By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- With Sports Center Top 10 worthy goals and Big Ten coverage, this weekend not only proved that Penn State is at the top of their game, but that their nine seniors are integral to their success.
Prior to Sunday's game against the Hoosiers, nine Nittany Lions were honored at Senior Day. They have played in the NCAA quarterfinals twice and won two Big Ten regular season titles and two Big Ten tournaments.
After discussing her team's success this weekend, coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss reminisced on her time coaching this group of seniors.
"I can't believe four years have gone by with this group," said coach Morett-Curtiss. "They are a bunch of different characters and they embrace the team. They each bring so much to this program."
It was obvious in this weekend's victories that from the offense and the mid-field to the defense and the goal line, senior leadership is the driving force behind Penn State's success. Coach Morett-Curtiss described what each senior has brought to this program over the past four years.
"Amanda is diligent."
Amanda Dinunzio, a product of State College High School, has been a key contributor for the Nittany Lions on the forward line. Her "diligence" is obvious in her circle play. Dinunzio doesn't lift her stick off the ground while near the goal and is consistent in Penn State's offensive pressure. In this weekend's match-ups against Rutgers and Indiana, Dinunzio helped dish off passes inside the circle and the 25-yard line. One of those passes was to Jenna Chrismer, who found Taylor Herold seconds later, putting the Nittany Lions up on the board.
"Jenna has a great work ethic."
Jenna Chrismer is one of the most consistent players on Penn State's forward line. She never falters inside the circle and always does whatever she can to force a scoring opportunity. This past weekend, Chrismer contributed to two of the five goals scored for Penn State. Her work ethic is clear in her ability to pull the defense and make the goalie move. Chrismer's stick work is unparalleled inside the circle; it's almost as if she is thinking three steps ahead of the play.
"Nat brings enthusiasm."
Natalie Buttinger is never afraid to commit to a defensive attack from the forward line. The former track star uses her speed to aid the Nittany Lion defense and quickly switch gears into scoring mode. She might not always earn an assist or score, but Buttinger is solid in her passing game. She is able to trap the ball on her stick and accurately place wherever she wants to on the field, a skill the Nittany Lions benefit from inside the 25-yard line.
"Taylor is determined"
Taylor Herold is almost indescribable; she is the entire package. From her speed to her stick handling and her ability to work the ball in open space, Herold always delivers a stellar performance. Performance is often the only word to describe her contributions on the field because more often than not, her goals are unbelievable. In Friday's game against Rutgers, Herold's unassisted goal made ESPN Sports Center's Top 10. She carried the ball on her stick from the end line to the post of the net, where she reverse-shot the ball into the cage. If you blinked, you missed it. Goals like this aren't uncommon for the senior, as she is notorious for making jaw-dropping plays.
"Casey steps up."
Casey Haegele is an asset to the Nittany Lions inside the circle. She always finds a way to find a foot in the circle and force a corner. Her speed is a weapon on the forward line. Coach Morett-Curtiss says that Heagele is one of the most coachable players on the team. Much like in baseball, Haegele is the equivalent of a relief pitcher, offering a fresh set of legs for the Nittany Lions; she always helps Penn State close on a win.
"Laura brings passion."
Laura Gebhart is one of the most seasoned members of the Penn State field hockey team. She has not only played in every game of her career, but has fostered her craft on the U.S. National Team, as well. Gebhart is the backbone of the Nittany Lions offensive and defensive strategy, as she is always in control from the center mid position. Gebhart is as versatile as they come and plays wherever her team needs her. When she isn't scoring from the top of the circle while laying flat on her stomach, Gebhart is in constant communication with her teammates on the field. Her passion for the game shines with every pass and every pre-game pep talk.
"Katie B. is confident."
Katie Breneman floats between the mid and defensive position for the Nittany Lions. One of her biggest contributions is her confidence, as she is never afraid to commit. Breneman is solid from the attack position of defense and takes risks with her block tackle. There are times when Breneman is almost parallel to the ground while trying to steal the ball from the opposing team; more often than not, she is successful.
"Katie A. is tenacious."
Katie Andrews has been solid for the Nittany Lions in the center back position. Her tenacity shined this weekend and against Bucknell last Tuesday when she assisted on the scoring drive. She always looks for an opportunity to spread the field, often calling for the back pass to help reposition the offense. When she sees an opportunity to take the ball up the field, she does. Andrews is solid for the Nittany Lions' defense inside the circle and a key contributor in this season's five shut outs.
"Kylie has a competitive spirit."
