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Penn State's Season Ends in NCAA Round One

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's Jenny Rizzo said last week that it is both good and bad to face a familiar face in the NCAA Tournament. It is good because the team knows what to expect, but bad because it is hard to beat a good team twice. 

On Saturday at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex, the Nittany Lions proved how difficult it truly is to defeat a top 10 team twice in a 2-1 loss to the Princeton Tigers. 

"I think they definitely came out stronger than the last time we played them," Rizzo said. "I think their defense was phenomenal today. They read our corners a little bit more than they did the first time, so I think they did a good job of scouting us."

The Nittany Lions, who ranked first in the Big Ten and fourth in the NCAA standings for goals scored per game (4.05) were shut down in the first half by the Tigers' defense. None of Penn State's five shots in the first half were the quality looks at the cage that the offense had been used to getting all season.

"Princeton's defense was the best defense we have seen all year," Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "We have been preaching to our kids all year about being low and [Princeton] just did a phenomenal job of taking away lanes that we wanted to attack. I thought Princeton played a great defensive game today. We couldn't get into the circle and draw the corners to get the quality shots that we wanted to get." 

Princeton broke the 0-0 tie 10 minutes into the second half. Cat Caro sent a ball into the circle just ahead of Ryan McCarthy. McCarthy reached her stick in front of her to get the ball and started to fall to the ground. As she was falling, Rizzo got low to protect the cage, but McCarthy was able to get some air under her shot sending the ball into the top left corner of the cage.

The Tigers (11-7) tacked on another goal by Caro on a penalty corner with just 10 minutes remaining in the game.

The Nittany Lions (17-3) were finally able to get on the board with a little more than three minutes left in the second half when Moira Putsch assisted Aurelia Meijer on her 11th goal of the season.

Despite a late scramble by the Penn State offense, the Nittany Lions ended their season, losing the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

"In the NCAA Tournament, anything can happen," Morett-Curtiss said. "We sort of had a slow start. We had the right intentions, but we didn't give a good pass or we didn't receive the ball well. We had the right ideas. I just feel like we should have come out even stronger in the second half. It just took us too long to get the momentum built up."

Penn State will be losing its four seniors Carly Celkos, Kirsten Gochnauer, Emilee Ehret and Brooke Birosik. In her postgame press conference, Birosik struggled to control her emotions after playing her final game as a Nittany Lion.

"I am sorry I am just upset right now," Birosik said. "I wouldn't have wanted to go to any other school. I just love Penn State so much. It hasn't set in yet that that was my last game."

Without its four seniors, the Penn State field hockey team would not have had one of its most successful seasons in the program's history. The four seniors combined contributed 14 goals, 19 assists and 47 points in the 2016 season.

"This team would not have had the success that we had this year if it wasn't for the four seniors," Morett-Curtiss said. "When we started in the spring they were very committed. They were passionate about how hard they wanted to work. They wanted to turn this season around and get back to playing Penn State field hockey. They were incredible leaders throughout the entire year including today. I couldn't be more proud of the senior class. They really elevated this program in a short time."

Although Penn State struggled to accept this loss, the team already knows that they have to look forward.

"I know this team was capable of anything," Rizzo said. "We saw that last weekend with the Big Ten Championship. But looking forward, we just need to have a strong spring. We need to work on a lot of things I'm sure, but we just need to move on from this and look forward to next season. We grew so much from last season to this season, so I know we will just grow more for next season."

NCAA Tournament Time In Happy Valley: What You Need To Know

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fall NCAA Tournament play in Happy Valley has nearly arrived as two Nittany Lion squads are set to kick off a pair of postseason events this weekend.

As both the defending NCAA national champion women's soccer team and the the 2016 Big Ten Tournament champion field hockey team gear up for postseason play, here's five things you need to know before heading out to catch them in action this weekend.

Penn State Women's Soccer vs. Bucknell - Friday, Nov. 11 - 6 p.m. (Jeffrey Field)
1. With an 11-4-4 overall record, the Nittany Lions have qualified for their 22nd consecutive NCAA Tournament, having also clinched a share of their 18th Big Ten regular season title earlier this year. 

2.  Penn State holds a 15-3 advantage in first round games heading into the matchup against the Bison, having won each of the last seven consecutive opening round outings. Within the last 15 years, the Nittany Lions have had the opportunity to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament in the "pod" format a total of 10 times, accumulating an 18-2 record within the 10-season span.

3. Penn State is 46-19-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament outings, which includes a total of five College Cup appearances along with the 2015 NCAA national title. 

4. Drawing Bucknell in the opening round, Penn State owns an 18-0-1 record in the all-time series against the Bison. The Nittany Lions and the Bison have met twice in NCAA Tournament play, with Penn State claiming wins in both outings at home in Jeffrey Field.

5. Bucknell is also a familiar program to Penn State head coach Erica Dambach, who started her coaching path out of college as a graduate assistant on the Bison staff in 1997.

More from Dambach below.


