MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 6 Mountaineers earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory over No. 4 Penn State tonight at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
First-half goals from forwards Sh'Nia Gordon and Lauren Segalla, combined with a strong showing from the backline, pushed the Mountaineers (3-1) to the monumental victory.
"Tonight was a great growth opportunity for us to see if we could hang on to a lead," Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. "I was proud of the way we handled PSU's overloads and the numbers they were sending forward.
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"I would say we really came together (in the first half) and moved the ball well. I thought we were much better. We still have a lot of work to do, but Penn State is a great team – they're No. 4 in the country. For us to put two on them right away was pretty amazing."
"We talked about what kind of legacy this team wants to leave," Izzo-Brown said. "This was a moment. When I talk about this team, this win will be a moment I always bring up."
Tonight's win evens the all-time series against PSU (3-1) to 7-7-2.
Scoreless after 15 minutes, the Mountaineers relied on quality passing to generate their first goal of the evening.
Senior forward Michaela Abam brought the ball up the left side of the field in the 17th minute before sending it down the line. Junior forward Hannah Abraham gave chase and immediately sent it into Gordon. The junior used her inside foot to redirect the ball from 12-yards out toward the upper right corner.
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Segalla's game-winner in the 37th minute also was a result of a great set-up. Senior forward Heather Kaleiohi played with the PSU defense wide right of the box before sending a cross into the waiting Mountaineer freshman. After settling the ball, the Salisbury, Connecticut, native took a sliding shot from 18-yards out that sailed past PSU's Rose Chandler and into the upper left pocket for her first career goal.
"You couldn't ask for a bigger debut from a freshman," Izzo-Brown added. "Lauren has been working hard and trying to figure out the adjustment from club to college soccer. I'm so proud and excited for her."
PSU cut into WVU's lead in the 77th minute, as WVU junior defender Vanessa Flores was whistled for a foul on Laura Freigang inside the box. Midfielder Emily Ogle connected on the ensuing penalty kick.
With their lead cut, the Mountaineer defense locked in, allowing PSU only two more shots, both by Freigang in the 82nd minute.
The Mountaineers held the Nittany Lions to a season-low three shots on-goal. Prior to tonight, PSU had tallied three scores in each match this season.
Both teams finished with 12 shots, and WVU forced PSU into four saves, three from Chandler. The Mountaineers finished with two saves, one credited to sophomore Rylee Foster. Each team also earned five corner kicks.
Freigang paced the field with six shots. Abam led WVU with five shots. Gordon and Segalla each finished with two shots on-goal.
Segalla nearly gave WVU its two-goal lead back twice late in the match. With the ball deep in the final third in the 81st minute, senior midfielder Carla Portillo sent a cross into the box. Segalla got her head on it at the far left post, but her attempt went wide and into the side of the net.
Just short of five minutes later, Segalla had another great look. Portillo again directed the play, this time sending a through ball that Segalla chased. Her shot from six-yards out skimmed past Chandler but was kicked away at the line by PSU's Ellie Jean.
The Mountaineers return to action Monday evening against Wright State in the second match of a double-header with the WVU men's soccer team at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. Tickets are available for purchase now at WVUGAME.com. One ticket grants fans admission into both matches.