Soukup, PSU Shove Aside Delaware, Clinch Berth in ACHA Semis

Tara Soukup proved too much for Delaware to handle Friday morning

A pair of Tara Soukup blasts, one deflected in by Geneva Wagoner, and a late Devon Fisk goal were more than enough support for Katie Vaughan's 11-save shutout as Penn State defeated Delaware 3-0 in a Pool A game at the ACHA National Tournament in Newark, DE Friday morning.

The win, coupled with North Dakota State's simultaneous 5-1 victory over Alaska, ensured that both PSU and NDSU will play in the tournament semifinals on Saturday. The WIHC will meet the Bison in the final game of the group stage at 6:00 on Friday evening to decide which of the two will serve as the pool's top seed.

Despite controlling play throughout against the tournament host and CHE rival Blue Hens, Penn State's rewards were slow in arriving - although a dominant defensive effort that allowed just 11 shots on Vaughan helped make that a moot point. Game starters Cassie Dunne and Allie Rothman, along with Soukup, Ashton Schaffer, Kim Badorrek and the WIHC's bevy of excellent defensive forwards all contributed to the effort.

The initial scoring breakthrough finally came with 4:23 remaining in the opening period. Mary Kate Tonetti ran interference behind UD goalie Sarah Ehrlich, allowing linemate Fisk to retrieve and slide the puck high to Soukup. The Pittsburgh native then unleashed one of her trademark drives, finding the stick of Wagoner in front for the only score that would be needed.

A long history of tough contests with Delaware, however, proves that one-goal leads are never safe against the Hens, so Soukup went back to work exactly one period later - this time bombing Fisk's pass straight through from the left point (with no assist awarded). Soukup's tally gave the sophomore a fourth point in two tournament games so far and provided a fitting conclusion to a frame that saw PSU enjoy a 14-2 shots advantage.

Usual suspects Fisk and Wagoner combined for a late tally to seal things off, as the latter circled behind Ehrlich before finding her sophomore linemate for a one-timer from the slot. Fisk, a West Chester Quakers product, now has three goals at nationals following her brace on Thursday against Alaska.

After PSU and NDSU square off in Friday's second game, Pool A's top seed will meet the second-place team from Pool B (which features California, Wisconsin-La Crosse, Iowa State and Michigan State) in Saturday's first semifinal. The Pool A runners-up will play Pool B's winner in the following contest.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Geneva Wagoner (Tara Soukup), 12:37.
Second Period
2. Penn State, Tara Soukup (unassisted), 12:43.
1. Delaware, Samantha DiSabatino (2:00 tripping), 15:34.
Third Period
3. Penn State, Devon Fisk (Geneva Wagoner), 10:29.
2. Delaware, Jess Blasnik (2:00 cross checking), 12:04; 3. Penn State, Devon Fisk (2:00 hooking), 15:45; 4. Delaware, Samantha DiSabatino (2:00 hooking), 15:45.
Penn State: Katie Vaughan: W, 11 saves/11 shots. Delaware: Sarah Ehrlich: L, 33 saves/36 shots.