Penn State Field Hockey vs. Princeton - Saturday, Nov. 12 - 11:30 a.m. (Field Hockey Complex)

1. The Nittany Lions captured their seventh Big Ten Tournament title last week, taking down Maryland, 2-1 to secure the crown. Penn State earned the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, marking the first time since 2014 that the Nittany Lions will compete in the postseason event. 

2. The Nittany Lions have competed in 31 NCAA Tournament events in program history, which is tied with Old Dominion for second all-time.  

3. Penn State is set to welcome its NCAA Tournament first round opponent to the Field Hockey Complete for the first time since 2012. The Nittany Lions drew Princeton as their opening round opponent, having already defeated the Tigers, 4-2 during the regular season.

4. Both Penn State and Princeton most recently met in first round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament where the Tigers earned a 5-4 win to advance to the quarterfinals. 

5. Should the Nittany Lions defeat Princeton, Penn State would host the winner of the Michigan/Virginia matchup Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. in the Field Hockey Complex. Penn State has also already topped both the Wolverines and the Cavaliers during the 2016 regular season, defeating Michigan once again in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

Catch up with Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss ahead of the opening round. 

Everything On the Line in NCAA Tournament Play

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Feature Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State field hockey team's dinner reservations at The Tavern restaurant on Friday can only mean one thing - the NCAA tournament is right around the corner. 

The only time the Nittany Lions have organized dinners is when they qualify for the NCAA Tournament and they always go to The Tavern in downtown State College. 

"It's an NCAA tradition," Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "Even if we had an away game, we'd be having dinner at The Tavern before we left. We have been doing it forever. I am really good friends with the owner. He is a big supporter of the team and really pays attention to us."

The team will reunite at the Penn Stater the following morning for a team breakfast to make sure everyone is fueled up for Saturday afternoon's game. The Nittany Lions only have to make a short drive to the Penn State Field Hockey Complex to kick of NCAA Tournament play this year though.

"We broke attendance records this year," goalkeeper Jenny Rizzo said. "It's crazy to think about. The opportunity to host an NCAA game at home just gives us another opportunity to get students and parents here. The fact that we know the turf and know what to expect is a huge advantage. It is tough to go into someone's home turf and beat them. I think it'll be a really cool opportunity." 

"It's just huge to be able to play at home," Morett-Curtiss said. "Knowing that we are number one in attendance in the country is just great. We have such an energetic fan base. All the other sports teams and athletes come and support us and it's just great and adds that extra enthusiasm to the environment. Also, their parents can come up and the girls sleep in their own beds. They don't have to pack a bag or get on a bus. It just keeps the playoff season short and feels like a regular season game."

Although it may seem like a regular season home game, the Nittany Lions all know how important Saturday's game is going to be. With the loss in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament last year, Penn State was unable to qualify for the NCAA Tournament leaving the freshmen and sophomore classes with no experience in this weekend's upcoming tournament. The team will be relying heavily on its seniors and their experience to prepare them for the big stage.

"It definitely adds pressure when we are the most experienced," senior Emilee Ehret said. "Especially when the season is on the line for each of these games. It also adds pressure to our senior class, but I think we are ready for the challenge. We are really excited. The [seniors] haven't stopped smiling since wearing the Big Ten Champions shirt and hat." 

The senior class is also battling the reality of their field hockey careers coming to an end. As much as Ehret wants to solely focus on the games at hand, she cannot help but think that her time left playing field hockey is nearing completion.

"I think just more is on the line for us," Ehret said. "My field hockey career is on the line. I won't be in a collegiate game ever again if we lost. I just want to play as many games as possible. There's only two weeks left. These games aren't that long. We just want to make sure every minute counts and that we are putting every ounce of energy into every game."

It is hard to leave a sport that a player has dedicated so much time to since being a little kid, but leaving a team with so much success makes saying goodbye so much harder.

"It's honestly unreal how successful we have been," Ehret said. "It makes [the seniors] so happy how great this year was. We've had so many challenges the past three years and to end on such a high note is just the greatest feeling for all of us and we are super stoked to have this opportunity to do well in the NCAA Tournament."

"I think what it is about this team is everyone respects the role they play on the team, everyone respects the leadership and then you just have the juniors, that's a good class," Morett-Curtiss said. "Everyone works so hard at practice. If we put the starting lineup against our second team, it's competitive. The Indiana coach said to me, 'You have the luxury of having that every day at practice.'"

After winning the Big Ten Tournament last weekend, the first thing the Nittany Lions wanted to know was who they were playing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The team gathered around to wait for its first round draw to find that they will be playing a team they had faced earlier this season, Princeton.

"It's good and bad that we have played them before," Rizzo said. "It's nice to know them but it's also hard to beat a team twice. I think we are just excited because both of the teams know that their seasons are on the line, so it'll be an exciting game." 

"I like our bracket because we are familiar with every team," Morett-Curtiss said. "We get tape on every team, but when you already had a chance to play the team, you understand their tendencies. So I think we can look at things that they do routinely throughout the game. They have the same advantage against us, but we faced them at home before. We know what we have to tweak to be successful."

