Penn State Ends Cats’ Postseason Fun Early (Women’s Soccer)

Nina Mandell

By Nina MandellThe Daily Northwestern

After Penn State grabbed two goals in the first ten minutes of its Big Ten tournament opener, it looked like top-seeded Penn State (8-1-1, 13-4-3 Big Ten) would end Northwestern’s season without any trouble.

The Wildcats (8-10-2, 4-5-1) switched up the game to match their own pace, as redshirt junior Shannon Schneeman and sophomore Jenny Dunn grabbed a goal each to even it up by 26 minutes into the game.

But the offensive resurgence wasn’t enough. Penn State redshirt sophomore Zoe Bouchelle crossed a ball to First-Team All-Big Ten selection Aubrey Aden-Buie to break the tie a little more than ten minutes before halftime.

After five goals in the first 35 minutes of the game, the scoring barrage was over.

“It was obviously a very high scoring game with high energy on both sides of the field,” Schneeman said. “It was very intense.”

Erickson said NU was the team with the momentum after the half, as they grabbed two corner kicks to Penn State’s none.

“It was unfortunate that they scored so early,” defender Leigh Jester said. “But we never gave up, and dominated the second half.”

But neither team found the goal again, and the Nittany Lions effectively ended the Cats season in NU coach Stephanie Erickson’s first trip to the tournament as a coach – in her last season as a player at NU she made it to the tournament finals.

Despite topping the Nittany Lions in all major statistics except goals – assists, shots on goals, and corner kicks – the Cats still couldn’t beat the team that had already beat them in the regular season.

It was the last game for seniors Tori Bohannon, Katie Wright, Leslie Gittings, and Whitney Jones, who have reached the Big Ten tournament twice in their college careers, but never reached the second round.

“I think we made a lot of progress this year,” Erickson said. “Our record may not have shown it, but I was proud of how they competed.”

NU’s match up against nine-time regular season Big Ten champion Penn State came after it dropped from eighth to fourth seed after being shut out by Wisconsin in it’s last regular season game. But the Cats said the seed was a moot point in a conference that finished the regular season with six teams within one game of each other in the standings.

“I don’t think in the Big Ten tournament any matchup is very uneven,” Erickson said. “Everyone is playing for their season to stay alive.”

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