As a red shirt senior, her experience inside the cage has prepared her for pretty much anything. The most unique quality about Licata is her trust in her defense. She is a versatile goalie who can make the save from above the stroke mark. This season she has managed to earn five shut outs and only allowed one goal in this weekend's contests.
These nine seniors are leaving behind big shoes to fill, but their story is not finished yet. With their leadership, there is no question that Penn State will have a successful post-season as they currently have its 13-3 record on their side. The Nittany Lions three losses this season were incredibly close; two of them came from over-time play and the other was a one-goal deficit.
Penn State heads to Iowa this Saturday, before returning home the following week to take on Northwestern at home on Oct. 31.
"Everyone from the seniors to our coaching staff played a part in our wins this weekend," Andrews said. "It doesn't get much better than winning on senior day."
Recently in Field Hockey Category
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- For the past four seasons, there hasn't been a game that senior captain Laura Gebhart didn't played in. She is known as the "opportunity creator" and contributes to both offense and defense for the Nittany Lions. Tuesday's game shined a light on Gebhart's skill that she has crafted here at Penn State as well as playing for the U.S. National Team.
Coming off of a tough loss on the road to new Big Ten foe Maryland, the Nittany Lions made sure to use this non-conference game against Bucknell to work on the "little things" that contributed to their 4-3 loss. The biggest issue for the Nittany Lions during their matchup against the Terrapins was their shot turnover; Penn State was awarded 12 corners and took 19 shots, but were only able to find the net three times.
"The game was a little frantic," Gebhart said. "We are going to work hard to refocus for these next few games."
Gebhart's Hat Trick Performance
When the game clock started counting down in Tuesday night's contest, the rain began falling as well. Typically, stick control and stability are two techniques that falter in these playing conditions, but not for Gebhart. Gebhart was in complete control from the sound of the first whistle. After a few touch-and-go passes, Jenna Chrismer received the ball and took off down the field; Natalie Buttinger and Gebhart trailed behind her. Chrismer found Buttinger on the endline of the Bison circle, who quickly fired off a pass to Gebhart at the top. Gebhart drove the ball into the back of the net just three minutes into the contest.
Gebhart found the back of the net six minutes later when she intercepted a Bison pass from inside the circle. Her stick handling contributed to a flawless attack as she pulled the Bucknell goalie out to the stroke mark, firing off a shot into the opposite corner, lifting the score to 2-0.
"It was a great night for Laura [Gebhart]," coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss said. "She is just so dangerous around the cage. She put herself in an attacking position tonight, which was very helpful to the team."
The senior sealed the deal on her first career hat trick when she double-teamed the goalie with fellow captain Katie Andrews. Andrews dodged the Bison defense before tipping the ball to Gebhart who directed the pass over the goalie's pads.
"Its great to see someone who plays defense attack the cage," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "When you can get numbers into their circle, it puts a lot of pressure on them. It was a great combination between two captains."
A Corner-less First Half
Penn State is known for their speed of play and their ability to force corner play. Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, they were unable to draw a corner in the first half. However, they also didn't give up a corner in the first half, which speaks to the hard work put in by both team's defenses. Penn State keeper Kylie Licata saved six shots in the contest, five of which coming in the second half.
In the second half, the corner tally evened out, as both teams were awarded two. While the Bison fell short on their pair of scoring opportunities, the Nittany Lions were able to convert one. Taylor Herold scored off her infamous drive from the top of the circle, lifting the final score to 4-1.
"I felt like we weren't aggressive enough on our press," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "When we are aggressive on the press we are able to force corners and create counter attacks. We weren't really diligent about drawing the corner [tonight]."
All Roads Lead To The Big Ten
The Nittany Lions have four games left in their regular season schedule and all four are conference games. Penn State will take on Rutgers and Indiana this Friday and Sunday before traveling to Iowa on Oct. 25. Their last game of the regular season schedule will be against Northwestern, who is undefeated in the Big Ten.
"Its crazy to think that this was my last non-conference game," Gebhart said. "We are ready to continue to put in the work for our Big Ten schedule ahead."
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- From the Pac 12 and the ACC to the American League and the Big Ten, the Buttinger family has made the roster on 4 District I teams. Natalie Buttinger, one of seven siblings, is heading into her final stretch in her senior season with the Penn State field hockey team.
"We are all over, doing what we love," Buttinger said. "It's always great to call my sister at Duke and ask her how her field hockey team is. We talk game strategy all the time."
Buttinger, a native of Ontario, Canada, didn't pick up a field hockey stick until her freshman year of high school. An avid runner and ice hockey player, Buttinger never thought she could use her speed to her advantage in another sport. However, her older sister, who plays for the Candian National Women's Indoor Field Hockey Team, told her to try-out for the field hockey team.
