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Penn State Falls Short In CHA Tournament Semifinal

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Despite a fierce third period rally, the Nittany Lions fell to Syracuse, 3-2.

Heather Weikel | Black Shoe Diaries

Goals By Period

Team 1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Team 1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Syracuse 1 2 0 x 3
Penn State 0 0 2 x 2

Heading into the CHA Tournament, Penn State seemed destined to claim its first tournament title and an automatic bid to its first NCAA Tournament.

But curses aren’t lifted that easily.

For the fourth straight season, the Nittany Lions fell short in the semifinal, this time in a 3-2 loss against Syracuse. Now, destiny is out of their hands, with the chances of an at-large bid appearing slim.

The Nittany Lions didn’t do themselves any favors in their matchup with the Orange. Not even four minutes into the second period, the Nittany Lions had already afforded the Orange four power play opportunities.

While the penalty kill did its part in the early going, the Orange finally broke through on that final man advantage.

By contrast, Syracuse was penalized just once, midway through the third period, and yielded just one shot against on that penalty kill. It seems cliched to say plays a significant factor in each game, but it clearly benefited the Orange in this one.

While the Orange played as perfect a game as you’ll see through 40 minutes, they did have to rely on luck for a pair of their goals. A strange bounce opened the scoring late in the first period, while the winning goal midway through the second period grazed off Penn State goaltender Julie Bothun’s shoulder and narrowly under the crossbar.

Heading to the third period trailing 3-0, the Nittany Lions nearly pulled off the comeback on the shoulders of Olivia Wallin. Just under a minute into the final frame, Wallin wired a wrist shot past Syracuse goalie Allison Small to give the Nittany Lions a spark.

Midway through the period, Wallin pulled her team within a goal as she finished off a brilliant cross-crease pass from Rachel Weiss.

From then on, however, the Orange appropriately parked the bus on the Nittany Lions. Jeff Kampersal’s squad was seldom able to maintain consistent offensive zone pressure as the Orange collapsed on their own goal and sent every loose puck back into the neutral zone or farther.

The loss may see the Nittany Lions’ historic season end as the first team out of the NCAA Tournament, barring any more chaos in this or other conference tournaments.

How It Happened

Syracuse opened the scoring late in the first period. Just after a power play ended, Madison Beishuzen fired a long range shot on goal. Mallory Uihlein got down on one knee as she attempted to block the shot. Instead, the puck hit her leg and fluttered past the outstretched glove of Josie Bothun.

Early in the second period, the Orange finally took advantage of the Nittany Lions getting into penalty trouble. After a scramble in front of Bothun, Anna Leschyshyn buried a shot from the backdoor.

Midway through the middle frame, the Orange extended their lead to three as Emma Polaski fired a wrister over the shoulder of Bothun and just under the crossbar.

Just under a minute into the third period, Olivia Wallin got the Nittany Lions on the board as she wired a wrist shot from the slot past Allison Small.

Midway through the period, Wallin notched her second of the game to bring the Nittany Lions within one. As Rachel Weiss powered her way toward the net, she slipped a pass to Wallin, who one timed a shot past the outstretched Small.