Nov. 12, 2010

Courtesy of Penn State Athletics

The Penn State women's soccer team got all it could handle from the Penn Quakers, but prevailed, 1-0, on Friday night in the NCAA Tournament First Round. Tani Costa (Honolulu, Hawaii) scored the game-winner in the 71st minute off a Danielle Toney (Northville, Mich.) cross.

In a tense battle between Keystone State foes, the Nittany Lions (11-8-1) finally solved the stingy Penn (9-7-2) defense as Toney darted around a Quaker defender on the right flank and deftly crossed a ball across the goal mouth to Costa who put away the can't-miss shot from five yards away. From there, Penn State held much of the possession and held on for the positive result and PSU's 13th second-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Costa's ninth-goal of the season puts her two ahead of any other Nittany Lion and put her into a tie for the team lead in game-winning goals with Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.) with three. Penn State improved to 30-14-2 all-time at the NCAA Tournament with an 11-3-0 record in the first round. Additionally, Penn State's dominance over Pennsylvania schools continued as the Nittany Lions moved to 30-2-1 all-time against Pa. foes and 24-0-1 in the last 25 games dating back to 1997.

After the opening few minutes of each team trying to figure the other one out, the Nittany Lions sported its typical possession-style place on the Quakers. Penn State built up an attack with a cross from Jess Rosenbluth (Gladwyne, Pa.) in the sixth minute, which led to a Costa shot that went high of the net from 12 yards out. Almost immediately, Penn's Ursula Lopez-Palm forced goalkeeper Krissy Tribbett (Centennial, Colo.) into the first of her three saves, which were all made in the first half.

The opening stanza turned out to be a tense back-and-forth affair with both teams firing five shots and each keeper having to make three saves. Toney created two straight opportunities in the 27th and 31st minutes on through balls out of the midfield, one from Costa and another from Nairn, but her chances were stopped by Caroline Williams (five saves).

Penn's Kathryn Barth opened up the 32nd minute with a shot from 20 yards out that landed right into the hands of Tribbett before Toney's third shot-on-goal was saved by Williams. This time Toney broke free of the Quaker defense and Williams came out of net, but Toney's left-footed shot was knocked away by the junior goalkeeper.

In the second half, a taut struggle between offensive flow and tough defense played out for much of the 45 minutes. Penn's Kristin Kaiser was free on the left flank and crushed a ball to the far post, which Tribbett got a hand to for the Quakers' best chance of the game. Unfortunately for Tribbett, she was not credited with a save due to the fact the official called a goal kick on the attempt.

From that point on, Penn State's offense wore down the Quaker defense. A scramble in front of the net in the 64th minute had two chances from Toney snuffed out as the ball was cleared off the line by a Penn defender. Six minutes later Toney's crafty play rewarded the Nittany Lions as she slid past a Penn defender and slotted the ball through the goal area to Costa for the eventual game-winner.

In the 77th minute, Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.) had her chance stopped by Williams as Penn searched for an equalizer that would never come. The Quakers had a late corner kick in the 87th minute that ended in a goal kick after midfielder Ali Schaefer (Las Vegas, Nev.) cleared it away.

The game ended with an 8-7 shot total in favor of the Nittany Lions, who put six shots on frame to the Quakers' three. Penn committed 15 fouls to the Nittany Lions' seven, while both teams were even at four corner kicks taken apiece.

Penn State moves on to the NCAA Tournament Second Round to take on the winner of the West Virginia-Morehead State game. West Virginia is serving as host of the four-team regional for the first and second rounds. Game time on Sunday will be at 1:00 p.m. with GameTracker live stats and free video streaming coverage.