 Morett-Curtiss does not want this game to be treated any differently from any other regular season game.

"We just try to keep things consistent and not make it bigger than what it is," Morett-Curtiss said. "There will be some nerves and there was some this past weekend. I think being at home for this takes the nerves a little more out of the picture. When we go into the locker room before games they are always singing, dancing and laughing. I think that plays into their success. They take the fun they have there and take it to the field." 

Penn State will host Princeton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex. 

Meijer Settled in at Penn State

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With Aurelia Meijer being from the Netherlands, the Penn State sophomore very rarely has her family in the stands.

Once each year, one of Meijer's parents flies nine hours to the United States to watch their daughter compete. A few weeks ago, Meijer's mom was preparing to make her trek to New Jersey to watch Penn State take on Rutgers. 

"My mom was mad because when my dad came last year I had a hat trick and she told me I had to do it for her too," Meijer said.

In 2015, Meijer's father was in the stands in University Park as the Nittany Lions played the Iowa Hawkeyes. With the added pressure of her father watching her compete in the United States for the first time, Meijer did what is rarely done, scoring three goals in one game.

"He was so excited. I remember it was on BTN and even he was on the television," Meijer said. "In the Netherlands we don't have that. Only the national team gets attention. The way we get attention here is so insane. When I made that everyone was so pumped up. [My dad] teared up. He was so proud."

A year later, when it was Meijer's mom's turn to come watch her play, she wanted nothing but the same outcome.

She succeeded.

"I really didn't do it because of them, but now they are even," Meijer said. "It was just a coincidence. My team tells me to get my parents here so I will score more. I would love to do it again." 

Meijer is from a small town in the Netherlands called Hattem. The field hockey field she played on growing up was only a one-minute walk from her house. 

"I practiced there three times a week," Meijer said. "My whole family played there. All the sports complexes were right beside me. It's a really little town, everyone knew each other. It's little and cute compared to cities here." 

With her dad as her field hockey coach since she began playing at age six, Meijer said she had no option to focus on any other sport than field hockey.

 "My dad is really good at field hockey and so is my grandpa," Meijer said. "He played in the national Dutch game. He always would take me on Sunday's and I hated it. He would teach me over and over again to be good. Now I am grateful, but then I hated it. He always wanted to go to the turf with me. Now we go for fun. I play with my sister against my two brothers. We always do games together."

As she got older, Meijer knew that she wanted to come to the United States to continue playing field hockey and get a degree in the country that she always heard was so great and had so many opportunities.

She used a recruiting service to talk to field hockey coaches throughout the country and met them via Skype to find the perfect match for her future home. When Meijer Skyped with Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss, both knew that Meijer would be a future Penn Stater.

"I loved her," Morett-Curtiss said. "She was just so enthusiastic. She had this enthusiastic, positive energy. When we would Skype with her, she would get on the screen and just yell, 'Hey!' She's just so genuine. What you see is truly what you get." 

Meijer said that it came down to either Penn State or Northwestern, but there was something about the connection with Morett-Curtiss Meijer could not avoid. After her first official visit to Happy Valley, there was no doubt left in her mind. This was her new home.

Meijer became the first international player to play on Penn State's field hockey team. Although a historic moment in the program's history, this meant a lot of new experiences for not just Meijer, but the entire team.

English was not Meijer's first language. Although she was taught English in high school, she only felt comfortable with reading and writing. Speaking was not something she had practiced regularly. Meijer had difficulties figuring out what time to show up for practices, what things to bring to games and other simple details that came so easily to an English speaker. 

"To be honest, I was really homesick," Meijer said. "Everything is so different here. I love it now, but at the beginning I was shocked by everything. Not just food, not language, but just how people act. People didn't always understand me and I didn't always understand them. There's little details that people here don't understand about how we act. It was so different. Because I was the first international player, I had no one to lean on. It was really good for me because I learned so much."

Meijer said it only took three months for her to feel completely fluent in her new language because she had no way around it. She had to speak it in class, at practice and with her friends.

To feel more comfortable in such a foreign land, Meijer Skyped her family a lot and looked forward to playing field hockey every day. The freshman at the time, focusing on having fun every day until she finally felt a little bit at home at Penn State. 

After a few months of explaining her hometown and culture to her new teammates, Meijer was able to show her friends everything she was talking about first hand when the team traveled to the Netherlands last spring. 

"It was amazing," Meijer said. "That weekend was one of the best weeks of my life. Most of the girls had never been to Europe. They were excited to see the culture. They saw my family. The social life is so different. It was cool for them to see what I was used to. I could never explain it really well because it was so different. They saw it with their own eyes it was such an amazing experience."

On the first day of the trip, the team played on the little field beside Meijer's house that was once her own.

"We lost that game, but it really didn't matter," Meijer said. "It was so cool that it was my field with my new friends. I can't explain it. It was awesome."