After securing a spot on the varsity team, Buttinger's speed set her apart from others. Her varsity coach convinced her to try out for Team Ontario, a club team based out of Canada.
"I made Team Ontario simply out of luck," Buttinger said. "I had no skill, but I had my speed. I worked really hard with my coaches to built a skill set that matched my speed."
Hard Work Pays Off
Buttinger was a member of multiple championship field hockey programs including her four-time district championship high school team. She was named to the All-Star team all four years.
In her senior year alone, the captain netted 53 points (includes assists/goals). Buttinger's senior team was the first in school history to take home the Central Western Ontario Secondary School Association Championship, after posting a 17-2 record including 16 shutouts.
"We are a big ice hockey and running family so getting into field hockey was all luck," Buttinger said.
Coming to the States...and the Big Ten
"In Ontario, we don't play on astro turf," Buttinger said. "We play on more of a grass surface. "The hardest transition for me from playing in Canada to playing in America was how fast the game is."
Buttinger started her Penn State career in 2010, but due to a knee injury, she was forced to redshirt the following season.
"It was hard from playing non stop to not being able to pick up a stick," Buttinger said. "One of my proudest was coming back from that injury."
Since returning, Buttinger's play has only gotten better. After appearing in a combined 20 games in her sophomore and junior seasons, she has solidified her spot on the Nittany Lion roster. While her name is often attached to assists or goals, Buttinger is a huge contributor on both offense and defense. She is always around the ball, setting up scoring drives and serving as an option for the defensive pass.
"I think my biggest contribution or my purpose on the team is passing," Buttinger said. "I never measure a game based off my goals or assists, its all about the wins and losses for me."
The Nittany Lions head to College Park, Md. Friday to take on Big Ten newcomer Maryland.
"It's going to be a great game," Buttinger said. "We are ready to welcome Maryland to the Big Ten."
Fans can watch Buttinger and her fellow Nittany Lions on the Big Ten Network at 3:30 p.m. this Friday.
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Nittany Lion offense made themselves comfortable in the Lady Eagles' circle in Tuesday night's contest. Aside from a 5-1 win, Penn State was able to notch a season high 16 corners, scoring off four of them.
The Importance of the Corner...
A field hockey corner is much like earning a corner kick in soccer or a free throw in basketball: it's a scoring opportunity that doesn't come along often. For a field hockey corner to be earned, the offense must force the ball into the defense's feet or cause an obstruction of play inside the circle. If successful, the offense will be given an opportunity to take a direct shot on the cage, with only four opposing defensive players and a keeper attempting to stop the goal. Teams often come up "trick plays" to lure the defense to the ball, then dishing it to a player at the post. Penn State has been most successful with a direct shot coming from senior Taylor Herold.
"Lock Haven did a great job in the first half triple teaming in the circle," coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss said. "But, we were diligent about drawing the corner."
Turning on the 'Scoring Switch'
In Tuesday's contest, the first Nittany Lion goal was scored off a corner. Herold received the ball from Emilee Ehret and took a direct drive from the top of the circle. Amanda Dinunzio was then able to tip it in, giving Penn State an early lead. Ehret notched her third goal of the season off another corner, lifting Penn State to a 2-0 lead.
"I just need to make sure I send the ball into the circle quickly and accurately," Ehret said. "The flyers we face are super fast, so the quicker the insert gets the ball off the more time the hitter has time to get a shot off."
Before halftime, Lock Haven received a penalty stoke (another rarity in the game of field hockey). A penalty stroke, much a like a penalty shot in ice hockey, is a one-on-one chance to earn a goal. The Lady Eagles were able to score off the stroke, when Taylor Kennedy flicked the ball into the top left corner of the cage. The Nittany Lions were lead 2-1 at halftime.
"During halftime, our coaches told us we needed to get more results," Herold said. "We needed to draw more corners and get more shots on goal. We tried to force the corner play."
Penn State opened the second half with three back-to-back corner opportunities. Like the saying goes, "third time's a charm," Herold fired off a direct shot on the cage on the third corner. Just a few minutes later, the Nittany Lions earned another corner and Herold found the back of the net off of her direct drive. With just over 10 minutes left to play, Dinunzio found the back of the net off of another Penn State corner, lifting the Nittany Lions to a 5-1 lead.
Penn State has successfully been able to force corner play in each game this season. In the past eight games, the Nittany Lions have capitalized off one or more corners in all but two games, posting 69 corners thus far.
