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.Comments
Taking on tournament host and No. 4-seeded Iowa in the semifinal round, the No. 1-seeded Penn State field hockey team defeated the Hawkeyes, 3-2, in a dramatic and close contest that saw plenty of lead changes and clutch goals.
Senior Kelsey Amy came through in a huge way for the Nittany Lions, scoring the go-ahead goal with only 17 minutes remaning in the contest. Midfielder Whitney Reddig provided the assist on the goal, giving the ball directly to Amy off of Penn State's last penalty corner of the game. Amy would handle the ball and send it rocketing past All-Big Ten Iowa goalkeeper Kathleen McGraw to give the Lions a lead they would not relinquish.
"Just a great game from both teams," coach Charlene Morett said. "I felt that our attack just persevered and persevered and we were able to knock some goals in."
The Lions had an early scare in the contest, as normally reliable penalty stroke specialist Brittany Grzywacz, who had converted on all her stroke opportunities during the season, sent her stroke wide of the goal, keeping the contest at 0-0 early on.
"Missing the stroke like that...thats tough mentally on a team," Morett said. "But I loved the way they came back and regrouped."
While Amy's goal served as the game winner, sophomore Taylor Herold had a stellar performance, keeping Penn State in the game with two goals of her own. The Hawkeyes did a good job of staying in the game at all times, as each Lion goal was met by a Hawkeye equalizer until Amy was finally able to put the game away.
The Lions will face off against No. 3-seeded Michigan on Sunday with the Big Ten title on the line. The matchup is a rematch of last year's contest, which the Lions came from behind and won, 3-2.
The No. 4 Penn State field hockey team (15-3, 5-1) will look to take advantage of its No. 1 seed on Friday, as the squad will take on No. 11 and fifth-seeded Iowa in the semi-final round of the Big Ten tournament. Iowa defeated Michigan State, 2-1, in the first round thanks in part to a late game-winning goal from freshman Natalie Cafone.
The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes during the regular season, 5-1, walloping the Hawkeyes who came into the contest with the best defense in the Big Ten. It was the Lions' defense that would step up in the contest, however, as the squad constantly fed the ball upfield, allowing senior forward Kelsey Amy to earn a hattrick to pace the rout.
Iowa is one of the strongest squads in the Big Ten, though. While Penn State and Northwestern have led the conference for most of the season, Iowa has been right behind them. The Hawkeyes average the second most shots per game of any team in the conference with 18.33 (behind only Penn State, which averages 23 per game) while also packing a stout defense that allows just 1.5 goals per game (third in the conference). Iowa goalkeeper Kathleen McGraw also earned All-Big Ten honors.
Northwestern, arguably Penn State's biggest threat to a tournament championship, lost today. They were upset by seventh-seeded Indiana, 4-0. The loss opens the door for the Nittany Lions, whose only Big Ten loss during the regular season came from the strong Northwestern squad. While facing Iowa on their home field will be a tough challenge, having Northwestern eliminated from the tournament could open things up for the Lions.
Tournament coverage will continue throughout the weekend, with the finals for the tournament taking place on Sunday. Pick up the Collegian on Monday for details.
No. 7 Penn State (13-3, 4-1 Big Ten) is coming off a 3-0 victory over No. 21 ranked Ohio State, which places them in a tie with No. 8 Northwestern atop the Big Ten. Bucknell (9-7, 3-1 Patriot League) defeated Lehigh, 6-2, in its last contest, which has earned them a spot in the Patriot League postseason.
Players to Watch
Senior forward Kelsey Amy is always a star to look for, but keep an eye on midfielders Whitney Reddig and Hannah Allison to provide the Nittany Lions with the backbone of their play. Reddig leads the team with 14 assists and has been in great form as of late, with two huge assists coming against Ohio State. Allison, the senior leader of the midfield, has a tendency to move up with the forwards and fire shots on goal. Out of the midfielders, she's second to only Laura Gebhart in shots on goal (43 to Gebhart's 45). The senior also provides plenty of communication and chemistry out of the midfield.
For Bucknell, sophomore midfielder Amie Pritchard had a hat-trick against Lehigh and will look to give the Nittany Lions' defense some issues. Her counterpart, Maggie Murphy, leads the team in assists (10). The duo are in good form and could be a difference for the Bison.
Realistically, with respect to Bucknell, the contest should be a warm-up game for the Lions as they focus on Saturday's matchup with No. 20 Michigan State. Expect some players who don't see regular playing time come in for the Lions, as well as plenty of Kelsey Amy goals. A victory here could help continue the Lions' momentum into the weekend.Comments
The No. 7 Penn State field hockey team shut out the No. 21 Buckeyes on Friday, winning 3-0 in Columbus.
The victory has the Nittany Lions in the driver's seat for the Big Ten championship, as the team now sits atop the conference with a 4-1 record and an overall record of 13-3.
Kelsey Amy scored twice to pace the victory, earning her 20th and 21st goals of the season. Junior midfielder Whitney Reddig assisted on both goals, giving her a team-high 14 assists on the season.
