State College, Pa. - The Nebraska soccer team came back from a 4-2 deficit in the second half to tie game with 16 minutes left in regulation, but couldn't hold on and were defeated, 5-4, by the No. 15 Penn State Nittany Lions. After scoring just two goals in their last four games, the Huskers got goals from four different players, including the first career goals for freshmen Mayme Conroy and Caroline Gray.
The Huskers, who have dropped five straight conference games, now hold a 5-8-1 overall record and a 2-5-0 record in Big Ten play, while Penn State moved to 13-3-0 overall and 6-1-0 during the conference season.
It didn't take long for Penn State's Maya Hayes to make her presence known, as the sophomore scored her 19th goal of the season just under three minutes into the game. NU goalie Emma Steven came away from the net to try and control the ball, but couldn't get a handle and Hayes poked the ball in to put PSU up 1-0.
The teams then traded four shots each, before Jordan Jackson was able to find the back of the net on an assist from Blair Slapper for Jackson's first goal during conference play. Jackson, who had scored six goals in the Huskers' first six games, was on a seven-game scoring drought before tying the game at the 22:04 mark. The junior took a Nittany Lion defend one-on-one and when the Penn State player slipped, Jackson fired from the left side and put the ball in the top corner of the net from 15 yards out.
It looked like the game would head into halftime tied at 1-1, but each team added a goal in the final three minutes of the half. The Huskers took a 2-1 lead when Maddie Hanssler and PSU goalie Erin McNulty collided, leaving an empty net for Conroy to score the first goal of her Husker career. The Nittany Lions came back at 43:38 to tie the game at 2-2 on a goal from Taylor Schram that was setup perfectly by Hayes.
Just like in the first half, the Nittany Lions scored first in the second half to retake the lead, 3-2, on Emily Hurd's fourth goal of the season. Stevens caught a bad break when she tried to knock away Hurd's shot from 30 yards out, but Stevens' deflection hit the post and fell into the Huskers' goal. Schram would then add her second goal of the game on a header at 63:17 off a free kick to extend PSU's lead to 4-2.
The Huskers didn't give up and cut into the Nittany Lions' lead at 71:01 with Gray's first career goal. Gray took a pass from Hanssler at the top of the box and found an opening low on the left side of the net. With the momentum on the Huskers' side, Hanssler produced her second goal of the season at 75:52 on a header off of Morgan Marlborough's corner kick. On the night, Hanssler produced a career-high three points.
Four goals wouldn't be enough though for the Huskers, as Whitney Church answered with a header off of Ali Schaefer's corner kick at 78:31 to put in the game winner.
The Huskers will finish their weekend trip on Sunday when they visit Columbus, Ohio, for a Noon (CT) game with the Ohio State Buckeyes. The game will be streamed live on BTN.com and a link to live stats will be on Huskers.com.