For the first time all season, the No. 5 Penn State field hockey team (14-3, 4-1) was held scoreless in the first half.
Fortunately for them, the Nittany Lions’ defense rose to the challenge to extend their winning streak to four games.
The team was able to fight off a pesky Bucknell team under the lights to secure the 2-0 victory late in the game. After a physical first half, the two teams were both scoreless despite the fact that Penn State outshot the Bison, 16-1. Bucknell goalie Erica Perrine displayed spectacular quickness and agility in making several highlight-reel saves to keep her team in the game, even though Penn State would again outshoot the Bison in the second half, 13-1.
“They had an extremely good goalie,” forward Taylor Herold said. “I mean big credit goes out to her. She had an amazing game.”
With 13 minutes left in the game, the Lions finally tallied a goal off of the stick of sophomore Herold. Five minutes later, junior Brittany Grzywacz effectively ended the contest by scoring her 11th goal of the season on a penalty stroke.
“We knew that it wasn’t the end of the world that we hadn’t been scoring, so we just tried to keep our composure and play our game,” Grzywacz said. “It was a really physical game and we had to play through some adversity but we knew to just focus and eventually the goals would come.”
Throughout the evening, several questionable calls seemed to be made by the officials, allowing the Bison to operate with a one-person advantage throughout portions of the game when green and yellow cards were handed out.
Bucknell also seemed to be getting away with being particularly feisty in shutting down Penn State star Kelsey Amy.
“Even their coach said she was getting hacked,” coach Charlene Morett said. “Kelsey really battled.”
As impressive as the Bucknell defense and goalie were, it was the Lions who came away with the shutout. Thanks to stellar defensive play and lots of physicality, the team only allowed the Bison to get two shots on goal the entire game and gave their offense time to get going later on.
“I think that the players just weren’t on the same page in the first half,” Morett said. “One would see the space to put the ball and the other wouldn’t see it to run onto it. I think once they got back on the same page they honestly just put a clinic on and I thought they did a lot of great things.”
The Lions will now hit the road to end the regular season this Saturday at noon against No. 21 Michigan State. They can clinch the Big Ten title if they come away victorious and Northwestern loses at Iowa.