Penn State graduate Alyssa Naeher stopped three penalty kicks, including two in a shootout, to save the U.S.women's soccer team at the Tokyo Olympics.
The U.S. defeated the Netherlands 2-2 (4-2) in a shootout Friday to advance to the semifinals against Canada. Without Naeher, a 2009 Penn State graduate, the U.S. might not have returned to the Olympics medal round for the first time since 2012.
Naeher stopped a second-half penalty kick in the 81st minute that would have given the Netherlands a 3-2 lead. Naeher also made sure the Netherlands didn't get a chance at a follow-up shot attempt.
In the shootout, Naeher stopped two Dutch attempts while her teammates went 4-for-4. The U.S. exhaled as it advanced past the quarterfinals, the round in which it lost at the 2016 Olympics. Naeher, 23, was a reserve goalkeeper on that team.
Naeher played for Penn State from 2006-09 and was the Big Ten's defensive player of the year in 2009. She was named first-team all-Big Ten and All-American in 2007 and '08. Naeher became the national team's No. 1 goalkeeper after the 2016 Olympics and has made 77 appearances. She currently plays for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women's Soccer League.
Naeher is no stranger to big-moment penalty saves. She stopped one vs. England in the semifinals of the 2019 World Cup, and the U.S. went on to defeat the Netherlands to win the title. Naeher posted four shutouts in the 2019 World Cup title run.
The U.S. will play Canada in Monday's semifinals, scheduled to begin at 4 a.m. EST. Canada also got two penalty-kick saves, from goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe, to defeat Brazil. Canada won bronze at the 2016 Olympics.