In a 90-minute soccer game, that's a pretty impressive number to hold a lead for. In a game where a trip to the national championship is on the line, it's bound to get everyone thinking ahead to the title game. It isn't ninety minutes, though.
Luckily, for Penn State, who is no stranger to rebounding big in this NCAA Tournament, those forty-one seconds of disappointment were able to be erased almost as quickly as they came about.
After top-seeded Florida State's all-American striker Tiffany McCarty headed in a centering pass from Kristin Grubka in the final minute of regulation to send Friday night's first national semifinal into overtime, Lady Lions senior captain Christine Nairn responded nearly just as fast, redirecting a Maddy Evans pass into the box past Noles goalkeeper Kelsey Wys just 64 seconds into the extra period to send Penn State to its first national final with a 2-1 victory.
With the win, the 21-3-2 Lady Lions squad will take on North Carolina on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET. The Lady Tar Heels beat defending national champion Stanford in the other semifinal last night by the score of 1-0 in double overtime.
Playing in their first College Cup since 2005, Penn State came out flat, allowing three Seminole corner kicks in the first eight minutes. Not a blemish came from the Florida State attack though as they were not able to register a shot on goal until the 61th minute. The best chance of the first half came from Nairn who put a crossing shot just wide of the net on a bouncing ball helped by the slick field the teams had to deal with due to a steady rain which fell in San Diego throughout the duration of the match.
The first goal of the night came 11 minutes into the second half as Mallory Weber sent a shot towards the net that was blocked by Wys. The rebound met Maya Hayes' foot and the ball found the back of the net to make the score 1-0. Penn State had a couple more chances after that, but the rest of the second half was dominated by the Seminole attack who peppered Penn State keeper Erin McNulty, who starred on the Florida State-College Cup team of 2007 as a freshman, with shots. McNulty held her own until McCarty's header in the 90th minute which sent the game to overtime.
With the win, the Lady Lions will play for their first-ever national title. It is their first trip to the finals in four College Cup appearances. Across the field from them will be the Lady Tar Heels of North Carolina who have won 20 of the 30 College Cups in women's soccer history.
Will it be title #1 for Penn State or title #21 for North Carolina. It will be determined on Sunday with the game being televised on ESPNU.
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