Women's Soccer v. Maryland_06

Forward Sam Coffey (17) turns to her teammates in triumph after scoring the first goal over Maryland keeper Liz Brucia (24) of the match during the Penn State Women's Soccer match against Maryland on Friday, Oct. 9, 2021, at Jeffery fields; Penn State won 5-1 against Maryland.

Penn State got off to a slow start at the beginning of Big Ten play but has turned things around, picking up its second straight win over Indiana.

Coming into the showdown against the Nittany Lions, the Hoosiers allowed the fewest goals in the league with five.

The blue and white did not let the strong Indiana defense deter it, though, as Penn State put up three goals on the Hoosiers Wednesday night — the most Indiana has allowed in a game all season.

Coach Erica Dambach credits the three goals that her offense cooked up to its ability to keep the Hoosiers on their heels.

“There was a lot of variety in our offense,” Dambach said. “Players were more committed to their runs and we forced their defense to face their own goal.”

One offensive weapon that emerged against Indiana was junior midfielder Jordan Canniff.

Canniff notched her first game with multiple goals, as she scored two, contributing to the 3-0 win.

The Maryland native was appreciative toward her teammates on her personal record-setting night.

“My teammates put me in the right position to score,” Canniff said. “It was just an amazing feeling being able to be back out there full time.”

This season there has, primarily, been one or two scorers carrying the load for Penn State.

The Nittany Lions’ leading scorer is fifth-year midfielder Sam Coffey with eight goals on the season, and the next closest player is junior midfielder Payton Linnehan with six.

After those two offensive weapons, Penn State has seen a host of players chip in occasionally, but no one who finds the back of the net as consistently.

However, Dambach liked the scoring boost she got from unusual suspects in Wednesday night's match.

“Overall, I thought there was some good creativity,” Dambach said. “The group was dynamic and we have quite a few threats, unlike what we’ve had these last couple of games.”

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With injuries to Penn State’s offense popping up, like when redshirt junior forward Ally Schlegel was subbed out for a portion of the game, the Nittany Lions have seen a lot of new faces floating around the lineup.

At this point, Canniff thinks the team is all used to playing with one another and has developed a chemistry that is working well.

“We are just a powerhouse at times,” Canniff said. “Having Schlegel, Sam and our sixes up there is just amazing. We can rotate and I think in general we just really play well together.”

In the past couple of games, the veteran Coffey has emerged as Penn State’s top offensive weapon.

In the 5-1 win over Maryland, Coffey recorded her first career hat trick in just the first half, and against Indiana, Coffey was not quiet, scoring a goal on a penalty kick in the 55th minute to extend the Nittany Lions’ lead to two.

Other than scoring, Coffey’s teammates look at more than just what she provides on the stat sheet — They see how she makes the whole team better.

“She plays well with everybody and I think Sam is a great leader,” Canniff said. “She’s really been able to push our whole team to be better and just to win more games.”

Coffey’s veteran leadership on the team is just another layer to her presence on the pitch, and this Penn State team recognizes the impact she has when she steps on the field.

In terms of numbers, Coffey has the third-most goals in the Big Ten with eight, which is just three behind former teammate senior midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri of Rutgers with 11.

Midway through the second half, Penn State was awarded a penalty kick and Dambach knew right away which player was going to take it.

Coffey took the penalty kick for the Nittany Lions and scored it, solidifying Dambach’s belief in choosing her for the kick.

“It’s Sam Coffey,” Dambach said. “When the game is on the line, I want Sam Coffey taking the shot.”

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