For the Penn State field hockey team, a pair of juniors held the key.
Whitney Reddig and Ashtin Klinger were instrumental in the Nittany Lions’ 6-2 win over California, utilizing terrific positioning and communication to keep the offense flowing and the Golden Bears stifled on the defensive end.
“From the start we always try and say ‘hey lets work together,’ ” Reddig said. “Left and right midfielders work together with their forwards and I think our communication has gotten so much better since our Northwestern game.”
That Northwestern game was a tough one for the No. 7 Lions, who traveled to Evanston, Ill., and lost 5-4 in overtime to the then-No. 10 Wildcats.
But Sunday’s game against California served as a perfect rebound game — and a way for Klinger and Reddig to work on their teamwork.
Klinger, who plays mostly up front as a forward, has begun to form a key partnership with Reddig, who tends to drop back into midfield and act as more of a facilitator for the offense.
Their play together was crucial in how the Lions functioned, as the duo controlled their half of the field with great efficiency.
“They’re finding each other well,” coach Charlene Morett said. “Whit sometimes had a tendency to give the ball up a little too soon, and it didn’t give Ashtin time to get there. [Reddig] baited the defender much better than she has in the past, and it really opened up the lane for Ashtin, and then Ashtin was ready to put her jets on and go.”
Klinger in particular has been very effective the past few games, scoring goals in four-straight contests, and continued her run of good form against Cal, scoring her ninth goal of the season to put the Lions up 2-0.
“Ashtin was really at the top of her game,” Morett said. “I mean, just the way she turns the corner on the left side…that’s not an easy position to play, and she can quickly self start and put the ball in good scoring positions.”
But for Ashtin to get the ball into those scoring positions, Reddig has to get the ball to her first.
“I thought we found good passes out of the backfield which we took up the sidelines,” Reddig said. “I thought we went well up the field.”
Reddig has 10 assists on the season, tied for the most on the team with the more central midfielder, Laura Gebhart.
Flowing the ball forward from defensive positions has been key for the Lions’ offensive success all year, and if Reddig and Klinger continue to have games like they had on Sunday, the Lions could continue to see good results.
“We have to stay focused on the task at hand because we want to win the Big Ten Championship during the regular season,” Klinger said. “So we just have to stay focused, keep up the great work and test ourselves this week against each other.”