Penn State Falls to Virginia at Home
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- No. 8 Penn State (4-2-2) suffered their second loss this weekend as the No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers (8-0) kept their undefeated season alive by defeating the Nittany Lions 2-1.
The Nittany Lions entered the game hoping to upset Virginia as Sunday’s contest marked the first road game for the Cavaliers.
After defeating William & Mary 8-1 on Thursday, the Cavalier offense ranks top-5 nationally in goals(33), points(91) and assists(25). The Nittany Lion defense had big shoes to fill as Kerry Abello remained out after suffering an injury in Friday night’s loss to Oklahoma State.
The first half of the game was lopsided in Virginia’s favor as they controlled 78 percent of the possession and outshot the Nittany Lions 13-2. Senior Meghan McCool scored the lone goal in the first half off a corner in the 16th minute. It was McCool’s seventh goal this season.
Penn State, who started six freshmen, managed to stay in the game despite the lack of scoring opportunities. Penn State head coach Erica Dambach was impressed with her team’s ability to bounce back in the second half.
“We believe in them. What we did in the second half, we were capable of doing in the first half," Dambach said. "With a young group, we are going to make a lot of mistakes. We need to have faith to not play back into pressure, back into our back line and need to attack them.”
The Nittany Lions played much better to start the second half as Ally Schlegel nearly scored on a shot from the top of the box in the 47th minute. The second half lacked scoring opportunities from both teams until Schlegel scored an equalizer in the 85th minute.
Schlegel’s goal came from a free kick by Sam Coffey, who centered the ball for Schlegel around the 6-yard box.
However, Sydney Zandi came back for the Cavaliers within the next minute and pushed the ball in the back of the net giving Virginia a 2-1 lead.
Penn State had a few opportunities to score in the final four minutes of the game, but came up just short.
It’s tough because of [Virginia’s] ability to immediately chase," Schlegel said. "Right when they lose the ball, they go after it. It’s hard to release out of their pressure and in the first half, that was one of the harder things that we were trying to figure out.”
Dambach was impressed with her team’s performance and the number of players that played pivotal minutes for the Nittany Lions. She believes that her team just needs to improve in the attacking third.
“We need more time together," Dambach said. "We have a lot of young players in the attack and the attack is the hardest part to build with your team. We just gotta keep going and believe in the direction we are going.”
Penn State will begin conference play this week as they host Michigan on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Jeffrey Field.
Matthew White is a sophomore studying broadcast journalism with a double minor in spanish and business. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.