When she is at Penn State, Meijer can be found enjoying waffles at the Waffle Shop or small coffee shops downtown. Although Thanksgiving break is too short for the sophomore to travel back home to see her family, Meijer will visit Philadelphia to be with some of her teammates. Once she finishes her final exams, Meijer will be back in the Netherlands for winter break. 

But this year, there is one difference. Instead of being homesick, Meijer will be excited to get back to her new home in Happy Valley.

Check out Meijer recapping the Penn State field hockey victory over Maryland to clinch the Big Ten Tournament Championship title. 

Penn State Prepared For Big Ten Tournament

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.  - With a No. 2 seed in this weekend's Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament, the Nittany Lions will kick off the event against a familiar face Thursday afternoon. 

Penn State (14-2, 6-2 B1G) finished its regular season last week against Indiana, claiming a close 3-2 victory. On Thursday, the Nittany Lions are set to face the Hoosiers (8-11, 3-5 B1G) once again to begin the 2016 playoffs.

"I do think there's a little bit of an advantage because it is someone you are so familiar with," Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "It's not like you have to re-invent practices. It is something we have been doing the past week for our game, so it's something they are familiar with."

Last time, the Nittany Lions relied on Brooke Birosik's strong offensive outing to carry the team to victory. The senior is trying to approach her final Big Ten Tournament like any other game.

"I think I try to play hard in every game," Birosik said. "I don't want to leave any regrets on the field and think I could've run harder on a certain play. I always try to play like I'll never play again. This is a little more because it's my last one, but it honestly makes it more exciting knowing it's your last. You don't want to regret anything. I just want to win with my team." 

With last week's strong offensive showing, the Nittany Lions will be looking to improve their defense in their second chance against the Hoosiers. 

"We have definitely been focusing on corner defense and definitely our in-line defense and defense in the circle," Morett-Curtiss said. "I just thought we needed a little bit more of a presence." 

Not only did Penn State play Indiana last week, the Nittany Lions also competed against the Hoosiers in the first round of the 2015 Big Ten Tournament.  

"It's funny," Morett-Curtiss said. "I think that within our conference there are just so many strong opponents that you just have to take what you get and not over think it. You have to be prepared for each Big Ten opponent and not look beyond it." 

The freshmen that did not experience last year's tournament are going into this weekend's tournament with a blank slate. 

"I am super excited," freshman Maddie Morano said. "Everything is so new to me right now. I have never experienced anything like college field hockey. I have already had so much fun in the regular season, I can't imagine how exciting playoffs will be. The girls are such great leaders. They are so supportive. I am so excited to take on this tournament with them."

Morano has looked to her older sister Kasey for advice all season and will continue to do so during playoffs.

"[Kasey] said the Big Ten Tournament is fast and tense and that I need to be physical and tough out there," Morano said. "I just love having her here. She's my best friend. To have your best friend here, it's just another support that's really nice to have." 

After defeating Indiana in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament last year, the Nittany Lions came up just short in a 2-1 overtime loss to Michigan in the second round.

"The feeling of losing to Michigan last year just stinks and no one wants to go home," Birosik said. "Being a senior leader, you don't want that feeling and don't want that to happen again. You can't take anything for granted. You need to leave it out there because you never know if that's your last game. We've seen comebacks with a couple minutes left in the game and that's how we lost. You have to come to this tournament ready to play. Play like it's your last one."

The Nittany Lions will travel to College Park, Maryland at 12:30 p.m. Thursday to take on the Hoosiers in opening outing of the Big Ten Tournament. 

Birosik Leads Penn State on Senior Night

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a packed crowd and pictures of the four seniors at the top of the stands, Penn State senior Brooke Birosik had the senior night every athlete dreams of having.

"I kept saying in my mind that I didn't want to regret anything, just leave it out on the field," Birosik said. "I was really nervous because I wanted to have a really good last game on our home field."

More than five minutes into the first half, Birosik found the back of the cage and gave the Nittany Lions a quick 1-0 lead.

"I was just thinking get it low and get it on cage," Birosik said. "I definitely felt relief that I got one final goal at home. It's always exciting to score on a corner because we work so hard on them and we practice them a lot, so it feels like it pays off when you score on a corner."

Near the end of the first half, Moira Putsch added her 14th goal of the season to give the Nittany Lions (14-2, 6-2 Big Ten) a 2-0 lead at the half.

At the beginning of the second half, fate had one more magical moment in store for Birosik's last game on Penn State's turf.

Birosik had the ball in the circle and only the goalkeeper in front of her. Her goal was to keep it low and find the back of the cage, just like the first goal. And she did just that. Birosik registered her second goal of the game and 11th of the season to give the Nittany Lions a 3-0 lead. Birosik also finished her final regular season at Penn State with seven assists and 29 points.

 "It was great," Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "She just plays hard all the time. I was happy to see her get some goals because she hasn't the last couple games, so it's nice to get her back on the scoring track."

