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Offense Finds Momentum as Lions Blank Owls

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By Maria Evangelou, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a brisk 50-degree evening for Penn State's first home game of the season Despite the cool air, the Nittany Lions had nothing on their minds but christening their home field with a win to open the first weekend at home. 

Seemingly a trend after their past few games, Penn State got off to a slow start. Playing the ball all across the field, the Nittany Lions kept pushing Temple's defense, but the Owl defenders and fierce keeper held their ground. 

Forward Gini Bramley pushed on in the first quarter, with a blocked shot on goal. The midfielders also met some difficulty in the first half with some swift and aggressive competition coming from Temple.

"Temple has definitely improved their program," head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "I was really happy with how we played. There were some great plays all around."

Penn State was met with their first of many penalty corner opportunities around the 14th minute of the match, although a missed shot off of the goal post halted the opportunity, before a quick second shot by Penn State forward Shay Cannon was blocked yet again.

"We had two corner penalties off the goal post in the first half, so we told the corner shooters to really read the play, read the defense," Morett-Curtiss said. "They were changing up their corner defense, which threw us off a little bit, but I think we played off their defense really well then." 

After an opening half played predominantly in Penn State's half, the forward line began to find its stride. In the 29th minute, Penn State's Aurelia Meijer slammed the ball into the goal to end the half. 

The Owls showed no signs of backing down as the first half concluded, but they didn't seem to expect what was ahead as the Nittany Lions found their momentum. With another attempted shot off of a penalty corner at the end of the first half, the Nittany Lions were settling in.

"We just had to score," Meijer said. "I feel like we had that in the game against ODU, too, we're almost there, and we trust each other, but we just have to score."

As we've seen as a consistent trend throughout this season so far, Penn State came into the second half with fury and a whole new level of energy.

Within the first five minutes of the second half, junior forward Moira Putsch scored off a penalty corner assisted by sophomore midfielder Maddie Morano to commence the attack of the Nittany Lions. 

In just the fifth minute, the Nittany Lions pushed through for a goal on yet another penalty corner, when an assist from Meijer saw Murano finish for a goal. Penn State rocketed to a 2-0 lead with nearly 40 minutes to go.

"Normally we have to figure out what we have to do with those corners, we don't really know what to do, which can be a problem," Meijer said. "Tonight we really played as a team, we really played together and passed to each other and that resulted in scoring."

For the next 15 minutes, Penn State was able to sustain control over Temple's side of the field.

Temple, unable to generate chances, managed 11 saves from Penn State's peppering on goal at minute 52 of the match, with zero attempted shots of their own. 

The Nittany Lions didn't waste any time with their third goal as redshirt freshman Alexis Horst fired for an unassisted goal, her first of the season. Temple attempted to push back, but not for long, as Penn State kept control. 

"I thought where we improved in the second half was definitely our elimination skills. I thought our attack did a much better of pressuring the defense," Morett-Curtiss said.

Fueled by their first three goals, the Nittany Lions charged on. Murano scored off of a penalty corner, and was quickly followed by junior Cassie Kline, who scored her first goal of the season, and Penn State's fifth of the game to wrap up the match.

The Nittany Lions now look ahead with confidence and composure as they face Wake Forest Sunday.

"We saw them play against Indiana and it was a tough loss for them," Morett-Curtiss said. "They played well, they're a great opponent, and I think it's going to be a very exciting field hockey game."

Penn State will host Wake Forest Sunday at noon in the Penn State Field Hockey Complex. 

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