Penn State survives pesky Army
Nittany Lions finally get one past Black Knight goalkeeper Lee
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- No. 13 Penn State fought a pesky Army side for over 85 minutes until Christine Nairn broke the scoreless deadlock and give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 win on Friday. Nairn tallied her first game-winner of the year to move fourth-seeded Penn State into the NCAA second round.
Penn State (20-4-0) was locked with the Black Knights (12-4-5) in a scoreless game as Army goalkeeper Monica Lee thwarted plenty of Nittany Lion advances. Lee made a career-high 11 saves, but it was her 12th that eluded her and allowed Penn State to win the match.
"I just want to start out by saying how impressed I was with Army tonight," head coach Erica Walsh said. "In particular with their goalie, Monica Lee, and their hard work and desire to stay together as a unit. I thought that they absolutely worked and worked. They were relentless and it's no mystery why they are Patriot League champions this year."
Sophomore defender Bri Hovington darted down the right wing and deftly swung a low cross through the center of play as it rolled to a streaking Nairn. The junior midfielder took one touch before rifling a low shot, her 10th of the game, past Lee for her third marker of the season. The assist was Hovington's third of her career and second in 2011 and couldn't have come at a better time.
"In my head, I was just saying 'put it on goal,' " Nairn said. "As coach [Walsh] said, their goalie played awesome. She was saving everything we were throwing at her. We were very impressed and lucky to come out on top tonight."
Lee gave Penn State headaches all evening, cutting off crosses and making diving saves in an effort to give the upstart Black Knights and upset victory. Penn State peppered the net, outshooting Army 29-3 including 12-1 on goal. Nairn's 10 shots were the most by a Nittany Lion since Katie Schoepfer took 12 against Hofstra in the 2007 NCAA first round at Penn State. Her offensive counterpart, Maya Hayes took eight, five of which were saved by Lee.
After an opening Army offering from Errin Helbling on a weak header from 15 yards out, which was saved by PSU goalkeeper Erin McNulty, Penn State maintained possession throughout.Army took the first two shots of the match before giving up the next 26 over a span of 75 minutes. McNulty registered her fourth solo shutout of the year and Penn State's 14th.