Heavy winds and rain were major factors in Saturday’s match against the nation’s No. 10 team.
Penn State got on the board first in the early minutes of the game when sophomore forward Frannie Crouse went one on one with OSU redshirt junior goalkeeper Jillian McVicker, knocking it right past her through the net.
Both the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions played an aggressive first half as OSU tried to break through the Nittany Lions’ defensive front but couldn’t get anything going offensively.
The Nittany Lions put the next point on the board in the 39th minute as freshman midfielder Marissa Sheva finished inside the left post from 15 yards out.
“In the first half, honestly, I couldn’t see,” OSU junior forward Lindsay Agnew said. “The rain was coming in and the wind was blowing hard. It stinks that they got those two goals, because I really feel if we would have held them to one goal then we could have buried them in the second half. Once the conditions changed, they couldn’t get ahold of the ball.”
The Nittany Lions’ underclassmen were a threat to the Buckeyes on Saturday, just like they have been all season, as they have accounted for 24 goals on the year, two of which were scored against OSU.
The teams went to halftime with Penn State in the lead, 2-0. The Lions also held the 8-2 advantage in shots, including 5-0 on goal.
“I told them it was the best position I ever felt being down 2-0,” OSU coach Lori Walker said. “The wind was such a factor trying to get out early on. Having that at our back in the second half, I just said we have to take advantage of it and fight back and just get one at a time. I am pleased that we were able to come back out in the second half and really do that.”
McVicker was replaced in the second half by freshman goalkeeper Devon Kerr.
“I was confident and ready to play,” Kerr said. “I really wanted to make a change in the game in a positive way to get my team upbeat.”
Walker downplayed the change, saying switching goalkeepers is not a big deal. She said a team has to take advantage of the skills each keeper can contribute to the game.
“There’s nothing that (McVicker) did wrong in the first half,” Walker said. “It’s just a matter of utilizing players’ skill sets. At this school we change quarterbacks, and we change goalkeepers. It’s just what we do.”
Back-and-forth play consumed much of the second half, as it the game remained at 2-0 until the 81st minute when OSU finally broke through the Nittany Lion defense.
Freshman defender Kylie Knight found Agnew inside the box, who then knocked it in from eight yards out to cut the Penn State lead to 2-1.
Agnew’s goal reignited her team as it tried to equalize.
“I think it gave us another little bit of hope,” Agnew said. “But leading up to that goal, we had so much momentum and everyone was working really hard and winning every ball. Kylie played an amazing ball to me over the top and I was just happy to put one away.”
Walker said the goal lit a fire under the team, but the clock remained its biggest enemy.
“It really excited us, ignited us,” Walker said. “Because when you’re fighting back you just need that one thing to kind of change the momentum. Unfortunately, we just ran out of time.”
For the game, the Nittany Lions held a 15-7 advantage in shots, including 9-2 on goal.
Saturday’s game was also the return of redshirt junior defender and co-captain, Morgan Wolcott to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Wolcott saw action in last weekend’s game, but it was her first game played back at home.
Wolcott had been sidelined due to injury for much of the season.
“I thought playing for the first time again, under the lights, in the rain, just got my adrenalin going,” Wolcott said. “Playing with my team and seeing how hard we fought all the way through, a full 90 minutes was unbelievable. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The Buckeyes now prepare for their final regular season match of the season against the Michigan State Spartans.
“Looks like it’s all going to boil down to that one,” Walker said. “It’s a championship game. I love championship games, and I think our players will show up for it. It’s home, it’s senior day, so there’s a lot of great elements to play for.”
OSU is slated to kick off against the Spartans at 7:30 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.