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Gill: Time to Relax After Exhausting Stretch

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1418902.jpeg Finally arriving home at two in the morning in State College after our away trip at Minnesota could we relax. Having six games within the past two weeks has been a long and challenging experience for our team, but we are happy to say at the end of the week that we went 5-1 and in the lead atop the Big Ten (4-1). Here is a little review of our last two games against Ohio State and Minnesota.

To say we started off a little slow against Ohio State would be an understatement. Could it be the long week? The tired legs? Being a Thursday night game? Whatever it may be, we knew we were at home on Jeffery Field and playing our biggest rival in the Big Ten and no excuse could be made for the way we played that first half. Luckily, our captains and coaches were able to get our heads on straight at halftime and when we came together before going on the field there was a whole different energy and belief going out into the second half.

Let's just say Ohio State was not ready for what was about to happen in the first 10 minutes of the second half. We literally took the kickoff and scored in the first 15 seconds of the match off Taylor Schram placed goal. Then just two minutes later Kori Chapic scored off a set piece, which again help reached our team's game goal of +1 on set pieces for the game! Finally, Emily Hurd capped off the scoring with an unbelievable individual effort. She took her defender on down the left side and shot a left footed rocket across the goal into the upper 90 of the net! With a score line of 3-1 you might think how can you learn from such a game, especially with such a dominant second half.

Well, Ohio State taught us that if we don't come to play within the first 20 minutes of the half teams will punish us and may not give us the opportunity to come back. Taking that lesson, we then put our focus on Minnesota and coming out strong on their home field.

We knew Minnesota was a high-pressure team and we had to play quick one and two-touch passes in order to possess the ball and not get caught up in their "kick and run" style of play. Our coaches were right in saying they would fly to the ball on defense and put a lot of pressure on us from the first kick. However, this time we were focused, ready, and came out on the attack, hitting the crossbar twice in the first half. At halftime we found that our locker rooms were really close to each other, and lets just say thanks to some yelling by their coach we knew that their second half plan was to come out and put up a fight in the second half. We came out ready to match that fight and go beyond. A battle it was, but we scrapped and had some more good chances in the second half, with Maya Hayes placing a slotted through ball past the goalie with under 10 minutes left for us to end these long weeks with a win!

Fortunately, this week is a one game weekend against Indiana who is 2-3 in the Big Ten with wins against Northwestern and Nebraska. Having only one game this week on a Sunday allows us to use this week to rest both our bodies and minds after a rough two weeks. This rest should make us nice and fresh for our final stretch of Big Ten games including our game against newcomer Nebraska in two weeks!

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