Penn State women’s soccer takes on Rutgers, Illinois
After dropping nine spots in the United Soccer Coaches poll, Penn State will have two chances this week to climb back up the rankings.
The Nittany Lions sit at 5-1-2 on the season after a scoreless draw against Indiana. Despite the efforts of standout goal scorers such as Ally Schlegel and Mieke Schiemann, the team has recently been struggling to find the back of the net. The Nittany Lions will need to find their offensive consistency as they prepare to face Rutgers this Thursday.
The No. 4 Scarlet Knights have been dominating the pitch this season with a record of 9-0. The team has scored 29 goals, averaging over three per game. It’s safe to say the Penn State defense will need to bring their A-game, especially against top scorers Sam Kroeger and Allison Lowrey, who have already racked up six goals a piece.
In addition to those two, the Nittany Lions must also be on the lookout for sophomore forward Riley Tiernan, who was previously named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and has continued to establish herself as one of the top players in the conference.
If they are able to get a multitude of shots off, the Nittany Lions offense may find success against Rutgers goalkeeper Meagan McClelland. The graduate student has so far only dealt with 21 shots this season, making 16 saves and allowing five in the back of the net.
Regardless of the score, this game is expected to be hard fought and physical, with both teams having already collected a combined total of 14 yellow cards.
The game will take place at 6 p.m. this Thursday at Jeffrey Field in Happy Valley.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Penn State will take on Illinois for its second home game of the week. Although the Fighting Illini are currently unranked, they have secured five wins this season with a record of 5-3-1, and a total of 18 goals so far. They have certainly proved themselves as a team that should not be underestimated.
The Nittany Lions should once again be looking to challenge the Illinois defensive line as well as goalkeeper Julia Cili. So far this season, the team has allowed 13 goals as a result of leaving players open and poorly covering shooting lanes in their defensive third. This may be a golden opportunity for Penn State to increase their goal count for the season.
That being said, the Nittany Lions defense should be on high alert as they face offensive players such as senior midfielder Kendra Pasquale, who currently leads the team in goals having three under her belt, as well as the rest of the Illinois offense, who are just as eager to score.
Since 2002, the Fighting Illini have gone 13-0 at Jeffrey Field. Depending on the outcome of Thursday’s game against Rutgers, this Sunday’s game could be an absolute must-win for the Nittany Lions.
The game will take place at noon this Sunday on Jeffrey Field.
Anna Licastro is a first-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.