Indiana (8-10, 3-5 Big Ten) came back in the second half to make the score 3-2, but a solid Nittany Lions lineup led by its four seniors held on to the win. 

"We talked about the seniors and how they each have their own personality and what they bring to this team," Morett-Curtiss said. "Emily [Ehret] brings composure, Kirsten [Gochnauer] brings a lot of determination, Carly [Celkos] brings a lot of steadiness and Brooke just brings a lot of physical aggressiveness to the team and I think that sets the tone for us."

With the wind chill dropping into the low 40's, fans were bundled in layers and blankets to keep warm during the game. The weather was no issue for Birosik, who refused to wear a long sleeve shirt under her tank-top style uniform.   

"I was hot during that game," Birosik said. "Warmup was a little cold, but after that it was hot. I just don't like the compression of the undershirts. I just like playing in the tank top."

"Well, I am freezing," Putsch said. "I am not sure what [Birosik] is talking about."

The win against Indiana concludes Penn State's 2016 regular season. With the Big Ten Tournament now in sight for the Nittany Lions, the team just wants to win for its seniors.

"Before the game, in the locker room, Char [Morett-Curtiss] had a speech about how the seniors this year took what happened last year and just raised the level," Putsch said. "It's a different team. We owe all of it to the seniors. 

The Nittany Lions will begin the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday on the road in College Park at Maryland. 

Close-Knit Seniors Prep for Graduation

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As most freshmen are thrown out of their comfort zone and forced to find friends at the beginning of their college careers, Emilee Ehret, Carly Celkos, Kirsten Gochnauer and Brooke Birosik were already with their closest friends. 

"As soon as you're on campus as a freshman you have friends," Gochnauer said. "Our class is from different areas and backgrounds but we all cliqued. We all lived in McElwain together and our dorms were right beside each other. Brooke and Emilee were together and Carly and I lived together." 

Each of the four seniors have different backgrounds and personalities. One common factor between them though, was they each fell in love with Penn State's campus the minute they arrived. For Ehret, she loved it so much that she committed before telling her mom.

"My mom and I were both speechless after the visit," Ehret said. "I was so eager and excited to commit. I know she wanted to wait to see what other places I could go to, especially because I was looking at playing with my sister at Penn. I was also just about to receive my SAT scores, but I just knew that I wanted it. I went upstairs and called Char [Morett-Curtiss] and committed. I came downstairs and told her and she yelled, "Oh my gosh you are kidding me!' She was really excited and it turned out to be so funny." 

Ehret has been one of the most consistent and steady players for head coach Morett-Curtiss this season. Despite her love for field hockey, Ehret has decided not to pursue sports after graduation as she was just accepted into the Teach for America program.

"Teach for America is where individuals are selected to become teachers in low-income communities," Ehret said. "I will be teaching elementary school. Each individual commits to teach for two years and are hired by the partner public schools across the country. During these two years, they are called 'Corps Members.' I will be getting a Master's Degree at the same time too, also set up by Teach for America." 

With her post graduation plans already lined up, Ehret is able to thoroughly enjoy her senior season and reminisce on some of her favorite memories.

"One of my favorite memories is when I got a weird injury freshman year that caused me to not really be able to sit," Ehret said. "I was sitting beside Brooke and she slept for an eight-hour bus drive on the floor for me because I was in so much pain and needed more space. It was so painful, but looking back on it, it was one of the funniest memories from my time here." 

Like Ehret, Birosik has also begun planning for her future after field hockey. She is currently studying the commercial side of recreation and park tourism management. She is trying to decide if she wants to stay in sports by going into sports management or branch out of her comfort zone and do event planning for hotels or different venues.

Birosik has been an integral part of the Penn State offense in her four years in Happy Valley. This season she has registered nine goals, seven assists and 25 points. With all of her success, Birosik could not imagine her life without Penn State field hockey.

"My teammates are my best friends, I don't know who else I would talk to," Birosik said. "If I have any issues, the first people I tell are my teammates and coaches. Sometimes we do team bonding events. We do this game where we put random things on a piece of paper and act them out like charades. It gets the freshmen out of their shell and it's one of my favorite things every year to see everyone's personality. Maybe we can all plan trips each year and meet at a certain destination to come back together."

This year, Birosik lives in an apartment with Celkos and Gochnauer. Birosik and Celkos enjoy cooking and getting their nails done together.

Celkos also devotes a lot of time to Life Link. Life Link is a program that Penn State offers to serve special education students, engage them in academic programs and help them gain independence. Celkos has tutored these students through an online course and also assisted with a cooking class last spring. She is studying rehabilitation and human services and plans to be an occupational therapist. 

In her senior season, Celkos has registered one goal, three assists and five points. Celkos said that it took a few months during her freshman year for her, Ehret, Birosik and Gochnauer to get close, but once each of them had their break-through moments, they could not be closer.

"I was roommates with Kirsten freshman year," Celkos said. "We didn't get close until this one away trip. We were both really home sick and overwhelmed from school. We both started hysterically crying and then we became really close. That was our moment."

