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PSU Earns Vital Split with No. 2 WCU

Tara Soukup's first goal of the season was the margin of victory in Saturday's upset of No. 2 West Chester.

The Penn State Women's Ice Hockey Club, now 6-2-1 in its inaugural season and ranked fourth in ACHA WD2, collected its biggest win to date on Saturday, taking down No. 2 West Chester 2-1 at the Ice Line Quad Rinks. The Golden Rams took Sunday's rematch 3-1.

In the front half of the series, Tara Soukup's second-period goal powered PSU to a 2-0 lead and would hold up as the game-winner. Freshman sensation Devon Fisk assisted Soukup and also scored the game's opening goal earlier in the period, with help from Mandy Mortach and Ashton Schaffer. Fisk now has 12 goals and 16 points in just nine games.

After going up two with 5:31 remaining in the middle frame, Penn State would continue to keep a potent WCU team at bay for most of the rest of the game. Although Becky Dobson broke Katie Vaughan's shutout bid with 1:09 remaining, the junior goaltender still polished off her fifth win.

The sweep was not to be, however. On Sunday, Carly Szyszko connected on a third-period goal from Mortach and Mary Kate Tonetti to pull Penn State within 2-1 with 15:32 remaining, and just 37 seconds after Amanda Vito had scored the Golden Rams' second goal. But the team would not find an equalizer, despite a 31-27 shooting advantage over the course of the game. A couple minutes after a late power play was foiled by a quick PSU penalty, head coach Pat Fung called Vaughan to the bench for an extra skater, but the only outcome to the gamble was a game-sealing empty-netter by WCU's Colleen Tweedy.

Defensively, the team turned in a stellar effort, limiting Dobson, the leading scorer in ACHA WD2, to just one meaningless goal and one assist over the two games. Coming into the weekend, Dobson had a staggering 55 points in 12 games, part of an offense that averaged 6.58 goals per game - but was held in check by Vaughan and PSU's blueliners. The WIHC also successfully killed all eight WCU power plays over the weekend, including a 1:50 stretch of 3-on-4 and 3-on-5 time during Sunday's game.

More importantly, Penn State has added to its resume for March's ACHA national championship tournament. Now with a combined 1-2-1 record against the top two teams in the last ACHA poll, West Chester and California (PA), the WIHC has proven that it is a legitimate national championship contender. That fact will hopefully be reflected in a new ranking, due out this week.

Up next, PSU travels to ACHA WD1 Buffalo, a former archrival of Penn State's D1 team, for a two-game set on February 9th and 10th. Puck drop will be at 6:00 p.m. on the 9th and 12:00 p.m. on the 10th at Northtown Center in Williamsville, NY.

Saturday Box Score


First Period
Scoring
None.
Penalties
1. Penn State, Taylor Nyman (2:00 tripping), 11:57; 2. Penn State, Ashton Schaffer (2:00 roughing), 10:44; 3. West Chester, Colleen Tweedy (2:00 roughing), 10:44; 4. West Chester, Virlen Reyes (2:00 hooking), 7:21; 5. Penn State, Mandy Mortach (2:00 body checking), 3:07.
Second Period
Scoring
1. Penn State, Devon Fisk (Mandy Mortach, Ashton Schaffer), 9:18; 2. Penn State, Tara Soukup (Devon Fisk), 5:31.
Penalties
6. West Chester, Emily Rice (2:00 interference), 11:19; 7. Penn State, Tara Soukup (2:00 holding), 4:50.
Third Period
Scoring
3. West Chester, Becky Dobson (Lindsay Howard), 1:09.
Penalties
8. Penn State, Taylor Nyman (2:00 hooking), 14:38; 9. West Chester, Virlen Reyes (2:00 body checking), 6:48; 10. Penn State, Ashton Schaffer (2:00 slashing), 5:21.
Goaltending
Penn State: Katie Vaughan: W, 24/25; West Chester: Aly Golia: L, 18/20.

Sunday Box Score


First Period
Scoring
None.
Penalties
1. West Chester, Danielle Speroff (2:00 tripping), 11:31; 2. Penn State, Mandy Mortach (2:00 interference), 7:11.
Second Period
Scoring
1. West Chester, Kristen Neugebauer (Lindsay Howard, Emily Rice), 15:15.
Penalties
3. West Chester, Kirsten Baron (2:00 slashing), 11:09; 4. Penn State, Allie Rothman (2:00 interference), 10:26; 5. Penn State, Ashton Schaffer (2:00 interference), 10:16; 6. West Chester, Amanda Vito (2:00 hooking), 6:46; 7. West Chester, Kirsten Baron (2:00 body checking), 3:10. 
Third Period
Scoring
2. West Chester, Amanda Vito (Brittany Dalziel), 16:09; 3. Penn State, Carly Szyszko (Mandy Mortach, Mary Kate Tonetti), 15:32; 4. West Chester, Colleen Tweedy (Becky Dobson), 0:42 (empty net).
Penalties
8. Penn State, Mandy Mortach (2:00 unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:03; 9. West Chester, Becky Dobson (2:00 unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:03; 10. West Chester, Becky Dobson (2:00 holding), 6:03; 11. Penn State, Allie Rothman (2:00 body checking), 5:47.
Goaltending
Penn State: Katie Vaughan: L, 24/26; West Chester: Aly Golia: W, 30/31.