Sept. 28, 2012
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Thomas Athletic Complex)
Score: #10 Northwestern 5, #6 Penn State 4 (OT)
Records: NU (10-2, 1-1 Big Ten), Penn State (10-3, 2-1 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Friday, Oct. 5 -- at Michigan (Ann Arbor, Mich.), 2 p.m. CT
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Big players step up in big games and that's just what Chelsea Armstrong did. Northwestern's all-time leading scorer capped her hat trick just 12 seconds into overtime as the 10th-ranked Wildcats rallied from two goals down to defeat No. 6 Penn State 5-4 Friday afternoon at the Leonard B. Thomas Athletic Complex.
It was the Wildcats' fifth victory of the season over a ranked opponent.
"I think when they went up 3-1," said Northwestern head coach Tracey Fuchs, "we just relaxed and we got back to our structure and our gameplan. I have to give credit to our team for coming back against Penn State who I think is a top-four team in the country. We kept battling and battling and tied it up and then went down again 4-3 and then tied it up again. I couldn't be more proud of our entire team today."
Northwestern nearly got on the board first just one minute into the game as Kelley Stump fed a pass in front of the goal to Caroline Troncelliti, but her shot missed just wide of the near post.
The Nittany Lions eventually tallied the first goal when Lauren Purvis found Laura Gebhart for her fifth goal of the season to give the guests the lead at the 7:27 mark.
NU had the answer just over a couple of minutes later, though, as freshman Charlotte Martin fired a shot from outside the circle that avoided traffic and beat Ayla Halus to make it 1-1. It was the second goal of the season for the Wildcat freshman.
Northwestern caught a tough break at the end of the opening stanza as Penn State was awarded a penalty corner with no time left on the clock and Ashtin Klingler converted to put the Nittany Lions in front 2-1 at the break.
Things looked bleak for the Wildcats when Brittany Grzywacz converted off another penalty corner early in the second half to put PSU in front by a pair. However, Northwestern got a goal back at 53:15. The 'Cats earned a penalty corner and Tara Puffenberger eluded a defender and fired one to the far post where Lisa McCarthy tapped it home to get the Wildcats within 3-2.
The matchup featured the top two scorers in the Big Ten in Armstrong and Penn State's Kelsey Amy. NU was able to keep Amy off the scoreboard and Armstrong was fairly quiet in the contest until the latter stages, but that's when she stepped up.
Yet another penalty corner for the Wildcats resulted in Armstrong firing a rocket by Halus to tie the match with 13 minutes remaining. McCarthy and Julia Retzky were credited with assists on the play.
Penalty corners were the key to the match and the Nittany Lions made the tie game short-lived as Hannah Allison notched her sixth goal of the year off a corner just 65 seconds after NU had tied it.
With under seven minutes left, the Wildcats converted off a penalty corner for the third time in the match and again it was the trio of McCarthy, Retzky and Armstrong teaming up to do the honors. Armstrong's second score of the match at 63:27 tied the thrilling match once again.
Amanda Wirth, who got the start in goal just minutes before the start of the contest following an injury to Maddy Carpenter, came up huge in the final minute of regulation to help force overtime. A Penn State penalty corner resulted in a look at an open goal for Amy, but Wirth made a diving save to keep the match tied.
"That was amazing," said Fuchs. "I think she has maybe played two halves the whole season. I've always said that we have two starting goalkeepers and for her to find out a minute before the game and go in against a top-ranked opponent and make some saves that she did...I'm proud that she had the opportunity to show her teammates how good she is."
It took Northwestern just seconds to post the game-winner in the extra session. In the 7-on-7 situation, Puffenberger took advantage of the open space and possessed the ball before feeding it across to Armstrong who dove for the ball and knocked it home past Halus to give the Wildcats their first overtime win of the season. The hat trick increased Armstrong's Big Ten-leading goal total to 19.
"That's Chelsea," Fuchs said. "They're going to put their best defender on her, like we did on Kelsey Amy. She's nursing a little bit of a leg injury, but when the game is on the line, you don't look much further than Chelsea. I'm glad she had a great second half today."
Wirth made six saves in goal to earn the win and improve to 3-0 on the season.
Northwestern returns to action at 2 p.m. Central time next Friday, Oct. 5 as it travels to Ann Arbor to face Michigan.
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