Three-Goal Second Half Propels Penn State into Sweet 16

Story posted November 19, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Jayson O'Connell

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A snow squall that came through Jeffery Field right before kickoff was not enough to stop No. 2 Penn State’s attack as the women’s soccer team beat No. 7 West Virginia 4-0 to advance in the NCAA tournament.

Forward Payton Linnehan led off the scoring with a header goal that came from a cross into the box by midfielder Kate Wiesner. The goal was scored with just 18 seconds played in the match and the Nittany Lions didn’t stop there.

Forward Penelope Hocking scored the second goal on a counter attack in the 56th minute and midfielder Cori Dyke added to the lead less than two minutes later with a goal on a penalty kick.

Dyke, Hocking and Linnehan have all scored in both NCAA Tournament matches and the Nittany Lions have scored eight goals over the two games.

“Belief,” said coach Erica Dambach when asked what is contributing to this postseason performance. “This group is playing with so much belief and those that you mentioned in particular.”

Forward Amelia White joined the goal scoring with her first collegiate goal on a tap-in that came from a ball into the box from Wiesner in the 69th minute.

“When we win the ball, I’ve got excitement that it's going to finish with the ball in the back of the net,” said Dambach. “How do you gameplan against this group right now?”

The first half wasn’t as one sided as the second half though. After Linnehan’s quick goal, West Virginia controlled possession through most of the first 45 minutes.

The Mountaineers had two great chances to score at the end of the first half on shots from defender Julianne Vallerand and midfielder Isabel Loza. Both fired dribbling shots that just went wide of the net within five minutes of each other.

West Virginia was able to out shoot Penn State five to one in a tightly contested first half.

“It was business as usual,” said Dambach when asked about how the winter conditions affected the players’ attitudes. “I thought the response from both groups was to just get down to business and let's play an NCAA Tournament game.”

Penn State’s attacking plan was the same it was all season: patiently pass the ball in its own half until it finds a long ball that can start a quick attack.

West Virginia was given a lot of opportunities to score on set pieces but were unable to get clean shots off on any of its free kicks or corner kicks. The Mountaineers only had three shots on goal compared to Penn State’s eight.

The four-goal win was the second time the Nittany Lions beat the Big 12 Champions this season, as Penn State beat West Virginia 2-0 on August 28th.

The win makes it six straight seasons that Penn State has advanced into the third round of the NCAA Tournament and the seventh time in the last eight seasons.

Penn State will be back at Jeffrey Field on Sunday to take on No. 3 Virginia at 5 pm and the winner will advance to the NCAA quarterfinals.

Jayson O’Connell is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email