The Nittany Lions are on the road for the next five games, three of which are Big Ten Contests. This weekend they will visit Michigan State and Ohio State for two Big Ten contests, followed by a weekend in Philadelphia, Pa. taking on Drexel and Temple. The Nittany Lions will round out their travel schedule with a matchup against new Big Ten matchup, Maryland.
"The energy that we had in the second half against Lock Haven is something we need to keep up, especially with our Big Ten play," Herold said. "We need to keep making things happen."
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Within the first few minutes of play vs. Michigan, it was obvious that it was going to be a hard-fought fight.
At the end of last Sunday's win against Lafayette, coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss fielded some questions about playing Michigan. In response to whether or not she was "excited" to start the Big Ten schedule, she replied, "When two Big Ten teams go at it, you never know what is going to happen. It's going to come down to the wire. We are looking forward to it."
She was right.
Friday's contest between the two Big Ten rivals was unpredictable. Any sports fan would have been on the edge of their seat for the 74 minutes the two teams were on the field. After two halves and a few minutes of overtime play, the Nittany Lions fell short of a victory, falling to the Wolverines 3-2.
While it is never easy to lose, losing allows for a team to go back to the drawing board and to fix the little things.
"We could have done a better job of boxing them in the corner," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "We let them get to the circle and when you do that you're in trouble."
First Half Notables
On Friday, the Nittany Lions came right out of the gate and put the ball in the back of the cage. Four minutes into the first half, Taylor Herold received a pass from Emilee Ehret on a penalty corner, putting the Nittany Lions on the board first.
The next Nittany Lion goal wouldn't come for another 15 minutes. Penn State was awarded a corner and Ehret found the back of the net, propelling the Nittany Lions to a 2-0 leading heading into halftime.
Even though Penn State was leading 2-0, the Wolverines outshot the Nittany Lions in the first half, 5-4. Each team was awarded the same amount of corners, along with a pair of penalty cards.
"I said to the girls at half time that it was going to be a physical game," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "It's aggressive hockey, its Big Ten hockey."
Second Half Notables
The momentum shifted in the second half. It was more physical and much faster. There was an obvious shift in the Michigan offense, as they were playing with a girl inside the Penn State circle, looking for a long pass, for most of the half.
Michigan found the back of the net just three minutes into the second half. The next 32 minutes of regulation play would be the most physical yet. With the 2-1 score, it was anyone's game. Three penalty cards were issued between the first and second Michigan goal: one to the Wolverines, a pair to the Nittany Lions. With 15 minutes left in the second half, the Wolverines found the back of the net, again to tie the score.
But, one more card was given out before the end of regulation play. Penn State received a five-minute penalty card with just 30 seconds before the over-time half would begin. The Nittany Lions played the entire overtime period down a player.
Just 18 seconds before Penn State would be able to field another player, Michigan found the back of the net, making the score 3-2.
"I give Michigan credit," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "They came back being down 2-0. Its really unfortunate for us to start overtime down a player. We have chances the last two minutes. Their goalie came up with some saves, but we just couldn't connect on a couple of those corner opportunities. We just couldn't put one in."
Preparing for Lock Haven
Nittany Lions will host Lock Haven on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Penn State has won the
last 12 games of the series.
"Lock Haven is always a tough game," senior Laura Gebhart said. "We need to learn from our loss to Michigan and come out ready to play on Tuesday."
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Women's intercollegiate athletics have come along way over the last 50 years. The first women's intercollegiate athletic contest took place at Pollock Field, home of the Nittany Lion field hockey team. Over the past 50 years, the Penn State field hockey program has grown in both success and prowess in the NCAA and Big Ten. Here's a look back over the past 50 years of one of Penn State's first women's sports team.
1960s: intercollegiate athletics are no longer just played by men...
-1964: Penn State's field hockey team began its first season. Pat Seni coached the team.
-The Nittany Lions went 4-0 that season.
-The Nittany Lions appeared in four USFHA field hockey tournaments.
1970s: Building A Program
-1970-1973: Tonya Toole coached the Nittany Lions for four seasons. Under Toole's direction, Penn State won 13 games.
-1972: Title IX is passed and gender equality is now required in education and athletics.
-1974: Coach Gillian Rattray took over the helm as the head coach of Penn State's field hockey program. The Nittany Lions closed out the 70s with a record of 59-21.
-Five different Nittany Lions were named NFHCA All-Americans (starting in 1977), including current head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss three times.
