Coming off back-to-back defeats against Wisconsin and Rutgers, Penn State rediscovered its spark on the road.
Coach Erica Dambach’s team was able to finish the job this time, downing the Buckeyes 3-2 in Columbus.
It didn’t take long for the Nittany Lions to get on the board, as Ally Schlegel cooly finished her ninth goal of the season, assisted by Kerry Abello in the 4th minute.
Penn State doubled its lead in the 38th minute. Several opportunities in front of goal were denied by the Buckeyes, but Maddie Myers eventually found the back of the net for the redshirt freshman’s first goal as a Nittany Lion.
The Buckeyes came out in the second half determined to make a comeback, showing more aggression going forward.
Despite the momentum shift, it was the Nittany Lions who struck first in the latter half of the game, coming in the 61st minute.
Devon Olive slotted a perfect pass to Jordan Canniff who took a beautiful turn and fired on goal to add to the Nittany Lions’ lead. The freshman became the second player in the match, along with Myers, to score her first collegiate goal.
Despite Penn State’s commanding lead, the Buckeyes finally found life in the 69th minute. On the ensuing free kick from a Penn State handball just outside the 18-yard box, Ohio State’s Izzy Rodriguez sent an absolute rocket past Amanda Dennis, who could only stand and watch.
In the 76th minute, Ohio State added another goal off the head of Kitty Jones-Black at the far post after Penn State failed to clear the preceding service from the left side.
Despite the second-half scare, the Nittany Lions held on to complete the victory.
Composure on the ball
An improvement on their recent performances, the Nittany Lions showcased increased patience in their buildup play, often making backward passes to reset the attack instead of forcing the ball forward.
One of the flaws of Penn State’s attack has been a lack of chemistry and a tendency to turn the ball over quickly, but against the Buckeyes, short passes and slow buildup were the key to construction a cohesive offensive threat.
Abello was once again active on the left wing, providing explosive runs and skillful movement on the ball. The junior made her mark on the scoresheet with her assist on Schlegel’s goal.
Penn State felt a considerable impact from its substitutes, as Myers, Canniff, Olive, and Rachel Wasserman were only a few Nittany Lions to see significant minutes off the bench.
Olive’s assist along with Myers’ and Canniff’s first goals for Penn state proved a testament to the depth of the Nittany Lions’ squad.
Lapse in composure
The Nittany Lions are no stranger to conceding late goals in 2019, and that was the case yet again against the Buckeyes.
Ohio State completely reversed the momentum in the second half, racking up 13 shots compared to their 2 in the first half. The Nittany Lions were limited to only 5 shots in the latter period after registering 9 in the opening half.
Ohio State scoring twice in the final 25 minutes of the game nearly caused another late breakdown of Penn State’s defense, but it was able to escape with the victory thanks to its dominant first-half performance.
Penn State will next head to Bloomington, Indiana to take on the Hoosiers in the second game of its road trip.