Brittany Grzywacz, normally a defender for Penn State’s field hockey team, now finds herself in a key role for the Nittany Lions offense this season.
The fullback’s role comes as a penalty specialist, a pivotal part of any team’s offensive game plan, and one that normally has tons of pressure associated with it.
But the pressure hasn’t gotten to Grzywacz, as she’s now 3-for-3 on the year in penalty attempts.
“It’s something that we’ve just worked on a lot in practice,” Gryzwacz said. “I go to the same spot and stroke it. It’s just about repetitions and practicing it over-and-over again.”
Grzywacz scored the only two goals for the Lions in their 2-0 victory over Cornell at the Field Hockey Complex on Sunday, both of which came off penalty strokes. She has been the team’s primary penalty stroker this season.
“I thought she stepped up when we really needed her,” said midfielder Hannah Allison. “She practices her strokes every day, so clearly she came through in the clutch.”
The two goals on Sunday were not the first of the season for Grzywacz, who had scored four goals in the Lions’ six previous contests.
With her two goals on Sunday, Grzywacz now sits just one goal behind star forward Kelsey Amy for the team lead with seven.
“She’s just strong, and I think very deceptive,” head coach Charlene Morett said. “Sometimes you worry a little bit if the goalie is going to guess where you go, but when it’s that strong of a hit, you cant stop it, even if you know where its going.”
Grzywacz’s strength is also a reason why she plays so effectively on defense, which was evident during Sunday’s victory.
Cornell managed only three shots for the entire game, as its offense constantly found itself floundering in Penn State’s defensive third of the field.
Grzywacz’s defense was a big part of the success, and her ability to transfer the ball from defense to offense helped keep Penn State’s offensive rhythm going, leading to an extremely high 32 shots by the Lions.
“I think we did a good job out-letting and transferring the ball out of the backfield,” Grzywacz said. “We talked about it a bit at half time, and I think we did a good job with it in the second half.”