After narrowly losing to Oklahoma State and No. 4 Virginia, No. 23 Penn State womens soccer fell 1-0 to Michigan on Thursday to make it three consecutive defeats at Jeffrey Field in a week’s time.
Despite having 63% possession and more total shots, the Nittany Lions (4-4-1) lacked creativity in the final third and have to look to make changes offensively heading into Sunday’s game against Michigan State.
“We’ve got to find our belief right now and you can see that in our play,” head coach Erica Dambach said. “You can see that in just the way that we carry ourselves.”
In reference to attacking play, Dambach was also dissatisfied with individual decision-making addressing the team’s tendency to play it safe rather than push forward.
“It’s time to take some risks,” she said. “We’re being too cautious in our actions and trying to protect something rather than go after something.”
Regardless of the result, senior goalkeeper and captain Amanda Dennis was confident the team is capable of owning ‘”heir turf” and returning to a champion’s mindset.
“We just have to get back into the locker room and start getting this Penn State swagger back,” she said. “Everyone knows Penn State soccer is a force to be reckoned with and we have to play on Jeffrey Field and it’s got to be our house.”
Looking forward, Dennis called for a greater attention to detail, as just one small lapse in concentration can cost a goal — and did so Thursday night in the Big Ten opener.
“It’s those little moments, that’s the way soccer works,” she said. “It was a throw-in, and we just weren’t sharp and they got in behind us and scored a goal.”
With the game against Michigan falling on a Thursday night, the Nittany Lions have one extra day to prepare and train for their match-up against Michigan State, a day that Dennis feels the team can benefit from.
“It’s a great opportunity to recover more,” Dennis said. “We get an extra day to look at the next opponent and it used to be such a quick turn-around.”
Penn State will certainly have a tough test on Sunday as Michigan State stands with a 7-1 record and is hot off a three-game winning streak. To face the challenge, Dambach is looking for some of her more experienced players to step up.
“We need some more leadership and we need our upperclassmen to step up and take this group onto their shoulders,” she said. “That’s a big ask with a group that’s been struggling a little bit, but they’re capable of doing it.”