Women’s soccer downs Ohio State

Story posted September 19, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Michael Katz

The Big Ten home opener for the Penn State women’s soccer team was a satisfying victory, as the Nittany Lions defeated rival Ohio State 5-1 in front of a crowd of over 2,000 at Jeffrey Field. An offensive explosion by Penn State, including two goals from freshman striker Frannie Crouse, highlighted the game.

The rivalry vibe was present in the game. The game featured rough play on each side, with 13 fouls by the Buckeyes and eight by the Nittany Lions.

“Its not something we plan to do, but we’re not going to let anyone push us off the ball and we’re going to fight for our teammates together so if someone is pushing us around we’re going to push just as hard back,” said sophomore Salina Williford.

The scoring began just two and a half minutes in, as a Mallory Weber cross knocked off of a defender right to the feet of Crouse in front of the net. Crouse finished it off past goalkeeper Megan Geldernick to make it a 1-0 game.

“I felt we came out hard and to put a team on their heels in the first five minutes and to get a goal, it just takes the wind out of their sails,” said Penn State head coach Erica Walsh.

Penn State continued to play aggressively on offense throughout the first half, with several chances that were saved by Geldernick. The Nittany Lions were finally able to stretch the lead to two goals as Williford capitalized on an Ohio State turnover by dribbling down the middle of the field and ripping one past Geldernick for her first career goal.

“It was definitely exciting for me because in a few past games I’ve been having a lot of chances and not being able to finish, so it was exciting to get that first goal,” said Williford.

Penn State was able to keep the score at 2-0 going into the half.

Ohio State flipped the script and got on the board early in the second half to cut the deficit to a goal. Less than a minute into the period, midfielder Sydney Dudley headed a rebound over Penn State goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom. The goal was the first shot the Buckeyes had put on goal in the game.

“It’s never good to give up a goal, but it’s about the response when tough things happen,” said Walsh.

The response was strong, and came just three minutes later.  After Raquel Rodriguez was fouled just outside the box, Penn State was awarded a free kick. Emily Ogle kicked the ball to the front of the net, which created a scramble for the ball. Whitney Church was the first to the ball, and was able to nudge it by Geldernick to extend the lead back to two.

“I just kind of beat my mark and ran through the ball in hopes that I would connect with it and I just kind of tapped it in after that and beat the keeper so I was just in the right place at the right time,” said Church.

The defense also showed a strong response, holding Ohio State to only two shots in the game.

Crouse later turned on the burners after a through pass by Weber, and was able to get past the defender and score on a breakaway to put the lead out of reach. The freshman from Greensburg, Pennsylvania totaled four shots on goal in the game along with the two goals, and now has four goals on the season.

“The team has made my transition so easy and they are who sets me up for those goals so I really credit my team with helping me transition,” said Crouse.

The icing on the cake came with 12 minutes remaining, as Rodriguez scored on a beautiful cross from freshman substitute Haleigh Echard.

“One of the things we’ve been emphasizing is, when we do get that early goal, to not let up. We really focused on getting the next shot and getting the next goal and I think they did a great job of that tonight,” said Walsh.

Penn State improved to a 7-1 record on the season. It is the team’s best start since 2005, when it went 23-0 before losing to Portland in the national semifinals. The win Friday night was the first game in a four game home stand for the Nittany Lions. 

“Jeffrey is our home and no field can compare to ours, so when we’re here we take advantage of it,” said Crouse.

Michael Katz is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mak5672@psu.edu.