Oct. 26, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Not even the sprinklers going off by the University of Iowa soccer team's bench during postgame stretching in 44 degree temperatures could put a damper on what took place Friday night at the Iowa Soccer Complex.
The Hawkeyes tallied a program-first, downing No. 16 Penn State, 3-2 -- the first win over the Nittany Lions in 18 tries. The victory was also Iowa's first over a ranked opponent since 2008 -- a 1-0 triumph over No. 16 Illinois.
"This win is pretty close to the top, we can't deny that," said UI head coach Ron Rainey. "These are the type of things we want to do with this program. We want to defend our home field and challenge a team like a Penn State.
"That's all we can ask of our kids, and we put ourselves in a position to get a result tonight. I am really proud that we did it."
The Hawkeyes got off to a quick start, getting a fourth minute header goal by junior Katie Nasenbenny off a corner kick by senior Ashley Catrell. Penn State had an answer in the 23rd minute, scoring on a penalty kick by Tani Costa.
"This win is pretty close to the top, we can't deny that. These are the type of things we want to do with this program. We want to defend our home field and challenge a team like a Penn State. That's all we can ask of our kids, and we put ourselves in a position to get a result tonight. I am really proud that we did it."
UI head coach Ron Rainey
Iowa regained the advantage five minutes before the halftime break when Catrell found the five-hole, punching her shot between Nittany Lion goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom's legs to give Iowa the 2-1 lead. The advantage was short-lived, as Costa netted her second goal of the contest just 33 seconds later.
"Penn State is so good. They have such great athletes, and they play really fast," said Rainey. "We lost focus at just a couple of spots. In the second half, you didn't see any of that. We defended well as a group and got a couple of counters, which is what we talked about we needed to do."
Junior Cloe Lacasse's goal on a counter in the 75th minute proved to be the difference for the Hawkeyes. The unassisted strike deflected off Eckerstrom, sending the UI players into an up-roar.
"I remember that it hit the girl and went in, and it was all good from there," said Lacasse.
After the goal, the Hawkeyes sunk back defensively. It was a continuance of strong second-half Iowa defense.
"We threw a lot of numbers behind the ball (after the goal)," said Rainey. "We said we needed a shutout in the second half on the backline and on all the restarts.
People were real composed and moved their feet. That was an awesome defensive display in the second half."
For as good as the defense played to close out the game, the final 15 minutes still felt like they took 100 for the Hawkeyes.
"They were taking a little too long," said Lacasse. "I was looking at the clock as every second ticked away."
Once the clock hit zero, the celebration continued and carried over to the grandstands with the Hawkeye faithful.
"This is crazy because we've never beaten Penn State, and it is alumni weekend, so we had a great fan base for this moment," said Lacasse. "Everyone is ecstatic."
The Hawkeyes now look to carry over their performance into Sunday's game against Ohio State.
"Hopefully this will give us momentum and our emotions will carry over into the Ohio State game," said Catrell. "We have an opportunity to win our last two games and move up in the standings for the Big Ten Tournament."
Sunday's game is set to begin at 1 p.m. (CT). Iowa will honor Catrell and fellow senior Alex Melin in a pregame ceremony.