With a career high 48 saves from freshman goaltender Celine Whitlinger on Friday, and a well-rounded team effort Saturday, the Nittany Lions played battled Union College for two of their most heated contests of the season this weekend.
The team was unable to prolong its two-game winning streak however, losing on both Friday and Saturday, 1-0 and 2-1, respectively.
Friday’s loss saw Penn State keep the Dutchwomen off the scoreboard until a second-chance opportunity for Union's Stefanie Thomsonbeat Whitlinger with just four minutes left to play in the third period.
Even with a slow start on Friday, characterized by a lack of urgency in the offensive zone, the Nittany Lions, “compete on every shift,” Penn State coach Josh Brandwene said.
“[Friday], we came out a little slow, not really knowing what to expect from them,” forward Jess Desorcie said.
The team's offensive lethargy left them at a considerable disadvantage, as Union spent much of the game in Penn State's end, amassing 49 shots.
The late goal proved to be insurmountable for Penn State, who managed just 14 shots of their own.
Although both defeats were by a single tally, the team gave a more wholesome effort Saturday, nearly doubling their shot total from Friday night and edging out Union in the faceoff circle, 25-21.
“[Saturday] we knew what to expect. We knew we could skate with them, so we came out stronger than we did [Friday] and that really helped us,” freshman forward Hannah Hoenshell said.
Despite a first period goal for Union off the stick of Jessica Kaminsky, the parity in the shot category (12-11 for Union) made for a more offensively sound period for the Nittany Lions.
But, when the Dutchwomen made it into the Penn State end, Nicole Paniccia—who missed Friday’s game due to illness— kept her team close, kicking away 34 shots.
The first line of Shannon Yoxheimer, Taylor Gross, and Desorcie led a momentous second period, which saw the Lions control the play, but fail to capitalize on any of its scoring chances.
“It creates momentum for our team offensively,” Hoenshell said, when asked how one line’s proficiency affects the others.
Alongside Jenna Welch and Emily Laurenzi, Hoenshell’s trio fired seven shots on goal in the contest, a dynamic compliment to the team’s aggressive first line.
Desorcie was the lone Penn State goal scorer however, burying a Gross rebound just 1:46 after Union had increased its lead to 2-0 early in the final stanza.
“After [Union] went up 2-0, we never once labored on the bench,” Brandwene said.
Both Desorcie and Brandwene agreed Saturday’s game was a consistent showing from their youthful team, even if the results were not favorable.
“Tonight was a great 60-minute effort,” Brandwene said. “We’re getting more poised and more confident every weekend.”
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