So much for tough defense.
The No. 7 Penn State field hockey team, following a pre-game pep talk with football coach Bill O’Brien, stormed out to take on No. 11 Iowa’s stout defense on Sunday, knocking home three goals within the first 15 minutes to pace its 5-1 rout of the visiting Hawkeyes.
“I was very proud of how aggressive our team came out at the start,” coach Charlene Morett said. “And Kelsey Amy just had a great day.”
Amy, a senior forward and All-American, was sensational for the Lions, as she scored three of the team’s five goals while also providing an assist.
Her three goals jumped her up to 19 on the season, by far the highest on the team.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on our possession passing and working up the field to our forwards so they can score,” Amy said. “I think we did a great job of finding each other today, and I think that’s why we were so successful.”
No. 11 Iowa, who came in to the game with the Big Ten’s best defense having allowed only 1.30 goals per game on the season, found great difficulty in containing the Nittany Lion offense. The Lions rank first in the Big Ten in scoring average (4.42), shots per game (22.57) and goals scored per game (4.43).
The Lions opened things up 10 minutes into the contest when Amy flew down the field from the right side after juking several Hawkeye defenders and sent a ball into the middle, where junior forward Ashtin Klinger was waiting to put the Lions up 1-0.
The next two goals would put the game away before half, as Amy would score off a penalty corner before following up with a clean break-away scoring chance that she buried into the right of the net.
The Lions out-shot Iowa 14-2 in the first half and completely stifled any offensive chances the Hawkeyes had throughout the game, as senior Lauren Alwine and junior defensive back Abby Fuhrman frustrated the Iowa forwards all game with ball-steals and good containment.
Iowa eventually finished the game with only eight shots and had zero penalty corner chances.
“One thing I was really proud of was that we didn’t give up a corner,” Morett said. “They’re dangerous with their corners, and we spent a long time this week on defending their corners. I think the defense, with Brittany [Grzywacz], Abby [Fuhrman] and [Katie Breneman] back there, they were outstanding.”
Penn State eventually cruised to a 5-0 lead. The second half became a chippier contest than the first, as both teams began getting very physical with each other.
A total of five cards were issued, with Penn State earning a yellow and a green while Iowa earned two yellows and a green.
“We knew they were going to be tough heading in,” junior midfielder Lauren Purvis said. “Big Ten games are always tough, so it was just awesome.”
The victory was key for the Lions’ standing in the Big Ten, as Iowa had come into the contest 3-0 in the conference, compared to the Lions’ 2-1 record.
“I think this was a really important game. A turning point,” Morett said. “We’ve got three games left and have a chance to keep playing hard for the Big Ten championship. We put ourselves back in the picture.”