COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State played No. 7 Penn State to a draw for nearly 78 minutes but the Nittany Lions scored a goal at the 77:41 mark and held on to defeat the Buckeyes, 1-0, in the final regular season game for both teams.
Penn State, 15-3-1 and 9-1 in the Big Ten Conference, captures the 2007 Big Ten crown by virtue of its win. The title is Penn State’s 10th consecutive, and this one came under the direction of first-year coach Erica Walsh. The Buckeyes dropped their second in a row at home to complete an 11-8-0 regular season and a 5-5-0 mark in the Big Ten.
“My congratulations go out to Penn State,” Lori Walker, Ohio State head coach, said. “They are a great team and they are the champion.
“I am extremely proud of the effort that our team gave. We executed our game plan well. A bounce here or there and this game could have swung our way.”
As it was, Penn State leading scorer Katie Schoepfer chased down a pass from Melissa Hayes with just over 77 minutes elapsed in the contest. An Ohio State defender was eyeing the ball as well and a charging goalkeeper Lauren Robertson was too. A collision ensued and Schoepfer dodged the pile and knocked the game-winner into an empty goal from about 10 yards out. The goal was Schoepfer’s 12th of the season.
It was an even first half, with neither team able to put any points on the board. Both teams had three shots and one on goal. Ohio State had the best scoring opportunity. Ashley Bowyer, who displayed some sweet feet numerous times in the half to create space where there seemingly was none, worked her way out of a jam at midfield, sent a short through pass to Alex Burzynski and then took receipt of a return feed. Charging toward Penn State’s 18-yard box, Bowyer flipped a pass to her left that hit a streaking Lara Dickenmann in stride. Dickenmann fired a left-footed shot from a tough angle that was wide right. Amanda Ball, lurking on the far side of the net, was unable to get a foot on the ball as it sailed by.
Penn State, needing a win or a tie for the Big Ten championship, was only able to send a number of long passes into Ohio State’s zone in the first half. This is because the Ohio State defenders were aggressive and kept the Nittany Lions from getting any good shots on goalkeeper Robertson, who did her part by coming off the line and well outside of the box on numerous occasions to thwart the Nittany Lions.
Defenders Lauren Beachy, Lauren Hallauer, Lauren Steuer and Keiana Mitchell all either won balls in the air, intercepted passes or made decisive tackles to keep the Nittany Lions from mounting any kind of serious threat in the half.
Schoepfer had eight of Penn State’s 13 shots with four of them on goal. Lisa Collison and Dickenmann had five and three shots, respectively, for Ohio State.
Seedings for the Big Ten Conference Tournament, Nov. 8-11 in Minneapolis, Minn., will be announced at noon Saturday, Nov. 3.