When Whitney Reddig scored early in the second half to cut into a two-goal Syracuse lead, it looked like the No. 3 Penn State field hockey team would be able to make a comeback on Sunday.
However, Syracuse answered with two quick goals to end the Lions’ dreams of a final four appearance.
The NCAA quarterfinal match ended with Penn State on the wrong end of a 5-2 score. No. 5 Syracuse moves on to the national semifinals, while the Lions’ season ended in a somber way.
For several Penn State players, including team captain Hannah Allison and leading scorer Kelsey Amy, this was their final game for the Lions.
Penn State coach Charlene Morett only had good things to say about her seniors, though, thanking them and commending Allison and goalkeeper Ayla Halus on their game against Syracuse.
After earning a gritty win the day before over Albany in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the Lions hoped they would be able to get their game on the right track.
“We just get a little frantic and then we just need to calm down and play our own game,” Penn State sophomore Taylor Herold said after the Albany game.
The Orange got off to a fast start on Sunday, recording two goals, 12 shots, and four penalty corners in the first half.
Halus made 10 saves in the first half, however, including several in a row after one penalty corner, but could not stop two shots as they came off poor defensive coverage.
“I thought Ayla was making some great saves to keep us in the game,” Morett said. “I think Syracuse is a really good team. Their kids played really hard.”
In the second half, Reddig scored the first goal for Penn State off a penalty corner.
Just over four minutes later, Syracuse took a three-goal lead off goals from Liz McInerney and Jordan Page.
The Lions had their chances in the second half to take the lead as they were awarded 11 penalty corners and 17 shots in the second half alone but could only convert twice.
Amy, arguably the Lions’ best player as Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, only recorded an assist and could not find the net against Syracuse.
“Their goalie was awesome,” Morett said. “It was the difference in the game.”
Syracuse began to run away with the game when they scored their fifth goal at the 64-minute mark before Penn State got its last goal of the season from Reddig three minutes later.
“We had some great chances at the beginning of the game,” said Morett. “You gotta score those.”