needed to take the wind out of their sails at that point in the game, and she came up huge for us."
Penn State is now 3-0 this year in games when Schafer nets a goal. The Nittany Lions also didn't lose any of the five games in which Schafer scored in last season.
"Megan Schafer drives this team," Dambach said. "Her heart and her energy is Penn State soccer. As she goes, we go.
Brittany Basinger scored the first goal of the game in the 12th minute. It was her first goal of the season and fifth of her career.
The Penn State defense allowed seven corner kicks in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but goalkeeper Rose Chandler came up with a few huge saves and the Nittany Lions were able to fend off Michigan's lengthy attack.
Penn State improved its all-time series record with Michigan to 21-4-7 with the win. The Nittany Lions are also 5-0-0 at home this season.
PSU will be back on Jeffrey Field Sunday to take on Michigan State at 1 p.m.