By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State field hockey has no hesitation kicking off the season with a strong start, with a 2-0 record after defeating Old Dominion University and University of Virginia on the road last weekend.
After a rigorous preseason and back-to-back games during week one, head coach Char Morett-Curtiss is continuing to focus on strategy and aggressive play on the field to keep the team on their toes, and keep up the winning streak.
"We're playing an up-tempo pace, which we really want to continue to impress upon at practices and into our games," Morett-Curtiss said. "We're putting great pressure on the ball to try to get our opponents out of their rhythm a little bit."
Penn State has certainly done just that, with three of the four goals in the game against Virginia scored within the first half.
Junior forward Gini Bramley was responsible for two of the goals, which she scored within a span of three minutes. After an impressive 2016 season and the skill she's shown so far this year, Bramley has been named a NFHCA Division I Award Winner and the Big Ten Offensive Player of the week following her performances across the weekend. Bramley led the team with three goals, with one against the Monarchs and back-to-back goals early in the win against No. 10 Virginia.
"The biggest part was moving off of my teammates," Bramley said. "I tried to find the spaces Virginia was giving us and my teammates made spaces for me to lead into. A big part of my goals were the passes I was given."
Junior forward Moira Putsch, is another key component of the Nittany Lion offense, with two remarkable seasons under her belt and a unique ability to dish the ball at just the right time for her teammates to finish. Aside from her knack for assists, Putsch came through in the clutch with the go-ahead goal against Old Dominion just minutes following Madison Morano's game-tying goal off a penalty stroke.
"My personal goal is to grow as a player, but really my main focus is the team's goals right now," Putsch said. "I want to be the best player for my teammates, by giving 100 percent at our practices, working on what Char and the coaching staff want us to do."
For Morett-Curtiss, she's proud of the team's progress this early in the season, but there's still areas for improvement moving foward.
"There's great team unity and cohesion," Morett-Curtiss said. "I would like to see a little bit quicker organization for better communication. I think they're really excited about playing at home, we have two tough opponents coming up against Temple and Wake Forest."
With solid returning talent and a record that reflects a promising open weekend, there's much to be excited about as the Nittany Lions prep for their first regular season home-opening weekend.
"We're really excited about this season," Putsch said. "There are lots of players who can step up and so much room to grow."