1980s: The Nittany Lions Gain A Foothold in Collegiate Field Hockey
-Coach Rattray led the Nittany Lions for seven more seasons and celebrated the only undefeated season in 1980 (22-0-2), and the first AIAW national championship. Penn State also won the 1981 AIAW National Championship.
-1980: Broderick Award given to Jeannie Fissinger.
-1981: Broderick Award given Candy Finn.
-1982: Field hockey player Brenda Stauffer was named National Player of the Year. Penn State made its first NCAA Tournament appearance.
-1984: Stauffer, Chris Larson and Charlene Morett earned the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Ca.
-1987: Former Nittany Lion and Olympian, Morett, took over the helm as Penn State's head coach.
-Penn State had nine different first team All-Americans in the 80s.
1990s: Dominating the A-10, the Big Ten and the NCAA
-1990: The Nittany Lions won the A-10 Conference and represented Penn State in the NCAA semi-finals.
-1992: Penn State joins the Big Ten conference and finish with an 8-2 conference record.
-1993: Morett-Curtiss' Nittany Lions won Penn State's first Big Ten Championship and made another appearance in the NCAA semi-finals.
-1995-1998: Penn State is crowned either Big Ten Conference regular season or tournament champion each year.
-Penn State had 16 NFHCA first team All-Americans in the 90s and made the NCAA Tournament each season.
2000s: Making It To The Finals...
-2002: The Nittany Lions make it to the final round of the NCAA Championships for the first time.
-2005: The Nittany Lions win another Big Ten Championship
-2007: Morett-Curtiss' Nittany Lions make it to the final round of the NCAA Championships again.
-2008: Another Big Ten Championship is added to the list.
-Eight different individuals were named first team All-Americans in the 90s.
2010s: WE ARE...not finished yet
-2011-2013: The Nittany Lions have successfully won either the Big Ten regular season or tournament championship, each year. In 2012, they won both.
-One NFHCA All-American.
-As of 2014, there have been 15 different former Nittany Lions represented on the U.S. National Team.
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Scoring early is one of the most vital weapons in any sport. From a touchdown on the opening drive to a quick pin, the percentage of teams who win due to an early score is significantly higher than those who come from behind.
The New York Times conducted a study [http://slapshot.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/23/teams-that-score-first-in-playoff-games-are-tough-to-beat/] on this statistic while looking at the NHL playoffs. The study found that teams who score first have an 83% chance of winning.
The Penn State field hockey team proved that statistic wrong this weekend, as they came from behind to beat both the No. 14 Princeton Tigers and the Lafayette Leopards.
After early goals were scored in each game, offensive leadership from Taylor Herold and Jenna Chrismer helped the Nittany Lions earn a pair of wins this weekend.
First Half Tiger Goal Ignites Second Half Nittany Lion Offense
From the sound of the first whistle, any spectator could see that this matchup was going to be a hard fight. Most of the play between the No. 6 Nittany Lions and the No. 14 Tigers was centered at the middle of the field. Heading into the final minutes of the first half, Princeton's Ryan McCarthy received a pass in the center of Penn State's circle and fired a shot into the back of the net. While the Nittany Lions outshot the Tigers 6-3 in the first half, they were unable to answer and headed to the locker room trailing 1-0.
"It's always disappointing to give up an early goal like that," coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "In the locker room I just kept telling them that they needed to get hungry and put the press on."
At the start of the second half, you could hear Coach Morett-Curtiss chanting from the sideline, "play smart!" Her Nittany Lions listened.
The first of five goals came from Chrismer. After taking two shots on the cage in just one minute, Chrismer finally found the back of the net, tying the score. The Nittany Lions found the back of the cage just two minutes later when Herold blasted a corner drive from the top of the circle. No coach could draw up a corner play that was better executed than Herold's shot. It was flawless.
"I practice that shot constantly," Herold said. "I have been working on that shot a lot lately. That was the first time I was able to put one of those in this season. It was such a relief. I was so happy to finally hit the back of the cage."
Two minutes later, the Nittany Lions notched another score when Carly Celkos tapped in a pass from Chrismer. The Nittany Lions were up 3-1 with 27 minutes left to play.
"During the second half Coach [Morett-Curtiss] was telling us we needed to be more hungry in the circle," Herold said. "All I was thinking is that we needed to get a shot off as quick as possible. It doesn't matter what kind of a shot it is."
What Herold did next was almost unbelievable.
The next Nittany Lion goal deserves a spot on the list of "how did that go in" shots. Chrismer brought the ball into the circle. She dribbled in front of the cage and managed to pull Princeton's keeper out to the stroke mark. Chrismer's shot was deflected, but Herold intercepted the ball and reversed chipped it, while on her knees, into the top corner of the cage. As the crowd erupted and her fellow Nittany Lions jumped on her in celebration, Herold lifted the score to 4-1.