The Lions will return home for an non-conference matchup against Bucknell on Tuesday before hitting the road one more time to take on conference opponent Michigan State on Friday.Comments
With her three goal, one assist performance against No. 12 Iowa this past Sunday, senior forward Kelsey Amy was named the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Week.
This will be the second time this season Amy has received the award, with her first recognition coming off her performances earlier in the season against then-No. 3 Old Dominion and then-No. 8 Virginia.
Amy's hat trick was crucial in leading the No. 7 Penn State field hockey team past the Hawkeyes, 5-1. She played a part in the other two goals as well, assisting on one while having one of her shots rebound out to a teammate for the other.
Amy has scored in 12 of 15 contests this season and leads the Nittany Lions with 46 points and 19 goals. The game Sunday was the 24th multi-goal game of her career, and she now sits third all-time in Penn State field hockey history in both goals and points scored.
(Photo courtesy of gopsusports.com)Comments
Retaining its eight highest scorers from a season ago, many expected the Penn State field hockey team would find ways to score goals over the course of its season, especially with returning first-team All-American Kelsey Amy leading the Nittany Lions up front.
Amy has done her job, leading the Lions (10-3, 2-1) with 15 goals in 13 games on the season, which has helped make the Lions' offensive attack among the most powerful in the Big Ten.
The team is first in scoring average in the conference, scoring 4.3 goals per game - just above Northwestern's 3.75 average and a full goal ahead of Iowa, who sits in third with 3.25 goals per game.
And in scoring margin, which compares the average goals per game versus the average goals given up, the Lions lead the conference with a 2.61 margin. In short, the Lions’ incredible ability to get down the field in score goals has been a big reason why the team has remained so successful this season.
And considering that coach Charlene Morett has been better known for her players' defensive prowess over the years, her 2012 team's success in front of goal is noteworthy.
Amy paced the Lions' attack early on in the season, but as of late, more and more players have joined the fray. Defensive back Brittany Grzywacz continues to be the team's penalty stroke expert with four goals taken in four attempts, but has also scored five goals of her own from the field. Her .321 shot percentage is second on the team to only junior forward Ashtin Klinger, who has a .348 percent (min: 20 attempts).
Klinger in particular has been fantastic the last few games for the Lions, scoring four goals in their three conference games, including two decisive goals in Penn State's 4-3 win over rival Michigan.
Klinger has helped Amy up front significantly this season, but the Lions are also getting tremendous scoring options from their midfield, a unit that is unafraid to fly forward and shoot when given an opportunity.
Stalwarts Laura Gebhart and Hannah Allison have each had 36 shots on goal this season, the most of anyone on the team not named Amy. Gebhart has produced five goals from her shots, while Allison has produced six.
Gebhart ranks second on the team in total points overall, as she’s also tied for the team lead in assists with Whitney Reddig, each of whom have 10. Midfielder Lauren Purvis and forwards Jenna Chrismer and Taylor Herold help spread- out the scoring options for the Lions as well. Each player has three goals so far this season while thriving in the Lions' offensive minded game-plan.
So while Amy continues to dominate up front as a goal-scoring and shot-producing machine, her teammates have stepped up and filled in the holes when they've needed to, which is why Penn State looks like a force to be reckoned, especially on the offensive side, as the season enters its latter half.Comments
Coming off a stellar weekend performance against No. 24 Indiana and No. 17 Michigan, junior forward Ashtin Klinger was named Big Ten Co-offensive player of the week, alongside Danica Deckard of Ohio State.
Klinger scored three goals this weekend, including the opening score of No. 6 Penn State's 7-1 rout over No. 24 Indiana and two back-to-back goals against No. 17 Michigan, which helped pace the Nittany Lions' close 4-3 victory over its conference rivals.
Klinger has been fantastic over her last few games for the Lions, earning herself at least a point in five straight contests. On the season she currently sits third in total goals scored with seven, behind only junior Brittany Grzywacz (8) and start forward Kelsey Amy, who leads the team with 15 goals.
With points earned in 7 of the Lions' 12 games, Klinger finds herself in an integral role up front for No. 6 Penn State and could provide a dangerous option for the team as it continues its run through Big Ten play.Comments
The Nittany Lions' field hockey team will keep their fight going as they take on two nonconference opponents this weekend.
The No. 6 Lions (6-2) are back on the road this weekend after their shut out against Lock Haven, 5-0, on Wednesday.
The Lions had great support through out the game Wednesday night as all five goals were scored by different players.
The Lions will be traveling to Bethlehem, Pa., where they will be competing against Lehigh on Friday night. The team will then make its way to New Jersey, where it will take on Monmouth on Saturday.
Head coach Charlene Morett said the Lions are going into the weekend with the
mindset of just taking it day at a time.
“Playing on the road is never easy,” Morett said “And I know these teams are going to be excited about us coming to their fields so I hope we just rest up, get a little bit more healthy and take it one game at a time.”Comments