Head coach Josh Brandwene stared into space for a few seconds before giving his blunt assessment about the period his team just played.
“That was a fun third period, huh?” Brandwene said after Penn State’s 4-1 loss on Sunday to Robert Morris.
The Nittany Lions (4-7-1, 0-5-1 CHA) were swept Sunday after losing the first game against the Colonials, 7-1. However, the Lions did not allow a goal in the second period of game two, and aside from an empty net goal, won the third period, 1-0.
Brandwene called the team’s play in the third period a turning point in the season and said the Lions had the Colonials on their heels for a large stretch of time in that period.
“Given everything we had dealt with, for them to dig deep, find another level of energy and another level or enthusiasm and go out and play as fearlessly as they did in the third period was just enormous for us,” Brandwene said.
Forward Micayla Catanzariti said on Sunday that the team entered the locker room for the second intermission after tying the second period and made it a point to go out and win the third.
Catanzariti scored a goal with just over six minutes left in the game to cut the Lions’ deficit to 3-1. Just a few seconds later, the Lions came close to pulling within one goal when the puck was bouncing around in front of the net. The puck did not cross the goal line and the Lions’ comeback was halted.
Forward Shannon Yoxheimer said it was “very close” to being a goal and had the puck gone in, she said the team would have been able to tie the game up and send it into overtime.
“I think that it says that we have a lot of character and we have a lot of passion for what we're doing,” Yoxheimer said. “Coach, in the locker room after the game, said that we could have easily just packed up our tents after the three goals.”
Yoxheimer also said that the second period showed the Lions had strong defensive play because no one scored and it was a baby step to winning the third period in their own minds.
Assistant captain Jenna Welch said the Lions were resilient and it was important for them to finish the game strong.
“Even though we were losing, we came back at it hard, never gave up and played ‘til the last buzzer,” Welch said.
Brandwene said the third period was “just one of those moments” and that the energy on the bench was noticeably higher.
Brandwene also said his team talked about how important a shift after a goal is, no matter which team scored it and that since his team generated “glorious” scoring opportunities after Catanzariti’s goal, it is something the Lions can build on.
“They're so coachable. They're so resilient,” Brandwene said. “When you're coachable, you're resilient and you're enthusiastic, that's a real recipe for learning and going forward with our ultimate goal of continuing to get better.”
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