Herold's speed is one of the many weapons of the Nittany Lion offense. Whenever she receives a ball in open space, it is almost guaranteed that she will either make it into the circle or gain enough yardage for the Lions to make it into the circle on the next play.
"When I see open space I am just going as fast as I can," Herold said. "My favorite moment of a game is when I have open space."
The Tigers managed to score another goal, but Herold found the back of the net again, after receiving another pass from Chrismer. The duo pulled the goalie out again, and was able to lift the ball over her pads into the back of the net. Herold's shot lifted Penn State to a 5-2 victory over Princeton and her first hat-tick of her career.
"We wanted to put a strong press on." Morett-Curtiss said. "Jenna [Chrismer] and Taylor [Herold] are just great goal scorers and they took advantage of those opportunities. It was just a great second half."
Nittany Lions Come From Behind, Again
The Nittany Lions were trailing 1-0 after five minutes of play in Sunday's contest against the Lafayette Leopards.
But, the Nittany Lions had been in that position before.
"We knew that we needed to get down in the other end," Chrimser said. "We needed to put pressure on and take shots on goal."
The Leopards held onto their 1-0 lead for the next 10 minutes. But after a string of Penn State shots and corners, Emilee Ehret successfully knocked in a rebound shot, tying the score. Just over a minute later, Chrismer found the back of the cage, tapping in another goal off of a rebound shot.
Five minutes later, Chrismer received a pass from Laura Gebhart at the far end of the circle. Again, this was one of those shots that rarely make it to the back of the cage but Chrismer fired off a drive and lifted the Nittany Lions over the Leopards 3-1 before the half.
For twenty minutes after the half, the Nittany Lions pressed the Leopard's defense. The Nittany Lions took nine shots on goal, but were unable to capitalize off of their scoring opportunities. Gebhart lifted the score to 4-1 when she dribbled into the circle and fired off a shot. The Leopard's keeper blocked the shot, but Gebhart successfully tapped in a shot off a rebound. Three minutes later, Kirsten Gochnauer found the back of the net for the first time in her career, lifting the Nittany Lions to a final score of 5-1.
The Dynamic Scoring Duo
Over the course of four seasons, Chrismer and Herold have aided the Nittany Lions' offense with both speed and play making. Just this weekend, the duo contributed to eight of Penn State's ten goals. In the game against Princeton, Chrismer assisted each of Herold's scores, a trend we will likely see for the rest of the season.
"Taylor [Herold] and I have been connected since freshman year," Chrismer said. "We are always looking for each other. It's great."
"We know where each other is going to be," Herold said. "Since our freshman year we have scored tons of goals together; we plan on continuing that this season."
The Nittany Lions open their Big Ten schedule next weekend, at home, against longtime rival Michigan. The Wolverines are 4-2 heading into this weekend's matchup.
"Michigan is a tough, tough team," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "When two Big Ten teams go at it, you never know what is going to happen. It's going to come down to the wire. We are looking forward to it."
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Leadership isn't always something you can learn in a classroom; it's something you have to experience. For Penn State field hockey team, choosing seniors Katie Andrews and Laura Gebhart as team captains was an easy choice.
Between the two seniors they have shared the field together 58 times in their four years at Penn State. Andrews, who plays defense, and Gebhart, who shifts between the forward and mid position, have helped lead their team to two Big Ten Championships.
"It's a huge honor to know that our teammates respect us and think highly enough of us to put us in this position," Andrews said. "It's exciting to know that we get to lead the team this year to all of our success."
Their team is off to a great start. With a record of 3-1 and a No.6 ranking heading into this week's matchups against Princeton and Lafayette, the Nittany Lions are on the right track to make this one of the best seasons yet.
The Nittany Lions' only loss came to defending NCAA Champions, University of Connecticut. They lost in overtime off of a corner shot bringing the final score to 1-0.
"Everyone knows what that devastating loss feels like," Andrews said. "We are just focusing on taking that mentality and that excitement we had during that game into the rest of the season."
"It was amazing to see everyone on the field gut it out," Gebhart said. "At that point we [as captains] don't really need to say anything. We just feed off our teammates and work together."
Gebhart's success on the field is unprecedented; she has represented Penn State and her country on the U.S. National Team and the Junior World Cup Team. Big Ten Freshman of the Year, All-American and U.S. Team Captain are just a few titles that follow her name.
"Going into this season with Laura and someone of her caliber is really exciting," Andrews said.
