The No. 7 Virginia women’s soccer team opened the 2012 season Friday night by falling to No. 8 Penn State 3-1 in a top-10 showdown. The loss marks just the second time in the past 13 years that the Cavaliers have lost their season opener, with both of those losses coming against the Nittany Lions.
“There was some good things and bad things we can take from this game,” said assistant coach Ron Raab. “We are disappointed with the result. We gave up a couple of goals that I thought were preventable on our part. When you play an opponent as quality as Penn State, they will make you pay for your mistakes. On the other side, I thought the start of the second half was good and we created a lot of chances. If we finish a few more of those, it changes the game.”
The teams traded chances in the first half before Penn State took the lead in the 41st minute. A ball played ahead to Toni Costa caused a 50-50 ball at the top of the penalty area where Costa had the ball deflect of goalkeeper Danielle DeLisle into the side of the box. Costa raced to the loose ball and chipped a shot over the retreating keeper and just inside the far post. Penn State held that 1-0 lead at halftime.
Virginia controlled play in the second half, creating several scoring chances before finally drawing even in the 76th minute. Erica Hollenberg’s corner kick was headed in by Makenzy Doniak, as the freshman forward scored in her collegiate debut.
The game wouldn’t remain level for long as Penn State retook the lead just 22 seconds later. Mallory Weber got in behind the defense on a through ball and scored on the breakaway to give the Nittany Lions the lead. She added another breakaway goal in the 88th minute to seal the victory for the visitors.
“When we climbed back into the game and tied it up, we were playing very well,” said Raab. “We had worked hard for those first 30 minutes of the second half to get back level. We finally got that goal and then we kind of let up a little. That makes you vulnerable and Penn State took advantage of that.”
Virginia outshot Penn State 14-13 in the contest, but the Nittany Lions had a 7-5 corner kick edge. DeLisle made two saves for Virginia while playing the first half in goal and Churchill O’Connell made one save in the second half as she made her collegiate debut. Erin McNulty had three saves for Penn State.
The Cavaliers continue their season-opening four-game homestand on Sunday as they host Radford. Game time at Klöckner Stadium is set for 2 p.m.