The old adage says March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Unfortunately for No. 16 William and Mary, the Penn State Nittany Lions came out strong and remained that way, securing a 17-8 win over the College.
The College (4-4) was overmatched in its first home defeat as Penn State (6-4) set the tone of the game early by jumping out to a 3-0 lead and maintaining a steady offensive attack. The loss extends the College’s current losing streak to three.
“We had a great opponent in Penn State and an awesome opportunity in front of us, and unfortunately, we didn’t quite show up,” head coach Christine Halfpenny said. “We had effort, but we didn’t have enough passion on the field throughout the game, and I think that’s really what hurt us.”
The College managed to claw back from the early deficit, pulling ahead 5-4 with 12 minutes, 16 seconds left in the first half. But the Nittany Lions’s offense could not be contained, as Penn State attacker Mary Dean and midfielder Theresa Zichelli combined for four goals in the closing minutes of the first half. Penn State goalkeeper Dana Cahill spearheaded the Nittany Lions’s strong defensive effort, holding the Tribe to eight goals while registering six saves.
“Everything was just a little bit off,” Halfpenny said. “Our reactions on the draws were a little bit off and that hurt us. You could see it: A couple draws came up and actually hit us in the body and then would bounce right off of our body into their sticks.”
The Tribe looked to get back into the game in the second half, and a pair of goals from senior midfielder Grace Golden put the College within four. But Golden’s offensive output was not enough for the Tribe to overcome its defensive struggles in the second half — which resulted in 19 fouls — and the Nittany Lions went on a 6-1 run over the final 20 minutes.
“They definitely worked us. They are a very well-run motion,” Golden said. “That just was not the best defensive effort — or effort all over the field — that we could have put together.”
Despite ample opportunities, Penn State was not able to fully exploit the College’s defensive missteps, only going 4 for 8 on free position shots. Even so, the Nittany Lions capitalized on the Tribe’s 13 turnovers.
The Tribe’s normally powerful offense also stalled in the second half. The College recorded 13 shots in the first half, but only nine in the second.
“Our shooting was off,” Halfpenny said. “We only took 22 shots, so we just weren’t really able to get into a rhythm.”
In addition to Golden, freshman attacker Taelor Salmon registered two goals, while senior attacker Ashley Holofcener, sophomore attacker Kyrstin Mackrides, senior attacker Maggie Anderson and senior midfielder Molly Wannen each contributed one goal apiece. Defensively, senior goalkeeper Emily Geary mirrored the rest of the squad’s lackluster performance, registering only one save while allowing eight goals in the second half.
The College will have the opportunity to end its losing streak and finish March with a strong showing when it takes on Navy at home Tuesday.
“This was not us,” Golden said. “This is not how we know we can play. This was not our team. We’re going to come back in two days and take it to Navy the way we know how.”Navy the way we know how.”