Two is the Loneliest Number: Penn State Falls in Title Game Again

It seemed perfect: Penn State, reloading from a Cinderella second-place run at the 2013 ACHA National Tournament with nearly its entire roster intact and adding several promising freshmen, would charge to one more step the next year with the 2014 title. A championship, in addition to being a first for any PSU women's hockey team, would also provide the appropriate send-off for a historic and significant senior class.

Life, and hockey, doesn't always work to perfection.

Millie Luedtke scored a power play goal with 7:21 remaining in a tightly contested match, and Sophie Puente made 22 stops, as Iowa State defeated the Women's Ice Hockey Club 1-0 in the ACHA Division 2 national championship game Sunday afternoon in Newark, DE. With the loss, PSU closed its second season at 19-4-2, and with the College Hockey East regular season championship.

On the decisive goal, which came during a cross checking call to Tara Soukup, the Cyclones delivered intense pressure as puck movement between Ashley Bye and Jenna Wormuth resulted in locating Luedtke alone just to PSU goalie Katie Vaughan's left. The big sophomore then was able to pick the far corner to both open and close the game's scoring.

Penn State, of course, had plenty of chances both before and after the decisive tally, but were held off on all three of its power play opportunities. Soukup, Alex Warren-Caldwell, Devon Fisk (who drew iron on one shot attempt), Jackie Saideh and Carly Szyszko all had good looks at even strength as well. Geneva Wagoner had one particularly excruciating try, coming up with a block at the line but having her attempt on Puente hurried just enough to help the save. Puente, as time expired in the second period, attempted to toss the puck to the corner with her glove. However, the biscuit stuck momentarily and nearly popped into the net behind her.

On the opposite end, Katie Vaughan stopped everything but the Luedtke goal in making 22 saves to close her spectacular career.

For Vaughan, Szyszko, Allie Rothman and Elizabeth Denis, the game represents a heartbreaking end to their noteworthy careers. For the rest of the team it represents heartbreak as well, but also further incentive to keep chasing that perfect ending, even if it imperfectly arrives a year late.

Box Score

First Period
1. Iowa State, Jenna Wormuth (2:00 holding), 11:30.
Second Period
2. Penn State, Tara Soukup (2:00 body checking), 3:47; 3. Iowa State, Chelsea Behnke (2:00 cross checking), 10:30; 4. Penn State, Geneva Wagoner (2:00 interference), 12:31; 5. Iowa State, Ashley Bye (2:00 elbowing), 12:47.
Third Period
1. Iowa State, Millie Luedtke (Jenna Wormuth, Ashley Bye), 9:39 (power play).
6. Penn State, Tara Soukup (2:00 cross checking), 8:16.
Penn State: Katie Vaughan (50:15): L, 22 saves/23 shots. Iowa State: Sophie Puente: W, 22 saves/22 shots.