Gochnauer's favorite moments with her teammates were always at a bonfire at the beginning of the school year. It was a time for the team to get together outside of field hockey, talk about their summers and get the freshmen involved with the team.

Gochnauer has recorded two goals, six assists and ten points so far this season. As graduation approaches, Gochnauer prepares for a life in the medical field.

"I am involved in the Global Medical Brigades," Gochnauer said. "I am on the executive board. I order medications for medical clinics in Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras. We typically spend 5,000 dollars per trip. I went to Nicaragua last spring and was in charge of 29 students. I was in charge of all the planning, travel plans and where we would be working. Once we were in the country, I organized medical clinics each day, made sure everyone knew their role and taught different vital signs for everyone to take."

Gochnauer's love for the medical field came from her mother's work as a nurse for 25 years and the fact that she is prone to injury.

"As a kid I was in and out of the hospital with broken bones and so many other injuries," Gochnauer said. "At Northwestern I had to get three stitches because a field hockey stick hit me in the mouth and chipped my tooth. I didn't know it was chipped until I took my mouth guard out and saw half of the tooth laying in it." 

With so many different interests and personalities, it establishes a superior class of senior leaders. 

"This group of seniors is very special in that they play a very important role on the field," head coach Morett-Curtiss said. "They were all players as freshman and really had to learn the system. And now as a senior class, I think they bring a lot of security to their teammates. They are confident in their own ways. The team sees them not as being one senior leader, but four senior leaders. That shared leadership really helps balance out our team and helps our team be as close-knit as they are." 

Although the four seniors are very different in their own ways, the one thing they all agree on is that they will be back for every alumni game and homecoming. 

Birosik, Celkos, Gochnauer and Ehret can thank field hockey and McElwain Hall for their life-long friendship.

Morett-Curtiss' Legacy Leads to Hall of Fame Induction

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Feature Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss has had a love for competition since she was a 2-year-old playing board games or having snowball fights against her siblings. As she got older, she played every sport her older brothers played.

Morett-Curtiss competed in basketball, ice hockey and swimming. She also played against her siblings in backyard games and street hockey. In seventh grade, she wanted to find a sport to play during the fall season since that was her only off season.

"My high school had a junior high tryout for field hockey," Morett-Curtiss said. "I had a tryout that day and I remember coming home and I had my hockey stick. I had never seen a hockey stick before. I remember running through the door saying, 'I want to play field hockey! I want to play field hockey!' My dad asked what field hockey was and I told him I didn't really know, but this is the stick you use to play it."

As Morett-Curtiss balanced all of the sports she played, she began to stand out in field hockey and lacrosse. When Morett-Curtiss graduated high school, she decided to come to Penn State to play for both programs. She became the first of six siblings to attend a four-year college.

At Penn State, Morett-Curtiss quickly became a field hockey standout. She was the program's only three-time first team All-American, scored 50 goals in four years and was the captain of the undefeated 1978 team. Whether she was on or off the field, Morett-Curtiss said it was impossible to have a bad day at Penn State.

"I think what I loved about my experience was that my best friends from Penn State are still my best friends today," Morett-Curtiss said. "They all played different sports. Kids are always amazed how we were always so social without having phones to figure out where everybody was meeting. We had a training table after practice every season with the football players, the soccer players and the lacrosse teams. We always had those conversations planning what was going on that weekend and always found time to have some fun."

Morett-Curtiss also became the first Nittany Lion to record five goals in a single game against Bucknell.

"Being a forward I think what helped my field hockey was street hockey," Morett-Curtiss said. "Because it was a lot of three on three or four on four you had a lot of touches with your stick. Always trying to put the ball in the net was something I grew up playing street hockey. That helped me find the goal in college."

After graduating college in 1979, Morett-Curtiss competed with the U.S.A Field Hockey team in hopes to compete at the 1980 Olympics. With a boycott of the Olympic Games, Morett-Curtiss was forced to wait until 1984 before she could officially compete in the games in Los Angeles, California.

"I was really fortunate that I was young enough to be able to stay in the program," Morett-Curtiss said. "Knowing that the games were going to take place in Los Angeles was something we could really focus on in training. To have the opportunity to have my parents and family come to Los Angeles to show that support was something that really meant a lot to me."

Morett-Curtiss and the U.S.A Field Hockey team earned bronze at the 1984 Olympic Games. After competing in the Olympics, Morett-Curtiss turned to coaching.

In 1984, Morett-Curtiss was named head field hockey and lacrosse coach at Boston College. After her previous coach Gillian Rattray retired from Penn State, Morett-Curtiss did not hesitate to apply for the job at her alma mater.

"It was a dream come true for me," Morett-Curtiss said. "To be able to recruit kids to Penn State University that come with the same values and commitment to academics and athletics that I once did is something that is natural to me being a Penn State coach."

Current Associate Head Coach Lisa Love was a member of the field hockey team in Morett-Curtiss' first two years on the job.

