By Mariana Smithfield
Thu, Aug 24
MacBean nets match-winning goal in 85th minute on feed from Damico
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With the match nearing its end, redshirt junior midfielder Olivia Damico found redshirt junior forward Kaitlyn MacBean, who buried a miraculous match-winning goal to guarantee Penn State women’s soccer Head Coach Erica Dambach’s 300th career victory. The eighth-ranked Nittany Lions published a 2-1 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers Thursday night at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
MacBean’s match-winner, the first of her career and fourth collegiate goal overall, pushed Penn State to 2-0-1 on the young 2023 campaign. The Nittany Lions have booked an undefeated start through three matches in each of the last three seasons and have accomplished that feat on nine occasions since the program’s inception in 1994. PSU’s unbeaten streak against West Virginia extends to seven consecutive matches, with the Blue & White working to a 6-0-1 ledger against WVU since the last Nittany Lion defeat in the 2017 regular season. Following the loss, the Mountaineers fall to 1-2-0 overall, with both losses coming against teams ranked inside the United Soccer Coaches top-10.
West Virginia took slim leads in the box score, winning the shot battle by a 10-8 margin while placing six shots on goal to PSU’s four. The Nittany Lions and Mountaineers split the corner kick contest right down the middle, with each squad picking up a pair of corners in the match. A quartet of PSU athletes booked points on the evening, headlined by sophomore midfielder Olivia Borgen’s first career goal in addition to MacBean’s go-ahead score. Damico and senior+ forward Payton Linnehan were both credited with assists on the night, marking the second-straight scoring match for both PSU standouts.
In goal, Nittany Lion graduate netminder Katherine Asman published yet another exemplary performance, registering five saves with just one goal allowed in Thursday night’s thriller. The Roswell, Georgia, native played all 90 minutes between the pipes for the Blue & White and saw her individual record climb to 2-0-1, mirroring PSU’s undefeated start to the year. For the Mountaineers, senior keeper Kayza Massey went full time and allowed two goals with two saves, dropping her individual record to 1-2-0.
Penn State roared out of the gates early on, dominating the possession battle and working the ball around the attacking midfield. Neither team managed to attack too deep in the opponent’s final third, but West Virginia managed to place the first shot on goal in the match. In the 13th, Mountaineer junior forward Dilary Heredia-Beltran placed a ball toward the bottom center of the net that was safely corralled by Asman’s capable hands. After about a minute more, the Nittany Lions found themselves in a dangerous attacking position.
Moments into the match’s 15th minute, Linnehan found herself in possession at the midfield line, placing a marvelous touch pass on Borgen’s boot around 30 yards away from the net. Linnehan’s slick feed allowed Borgen just enough space to get to work, putting on a stunning dribbling display to the doorstep of the goal area. Despite high pressure from Massey and another Mountaineer defender, Borgen was able to place a left-footed shot in the back of the net for her first collegiate score. Penn State weathered West Virginia’s immediate response and maintained its early one-goal lead while running up a slim 5-4 edge in shot attempts before the halftime intermission.
Following the 15-minute break, West Virginia returned to the pitch with a stronger attacking mindset. The Mountaineers applied pressure to the Nittany Lion back line and ultimately broke through in the 53rd. Heredia-Beltran fed a deep ball to freshman forward Taylor White, who snagged the ball and used some speed to work behind PSU back line. With a Nittany Lion on her hip, White was able to place a right-footed shot into the back center of the net to equalize the score. A late Nittany Lion attacking push led by senior midfielder Natalie Wilson and senior forward Rebecca Cooke failed to materialize in the 78th minute, but the Blue & White remained hopeful for the go-ahead goal.
Penn State’s hope became West Virginia’s reality in the 85th. One last Nittany Lion attacking chance materialized on the left side of the field after Borgen stole a ball intended for Mountaineer midfielder Maya McCutcheon. Borgen took a few dribbles past the midfield line and fed the ball forward to Damico on the edge of the WVU final third. Damico collected herself on the far side of the pitch and delivered a magnificent through ball to MacBean on the righthand side of the penalty area, where the Excelsior, Minnesota, native delivered the historic match-winner off her right boot into the bottom left corner of the goal. PSU held things down defensively the rest of the way and escaped Morgantown with a milestone victory over the Mountaineers.
For Dambach, a 21-year veteran of the head coaching profession, Thursday’s result brought her individual record to 300-118-29 and 260-89-26 since assuming the top job in Happy Valley in 2007. The Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, native has hauled in 16 consecutive NCAA Tournament bids, 11 Big Ten regular season championships, five Big Ten Tournament championships, two NCAA Women’s College Cup nods and the 2015 NCAA Championship. Dambach is the winningest women’s soccer coach in Big Ten Conference history, boasting a 0.728 career winning percentage in Happy Valley.
15’ – Borgen collected the ball around 30 yards away from the goal off a magnificent feed from Linnehan. The Hanson, Massachusetts, native Borgen utilized a masterful dribbling display to advance to the goal area, burying the lid-lifting goal off a left-footed attempt at point-blank range. PSU 1, WVU 0
53’ – Heredia-Beltran fed a deep ball to White, who snagged the ball and used some speed to work behind PSU back line. With a Nittany Lion on her hip, White was able to place a right-footed shot into the back center of the net. PSU 1, WVU 1
85’ – Damico collected herself on the far side of the pitch and delivered a magnificent through ball to MacBean on the righthand side of the penalty area, where she delivered the historic match-winner off her right boot into the bottom left corner of the goal. PSU 2, WVU 1
No. 8 Penn State women’s soccer returns home to Happy Valley to kick off a five-match homestand that will carry the Nittany Lions through the end of non-conference competition and the start of Big Ten Conference play. PSU squares off against the No. 16 TCU Horned Frogs in a top-25 test at Jeffrey Field on Sunday, Aug. 27, at 1 p.m. Streaming is available worldwide to authenticated subscribers via B1G+.
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The 30th Season of Penn State women’s soccer is presented by the Smeal College of Business.
COURTESY PENN STATE ATHLETICS