April 11, 2012

Penn State Handles Lehigh Behind Zichelli, Cahill

from press release

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The last two meetings between Penn State and in-state foe Lehigh were tightly-contested affairs, with the outcomes being decided by a single goal. On Wednesday night in Bethlehem, the No. 13 Nittany Lions put an emphatic end to that trend, crushing the Mountain Hawks, 15-3, at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Penn State and upped its road record to 6-1 for the season.

Senior midfielder Theresa Zichelli (Severna Park, Md.) led the Nittany Lions with a game-high five points, tallying three goals and two assists, but the PSU offensive output was a balanced effort, as 10 Nittany Lions scored goals in all. Senior Elaine Welch (Bernardsville, N.J.), junior Molly Fernandez (Baltimore, Md.), and sophomore Mackenzie Cyr (Westminster, Md.), who returned to the starting line-up after missing the Florida game and coming off the bench against Northwestern, each netted two goals.

As much as the offense played a role in the win, it was the performance of the Penn State defense that powered it. The Nittany Lions held Lehigh (7-7) scoreless for the first 25:34 of the game and kept the Mountain Hawks out of net for the opening 24:25 of the second half. Lehigh's leading goal scorer Carli Sukonik, who entered the game with 36, was held without a goal. Anchoring the unit was senior goalkeeper Dana Cahill (Towson, Md.), who recorded 11 saves in 52-plus minutes of action.

Penn State (9-4) started slowly, not netting its first goal until 5:40 into the game but, after Cyr scored off a pass from Zichelli, the offensive flood gates opened. The Nittany Lions would go on to score nine unanswered.

Freshman Tatum Coffey (Toms River, N.J.) put PSU up 2-0 with her team-high 28th goal of the year at the 22:38 mark. Classmate Haley Ford (White Hall, Md.), who notched a hat trick last weekend versus Northwestern, then added to the advantage with her fifth goal of the season. Zichelli followed it up with her first of the game, upping Penn State's lead to 4-0. Freshman Maggie McCormick (Eldersburg, Md.) earned her team high 19th assist of the season on the play. Ensuing unassisted goals by Fernandez, who scored after putting a brilliant spin move on her one-v.-one defender, Cyr, Welch, senior Aly Adams (Springfield, Pa.), and sophomore Lauren Purvis (Maple Glen, Pa.), the Lions were in front, 9-0, with 6:13 remaining in the half.

Lehigh would finally get on the board at the 4:26 mark and, after redshirt sophomore Avery Curley (Berwyn, Pa.) scored, would then add one more goal before the half, making the game 10-2 at the break.

In the second half, Penn State took its foot off the gas offensively but maintained the defensive pressure on the Mountain Hawks. Zichelli started the Lions scoring off, putting in a free position shot two-plus minutes in. Unassisted goals by McCormick, Fernandez, Welch, and Zichelli followed, giving Penn State a commanding 15-2 lead.

A Lehigh goal, its only one of the second half, came with 5:35 remaining, accounting for the game's final score.

Penn State held an advantage over Lehigh in shots (33-21), ground balls (17-12), and draw controls (11-9).

Penn State will look to end a two-game conference losing streak on Sunday when it meets ALC rival No. 10 Ohio State (9-3, 1-2 ) in a 12 p.m. contest at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus. The pivotal league match-up will be aired live on the Big Ten Network. The Nittany Lions have taken six straight from the Buckeyes, including the last three regular season games.


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