University Park, Pa. – The No. 19-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team opened its 2013 campaign with a 2-2 tie at No. 2 Penn State, tonight, in the Penn State Invitational, in front of 3,742 fans at Jeffrey Field.
Tonight’s draw is the first-ever between the two teams in 11 meetings, and the series record stands at 5-5-1. WVU last needed overtime in a season opener in 2010, when the Mountaineers lost, 2-1, to a visiting PSU in Morgantown.
The squads also battled to two overtimes almost one year ago, with the Nittany Lions topping the Mountaineers, 2-1, in Morgantown on Aug. 31.
Despite giving up a 2-0 lead in the 80th minute, the Mountaineer (0-0-1) defense and senior goalie Sara Keane
came up big, as they withstood 21 shots from PSU (0-0-1). Keane registered eight saves, matching her career-best mark.
“Obviously Penn State is a great team, but I thought at any point tonight we had our chances to win,” says 18th-year coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “We just didn’t possess the ball well when we had a 2-0 lead. We gave them too many chances, and they pressured us. To Penn State’s credit, they’re the No. 2 team in the country. We gave them too many chances to score those two goals, and they finished. This isn’t the way we wanted to go down. Last year, we lost to them in double-overtime, and this year we tied them. Hopefully next year, we’ll beat them.”
The Nittany Lions owned a significant stat advantage tonight, outshooting the Mountaineers, 21-12. They also earned 11 corner kicks to WVU’s six.
Freshman forward Ashley Lawrence
was inches from giving WVU the win in the 107th minute, as she settled a cross in the box and directed a shot toward the right goal post. PSU’s Britt Eckerstrom came up with the save; she had three on the evening.
Just prior to Lawrence’s attempt, senior forward Frances Silva
also had a chance, as she dribbled into the box in the 102nd minute. A takedown by Kori Chapic negated any chance for a shot.
PSU’s best chance for victory came in the first extra 10 minutes. Confusion in the box in the 93rd minute gave Tani Costa an opportunity for the win, but play was whistled dead with an offside call.
Momentum swung WVU’s way in the game’s first 80 minutes.
Silva gave the Mountaineers their first lead of 2013, as she took a cross from sophomore forward Kelsie Maloney
right in front of the net and beat Eckerstrom. The goal was the 24th career for the Overland Park, Kan., native, and she is now tied with Kim Bonilla (2004-07) for ninth place in the Mountaineer record book.
Maloney gave WVU a 2-0 lead in the 69th minute, as she headed a cross from Lawrence past Eckerstrom. The goal was the third career for Maloney.
“For us to step out in front of over 3,700 people and go up two goals against a team like this – I would hope tonight sent a message,” says Izzo-Brown. “We had to get the win, but I think this was a pretty good tie.”
Keane shone in the 55th minute, as she turned away a low shot from Weber and slapped away a direct kick from Hayes. PSU took three straight corners within that 90 seconds, but the Mountaineers downed each of the chances.
The game turned with under 10 minutes remaining in regulation, as the Mountaineers surrendered two goals in 72 seconds. Taylor Schram put PSU on the board first with a shot 12-yards out in the 80th minute, followed by a direct shot from Maya Hayes in the 81st minute that knotted the contest at 2-2.
Mallory Weber nearly put the Nittany Lions on the board in the 11th minute, but Keane came up with her first save of the season, as she hit the ball above the net and thwarted the scoring chance. PSU again almost knotted the game in the 23rd minute, as a Hayes blocked shot rebounded off to Costa, but an offside call negated the play.
WVU is now 8-8-2 in season openers.
The Mountaineers return to Jeffrey Field Sunday and face former Big East foe Syracuse, at 2:30 p.m. The Orange (1-0) defeated Hofstra, 3-2, in the Invitational opener tonight. Live scores and a video feed will not be available.