November 22, 2012
BRING ON DUKE
Nittany Lions host Blue Devils Friday with College Cup trip on the line
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; – Coming off an emotional 3-2 penalty kick victory over Michigan this past Sunday, top-seeded Penn State (19-3-2) hosts the Duke Blue Devils this Friday night at Jeffrey Field at 7 p.m.
|Penn State's Christine Nairn is one of only three players still in the NCAA Tournament to register double digits in goals and assists.
Photo courtesy of Penn State Sports Information
Down 2-0 in penalty kicks on Sunday’s dramatic Sweet Sixteen contest, Penn State rallied and converted on its final three kicks and graduate keeper Erin McNulty (Winnipeg, Manitoba) made three-straight stops to lead the Nittany Lions past the Michigan Wolverines on an electric Jeffrey Field. In the shootout, Michigan converted on its first two attempts, while Penn State missed its first two. McNulty stuffed the next three Michigan shots, while senior Maddy Evans (Glenside, Pa.), junior Tani Costa (Honollu, Hawaii) and junior Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.) each hammered home their penalty kicks. McNulty's third and final save clinched it as the Jeffrey Field crowd erupted.
Penn State outshot Michigan 26-10, including 8-1 in the overtime period. Penn State dominated the corner kick figure, accounting for nine while holding Michigan to none. The lone Nittany Lion goal in the contest for Evans came off a corner kick. Michigan scored in the 15th minute on a penalty kick. The penalty kick win was the first over for the Penn State women's soccer program. Penn State was 0-5 in games decided by penalty kicks heading into Sunday's contest. Penn State’s only other PK game in the NCAA Tournament was vs. Portland at the College Cup semifinals in 2005. The other four came in the Big Ten Tournament.
Head Coach Erica Walsh will be making her third ever Elite Eight appearance, coming with three different teams (Dartmouth, Florida State and Penn State). Her last appearance came in 2005 when she was an assistant with the Seminoles. That same season, Florida State made the College Cup national semifinals, which was also the last time the Nittany Lion women’s soccer program reached the College Cup. Meanwhile, McNulty makes her second Elite Eight trip with her second team (Florida State and Penn State). McNulty’s 2007 squad at Florida State made the National Championship game, where she was the starting keeper her freshman year.
Duke enters Friday’s Elite Eight match with a 15-5-2 overall record after finishing 5-3-2 in the very challenging Atlantic Coast Conference. The Blue Devils have had plenty of success this season against ranked opponents, posting a 5-5-2 overall record in those matches. Duke is coming off 3-1 and 4-1 victories over Virginia and Miami (Ohio) in Charlottesville, Va. to earn a spot in Friday’s contest. Laura Weinberg leads the way, having tallied 44 points on 16 goals and 12 assists. Weinberg joins senior Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.) as two of only three players remaining in the NCAA Tournament with double-digit goals and assists. Tara Campbell will start in goal for the Blue Devils, sporting a 1.13 GAA this season.
This will be Penn state’s third ever matchup with Duke. The teams are evened up in the all-time series with one win apiece. The last time these two programs faced off was on Sept. 2 2001 when Penn State took home a 5-1 victory over the Blue Devils at the Nike Carolina Classic. Duke took the previous matchup in 1999, a 2-1 victory. Overall, Penn State is 6-5-0 all-time against ACC opponents in the NCAA Tournament.
With a victory, Penn State will earn its second ever trip to the College Cup, which will be held in San Diego, Calif. this year. With a win, Penn State would take on the winner of Florida State and Notre Dame. The national semifinals will take place on Friday Nov. 30 while the championship game will be played on Sunday Dec. 30. The Nittany Lions lone College Cup trip came in 2005.