CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Three Virginia players scored their first goal of the season on Sunday to help lift the No. 8 Cavaliers (5-2-0) to a 3-2 victory over No. 5 Penn State (4-2-0) at Klöckner Stadium.
Sophomore defender Phoebe McClernon tallied the first goal of her career in the 62nd minute, scoring on a free kick from 45 yards out to give Virginia the lead on what proved to be the game-winning goal.
Sophomore midfielder Courtney Petersen scored in the third minute and junior midfielder Betsy Brandon added a goal in the 50th minute to provide the rest of the Hoos offense.
Sunday was the second match against a top five team this week for the Cavaliers and the final match before ACC play begins for UVA next week on the road. The Cavaliers travel to take on NC State next Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
“It was nice to get three goals on the scoreboard,” said Virginia head coach Steve Swanson. “We probably had some better chances in other matches, but we’ll take what we can get. It was a good game and we knew it would be a hard-fought game. Getting the early goal helped us a bit. It’s tough to play a team like Penn State after the match we had against (top-ranked) UCLA on Thursday. We specifically set it up to get two top teams in place in the same week.
“I’m prouder of the way we played soccer than anything else. We made good decisions on the field and as the second half unwound we controlled more and more of the game, which is a good sign as well. These games help you find out where you are and what the standard is at this level. Those lessons are really important heading into the ACC. This was a big win for us and it gives us some confidence knowing we can play at this level and play two teams like this in one week.”
Virginia struck first, finding the net in the third minute of play. Zoe Morse played the ball over the top to Petersen streaking down the near sideline. Petersen dribbled in toward the box and fired the strike from 30 yards out, sending it over the keeper and tucking it in past the upper far post for the score.
The Nittany Lions tied things up in the waning moments of the first half, finding the equalizing goal in the 44th minute. Dribbling down the middle of the field on a counter, Charlotte Williams played the ball ahead to Haleigh Echard in the box. Echard took her shot from 10 yards out, sending low past the near post to tie the match at 1-1.
In an evenly played match, the Hoos held a 7-to-6 edge in shots at the break. Both keepers had three saves and each team had four shots on goal heading into the half.
Virginia wasted no time at the start of the second half, taking the lead back in the 50th minute off a header Brandon. Hana Kerner served the ball into Brandon at the top of the six-yard box. Brandon headed it down past the far post for the score and the 2-1 Cavalier lead.
Penn State tied it three minutes later off a penalty kick by Emily Ogle. Following a corner kick by the Nittany Lions, a hand ball was called against Virginia during the ensuring scrum in the box as the Cavaliers looked to clear and Penn State sought possession for a shot. Virginia keeper Laurel Ivory guessed correctly as she dove to her right, but Ogle placed the ball just out of reach to tie the match.
The match swung back to the home team in the 62nd minute when McClernon scored off her free kick to give Virginia the 3-2 lead. McClernon’s kick from 45 yards out sailed high and dropped in past the keeper for the score.
Virginia continued to turn up the offensive pressure, firing off five more shots to one for the Nittany Lions in the 15 minutes following the Cavaliers’ third goal. The defense handled the final push from Penn State in the last two minutes, turning away both Nittany Lion shots to secure the 3-2 victory.