WLAX: Nittany Lions Defeat Virginia for Sixth Straight Win
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Taking on a No. 15-ranked Virginia team (7-7), No. 5 Penn State (13-1) was expected by many to soar to an easy victory.
The Cavaliers showed they were not going to make it easy for Penn State as Virginia scored four straight goals, finishing the first period with a 6-4 lead. However, a momentum shift in the second half saw Penn State score the first two goals and outscore Virginia 8-2 to win the game 12-8 at home.
Penn State picked up the first goal of the game as Kayla Brisolari slammed one in for the Nittany Lions. Despite a strong start for the team, Virginia answered back after picking up two goals within a minute of each other.
The Nittany Lions matched the Cavaliers after Kelly Daggett racked up two goals for Penn State to tie the game at 2-2. After neither team scored for nearly five minutes, Virginia scored another goal after winning the draw and continued to execute on Penn State’s turnovers, taking a 6-2 lead with 8:02 left in the first period.
The Cavaliers’ defense played aggressive in the first period, holding Penn State scoreless for nearly 17 minutes. Towards the end of the first period, Penn State was able to decrease their deficit after Steph Lazo picked up her first goal of the game. Katie O’Donnell was able cut the Cavaliers’ lead even more, firing a shot in with three seconds left that saw Virginia take a 6-4 lead at the half.
“I think offensively, our movement wasn’t practical for meeting their defense in the first half,” Penn State head coach Missy Doherty said. “We needed to change the movement a little to be more aggressive and be willing to go out and make some plays instead of waiting for them to happen.”
Penn State listened to Coach Doherty as the team emerged in the second period more aggressive on offense, picking up the first two goals to tie the game 6-6. With one of the Nittany Lions’ top scorers Steph Lazo being heavily guarded, other players began to step up on offense.
“Once our top option got stopped in the first half, we didn’t really work well into figuring out the ‘what’s next’,” Doherty said. “We really encourage them that once our main scorers get stopped, we have a lot of other people that can contribute.”
Abby Smucker stepped up to deliver two goals for the Nittany Lions and Maddie Gallagher picked up one as well to give Penn State their first lead of the second half. Madison Carter, three-time Big 10 Offensive Player of the Week, picked up her 49th goal of the season to give the Nittany Lions a 10-7 lead.
Virginia answered back with another goal, but O’Donnell was able to complete her hat trick with 8:32 left to bring Penn State back on top by two. Kayla Brisolari was able to seal the victory after picking up the final goal and closing the game with a 12-8 victory on Senior Day for the Nittany Lions.
“It was a great team win and great Senior Day for the seniors on the team,” Smucker said. “We struggled a little in the first half, but it showed a lot as a team that we were able to regroup and come out stronger in the second.”
Ellie French is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.