No. 10 Penn State and No. 21 West Virginia met Thursday night at Jeffrey Field, and the East Coast rivals pulled no punches.
The Nittany Lions topped the Mountaineers 2-0 for their second shutout victory in a row.
Like it did in its first two matches, the blue and white controlled the time of possession early on. Coach Erica Dambach’s team managed 11 shots in the first half, but couldn’t break through.
The Mountaineers rebounded late in the first half, creating scoring opportunities of their own. A free kick from defender Jordan Brewster nearly found the bottom corner, but Penn State goalkeeper Katherine Asman pushed it out to keep things scoreless.
In the 56th minute, the Nittany Lions pounced for their first goal. Senior forward Payton Linnehan rolled up the sideline, finding senior forward Jordan Canniff in the middle of the field to put Penn State in front 1-0.
The blue and white sunk the dagger in the 71st minute, with sophomore defender Mieke Schiemann scoring her first career goal off of a corner kick by Penelope Hocking.
Missed opportunities early
Penn State’s offense picked up from where it left off in its 3-0 victory last week, but had trouble finding the back of the net against West Virginia.
The backbone of the Mountaineers defense was goalkeeper Kayza Massey, who made six saves on Thursday night.
Eight of the Nittany Lions 17 shots were on goal. The best opportunity in the first half was a free kick in the 7th minute, where midfielder Cori Dyke whipped a curling shot into the corner, but a diving Massey spoiled the opportunity.
In the second half, Penn State passed more efficiently and took advantage of clinical finishing to take the lead.
Fast and aggressive
At times on Thursday, forward was the only direction the Nittany Lions went.
Offensively, Penn State pushed goalward all night, going for a myriad of through-balls and lobs over the top to get its forwards in space. Despite the focus on the downfield passing, it was a traditional cross from the outside that produced the first goal.
Defensively, the Nittany Lions forced the Mountaineers into quick decisions thanks to their constant pressure. They also read West Virginia’s players well, jumping passes and intercepting the ball.
Even up two goals, the blue and white played hungry until the final whistle.
Second half team
Dambach’s team found a completely different gear in the second half.
Intent on avoiding its second draw against a ranked team this season, Penn State played even more aggressively in the second half to better results.
Suffocating West Virginia’s back four, the Nittany Lions notched two goals in quick succession to take control of a previously close game.
The No. 10 team in the nation played up to its ranking in the final 45 minutes, ahead of its first road trip of the season.
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