Penn State Shuts Out Rutgers 2-0 For B1G Tournament Championship
The Penn State women’s soccer team came out on a mission Sunday at Jeffrey field against the Scarlet Knights, with the school’s sixth Big Ten tournament title on the line. With two goals scored in the first half, the Nittany Lions were able to pull out a win as a result of powerful defense and extended ball possession.
“It was a fantastic final” head coach Erica Walsh said. “I’m obviously really proud of the way the team came out. From start to finish we battled, we kept our composure. I thought we played Penn State soccer on both sides of the ball.”
It was Rutgers who came out aggressive to begin the first half, while Penn State played a safer game to start. Penn State struggled to get past the Scarlet Knight’s defense early, but then turned up their a game a notch and played aggressive till the game’s end. Aggressive play in the offensive zone and control of the ball resulted in Penn State’s first goal, only 8:28 into the half.
On Penn State’s first corner kick, Nickolette Driesse positioned the ball perfectly into the box, where Raquel Rodriguez could head the ball with ease toward the goal. Defender Elizabeth Ball redirected the ball over an outstretched Casey Murphy for her second goal on the season.
From then on, Rutgers had a few opportunities on Penn State’s side, but were unable to turn those opportunities into goals. Penn State dominated playing the midfield with continuous passing, which led to offensive chances.
“It’s so important because if we’re swinging the ball from them, the other teams just get so tired," said sophomore Elizabeth Ball. "It’s hard to chase the ball as much as they have to when we’re swinging it and our midfielders are just keeping the ball. So, it’s definitely so important”.
With Penn State taking control of the ball for the majority of the first half after the first goal and a dominant play by midfielders, Raquel Rodriguez, Emily Ogle, and Nickolette Driesse, a second goal came from high quality passing.
The Nittany Lions had continuous play in front of the Scarlet Knights’ goal before Frannie Crouse struck the ball roughly 18 yards from the goal, which was then blocked by a Rutgers defender that went right to Emily Ogle. Ogle moved up the field and struck the ball past Casey Murphy into the top left of the net, putting the Lions up two.
“It felt good. It was a good strike”, said Emily Ogle commenting on her goal. “It was just an overall team effort. All of us worked together, won the ball back, and that’s what led to that chance”.
“Good things happen when Ogle touches the ball, there’s not doubt about that,” Walsh commented on Ogle’s play this weekend. “These two games were conducive to her finding the ball more. I thought Raquel did a nice job of creating space for her and attracting a crowd, but Ogie was outstanding all weekend”.
The Nittany Lions had control of the ball for most of the second half and when Rutgers did have the ball, the Lions defense shut down the Scarlet Knights’ offense.
Goalie Britt Eckerstrom commented on the play in front of her net, “These guys in front of me are lights out and not just the back four. Starting with Franny’s work ethic up top, its total team defense. It’s every on the teams goal to shut down teams. It starts from the top, but our back line is really solid and really good”.
The team is peaking at the right time, now moving forward into the NCAA tournament and Ball even said, “we’re still going up.” The youth of the team are looking to play for their seniors and push to continue improving with more experience. Now that the Lions have just won the Big Ten Championship a lot is looking up for this team and there are a lot of positive expectations moving forward.
The NCAA will announce the bracket for the Division I women’s soccer championship Monday, Nov. 9, live on NCAA.com at 4:30 p.m. The first round of play begins next weekend.
Alissa Devine is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org