SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Top-seeded Penn State women’s soccer (21-3-2) makes its first ever appearance in the NCAA National Championship game at 4 p.m. EST this Sunday (Dec. 2) against North Carolina at Torero Stadium on the University of San Diego campus. The contest will be aired live on ESPNU.
Penn State is coming off an emotional 2-1 overtime victory after senior midfielder Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.) tapped in the game-winner just 1:12 into overtime to give Penn State a 2-1 win over the Florida State Seminoles. Penn State is just the second Big Ten school to ever appear in the National Title game (Wisconsin, 1991).
Leading 1-0 in regulation, Penn State surrendered a goal to the Seminoles with just 41 seconds remaining. With Florida State riding the momentum, the Nittany Lions abruptly ended the game in the 91st minute, when senior captain Maddy Evans (Glenside, Pa.) hit a long pass room the right wing into the box and Nairn touched it in from six yards out.
Head Coach Erica Walsh earned her 100th victory at Penn State with the win as keeper Erin McNulty (Winnipeg, Manitoba) made three saves in her 100th career start, playing against her former team. With a victory in the title game, Walsh would become just the second female coach to win a women’s soccer national championship, joining Becky Burleigh who did it in 1998 with the Florida Gators.
Nairn, who scored her 17th goal on Sunday, has now duplicated her career goals total as she entered her senior year with 17 total. The senior joined junior Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.) earlier in the week on the MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist list. Additionally, the two were named NSCAA First Team All-Americans on Friday.
Winners of 15-straight Big Ten titles, Penn State sports the nation’s top-ranked scoring attack, averaging 2.92 goals per contest and Nairn has played a big part of it, as she is one of two players that appeared in the College Cup final four teams that has posted double-digit figures in goals and assists. Nairn was named Big Ten Midfielder of the year and earned All-Big Ten First Team honors for her fourth year. Joining Nairn in the potent Nittany Lion attack is Hayes, who has tallied 15 goal and six assists for the 2012 campaign after playing a pivotal role in helping the U.S. U-20 National Team win the World Cup back in September. Hayes was named Big Ten Forward of the Year for her second-straight season.
Carolina enters Friday’s contest with a 14-5-3 overall record after finishing 6-3-1 in the very difficult Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tar Heels are very good at spreading their attack as four players have scored at least seven or more goals. Kealia Ohai and Summer Green each lead the team with 21 total points. Ohai is the team leader in goals with eight while Green has tallied seven goals and seven assists. Amber Brooks and Maria Lubrano have each also scored seven goals for Carolina. Adelaide Gay is the Tar Heel keeper and has made 34 saves this season.
Penn State is 1-4-0 all-time against Carolina, having last played the Tar Heels in national semifinals back in 1999.
The Nittany Lions are 4-0-0 against ACC teams this season.
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