Andrews, an agriculture major and business minor, and Gebhart, a community and environmental development major, are not only a leaders on the field, but in the classroom. Since 2012, Andrews and Gebhart have made the Academic All-Big Ten list (2012, 2013) and the NFHCA National Academic Squad (2012, 2013).
But when all is said and done after this season and Gebhart and Andrews turn their tassels at graduation, they will miss their teammates the most.
"It has been such a learning experience over the years," Gebhart said. "Its heartwarming to know that these girls will be there for me and I will be there for them, no matter what."
The captains understand that their success on the field and in the classroom wouldn't be possible without the help of their coaching, academic and support staff.
"The relationships we have with our teammates are amazing," Andrews said. "But our support staff, academic advisors at the Morgan Center, the Varsity 'S' Club...those are priceless relationships we have been able to build together."
The Nittany Lions take on No. 14 Princeton (Friday) and Lafayette (Sunday) this weekend at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Eight thousand four hundred and forty seven minutes equals 352 days, 217 road trips from Pennsylvania to California, and the amount of time it would take to earn 56 Bachelor's Degrees from Penn State. Eight thousand four hundred and forty seven minutes also equals the amount of time Nittany Lions Kylie Licata and Jenna Chrismer have spent on the field together. But, if we were to calculate the amount of time that Kylie and Jenna have known each other, the total would be 7,884,000 minutes or 15 years.
Before they became "Big Ten Athletes of the Week," "Big Ten Champions," and "leading scorers," Kylie and Jenna were just a couple of kids who grew up across the street from one another. From the late night kick-ball games to the backyard barbeques, the duo has been inseparable since 1999.
"Jenna [Chrismer] moved into the neighborhood when I was seven years old," Kylie said. "I was one of the first friends she made."
The duo grew up in Mountain Top, Pennsylvania, a small, rural area two hours north of State College. Mountain Top is home to one of Pennsylvania's premier high school field hockey programs, the Crestwood High School Comets. Field hockey wasn't always the common denominator between these two, as Kylie is responsible for Jenna joining Crestwood's junior high team.
"It was the day before junior high sports tryouts," Kylie said. "Jenna came over my house and told me she wanted to try out for the cross-country team. I laughed at her. I said 'no, no, no, come play field hockey.'"
Five minutes later, Jenna was in Kylie's backyard with a field hockey stick in her hand.
"I never in a million years thought that I would play this sport," Jenna said. "But, then I really liked it."
...and the rest was history.
The following summer, Jenna's dad built them a field hockey cage. The duo would often be out all hours of the night, using only a spotlight to see the ball, pushing and working each other. The challenge of the back yard one-on-one field hockey sessions didn't stop there, they continued at practice as well.
"When you care about someone, you want to give them your very best," Jenna said. "I always made sure I tried my most difficult shots or my fastest plays on Kylie at practice. That way I knew I helped her as best I could for game situations."
This constant support system off the field translated just as well on the field. In the time that Jenna and Kylie wore their red and white Comet uniforms, they won two Wyoming Valley Conference Championships, appeared in two semifinal rounds in the PIAA championships and graduated with a near perfect record. Kylie graduated in 2010 with a .850 save percentage. Jenna graduated in 2011 with 229 career points and a spot in the Crestwood record books as the fourth highest scorer in the program's history.
"Playing without Kylie my senior year was difficult," Jenna said. "We talked on the phone every day."
Their separation wouldn't last long.
Jenna's visit to Penn State was the last on her list before the high school standout had to make her decision.
"It just felt like home," Jenna said. "Having Kylie here added to that feeling."
The duo has truly made Penn State their home, especially on the field. Kylie and Jenna are major contributors to the Nittany Lions' offensive and defensive strategy.
Jenna, one of the leading scorers heading into this season and Kylie, who has played every minute of every game since the 2013 season started, will leave their mark when they graduate this year.
"We always joked about going to the same college when we were in high school," Kylie said. "Who would have thought that we would be ending our careers together?"
While Kylie and Jenna are the nucleus of their friendship, their parents are best friends, too. The duo might have been on the field together for 8,447 minutes, but their parents have been on the sidelines cheering for each of those minutes as well.
"It's comforting to look over my shoulder during a game and see our parents standing with one another," Jenna said. "They have always been there for us, no matter what."
"I knew we were family long before we started playing [field hockey]," Kylie said. "One summer, Jenna's mom bought a membership to the local pool; she got me a pass too. The pass read 'Kylie Chrismer.'"
