Women's soccer captures first national championship

Penn State defeats Duke 1-0 en route to title

Credit: Penn State AthleticsAll Rights Reserved.

CARY, N.C. — The Penn State women's soccer team defeated Duke, 1-0, en route to its first-ever national championship this afternoon (Dec. 6) at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Nittany Lions tallied their eighth-straight shutout and 15th overall on the season. Senior Raquel Rodriguez tallied her sixth goal of the season in the 72nd minute.

"When you get to a national championship game obviously you never expect it to be easy, but I thought that Duke gave us absolutely everything we could handle today," head coach Erica Walsh said. "They came out in the first 20 minutes with the crowd behind them. They put us on our back foot and we had to struggle through that time and could not quite find our rhythm. Once we got past that time I really felt like we got back on top of the game. That is an extremely good Duke team that we were able to beat today. Congratulations to Robbie Church and his program. He runs a tremendous program."

Penn State (22-3-2) posted four shot attempts in the first half, including a pair of shots from senior Mallory Weber. Weber's first shot attempt in the 13th minute, from the right side of the penalty area, was by saved EJ Proctor and 11 minutes later, her shot from six yards out was corralled by Proctor to keep the Nittany Lions off the scoreboard.

Senior goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom made her lone save of the first half on Toni Payne's shot attempt in the 30th minute. A minute later, Imani Dorsey tallied a shot from the right side of the field that hit the top of the crossbar and bounced out of play.

Proctor stepped up for her final save of the first half on a Rodriguez header in the 38th minute. Off a Nittany Lion corner kick, Rodriguez headed the ball on goal, but Proctor was there to keep the Nittany Lions off the board.

Heading into halftime, Duke (14-6-5) outshot Penn State, 6-4 with Penn State leading 3-1 in shots on goal.

The Duke defense stepped up to block a pair of Nittany Lion shots in the 60th minute. Two minutes later, Proctor tallied another save on the day, as Nickolette Driesse fired a shot on goal.

Ten minutes later, it was time for the seniors to etch their name in Nittany Lion history.

After a Blue Devil turnover in their own side of the field, Weber crossed the ball from the right side of the penalty area to Rodriguez on the left side of the penalty area. Then Rodriguez evaded a pair of Blue Devil defenders and fired a left footed-shot past Proctor into the bottom-right corner of the net for the 1-0 Nittany Lion tally.

With the Blue Devils down, Duke picked up the pace looking for the game-tying goal. Two minutes after the Rodriguez goal, Eckerstrom made her second save of the day on Kayla McCoy keeping the 1-0 lead intact.

During the final 10 minutes of the match, Duke tallied three shot attempts, but only one was on goal. Eckerstrom made her third, and final, save of the match in the 84th minute on Malinda Allen.

With the clock winding down in the match, Allen posted another shot in the 87th minute, but her header went high and with less than a minute left in regulation the Nittany Lion defense blocked Casey Martinez' shot attempt.

Under 10 seconds left in regulation Duke was called for offsides and the Nittany Lions were moments away from history.

Rodriguez' strike Sunday was her ninth career game-winning goal and will go down in Penn State women's soccer history.

Overall, shots were tied at 11, with Penn State tallying a margin of 5-3 in shots on goal.Frannie Crouse, Emily Ogle, Kaleigh Riehl, Rodriguez and Weber were named to the College Cup All-Tournament team. Rodriguez was also named the Most Outstanding Player on Offense of the 2015 College Cup.

Penn State posted a scoring margin of 20-0 in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, becoming the first Big Ten team to win the NCAA women’s soccer championship.

Last Updated December 18, 2015