After three games without a goal, yesterday was the Mallory Weber show.
Weber’s offense propelled the No. 4 Penn State women’s soccer team (12-2-0, 6-0-0 Big Ten) in it’s 5-2 victory over Indiana (6-7-1, 1-5-0 Big Ten) on Sunday.
With forward Taylor Schram returning from concussion symptoms, Weber has been transitioning from her traditional role as a forward to learning a new one at center midfield. But yesterday Weber was given a chance to play up top and took advantage, netting back-to-back goals.
“[Weber] was a stud today and she made the difference. She is dangerous when she plays up top and when she plays wide,” Schram said. “We needed her today and she played big for us. It is great that we have the options, somebody steps up every game, somebody different and it is great that we have that.”
Although coach Erica Walsh admits to not caring about accolades she says that in her eyes Weber is heads and tails above anyone else and believes that she is the national freshman player of the year.
After defeating the Hoosiers, the Lions remain the only team in the Big Ten without a loss or a tie.
Weber was not the only one to have success in the box for the Lions today with three other players adding much needed diversity to the Lions offense.
“I am very proud of the fact that we are having so much variety in our attack right now,” Walsh said. “I think our opponents right now are figuring out how to stop some of the more obvious pieces and we have to find ways to do what we did today. It took us 72 minutes to figure it out as a staff and a team.”
The Hoosiers held the Lions’ “more obvious piece,” Maya Hayes, scoreless for the first time this season. Hayes has scored a goal in every game she has played since returning from the U-20 women’s World Cup last month.
Even with Hayes being shut down, the depth of Penn State prevailed and Christine Nairn was able to score just five minutes into the first half off an assist from Emily Hurd, giving the Lions an early 1-0 lead.
In the 23rd minute Hurd would send a ball into the middle for Schram to notch her first goal of the season and gave the Lions a 2-1 lead at the half.
“I think a lot of different people stepped up, whether it was Mal Weber or Schram coming back into the swing of things,” Nairn said. “It was fun, we possessed the ball better in the second half and kind of performed in the final third which is something we have been working on, so it is good to see the results come.”
The Hoosiers were able to tie the game at two apiece with just 30 minutes to play in the second half.
But nearing the 75-minute mark Nairn and Weber began clicking for the Lions. Weber netted two back-to-back goals both assisted by Nairn, to put the squad up 4-2.
“I think we all just kind of realized that we weren’t playing our best and needed to step up. So we all looked to our captains and let them lead us and we all stepped up together,” Weber said. “[Those goals] just boosts my confidence because it is frustrating not scoring and getting those crosses off.”
The Lions will head to the midwest this weekend to take on Nebraska on Friday and Iowa on Sunday.