Rutgers Knocks Off Penn State 3-2 in Double Overtime
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions fell to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Jeffrey Field on Thursday, 3-2 in a double overtime bout.
After a somewhat sluggish opening portion of the first half, Penn State opened up a barrage of shots on Rutgers goalkeeper Meagan McClelland. Midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri had two good chances inside the box that were corralled by McClellan before Ally Schlegel gifted a Rutgers defensive turnover to Kerry Abello, who fired a laser past McClelland to put Penn State up 1-0 with 23:10 left in the first half.
Each squad registered six shots in the opening half, but it was Penn State who was able to create high quality chances in the box and put pressure on McClelland, who had to make a couple diving saves to keep the match within reach for the Scarlet Knights as the defense struggled to control the ball in its own half of the pitch.
Rutgers had some solid chances as well in the first half, but the Scarlet Knights often found themselves settling for shots taken outside the box that missed the net by a wide margin: a notion highlighted by the fact that Rutgers failed to earn a corner kick in the first 45 minutes, while the Nittany Lions had three.
Penn State goalkeeper Amanda Dennis was stout in the first half but allowed Rutgers to even the score at 1-1 with 27 minutes left in the second half when forward Brittany LaPlant made a move past her defender to create a one-on-one chance with Dennis, putting the ball just out of her reach.
Penn State largely controlled the second half in terms of possession, but Rutgers’ defense proved to be disruptive, rarely allowing the Lions a chance to get all the way to McClellan.
While the Nittany Lions tried many a time to take the lead, all it took was one breakaway for the Scarlet Knights to get in front late in the match. Rutgers forward Jenna Sayers caught the Penn State backers out of position and sped past them to launch a scoring shot past Amanda Dennis, giving the Scarlet Knights a 2-1 lead in the 84th minute.
Just two minutes later, Abello scored her second goal of the match for Penn State to even it up at 2-2.
That score was followed by several huge scoring chances for both teams, with Penn State having a goal called back for a foul that would have likely stood as the winning score otherwise.
Rutgers would continue to form its offense on counterattacks, failing to register a shot in the first overtime period, while the Nittany Lions clocked in four shots in an aggressive first overtime.
But it was all for naught, as the Scarlet Knights’ star forward Amirah Ali put through the game-winning goal in the second overtime period via a penalty kick, which came after a Penn State foul that was recorded on a Rutgers corner kick.
Penn State has struggled in recent weeks to get a consistent performance on offense, though it looked much improved Thursday night in the losing effort, tallying 19 shots and showing particular aggressiveness during the first overtime. Kerry Abello scored the two goals for the Nittany Lions and Frankie Tagliaferri had five shots as well.
Abello, for her part, is embracing any role she can take that will help her team win.
“I’m always excited to be closer to the goal and to be in a better scoring opportunity, but I’ll play wherever the team needs me,” Abello said. “If that’s up on the field closer to the goal where I can hopefully create some attack, that’s great, but if that’s in the back line, then I’m OK with that too.”
Frustration seemed to be a defining emotion for the Nittany Lions, as the expressions of players after the match were largely somber and sullen, but Head Coach Erica Dambach praised Abello’s effort.
“Big game from Kerry tonight, we need her in the attack, we know that,” Dambach said.
“She’s doing a job for us on the back line, a very unselfish job for us, but it was really nice to have her in that front six and feel her energy. I thought she was a big part of the way we played tonight.”
The Nittany Lions will look to get back on track in the Big Ten this Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, as they visit the Ohio State Buckeyes for a 2 p.m. match.
Jeremy Ganes is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.