Penn State Rides Big Second Half to First Round Victory
It was do or die in Happy Valley, as the second-seeded Penn State took on Quinnipiac in the first round of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament. The Nittany Lions took care of business, defeating the Bobcats 4-1.
Quinnipiac entered this contest on the heels of a nearly perfect 2022 campaign, where it went 16-2-1, and 10-1 in the MAAC. This record season sent the Bobcats to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2000.
Penn State women's soccer battled through the Big Ten tournament, where it entered as the sixth seed and earned shutouts in the first two rounds over higher ranked teams.
In the tournament championship, Penn State topped the top ranked Michigan State 3-2.
Once the first whistle blew, it did not take the Nittany Lion’s long to start firing, as they put up their first shot less than two minutes into play.
The game was tied at zero through the first twenty minutes, with Penn State dominating the game in possession, rarely letting the Bobcats into their defensive end. However, the Nittany Lions found themselves unable to find success with their attempts.
Kate Wiesner quickly changed that narrative and found a wide open Payton Linnehan where she launched one to the back corner to secure the lead.
Despite lots of scoring opportunities, Penn State was held to just one point through the first half, while effectively keeping Quinnipiac off the board.
Sofia Lospinoso, the junior keeper for the Bobcats, put up a stellar performance allowing only one goal off 13 shots in the first half alone.
The Bobcats entered the second half with a 0-0 mentality prepared to capitalize on pressuring Asman and found themselves more opportunities throughout the second half.
Less than two minutes into the second, Markela Bejleri sent a rocket right past Penn State’s goalie Katherine Asman to knot the score at one a piece.
It didn’t take long for Linnehan to strike back, as she helped Penn State reclaim the lead by sending another one to the back of the net off an assist by Penelope Hocking.
Only needing a pair of scores from Linnehan to win the game, the Nittany Lions defense pulled out every slide tackle, won every 50-50 ball and blocked all shooting opportunities to make sure they’d leave the field victorious.
As the clock ran thin and the flurries began to fall, the game got gritty between the two in a win or go home matchup.
Quinnipiac’s star player, Rebecca Cooke, found herself down a few times throughout the contest, and was not seen for a majority of the second half due to a presumed right leg injury.
This could evidently have changed the momentum for the Bobcat’s entirely, as Cooke leads the nation in total goals with 22, as well as leading the conference in six different offensive statistics.
While Quinnipiac found itself unable to record any more goals, the Penn State offense proceeded to buy more insurance tallying two late-game goals by Penelope Hocking and Cori Dyke to increase the lead 4-1.
Looking for any remnant of hope, the Bobcats pulled out all fighting stops, but were only able to tally more injuries. With two players leaving the field in the game’s waning moments, the team proceeded to play their game and honor their seniors.
Knowing Penn State was likely to move forward to the next round, Quinnipiac substituted their seniors in and let the clock run out on them one final time.
The Nittany Lions claimed victory and move on to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they will face West Virginia on Friday, November 18.
Molly White is a third-year majoring in Kinesiology, to contact her, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Second Year / Kinesiology - Movement Science
Molly White is a second year student studying Kinesiology with a concentration in Movement Science at Penn State University Park. She is from South Kingstown, Rhode Island, and is looking to pursue a career in sports, currently exploring other interests in the field outside of her current major, looking to gain a more broad experience and gain more knowledge.