Meghan Murray’s hat trick paves the way as No. 25 Penn State takes down Duquesne
University Park, PA - From hail to rainbows in Happy Valley, there was nothing but sunshine once the No. 25 Nittany Lions took the field to face off against the Dukes of Duquesne on a picture-perfect State College afternoon.
Coming off an underwhelming six-win season in 2022, Penn State has dominated its competition through three undefeated games in the 2023 campaign.
Thus far, the Nittany Lions have tallied a minimum of a nine-goal deficit against each of their opponents, collectively outscoring them 50-17.
With Kristin O’Neill in the driver's seat, it is no surprise that Penn State has had an explosive year in its offensive unit.
O’Neill, the former Big Ten Freshman of the year, has been a household name for Penn State fans as she led the team in goals, points and turnovers caused throughout her 2022 campaign.
The Maryland native still leads the team in goals scored, with nine in their first two games.
Holding a 10-0 all-time matchup record over the Dukes, it was no surprise to see the Nittany Lions raising the stakes early.
Despite missing Penn State’s first game of the season, Alaina Hamood made her presence known immediately, scoring her first of two goals on the day in the opening possession.
It did not take the Dukes long to even the score as Delaney Rodriguez-Shaw knotted it at one just under five minutes into play.
What initially seemed to be a close-knit matchup, then turned to domination from the Nittany Lions, tallying four of their five first-quarter goals within the opening ten minutes of play.
Ending the first with only a three-goal deficit, the Dukes came out firing on the defensive end, increasing their pressure and contact on the relentless Nittany Lions offense, holding them to only four second-quarter goals.
Through the first half, the Duquesne defense forced six turnovers but was only able to convert two of these into goals.
This Dukes’ ferocious defensive performance was not enough to generate much offensive momentum to catch up, entering the second half with only three goals to Penn State’s nine.
“It was a good day for us in the sense that Duquesne played both in a zone and a man,” Coach Doherty said, ”It really gave us a great chance to learn about how to keep adjusting in the game regardless of what the defense is playing.”
After regrouping at the half, the Nittany Lions exercised their depth and let the younger players take the reins, and they did just that. The offense recorded six goals from five different players through the third quarter alone, while holding the Dukes to none through the same period of play.
Penn State went on an eight-goal streak which ended late in the fourth quarter as the Dukes put up two quick goals from Delaney Rodriguez-Shaw and Chloe Holmes to cut their deficit.
But Penn State’s Kelsey Kimmel was eager to get the last goal as she rolled the crease and sunk one bar-down to seal the total at 19, extending their record to a perfect 3-0.
The Blue and White put on a show all across the board, as they had 11 different players record goals, one of which being Meghan Murray who had her fourth career hat-trick on the day.
Murray praised her teammates for all the work they put in across the field to get as many opportunities at the net as they did, especially the younger players on the roster.
“We know that any person on our team could go out there on the field and do great,” said Murray, “But going out there and being able to prove that to yourself has been able to help every person on this team a lot.”
As for the Dukes, their sophomore all-star and former 2022 Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year recorded a hat trick on the day, seeming to be the only hope for their otherwise lackluster offense.
The biggest component throughout this matchup was possession, and the Nittany Lions were able to dominate through draw controls, tallying twenty to the Dukes' six.
Penn State midfielder Kayla Abernathy recorded a season-high and career-tying eight draw controls herself.
Duquesne drops another heartbreaker moving onto 0-3, whereas Penn State remains undefeated heading into their matchup against Arizona State Friday at home.
Molly White is a third-year majoring in Journalism, to contact her, message email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Second Year / Kinesiology - Movement Science
Molly White is a second year student studying Kinesiology with a concentration in Movement Science at Penn State University Park. She is from South Kingstown, Rhode Island, and is looking to pursue a career in sports, currently exploring other interests in the field outside of her current major, looking to gain a more broad experience and gain more knowledge.