"She came in with this high energy and high intensity passion for the sport," Love said. "We were all intimidated by her at first. She really cared about the sport and had a passion for the game that was contagious. She made us better people, which made us better players. I remember we always left practice feeling like we accomplished more than we ever could."

Since the time Morett-Curtiss began her coaching career, field hockey has become a much quicker game.

"There were rules like turning your back and being offside which really slowed the game down when I played," Morett-Curtiss said. "You couldn't lift your stick above your hip, which was really bad. I was taking a golf class my senior year so I was just used to taking my club back and then I would go to practice and I would take my stick back and that was a foul. But, the biggest change is AstroTurf. It has really sped up the game."

In her 29th season as head coach at Penn State, Morett-Curtiss has a 440-170-8 record and in just the last seven years, she has led the Nittany Lions to three Big Ten regular season titles, two Big Ten Tournament championships and six NCAA Tournament appearances. 

With all of her success as both a player and coach, Morett-Curtiss will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame Saturday.

"I take a lot of pride in being a Pennsylvanian and growing up in Delaware County," Morett-Curtiss said. "The program from Delaware County nominated me for this. I am humbled and honored. There are so many people that I know inducted in there. I am just excited that my sister is coming up from Florida and [Love] and Stuart [Smith] will be there to support me along with my husband, Doug. That's what will make it special for me." 

Although Morett-Curtiss is not competing against her siblings in backyard games anymore, field hockey has given her that family-feeling for over 30 years. 

"I just love what I do," Morett-Curtiss said. "I am fortunate that I have [Love] and Stuart around me that makes this atmosphere, just like the Olympic team did for me in 1984, like a family atmosphere. You influence each other, trust each other and enjoy each other's company. I think that's what I love most about field hockey. It's really given me that family feel in my life."

Record Crowd as Penn State Comeback Falls Short

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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The fifth-ranked Penn State field hockey team's comeback fell just short against sixth-ranked Maryland, 5-4, in front of the largest crowd ever at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex Sunday.

With nearly 12 minutes left in the game, the Nittany Lions (12-2, 4-2 Big Ten) found themselves down 5-2 to the Terrapins (12-3, 6-1 Big Ten). Penn State didn't give in. They remained hungry and competed until the final horn in front of a record crowd on an unseasonal October 72-degree day.

Penn State midfielder Katie Dembrowski blasted a long-distance goal which stood after an official review to cut the deficit to two with less than eight minutes to go. Dembrowski's goal gave the Penn State crowd something to get excited about. The packed stands and folks along the fence with shakers and posters gradually got louder and started to pick up energy as the team built momentum.

The Nittany Lions responded once again almost a minute and a half later to make it 5-4. A Penn State penalty corner was awarded and Aurelia Meijer capitalized with a shot that found the back of the cage.

"I thought Aurelia played really hard today," Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "She kept the engine going for the team.

Meijer, a sophomore from The Netherlands, said she never played in front of a crowd like that and it definitely helped the team gain energy as the game grew on. In the end, she felt disappointed that the team couldn't get the Penn State fans in attendance a victory after starting the game slowly.

"I think we battled hard but we didn't start from the beginning and when all of the goals came we started to get a little bit angrier," Meijer said. "We played better but we didn't start like we're able to."

With less than a minute remaining, a Penn State penalty corner was awarded originally but then was reversed by an official review that ruled a Maryland defender didn't kick the ball in the circle. Maryland then proceeded to run the clock out with possession in their offensive end. Penn State's comeback effort just couldn't get over the deficit it faced late in the second half.

The Nittany Lions came out a bit flat and made a few costly errors offensively in the first half. Maryland played a possession style game and pressured in the Penn State defensive end much of the first half.

"I thought Maryland played a nice possession game," Morett-Curtiss said. "We were disconnected as forwards today. We made some really bad decisions in our attacking end in the first half. We can't throw those opportunities away against a team like Maryland."

The game was knotted 2-2 at halftime but Morett-Curtiss thought Penn State dodged a bullet. Penn State made adjustments to pressure the ball better but it just wasn't enough.

"We played a fall away press the first half and we gave them too much time to make passes," Morett-Curtiss said. "We probably should have gone into a full press earlier. I thought 2-2 at halftime, we just survived a bad half. Let's come out and play a little bit more aggressively with our press in the second half which we did but we gave up goals off of counterattacks."

Maryland clinched a share of the Big Ten regular season title with a solid 70 minutes of play. The loss for Penn State marked its first home setback of the season. 

Moira Putsch Finds Home at Penn State

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - In a sea of the same blue and white uniforms, it is hard to identify a specific Penn State field hockey Nittany Lion from the stands. However, for Moira Putsch, all one needs to look for is the bright yellow headband.

