Penn State Breezes by Iowa in Big Ten Quarterfinals on 2 First-Half Goals
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State defeated Iowa, 2-0, in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals Sunday afternoon in a well-rounded effort. Iowa entered the match having finished perhaps one of its best regular seasons in program history, tying the school records for overall wins and and Big Ten wins.
Penn State struck first against Iowa in the 20th minute of the match on an exciting goal from Payton Linnehan. Linnehan blasted a shot from outside the penalty box that ricocheted off the crossbar and was ruled no goal on the field. The officials proceeded to review the play, and determined that the ball landed inside the goal line after deflecting off the crossbar. Linnehan and the Nittany Lions were awarded the goal to go up, 1-0.
The first half was limited offensively, as just a handful of chances were presented for each team, but Penn State continued to make the most of its opportunities. Rachel Wasserman scored her first goal of the season off of a Sam Coffey centering pass to extend the Nittany Lions’ lead to 2-0 with 9:30 left in the first half. The combination of Linnehan and Wasserman symbolized the team’s growth since its rough stretch in the middle of the season, as well as its ability to get production from anywhere on the roster.
“Those two have been knocking all season long, and I love the both of them to get rewarded for all their hard work, but you really see the chemistry coming together,” head coach Erica Dambach said. “I think we are dangerous from a lot of different spaces right now, and that makes it hard to defend.”
The Nittany Lions and the Hawkeyes both showed aggressiveness on offense, quickly getting into the opposing penalty box and creating scoring chances. Iowa totaled eight shots, four of them on goal, in the first half. Penn State was efficient in fewer chances, converting two of its three shots on goal.
Offside calls were a thorn in the side of the Nittany Lions in the first half, as one call negated a goal for Penn State.
Penn State goalkeeper Amanda Dennis was largely brilliant for her team, saving all six shots on goal. Dennis did however have a hiccup, nearly letting the ball roll into the goal after losing her grip after on a shot that she initially stopped. In the end though, her stout play helped frustrate a Hawkeyes team that attempted 12 shots, several of which were forced from distance out of sheer desperation. The Nittany Lions stood tall despite a high volume of offensive chances, and their physical play coaxed Iowa into bad decisions with the ball.
Despite not nearly creating as many offensive chances as Iowa and controlling the ball less, Penn State was still able to control the tempo of the match, dictating the quality of opportunities that the Hawkeyes had and setting the tone defensively.
Up next, the Nittany Lions have a date with No. 8-seeded Purdue following the Boilermakers’ upset of top-seeded Wisconsin.
Jeremy Ganes is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.