SAN DIEGO— On the Richter scale, Penn State's win of the College Cup semifinals was equivalent to a 10-magnitude earthquake, not just because it was played in Southern California, but because of the force behind it.
Things were looking bright for the top-ranked Nittany Lions through 89 minutes of play as they held a 1-0 lead over No. 1-seeded Florida State in the national semifinal.
But with 40 seconds left on the clock Florida State’s leading goal scored by Tiffany McCarty kept the Seminoles national championship hopes alive by scoring a game-tying goal that sent the contest to overtime.
The game, the season and her Penn State career was on the line, but Christine Narin would not let her career end on a heart breaker.
Even though she does not wear the captain’s armband, she is just as much a leader on the field. And with the season on the line, all eyes turned to Narin heading into overtime.
“Christine pulled us all in and basically told us, it wasn’t the nicest way but it got through to us. She just told us like ‘this is it, this defines us, these moments are what makes us so good,’ ” freshman forward Mallory Weber said. “When she told us this we all just looked at each other and were like we can do this, we can finish this in the next 30 seconds.”
When the overtime period started Penn State gained possession fast and Nairn took the ball up the field, passed it off to Maya Hayes as she broke down the left side.
Hayes drove into the box looking for an opening, but was quickly trapped by two defenders and was forced to look for an outlet pass to Maddy Evans just outside the 18-yard box. Evans was open in space and sent a ball inside the box to Nairn who snuck past the last defender to send the ball to the right side of the net for the game winner.
“To be honest I don’t really remember the play, the whole night I guess is a little blacked out,” Nairn said. “We had been trying to counter attack them, I think Florida State just played the ball forward and we just kicked it off higher up on the field to our goal. They did all the hard work I just tapped it in.”
And that is how it has been done all season long for the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year.
Including Friday night's tally, Nairn has scored six game-winning goals. But this one, perhaps, came at the most crucial point in her career in the first minute of overtime to give Penn State its first-ever championship berth.
“[Through the course of the season] you just see their shoulders go back, they pause, they take a breath, and then Christine there steps up and leads the charge,” Penn State coach Erica Walsh said. “When we went into overtime the staff got together and looked over and Christine’s there right in the middle of the group looking them in the eyes giving them the poise, the composure, and all the confidence in the world to go into the overtime period and win the game.”
With the game-winner, Nairn scored her 17th goal of the season, tying her goals scored for her previous three seasons combined.
The senior credits her success this season to the new fitness routine she did this summer before the season fall 2012 season. She said that she sat down with Walsh before she left last year where she told her to “get her act together” and Nairn said that she took that to heart.
“When you can turn it over to your players and they can step up in those big moments that’s probably your proudest moment as a coach and your work is done because soccer is a player’s game and when you can turn it over to them and they can step up, that’s when your work is done,” Walsh said