13th-Ranked Penn State Flies Past the Mountain Hawks

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - 13th-ranked Penn State scored the game's first nine goals and wouldn't look back to down Lehigh, 15-3, on a chilly Wednesday evening at the Ulrich Sports Complex.

The Mountain Hawks (7-7) got goals from juniors Megan Kelly, Julie McBrien and Alissa Hardiman while classmate MaryLeah DiNisco made seven saves between the pipes. Lehigh will now look ahead to a big Patriot League showdown Saturday afternoon against Holy Cross.

"Credit to Penn State," said Lehigh head coach Jill Redfern. "They're a deep, strong and athletic team, but we didn't play well tonight. We had a very disappointing performance. A lot of our mistakes showed up. We really paid the price for lack of discipline and lack of focus at the beginning of the game."

Lehigh had its chances, especially in the early going, but Penn State (9-4) goalie Dana Cahill made a number of strong saves. She finished the first half with six and posted 11 for the game, only allowing two goals before being relieved by Melissa Lloyd, who stopped one of two.

DiNisco also impressed, making five first-half stops, but the Nittany Lions converted the game's first nine goals before Kelly took a feed from McBrien to get Lehigh on the board at 4:26 of the first half. Penn State responded with 42 seconds remaining, but McBrien converted a free position shot with 11 seconds to go, making it 10-2 at the half.

The Nittany Lions eventually opened a 15-2 lead in the second, but Hardiman took a nifty feed from junior Anna Patterson and beat Lloyd to end a scoreless drought nearing 25 minutes.

Penn State held a 33-21 edge in shots, 17-12 in groundballs and 11-9 in draw controls. After losing the first eight draw controls, Lehigh responded to win the final five of the first half and nine of the last 12, led by a game-high five from senior Lauren Murray. DiNisco made seven saves while freshman Allison Fayans stopped one of two in relief.

Lehigh will host Holy Cross Saturday in a big Patriot League match-up which proves crucial to league tournament hopes. The Mountain Hawks and Crusaders enter with identical 2-2 Patriot League records as part of a four-way tie for third place in the standings. Opening draw is set for 1:00 p.m.

"It's a must win," said Redfern. "There's no way around it. We have to play well. If we play well, I think we have a good chance."

* * * *

BETHLEHEM, Pa. The last two meetings between Penn State and in-state foe Lehigh were tightly-contested affairs, with the outcomes being decided by a single goal. On Wednesday night in Bethlehem, the No. 13 Nittany Lions put an emphatic end to that trend, crushing the Mountain Hawks, 15-3, at the Ulrich Sports Complex. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Penn State and upped its road record to 6-1 for the season.

Senior midfielder Theresa Zichelli (Severna Park, Md.) led the Nittany Lions with a game-high five points, tallying three goals and two assists, but the PSU offensive output was a balanced effort, as 10 Nittany Lions scored goals in all. Senior Elaine Welch (Bernardsville, N.J.), junior Molly Fernandez (Baltimore, Md.), and sophomore Mackenzie Cyr (Westminster, Md.), who returned to the starting line-up after missing the Florida game and coming off the bench against Northwestern, each netted two goals.

As much as the offense played a role in the win, it was the performance of the Penn State defense that powered it. The Nittany Lions held Lehigh (7-7) scoreless for the first 25:34 of the game and kept the Mountain Hawks out of net for the opening 24:25 of the second half. Lehigh's leading goal scorer Carli Sukonik, who entered the game with 36, was held without a goal. Anchoring the unit was senior goalkeeper Dana Cahill (Towson, Md.), who recorded 11 saves in 52-plus minutes of action.

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2012-04-11



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