"When I ran track in grade school I always wore the same headband," Putsch said. "I guess I am just weird with stuff like that. My hair is too crazy not to wear a headband, so I guess that's where it all started. It's totally superstitious. I wore the headband when I was at Maryland. I coincidentally put it on for the first game and I just felt like I had to put it on for any other game. I was debating whether I should do something new when I came here, but I liked it too much and had to stay with it."

Through elementary and middle school, Putsch experimented with almost every sport she could. When it came to high school, she decided to focus on just field hockey and lacrosse.

Putsch's freshman year field hockey season was complete and spring was around the corner. The freshman at the time was excited to start her first high school lacrosse season and was ready for the team's first scrimmage.

During the scrimmage, Putsch cut left, but ended up going to her right causing a pop in her knee that no athlete ever wants to feel.

Putsch tore her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and suddenly her future in field hockey seemed to be in jeopardy.

When most would be out for a year from an ACL tear and surgery, Putsch was back and ready for her sophomore field hockey season just a few months after the injury.

"I remember being so annoying at first," Putsch said. "They let me play like five minutes each half because I was still coming back from surgery. I remember I was dying for just a minute each half. I was definitely being a little pest about it, but I think I only missed one or two real games that season."

All of her dedication to the sport despite any injury paid off for the high school sophomore when she was selected to the U21 National Field Hockey team entering her junior season.                                                           
"I have been playing USA Hockey since eighth grade," Putsch said. "I was named on the U21 team going into my junior year of high school. I did a tour with them and it was awesome. We went to Holland. So I went to Holland with Penn State and two other times with USA Hockey. It's definitely different to play international teams. The tempo is faster. I also feel like my game knowledge increases every time I play an international team. Teams like Holland and Australia are very poised and it is very pretty hockey. It's really fun to play against them because you learn so much at the same time." 

Playing at an international level is not something that every high school field hockey player being recruited by big colleges get to experience.

"Playing USA Hockey prepared me so much for the collegiate level," Putsch said. "I think I would've been really overwhelmed going right into the collegiate level without US Hockey."

While balancing high school field hockey and her national team, Putsch also had to find a home for after high school. 

"Penn State, Maryland and Virginia were recruiting me." Putsch said. "It was a lot of pressure, especially someone like me who is really indecisive. I can be easily persuaded because I am so indecisive. At the time it was just a lot of pressure. They could contact us August 1st of my junior year and I couldn't make my decision until May. I am just so indecisive." 

In May of her junior year, Putsch decided to attend the University of Maryland despite the long line of Penn Staters in her family. Putsch had seven cousins, her brother, her sister and her father all attend Penn State University, but still decided to go to Maryland.

As a freshman, Putsch was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and to the NFHCA All-Region First Team. She tied for third on her Maryland team with 33 points on 12 goals and nine assists. Despite all of her success, something was missing.

Putsch needed family and the only place she could find a family was at Penn State. 

"Nothing bad about Maryland, I just think here is more for me," Putsch said. "The transition was definitely tough, but the support I have here in every aspect with field hockey, family and friends really helped. [Penn State] is just in our family. It's in our blood. When I was at Maryland I felt out of the loop with family things. I am really close with my family. It was them, plus the family atmosphere Penn State has itself is why I am here. My family always gave me a hard time when I was at Maryland."

After Putsch finally felt settled in her new home, it seemed as if nothing could go wrong. There was a week of pure bliss before another challenge presented itself.

"I just had gotten here," Putsch said. "It was a week after being here and I re-tore my ACL that morning at the end of practice. I was taking a shot at the top of the circle. I remember we wore heart rate monitors and Bobby Lucas was monitoring the monitors and he said my heart rate spiked higher than when we ran our run tests that morning. I knew as soon as I did it. 

As quickly as Putsch got here, her first Penn State season was taken away from her.

"I was very devastated just because I was so excited to be here," Putsch said. "At the time I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get that year of eligibility back, but then I petitioned to the Big Ten and found out that I was going to have that year. So it's bittersweet to me because now I get to be here at Penn State for another year and I would've already missed a year."

Putsch had yet another surgery on the same knee that had been operated on early in high school. This time, the doctor used Putsch's own ligament to repair her knee and, so far, it seems to have done the trick.

After surgery, Putsch had to undergo rehabilitation in order to get her knee back in field hockey shape. At the beginning, she struggled to even lift her leg straight off the ground. But, after many hours with Penn State trainer Renee Messina, Putsch got herself back in shape for the 2016 season and has been a standout thus far.

"She's like a little rag doll sometimes the way she flies around the field and bounces off the turf," Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "She just reminds me sometimes of a Gilda Radner, she's a comedian. I just remember her having that energy on Saturday Night Live and just being upbeat. That's what makes me laugh when I look at Moira. She's just that person."

"We are always amazed when we see her on the left side of the field and in five seconds she's on the right side of the field. You just don't know how she got there so fast. She really knows the game well and she has really enhanced our offense."

Putsch has scored 12 goals in the team's first 13 games and has registered a point in each game so far this season. 

When watching the Nittany Lions play, just look for the girl in the bright yellow headband.

@GOPSUSPORTS

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