MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The Penn State women's soccer team has plenty of speed up front, and Friday night that speed burned Penn once. That was enough, as the Quakers fell to the Nittany Lions, 1-0, in an NCAA Championship first-round match at Dick Dlesk Stadium on the campus of West Virginia University.
Penn State (11-8-1) will now meet West Virginia in Sunday's second round; the regional host Mountaineers defeated Morehead State in Friday's second game, 2-0. Penn sees its season come to an end; the Quakers finish 2010 at 9-7-2.
"I told the team afterward that I could not be more proud of them," said Quakers head coach Darren Ambrose. "I also asked them not to let this game define their season. They had a great season, and although it didn't end the way they wanted they had a great run at the end here. We have raised the bar for our program with our effort today."
Danielle Toney and Tani Costa form a powerful pair up front for the Lions, and they combined for the game's only goal in the 71st minute.
Both teams went scoreless in the first half, but certainly had their chances to draw first blood.
Penn's best two chances came in the latter part of the half. The first came on the Quakers' first corner kick, when an attempted clear landed at the feet of Adrienne Lerner at the top of the box. Her shot was blocked by a PSU defender, however, and cleared out of danger. A little more than 12 minutes later, a nice buildup along the right side left Sarah Friedman alone with the ball at the top of the box. Her shot was right at PSU goalkeeper Krissy Tribbett, though, and Tribbett was equal to the task.
At the other end the Penn defense held firm, but the Lions certainly had their chances. Danielle Toney was a constant threat, forcing Caroline Williams to make three saves including one superb stop. Williams was also forced to make a diving save on Carly Niness. The half ended with PSU's Hayley Brock making a great run down the left side, but a Penn defender was able to knock her off the ball just in time to let the half run out.
Kristin Kaiser had two excellent chances in the early part of the second stanza for Penn, getting behind the defender on her side twice to get breakaway opportunities at an angle. The first effort was to the far post, which Tribbett gloved aside, and the second went to the near post with a PSU defender riding her shoulder.
It was after that second effort that Penn State scored. The Nittany Lions immediately drove down the field, and Toney crossed the ball from the right side. Williams dove for the cross but couldn't get a hand on it, and the Lions' Tani Costa was open in front to push the ball into the open goal.
"They had 30 seconds of brilliance," said Ambrose. "There's a lot of speed up front, and they were able to get the ball down the field quickly and catch us. Toney made a nice play, and Costa is a finisher."
Brock had a chance to make it 2-0 with about 13 minutes left, speeding past a pair of Penn defenders and bearing in on Williams from the left at a low angle. Williams played it well and smothered the shot.
Penn was outshot 8-7 on the day, as Williams made four saves in the game and Tribbett had three stops.