UNIVERSITY PARK — Fast goals to start a half are nice.
Doing it twice, well, that’s tough to beat.
Still, Boston College put up quite a fight before the Penn State women’s soccer team finally locked up a 5-2 NCAA second-round victory Friday night at Jeffrey Field.
Maya Hayes scored a pair of first-half goals, Mallory Weber also scored twice and Christine Nairn had one goal as the Nittany Lions (19-3-1) head to the third round to meet Michigan at 7 p.m. Sunday.
“We hit a critical moment when the game went to 3-2 and I just told the team it was do-or-die at that point,” head coach Erica Walsh said. “Everything about their body language was right and so much of it was the crowd and the confidence of playing at Jeffrey Field.”
The Wolverines dropped Portland 3-0 in Friday’s first game.
Penn State, the region’s No. 1 seed, heads to the third round for the second straight season and 11th time in program history.
Hayes’ first score came really quick — just 48 seconds into the game to set the program record for fastest opening goal.
“Every stat screams that you need to score first,” Walsh said. “More importantly it got the crowd into the game, it got our team into the game. Mentally we were ready to go. I felt like we can do that any time we set our mind to it.”
Taylor Schram set up the score, racing down the right sideline and sending a perfect cross to Hayes, redirecting the ball past keeper Alexa Gaul.
“We scouted, we looked at video, we knew exactly what their back line was going to look like,” Hayes said. “It literally played right into how we like to play.”
Tani Costa, set earlier this year, and Tiffany Weimer shared the old record for fastest goal at 56 seconds.
Speed also was the story of the third goal, with Emily Hurd’s cross finding Weber right in front of the net just 44 seconds into the second half.
Nairn set up Hayes’ other first-half goal, leading her with a pass through the defense to go one-on-one with Gaul for her 15th score of the fall.
The 3-0 lead looked safe, but the Eagles’ Kristen Mewes, who is Boston College’s all-time scoring leader while leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring, had other ideas.
After a foul in the penalty box, Mewes ripped off a penalty kick to spoil the shutout, then she struck again for her 16th goal this year on a breakaway for a 3-2 margin.
“A lot of teams certainly at 3-0 would have given up,” Eagles coach Alison Foley said. “The most important thing to me and the most important quality that we get out of our kids is an attitude to never give up.”
The Nittany Lions were shaken a little — Nairn admitted to having flashbacks to her freshman season when a 2-0 halftime lead against Virginia turned into a 6-2 NCAA second-round loss — but their defense stiffened and the regained their composure.
“That was in the back of my and Maddy (Evans’) minds,” Nairn said. “We had a second that we had on the field and we said, ‘Not again.’ That’s our mentality — we know where we’ve been and we know where we want to go.”
In the middle of traffic Raquel Rodriguez managed to slip the ball to Nairn for her 15th score of the season and the team regained the momentum.
A crazy goal provided some insurance with Gaul scooping up a ball with Weber and an Eagle defender charging hard at her. Gaul’s punt ricocheted off the players and back into her own net. Weber got credit but sheepishly admitted after the game she never touched the ball.
“You were there,” Hayes told her. “It was all your pressure. It was all you.”
The nation’s top-scoring offense entering the tournament now has nine goals in two postseason games.
“Certainly it’s a dangerous attack,” Foley said. “They attack with six (players) and all six are quite capable of scoring goals. They serve balls well when the get in the box … and they are opportunistic in their finishing.”
A collection of ill-advised Twitter postings by sophomore forward Stephanie McCaffrey, who was second on the team in scoring, cast a cloud over the game. McCaffrey made several jokes referencing child rape and former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on Thursday afternoon, and she was suspended for the weekend by the athletic department.
“I think we managed it as well as we can,” Foley said, “and as professionally as we could and we focused on the game – coaches and players alike.”
Michigan 3, Portland 0
Michigan’s Nkem Ezurike scored one goal and assisted on two others as the Wolverines eliminated the Pilots.
Michigan (16-5-2) advances to the third round for the third time in program history and first time since 2002.
Clare Stachel and Emily Jaffe scored the first two goals, with Jaffe’s finding the net 39 seconds before halftime as she chipped the ball from short range off the fingertips of leaping keeper Erin Dees, who made two saves.
“That one before the half was a really important goal,” Stachel said, “and that gave us a lot of confidence going into the locker room.”
Haley Kopmeyer made one save for the program’s 13th shutout of the season.
“It was too big of a hole for us this time,” Portland coach Garrett Smith said. “We’ve come back before, but give Michigan a lot of credit. Once they got their two goals they dug their heels in and made things very, very difficult for us today.”