Penn State faced its first adversity of the season when it fell in the second match of a tough five-game road trip.
The Nittany Lions’ 2-1 loss to UCF stemmed from a lightning delay that began roughly 10 minutes into the second half with the score tied 1-1. It lasted nearly two and a half hours thereafter, producing a less-than-ideal remainder of the match in which the Nittany Lions conceded the game-winning goal to the Knights.
Currently sitting with a 6-1 record to start the season, the Nittany Lions have since shown a greater sense of resilience.
Following the upset loss on the road, Penn State had the chance to bounce back and upset Virginia in Charlottesville, which it succeeded in doing by dominating the nation’s third-ranked program 4-2.
Three days later, still in Charlottesville, Penn State took on North Carolina State and stole a 1-0 victory with a last-minute goal from Kate Wiesner.
The goal was Wiesner’s first since scoring against Stanford in the opening match of the 2019 season.
In the miraculous win, Penn State was in danger of being held without a shot on goal for the first time since its November 2019 NCAA Tournament defeat to Stanford, as coach Erica Dambach’s team had failed to register a shot on goal through 82 minutes.
Coming completely against the run of play, Wiesner’s goal turned around a game that appeared to favor North Carolina State.
Through the Nittany Lions’ pair of crucial road wins, standout individual performances along with combined team efforts have contributed to their success.
Facing 28 total shots from the Cavaliers, goalkeeper Katherine Asman responded with a career-high nine saves, and she followed up the performance with a five-save shutout against the Wolfpack.
While virtually absent from the stat sheet, Kerry Abello has given her all on defense, making tackles and clearances to deny the opposition’s chances.
At the other end of the pitch, Penn State’s tentpole offensive players showed up when it mattered most, as Sam Coffey, Payton Linnehan and Ally Schlegel all scored against Virginia.
Coffey’s hot start is nothing new for the midfielder in her fifth collegiate season. Her three goals and three assists thus far put her on pace for another stellar run.
Linnehan has racked up six goals through the Nittany Lions’ opening seven matches, equaling the total of her freshman season in 2019 and surpassing that of the spring 2021 campaign.
Schlegel also has a trio of goals to her name at this point in the season. The redshirt junior will be key in Penn State’s upcoming Big Ten slate, as she strives to surpass her previous season totals of 13 and 11 goals in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
From a team perspective, the Nittany Lions only fired seven shots on target against Virginia, but their clinical finishing in front of goal allowed them to score four times.
During the contest with North Carolina State, Penn State looked down and out for most of the match, but it managed to summon the tenacity needed to come out with an improbable win in a game that wasn’t going its way.
Moving forward, Penn State is set to face a Rutgers team that has lost two straight to Princeton and Georgetown to open Big Ten play.
With the most challenging part of its schedule nearly over, Penn State enters conference play with momentum on its side.
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