On a chilly Friday night at Jeffrey Field, Penn State’s offense caught fire.
Laura Freigang netted a hat trick in the first half and Frankie Tagliaferri netted a pair of her own in the final 10 minutes of action as the Nittany Lions advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 7-0 drubbing of Stony Brook.
Heading into the contest, the Nittany Lions maxed out at a season-high four goals on two occasions. After matching that total in the first half, and nearly matching it again after halftime, the Lions were understandably pleased with the offensive output.
“We’ve been wanting to score a bunch of goals for the past couple games,” Freigang said. “So it’s kind of cool to be able to get a couple goals.”
Third-seeded Penn State (13-4-4) will meet Wake Forest (11-5-4) in the second round next weekend at a site and date to be determined.
The Lions dominated the pace of play from the opening kickoff, outshooting the Seawolves 17-0 in the first 45 minutes. Penn State finished the match with a 29-3 edge on the shot chart. The 2015 national-champion Lions hope the offensive dominance against the Seawolves carries over into another deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
“We’ve got to get all the most out of all our players in the game, which is really huge for us. They deserve to play, each and every one of them,” Tagliaferri said. “For us to be able to get the score up and get everybody in boosts everyone’s confidence. It’s just really great to have everyone on the field.”
Freigang opened the scoring with a goal in her third straight game. After the Seawolves failed to clear a corner kick, Freigang jumped on the loose ball, burying her sixth goal of the season.
Just eight minutes later, she doubled the Lions’ lead with her second goal of the night. After Seawolves’ goalie Sofia Manner blocked Megan Shafer’s shot into the middle of the box, Freigang blasted a shot between two defenders for a 2-0 lead.
While Penn State continued to pile on shots, Manner and the Seawolves held the Lions to just the two goals for a good portion of the first half. With 13 minutes before intermission, Frannie Crouse extended the lead to three, heading in a corner kick.
Moments later, Freigang finished off the hat trick with a one-timer off a pass from Tagliaferri. With the goal, Freigang became the first Nittany Lion to post a hat trick since Maya Hayes 2011. It was the 21st hat trick in program history.
Heading into the second half with a comfortable lead, the Lions continued to dominate possession as they wound down the clock. Charlotte Williams made it a five-goal game 20 minutes into the half. After assisting on Freigang’s third goal, Tagliaferri netted her two scores just 49 seconds apart to close the scoring.
The win moved Penn State to 17-3 all time in opening round games, and propelled the Nittany Lions to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the ninth consecutive season.