As time ran out at the Penn State field hockey complex Saturday, a collective sigh of relief permeated the stands.
The No. 3 Penn State field hockey team narrowly escaped the first round of the NCAA Finals, winning 2-1 against the University of Albany in a tightly wound, emotional contest.
"We just did not play well," coach Charlene Morett said. "We were just very disconnected... there was a lot of hecticness to our play. We didnt play good defense. I was just happy to get out of there with a win."
The Nittany Lions scored the first goal 14 minutes in, but were dominated at times by Albany. The normally potent Lions' offense found itself consistently frustrated by a scrappy Albany side that played hard the entire game.
The Great Danes tied things up right before half off a penalty corner, which summed up the Lions' extremely difficult first half.
Play opened up a little for the Lions in the second half, but the contest still devolved as both sides lost composure.
In total, the officials handed out three green cards and six yellow cards, a staggering amount of penalties for one game.
At one point, the head official had both captains meet at midfield in an effort to calm the game down.
"We just had to deal with it," sophomore midfielder Laura Gebhart said. "I think there was just a tension. We really wanted to score and I think that was getting the better of us. We just needed to settle down, get back into our own game, and retake control."
Thankfully for the Lions, Kelsey Amy managed to run the ball down the sidelines with her patented speed and send it towards the middle, where Taylor Herold was waiting to put the ball away and give the Lions the lead with only 10 minutes remaining.
Penn State's victory allows them to play the winner of the Syracuse-UMass game on Sunday at 11:30 AM for the second round of the tournament.