It all comes down to focus and execution.
These two ideas are what the No. 9 Penn State (3-1) field hockey team finds itself thinking about the most heading into this Thursday’s game at No. 4 Princeton (2-0).
After a one-goal loss on Friday against No. 6 Connecticut, the Nittany Lions looked to rebound against Lafayette, a team it owns a 16-2 all time record against. And while the 3-2 victory may look like any other win on paper the next day, the Lions expect better from themselves, particularly in executing their offensive game.
“We need to have vision and communication for 70 minutes,” head coach Charlene Morett said. “And we didn’t accomplish that.”
The Lions came out strong, scoring the first goal only 30 seconds into the game, and looked to be the better team from the get-go.
But the strong start didn’t translate into consistent play, as the Lions struggled to string together any kind of offensive rhythm as the game progressed, allowing Lafayette to hang around into the final minutes of the game.
Multiple times the Lions would find themselves in Lafayette’s defensive third of the field, only to be frustrated time and time again as the extra pass that would lead to a goal eluded them.
“Our passing was not sharp today,” Morett said.
Senior Kelsey Amy, whose impressive speed normally paces the Lions attack, echoed Morett’s criticisms.
“Something that [Morett] talks about a lot is coming out for a full 70 minutes,” Amy said. “When things aren’t going our way, we kind of get into a lull. I think we need to try and work through those things and play the way we know how to play.”
“We lost focus, we lost vision, we started getting compact in the middle a lot. Our game plan is to stretch the field. I think if we regroup and work on those things at practice this week we’ll be alright.”
The Lions did, however, manage to force 15 penalty corners, a staggering amount compared to Lafayette’s three, but lacked the ability to deliver the goal that could have ended Lafayette’s hopes for a comeback.
“Its just about mental focus,” goalkeeper Ayla Halus said. “It’s a team thing, we have to push each other through it. When we make a play, congratulate each other, and if we don’t necessarily make that play be right there in support. It’s a team effort.”
The team hopes to find its rhythm in time before Thursday’s showdown with No. 4 Princeton, its fourth game against a Top 10 opponent this season.