READING, Pa. — The Penn State Berks women's soccer team punched its ticket for the first trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 after edging Nazareth College, 1-0, in a nail biter in the afternoon on Sunday, Nov. 13, at Edwards-Maurer Field.
After winning a monumental win over No.17-ranked Carnegie Mellon University for the first win in the NCAA Tournament in program history, the Nittany Lions (19-3-1) extended their magical run several more impressive feats. In addition to the deepest run in postseason history, the 2016 squad has recorded the most wins (19) and shutouts (14) in a season.
Caitlin Golden took a feed from Lizzie Mummau outside of the box on the left side, took two dribbles and beat the keeper with a drive off of her right foot inside the far post to put the Nittany Lions on the board at the 21:57 mark of the opening period.
The Nittany Lions goal came a little after a score by the Golden Flyers (15-4-2) was called off due to an offsides infraction in the 10th minute.
Paige Elmy, who continued her stellar play in net, finished the contest with two saves, which does not properly show how strong a performance she gave. The sophomore keeper was able to come off the back line and make clean catches on crosses and inserts into the box all game long, to limit the Nazareth attack.
Enough praise cannot be given to the back line play of Brennan Moyer, Shelby Baker, Megan Jardine and Karina Raykova. The quartet did not allow open looks from the center part of the field and continually headed the ball out of harm's way.
In a game that saw two shots on net by Nazareth and four by the Nittany Lions, the majority of time was spent playing in the midfield — and that is where relentless effort by Dana Sarcinello, Alexa Lopez, Kaylie Smucker, and Charlotte Pizzuto was vital to the Nittany Lions success. Julia Green, Keri Klimko, and Mackenzie Fredricks provided crucial minutes off the bench in the midfield.
Golden and Mummau played with a high work rate and a never stopping motor from the first whistle until the clock struck zero. Nicole Brigante added a spark off the bench up top on offense. She worked her way through the defense and had a shot sail just wide of target late in the second half.
Clinging to a 1-0 lead, things got dicey a few times over the last 10 minutes of the game. Nazareth worked a corner kick and in the 82nd minute and later had a shot go across the face of the goal and wide of the net. Elmy later recorded a save in the 88th minute and the defense was able stand tall and block another attempt. The Golden Flyers were able to get off two more shots in the final minute, but both went over the crossbar.
For the second day in a row, the players, coaches and loyal fans were elated with joy and beyond thrilled to see the Nittany Lions showing what they are capable of doing on the national stage. They will look to continue that in the third round of the tournament against No. 2-ranked Trinity University, who will host the next two rounds, beginning on Saturday, Nov. 19.
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