Costa Rican World Cup player Raquel Rodriguez scored the lone goal in the 72nd minute to give Penn State a 1-0 win over Duke for its first NCAA Division I women’s championship on Sunday.
Mallory Weber, who led Penn State with 11 assists, set up Rodriguez for her sixth goal of the season. The seniors were the only players who started for the Nittany Lion when they lost to North Carolina, 4-1, in the 2012 final. It was the second trip to the final for both teams. Duke had fallen a year earlier to Stanford, 1-0, in 2011.
Penn State were also led by Greensburg Central Catholic grad Frannie Crouse, who scored the game-winner in the 24th minute of the Lions’ National semifinal win over Big 10 foe Rutgers. Crouse scored 11 goals and had seven assists this year. Crouse was part of a dominant GCC squad that won three WPIAL and PIAA titles in her time there. Crouse, only a sophomore who has scored 21 goals in two years, will be joined by Upper St. Clair’s Emma Hasco next year.
Rodriguez had played for Costa Rica at the 2015 Women’s World Cup but skipped the Ticos’ series against the USA in August, including the game at Heinz Field, so she could concentrate on her senior senior at Penn State.
Duke’s best chance came in the first half when sub Imani Dorsey hit a shot that bounced off the crossbar. Toni Payne had almost single-handedly beaten defending champion Florida State in the semifinals with her devastating pace, but she
Penn State matched Florida’s feat of winning all six NCAA Tournament games by shutouts. The Lions finished with a 20-0 scoring margin in the six games and eight straight shutout wins in all competitions.
The Lions should be a contender in 2015 as they only lose keeper Britt Eckerstrom, Rodriguez and Weber. The nucleus of the team is the sophomore class with six starters.
FINAL SCORE – Penn State 1 Duke 0
Goals: Rodriguez (Weber) 72.
Penn State — Eckerstrom, Basinger, Riehl, Elliston, Ball, Ogle, Rodriguez, Driesse, Schafer, Crouse, Weber. Subs: Williams, Jean, Echard, Ortega-Jurado.
Duke — Proctor, Quinn, Raben, Reid, Gibbons, Miller, Racioppi, Wilson, Martinez, Payne, McCoy. Subs: Burns, Dorsey, Pecht, Allen.