UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State (20-3-2) earned a 1-0 victory against Duke on Friday to earn its fourth trip to the Women’s College Cup and first appearance since 2005. Senior midfielder Christine Nairn scored the game-winning goal on a penalty kick in the 13th minute. Penn State will take on Florida State on Nov. 30 in San Diego, Calif.
Duke controlled the majority of the second half, as Penn State dropped back a fourth defender shortly after Nairn’s goal in the first half. The Blue Devils recorded 19 shots, but the Nittany Lion defense held its ground and senior keeper Erin McNulty made five big saves. With the win, Penn State improved to 3-0-0 against ACC teams this season.
In the 13th minute, Nairn chased a loose ball that was bouncing near the top of the 18. Duke’s Natasha Anasi tripped up Nairn at the top of the box, forcing a penalty kick in Penn State’s favor. Nairn converted on her third penalty kick of the season, blasting it by the Duke keeper to give the Lions a 1-0 lead.
Just five minutes after Nairn’s PK, Duke’s Nicole Lipp made a shot that scraped the crossbar. Laura Weinberg later fired a shot on McNulty, but she made her second save to keep the Nittany Lions in front heading into the half.
The Blue Devils outshot the Nittany Lions 11-2 in the second half. Penn State’s closest opportunity in the second period came in the 54th minute when Raquel Rodriguez’s corner kick found senior Maddy Evans’ head. She aimed the ball towards the upper right corner of the goal, but it was deflected out.
Duke’s best opportunity came in the 69th minute. From about 12 yards out, Weinberg ripped a shot that McNulty dived and stopped it. However, McNulty did not have complete possession of the ball and Kim DeCeasre took one more crack at it. McNulty made the save again.
McNulty will be making her second trip to the College Cup, earning her first trip when she was a freshman keeper for Florida State. Head Coach Erica Walsh will be making her first trip to the semifinals as a head coach. Penn State also earned trips to the College Cup in 1999, 2002 and 2005.