For the past four seasons at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex, Jenna and Kylie's names have been announced over the loudspeaker during the pre-game announcements. Their names are always followed by "Mountain Top, Pa." While their collegiate careers might end this November, the duo will never forget how their 'team' of two started.
It began 7,884,000 minutes ago when a young Kylie saw a moving van pull into the house across the street.
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- This past weekend was a great one for Penn State. With victories coming from Croke Park [Football], Rec Hall [Women's Volleyball] and Jeffery Field [Men's Soccer], it was only fitting that Penn State's field hockey team earned a pair of victories this weekend, too.
Win Over Old Dominion Shines Light on Nittany Lions' Offensive System
This weekend's matchup against Old Dominion was a familiar one, as the Nittany Lions have opened their regular-season against the Monarchs for the past ten years. This contest was evenly matched for the better portion of the first half; most of the play occurred between each of the 25-yard lines.
"We knew that they played a lot in the middle because that is where their strength really is," head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss said. "They [Old Dominion] have a lot of strong international kids who you see just have that flare with the ball so we knew we had to protect the middle."
By the half way mark of the first half the Nittany Lions and the Monarchs were even in shot total with each team having four shots on goal. Twenty-three minutes into the first half, Old Dominion capitalized off of a deflected shot that Monarch Katy Fuhrman played in the air. The ball went over Kylie Licata's head, giving Old Dominion a 1-0 lead with 12 minutes left to play in the first half.
"Once they scored we were like 'let's go, lets rally' and we got really pumped up," said senior forward Jenna Chrismer. "We knew we had to play our game."
Penn State's offensive strategy has always capitalized off of their corner execution, which came in handy in Friday's contest. Three minutes after the Monarch goal, the Nittany Lions forced a corner giving them an opportunity to even the score before halftime. Chrismer inserted, the pass found Bethany Mink and in a scramble in front of the cage, Chrismer tipped it in. With two minutes left to play in the first half, Chrismer capitalized on another scoring opportunity with an unassisted goal, putting the Nittany Lions ahead 2-1.
"Jenna [Chrismer] had an awesome goal," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "That is just great effort and guts. A lot of positive things came out of this game."
There was a change of pace in the second half as most of the play occurred inside the circle. Old Dominion outshot Penn State 12-5 but the shots went unanswered thanks to keeper Kylie Licata. The Nittany Lions were able to force more corner play, earning six corners.
The Nittany Lions walked away with a 2-1 victory. Licata made nine saves, a career best for the fifth-year senior.
Shutout Against Virginia Proves Penn State's Defensive Strategy
A pair of season and career firsts took place for Penn State in Sunday's matchup against No. 6 Virginia. Red shirt senior Natalie Buttinger scored her first career goal just four minutes into the game, giving Penn State an early lead. Six minutes later, Buttinger scored her second goal off a pass from Chrismer, putting the Nittany Lions a head 2-0.
"I was really excited to start off the game with a high tempo," Buttinger said. "We really attacked the net."
Penn State's offense dominated the first half of the game, forcing five penalty corners and earning eight shots on net. Following the half, senior and State College native Amanda Dinunzio scored off of a deflected corner shot from senior Taylor Herold, giving the Nittany Lions a 3-0 lead.
While the scoring effort of Penn State's offense was a major contribution to Sunday's win over a higher seeded Virginia, the Nittany Lion defense earned its first shutout of the season.
"Our defense was really strong today, especially the entire second half," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "We really just couldn't find a way out [of our circle]. We told them they needed to have guts and that they had to double team and that is what they did."
Coach Morett-Curtiss made the decision to move Penn State's leading scorer and shot taker Laura Gebhart back to the center defensive position. This decision not only highlighted the versatility of Gebhart's play, but also spoke to the leadership and experience of the fifth-year senior captain, who is just returning from playing with the US World Team.
"Her [Gebhart] experience and understanding of the tempo of the game is why we chose to do this," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "Her leadership qualities and being able to organize the team is why we made this decision. She just gives a lot of confidence to those on the field."
Another shining star in Sunday's contest was the goal keeping of Licata. In the second half, Virginia took eight shots on net and earned six late corners. Licata's versatility in the cage, especially during corner play, helped the Nittany Lions earn their first shutout of the season.
"Hopefully this shutout is the first of many more to come," Licata said. "But it wasn't just me. The forwards and defense did outstanding today. They deserve so much credit."
The Nittany Lions will make their way to Connecticut this weekend to take on defending National Champions, University of Connecticut, on Saturday and Quinnipiac on Sunday.
"We need to have more team attack next weekend," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "We just need to keep stepping up early and pressing the net."