WSOC: Nittany Lions Down the Illini
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions (8-2-2, 4-0-1 Big Ten) women's soccer team hosted an in-conference matchup against The Illinois Fighting Illini (3-9-1, 0-4-1 Big Ten) Friday evening. The Nittany Lions came away with a 2-0 win over Illinois during a wet and cold evening at Jeffrey Field.
Damp and misty conditions were present all day in State College and that weather remained consistent throughout the evening. "Good shutout in tough conditions, I think it's really hard to keep a good team like Illinois off the scoreboard in these types of conditions," head coach Erica Dambach said.
Penn State's victory Friday evening was their fourth consecutive win, all coming against Big Ten opponents. The Nittany Lions have won seven of their last eight games with one tie on September 16 in their Conference season-opener at No. 10 Minnesota.
Penn State junior forward Frannie Crouse broke the scoreless game with a goal early in the first half (12th minute) when her ball snuck past the goalkeeper in the bottom right corner. Crouse's eighth goal of the season was off an assist from junior midfielder Haleigh Echard. Crouse leads Penn State in scoring this season with eight goals.
Crouse scored the team's first goal friday night and showed some love for her teammates after the game.
"Our defense throughout is growing and they've become such a great line and I hate playing against them in practice," she laughed. "They're so great to have back there, they create such a trust that you know they're going to get the ball." Penn State conceded only two goals throughout their last seven games.
Coach Dambach talked about her emphasis on defense.
"We focus so much on the defending piece because you can always do that well,” Dambach said. “Then if the attacking is not coming along then you still have fifty percent of your game going well. I give so much credit to [Marissa] Sheva, Charlotte [Williams] and Haleigh [Echard] because they've come such a long way in their defending."
Dambach acknowledged her sophomore midfielder Marissa Sheva, who scored her first goal of the season Friday evening against Illinois. Sheva's goal came in the 65th minute off an assist from Charlotte Williams. William's pass slipped through the legs of an Illini defender and the low shot from inside the box was buried in the back of the net by Sheva.
"Coming away with another win in the Big Ten is always big for us," Sheva said.
When asked about her role at midfield developing throughout the season Sheva continued to say, "Definitely for all of us it all starts with the defense and countering out, so when defense is going well I think usually that translates well into us having a good attack."
Penn State travels to Indiana to play their next match this upcoming Thursday at 7 p.m. ComRadio's coverage of Penn State's women's soccer continues October 13 versus Rutgers at Jeffrey Field.
Ross Woomer is a senior at Penn State studying Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Ross on Twitter @yaaboyrossdon.