Watching the tape from the past couple of games, the Nittany Lions were able to point out both the good and bad as they prepare for the most crucial part of the season.
Currently in a three-way tie with the No. 8 Northwestern and the No. 12 Iowa atop the Big Ten standings, the Lions have a lot to defend as they prepare for another conference matchup.
The No. 7 Penn State field hockey team will travel to Columbus, Ohio, where they will take on No. 21 Ohio State on Friday.
The Lions are coming off a 5-1 win against Iowa this past Sunday and are 12-3 overall.
The Buckeyes, on the other hand, just suffered a tough loss against No. 16 Michigan and are currently 9-6 for the season.
However, the Lions cannot get too comfortable.
Head coach Charlene Morett said everyone recognizes the importance of each game in the Big Ten and is taking nothing for granted.
Morett said the team has not played well at Ohio State and will really have to focus as they prepare for Friday.
“The Big Ten has always had an aggressive style, which we sort of welcome,” Morett said. “Every team is battling for that Big Ten championship. It’s still wide open, and it’s not to say that one team is favored to win.”
Morett said she told her team it is playing for the Big Ten championship Friday and to go into it with that mindset.
Morett said she believes the extra bit of motivation is crucial, even though they are in a good position at this time in the season. They cannot lose sight of the big picture.
“We don’t have it yet and need to continue to fight to reach our goal of [winning the] Big Ten championship,” Morett said.
Looking back at the last Big Ten game against Iowa, Morett said she was proud with the way the team played, especially the defense and how it stepped up. If they continue to play that way, then she doesn’t see a letdown in the works.
“The entire back field between [Abby Fuhrman], [Brittany Grzywacz] and Katie Breneman, I feel there has actually been a surge between the three of them as a defensive unit,” Morett said. “They really stepped it up and really played much more aggressive.”
Breneman said coming off the 5-1 win is a huge advantage and gives the team a lot of confidence as it prepares for another high intensity game.
“As a defensive unit, I thought that Abby, Britt and I all played one of our best games and played as a unit, and our communication was at our best all together,” Breneman said.”
She said this week’s practices have had a lot more intensity with the defense pushing each other as much as they would in a game while using game-like speed.
Junior Abby Fuhrman said playing Ohio State is always a good game but is challenging.
“You have to be mentally tough, even if they push you around,” Fuhrman said. “We try not to push first but just push back and let them know we are there.”