Surge lifts Penn State past Marquette
Two goals in final minutes provide insurance for Nittany Lions
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Fourth-seeded and No. 13 ranked Penn State women's soccer fended No. 12 Marquette, winning 4-1 on Friday night at Spry Stadium.
Emily Hurd and Emma Thomson tallied first-half goals to pace Penn State. Maya Hayes added two important insurance goals in the final minutes to quell any overtime thoughts of the Golden Eagles, moving into second on the Penn State and Big Ten single-season scoring list at 29.
Penn State moves on to the NCAA third round for the first time since 2007 and snaps a four-game skid against Big East teams in the NCAA tournament.
"Marquette was working and working, looking for the equalizer once the score got to 2-1," Head coach Erica Walsh said. "Maya came up clutch as she's done all season, putting the third one away and then the fourth. She did it Maya Hayes style and beating players."
Hurd drew first blood just nine minutes into the match when Maddy Evans took a quick pass from Jess Rosenbluth off a throw in and drove down the right wing. Evans beat a Marquette defender and crossed a ground pass to a wide open Hurd as she drilled a 10-yard shot to the upper right corner of the net past the out-stretched arms of Natalie Kulla. The tally was Hurd's first in NCAA play and sixth of the season, while Evans was credited with her four assist of 2011.
Penn State (21-4-0) looked to double the lead four minutes later when Hurd set up a chance form the left wing, sent a cross that was stopped by a Marquette defender, bringing Kulla out of position and giving Hayes a sharp-angle shot on goal. Her attempt was saved off the line by Kerry McBride of Marquette. The deflection bobbled out to Christine Nairn whose shot was blocked and dropped to Kori Chapic.
Chapic's 25-yard black was destined for the back of the net on the left post, but Kulla knocked it out of bounds for a corner kick, saving Marquette (18-4-0) from further trouble.
"I am so impressed with our team right now," Walsh added. "They are firing on all cylinders, so many players are contributing to our success and the bench has been huge for us."
Penn State's pressure continued to mount during the half, eventually earning a foul 25 yards outside of the penalty area in the 44th minute. Thomson tapped the ball to Nairn as she stopped the ball for a running Thomson as the Englishwoman curled a blast into the upper right netting for a 2-0 lead. The tally was Thomson's first of 2011 and the first in two years since she scored the game-winner vs. James Madison on Sept. 20, 2009. The two goals by Penn State represented the first time Marquette allowed two tallies in a half since a 3-2 win vs. Notre Dame on Sept. 25.
"It's something Emma's been working on a ton," Walsh said. "I can't say enough about Marquette and how they pushed toward the end of the first half. Emma putting that away right before halftime put us in a good place."
Nairn's assist was her 12th of the year, trying her for the team lead with Taylor Schram and moving Nairn into a temporary tie for second by a PSU junior with Tiffany Weimer's 2005 mark. Schram missed her first match of the 2011 season after suffering a concussion last week against Army in the NCAA first round.
Marquette rallied its charges in the second half, owning possession for much of the 45 minutes and earning quality chances near net. One particular instance was in the 62nd minute when Vanessa Legault-Cordisco had an open header 12 yards from net that was rifled high during a stretch of Golden Eagle pressure.
The Eagles finally capitalized on a Penn State error, as Kerry McBride slotted home a free kick from 20 yards out off a two passing touches from Maegan Kelly and Kelly Jaskowiak in the 83rd minute. The tally was McBride's second of the year and gave a spirited Marquette a serious chance to equalize.
The Nittany Lions went on the counter attack where Hayes was sprung free on a through ball, but Kulla cut down her angle and Hayes's shot went wide in the 84th minute. The super sophomore was not to be denied as Chapic and Nairn combined for a long ball over the top to a rushing Hayes on the left wing. Hayes took a few touches toward net and slotted home a near-post goal just 2:14 after the MU goal, putting away any hope of an Eagle comeback.
Hayes's night wasn't complete as she converted a Marquette turnover into another goal 2:11 after her first of the night. The New Jersey native collected the ball 30 yards from net, beat a defender and then slid by a diving Kulla at the top of the penalty area, rolling in her 29th goal of the year and securing second on the Penn State and Big Ten single-season scoring list. Nairn notched her second assist of the night and 13th of the year, which means she owns second in a single season by a PSU junior for assists.
Penn State's four-goal onslaught represented the most goals Marquette has allowed since Sept. 30, 2007 when the Golden Eagles lost 5-0 at Connecticut. The Nittany Lions scored four goals in a game for the first time since Oct. 24 (4-0 at Michigan).
Marquette out-shot Penn State 13-11 for the game, but Penn State led 8-3 in shots on goal. Goalkeeper Erin McNulty made two saves for Penn State, while Kulla tallied four. A physical game, Marquette committed 13 infractions and PSU had 11.
Walsh will lead her third team all-time and second at Penn State into the NCAA Third Round on Sunday. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m. at Spry Stadium.