Lions Hold On for Win Over Lafayette

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "See the field...do your job and see the field," Penn State field hockey head coach Charlene Morett said to her team late in the second half of Sunday's 3-2 win over Lafayette.

The Nittany Lions took an early lead in the contest against the Leopards, scoring just 26 seconds into the game, but ran into trouble in the second half when they struggled capitalizing on scoring chances.

"I don't think we played with the competitive spirit that we have played with in all of our other games," said Morett. "Vision and communication for 70 minutes...we didn't accomplish that."

Penn State entered the half leading 3-1, and was looking to avoid the same second-half struggles that they encountered in Friday's loss to Connecticut.

Although the Nittany Lions had difficulty finding the back of the cage in the second half, it wasn't due to a lack of opportunity.

The squad managed to tally 14 shots on goal in the second half alone, compared to Lafayette's nine. They also had an astounding 11 penalty corner attempts, but Lafayette's eight saves in the period squandered any and all scoring chances.

"We really didn't capitalize on the opportunities that we did get," said junior Lauren Purvis. "Sometimes that's just how it is."

The final goal of the game, scored by the Leopards, came with almost 20 minutes still left to play. After the score, the Nittany Lions dominated possession and scoring chances up until a very hectic final minute in which Lafayette made an offensive push.

As the Leopards drove up the field through the Penn State defense to try to put the game-tying goal on the board, Morett said just one thing to her team from the sidelines. "Get back, get back...we need you all on defense."

After a few rushed Lafayette shot attempts as the clock dwindled down, the Nittany Lions were finally able to clear the ball across midfield and secure the victory as time expired.

The win wrapped up a very impressive opening week to the season, in which Penn State earned three home victories and defeated two ranked opponents.

Although the outcome of the contest against the Leopards will fall into the victory column, the Nittany Lions are aware that there is a lot to learn from the matchup that was too close for comfort.

"We've got the endurance, we've got the skill," said senior goalie Ayla Halus, who made three saves in Sunday's matchup. "We do so much at practice...it's just a matter of taking it into our own hands and finally playing 70 minutes."

As for what is contributing to the lack of execution in the second half for Penn State, some players feel that it can be related to playing better as a team and exhibiting more focus.

"It's just mental focus," said Halus. "We have to push each other through it and make a play. It's a team effort and we are working at it every practice and it's going to come."

After a hectic weekend that consisted of two games in three days and an emotional pregame appearance at the Penn State football season-opener, the Nittany Lions will have three days of practice to prepare for their next challenge - the Princeton Tigers.

Princeton, ranked fourth in the nation, has four players on their squad that have trained with the U.S. national team for the past year.

The matchup will serve as the fourth game against an opponent ranked in the Top 10 for the Nittany Lions.

Game time is set for 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

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