Thankfully, sophomore Taylor Herold was in the right place at the right time.
Late in the game, No. 5 Penn State found themselves locked in a dead-even 0-0 contest with unranked Bucknell, desperate for a goal to avoid being upset.
As senior Kelsey Amy moved to the outside with the ball, hounded by two Bucknell defenders, she looked for a potential teammate to pass to in the middle of the circle.
That’s when Herold moved right in for the kill.
“Whenever you see Kelsey running down you know you need to get to your spot,” Herold said. “So I knew to run down there and just slip [the pass] in and it went in the goal.”
Herold’s vital score, a scoop into the top of the net, came with only 13 minutes remaining, as the Nittany Lions were finally able to break through a rock-solid Bucknell defense and score a decisive goal to give them a lead they wouldn’t lose in their 2-0 win on Tuesday night.
“It was just a big relief that we got that goal,” Herold said.
Bucknell was able to frustrate the normally dominant Penn State offense all game, holding the Lions scoreless in the first half for the first time all year.
While the Lions certainly lacked some crispness to their play, it was Bucknell’s goalkeeper Erica Perrine that made the difference. She recorded 12 saves on the day, keeping the Lions’ forwards at bay and making the rest of the team more nervous as the game went on.
“It was very nerve-wracking,” Amy said. “They’re a great team, I take nothing away from them. They had great low defense, so I think we were not panicking almost, but just rushing forward and not playing the way we know how to play.”
But in the face of tremendous pressure, Herold, with some help from Amy, came through.
“Our pressure on the ball was outstanding,” Herold said. “Playing through that adversity is just something that you have to do.”
Herold only played for 19 minutes, but her time on the pitch had her constantly running around up front as she attempted to find a hole in the Bison defense.
Her goal was her fifth of the season, but was arguably one of her most important, as it allowed Penn State to relax a little and play the rest of the game without having to worry about where they were going to find their first goal.
“There were a lot of times where we didn’t take smart shots,” head coach Charlene Morett said. “I would say that we had at least 10 that weren’t smart shots. We may need to work on holding the ball a little longer and seeing what develops.”