Soaring Past the Hawks

Soaring Past the Hawks

On Friday evening, the Penn State Women’s Soccer Team returned to Jeffrey Field where they kicked off the NCAA tournament. The 4th seeded Nittany Lions (14-6-1) took on the Monmouth Hawks (17-1-2) at 7:30 p.m. in the opening round. Although Monmouth earned both the regular season and tournament titles in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), this would be the Hawks’ first NCAA appearance since 2009, and Penn State’s 19th consecutive appearance. Prior to Friday, only once before did the two teams played each other – the first round of the 2007 NCAA tournament when Penn State swept by with a 4-0 win. The Nittany Lions found similar success on Friday.

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Starters for the Lions included Basinger, Hurd, Hayes, Rodriguez, Chapic, Weber, Church, Schram, Williford, Costa and Eckerstrom but Penn State was able to utilize the depth of their bench as the game progressed. Just 7 minutes into the game, Tani Costa (#22) posted a beautiful goal off an assist from sophomore Mallory Weber (#16) giving the team a 1-0 lead. The anticipation and energy embodied by the Lions was evidenced by the numerous scoring opportunities created right from the start. To Monmouth’s dismay, this was the first goal scored against them in over a month of soccer. Penn State junior Kori Chapic (#14) and senior Maya Hayes (#5) continued to build the excitement as each player almost netted a goal of her own but either hit the post or brushed it. Although the Hawks had a few scoring opportunities, the stats put forth by Penn State suggested the odds were most certainly in their favor.

Numerous scoring opportunities emerged for Penn State early in the second half. Just 7 minutes in, Tani Costa (#22) scored her second goal of the evening and gave the Nittany Lions a comfortable 2-goal lead. Minutes later, it appeared as though Costa might earn a hat trick, however the assist from Hayes could not be capitalized on. Nevertheless, with 23 minutes still left in the game, junior defender Whitney Church (#17) skillfully headed a great ball off Taylor Schram’s (#19) corner kick, advancing the lead to 3-0. From the defensive line to the attack, Penn State held strong till the end and emerged with a victorious 3-0 win.

As Penn State celebrates the win and prepares for the next round of the tournament, they will keep a close watch on the outcome of the Wake Forest vs. Morehead State game on 11/16. Indeed, the Nittany Lions will take on the winner of that game in the second round of the tournament on November 22nd.