Although they are the champions, there is no time to celebrate.
Closing out the regular season, the No. 4 Penn State women’s soccer team (16-2-1, 10-0-1 Big Ten) remains atop the leaderboard, clinching its 15th straight Big Ten title.
After defeating Purdue (7-10-2, 2-8-1 Big Ten ) 2-0 on Friday, the Nittany Lions earned their fifth ever unbeaten Big Ten season.
Early on, the Lions showed why they are the Big Ten favorites. Just 2:16 into the game freshman forward Mallory Weber notched her 11th career goal in her impressive freshman campaign.
“We talk about her being a freshman, but there is nothing about Mallory Weber’s behavior that resembles a freshman,” coach Erica Walsh said . “She is confident, she is unassuming, she is obviously effective, dangerous and everything about her game and her play resembles and upperclassmen.”
After solidifying her starting spot Weber has become a vital component to arguably the best offense in the country. She earned three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors and started 18 of the team’s 19 total games this season .
The Lions offense leads the nation in goals scored per game at 3.16, and leads the Big Ten in assists at 48, corner kicks at 109.
The success of the Lions is in large part credited to the senior leadership of Christine Nairn and Maddy Evans . Evans gave the team the go-ahead goal just 30 minutes into the contest off a corner kick delivered by Raquel Rodriguez . The 2-0 lead would carry the Lions for the rest of the match.
“With the win against Purdue, I was proud of the players’ approach to the game. It is tough to go into matches like that one when you have been working toward the Big Ten championship and you have already won it,” Walsh said. “You see teams that slip during those games, but our team’s mentality was very good to avoid that at all costs.”
With a 1-1 draw against No. 24 Michigan last Sunday, the Lions secured the No. 1 seed going into the Big Ten tournament and will face No. 8 Iowa at 1:30 p.m. in Bloomington, Ind. on Wednesday.
The Lions go into the tournament with a 12-match unbeaten streak and the return of their back line to full strength with Bri Garcia seeing time last week and Kori Chapic expected to make an appearance in Bloomington after sustaining an eye injury.
“I think the momentum is very strong right now; we are taking two days off again so our bodies can recover and we will get back to training [today],” Walsh said.
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