Friday night, the Penn State women's soccer team opened its home season in style, dominating No. 17 West Virginia a 5-0 victory. Here's a look at how the Nittany Lions did on the field.
GK Erin McNulty- The fifth-year senior had a strong game in net, making four saves and keeping a clean sheet in 74:09 of playing time. McNulty's biggest moment of the game came in the 12th minute when she tipped a shot from West Virginia's Blake Miller from the close right wing over the bar, keeping the Mountaineers from stealing momentum back early. The keeper even managed to get in on the scoring, playing a long punt that Taylor Schram redirected for Maya Hayes' first goal, picking up an assist.
GK Krissy Tribbett - Tribbett played the last 15:51, facing mainly backups, but she did her job preserving the shutout and making two saves. With McNulty in the fold, Tribbett has returned to backup status, but she gives Penn State a second keeper with starting experience.
D Bri Hovington - The sophomore played 50 minutes, being subbed out in each half, but Penn State led big early. Hovington was involved in the attack early, matching well with Maddy Evans.
D Emma Thomson - The senior co-captain stepped up big time, playing 80 minutes, mostly in a centre back role. Thomson came up with several big tackles that thwarted West Virginia buildups and she played a long free kick to Taylor Schram for a header that forced a great save by Mountaineers keeper Sara Keane,
D Carly Niness - Niness started next to Thomson and was steady overall, though she did make a few risky tackles. The Lions defense was stellar all night on set pieces and Niness played a big role with her athletic ability helping win headers.
D Kori Chapic - Chapic is a machine. The freshman played 83 minutes at left back and made countless runs up and down the field without seeming to get tired. In the second half, Chapic was essentially a third winger, playing two quality crosses that led to scoring opportunities. She also had a play in the second half where she missed a tackle at about the halfway line, turned around and chased down the attacker and made the stop inside the box.
D Whitney Church - Church is Penn State's first defender off the bench and despite being a freshman, plays with a lot of poise. Church made a few solid tackles, stayed composed and like the rest of the outside defenders, made an imprint on the attack
D Lexi Marton - The co-captain came off the bench for the third game in a row and like the rest of the Lions defense, helped post a clean bill. Marton had a scary moment in the final minutes of the game, taking a hard tackle and going down on the field. However, the junior quickly hopped up and walked it off, even joking with teammates about it as she was subbed off.
M Bri Garcia - Garcia was strong in the middle of the field. With Christine Nairn heavily involved in the attack, Garcia took up the defensive role, helping keep the back line organized and distributing the ball up the field. Garcia played 57 minutes, and tallied an assist on Penn State's final goal, playing a ball to Schram that the sophomore backheel passed to Hayes.
M Christine Nairn - Nairn tallied her first points of the season, picking up two assists Friday night. The junior showed why she was an All-American last year, one play schooling two defenders with her dribble before playing the ball off to the wing. Nairn's through balls were on point all night, springing Schram three times for breakaways and playing the ball to Rosenbluth that led to the opening goal.
M Maddy Evans - Evans didn't waste her big chance, making a hard run into the box on Rosenbluth's second minute cross, and connecting with the ball when Hayes couldn't quite get to it. The junior then repaid Rosenbluth a few minutes later after hustling to get to a ball on the endline and driving it back across the box for Rosenbluth to finish.
M Jess Rosenbluth - The senior played 69 minutes, but made the most of them, constantly positioning herself to make a good run. Sitting right on West Virginia's back line, Rosenbluth was able to get behind the defense several times, serving the cross for the opening goal and being in the right place to finish Evans' volley.
M Jackie Molinda - Molinda came on as a substitute outside midfielder, after playing defense the first two games. The junior didn't have a huge impact, making a few plays and connecting passes, but didn't have that "big" cross or feed that led to a goal. It didn't help that the starting four midfielders all had assists, which probably overshadowed an otherwise effective game.
M Ali Schaefer - Schaefer played just 33 minutes, spelling Garcia, but when she was on, the senior did what she always does. Playing the holding role, Schaefer kept it simple, playing short passes and using her voice as a weapon, keeping the team organized around her.
F Taylor Schram - Schram had a few moments she'll want back, but overall, the sophomore had a huge game, tallying three assists and a goal. While she isn't the biggest player on the field, Schram scrapped and battled in front of the net and used her quick first step to catch up to through balls from Nairn. It's early, but the Schram-Hayes pair has plenty of potential
F Maya Hayes - The forward meshed well with Schram from the get-go and their combination on the backheel flick was a piece of art. Hayes' speed was too much for West Virginia, and the forward was constantly getting behind the back line to put pressure on the Mountaineers. Hayes had a golden chance after she drew Keane off her line, but pushed the ball wide of the far post. While she'd likely want another crack at that, Hayes did put away two goals with plenty of confidence.
F/M Kindrah Kohne, Ellen Arnaud, Meghan Gill - All three came on as coach Erica Walsh emptied her bench late in the second half, picking up 13 minutes of playing time. With the game well decided, Penn State was just looking to run out clock and there wasn't a huge emphasis on pushing up for a goal, but it was nice to see the reserves get some time