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Myers Preps for Return to Midwest

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - The Penn State Nittany Lions will be traveling to the Midwest for their matchup against Northwestern on Friday.  

Although field hockey is not a popular sport in the Midwest region, Penn State has landed a few Nittany Lions from the Midwest territory, including freshman Abby Myers.

In Myer's junior year of high school, she and her travel field hockey team competed in a recruiting event at the Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. Her team, from Milwaukee, was competing against New Jersey's club team. Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss, associate head coach Lisa Love and assistant coach Stuart Smith went down to the event to watch some of the girls on the New Jersey team who had already committed to Penn State.

"There was this girl, number 41, on the other team and I turn to Lisa and Stuart and ask, 'Did anyone from Wisconsin write to us?' and they said, 'No'" Morett-Curtiss said. "I said how good that number 41 was and we saw that she was a junior at that point. We were not really looking to fill the class, but when I got home and came to the office on Monday, there was an email from Abby. 

"It was not planned to reach out to Penn State," Myers said. "My dad went to Penn State and my brother is now a junior. I grew up going to Penn State. I went to all the football games, volleyball games and all the sporting events. My family definitely has that bias toward Penn State, but I didn't want that to be a factor when I was picking schools and it wasn't. They never pressured me at all."

In her email to Morett-Curtiss, Myers explained that she saw the three coaches at her game and that she also had a long history of Penn State alumni in her family including her brother who was enrolled at the University during this process. At the end of the message, Myers attached her recruitment video and said that she had hoped the spots for the 2016 class were not already filled.

"When she included the video clip I remember thinking, 'Wow, she's legit,'" Morett-Curtiss said. "I knew what I saw, but it's nice to back it up with video. So, we contacted her and it just so happened that she was coming to State College that upcoming weekend for her brother's birthday. What are the chances of that?"

Right after Myers' official visit that weekend, she visited two other schools, but it did not take long for her to know she wanted to be a Nittany Lion. Within a week or two of her visit, Myers committed to Penn State.

Committing to one of the top-ranked field hockey schools in the country was never something that Myers believed was possible after growing up in an area where the game of field hockey was sparse and the competition level was low.

"There are only about nine high schools with field hockey in Wisconsin," Myers said. "It's a really small sport. It's nothing like soccer. My high school was one of the nine teams that actually had a field hockey program and we dominated. We won the State Championship two out of my four years there." 

Myers had played soccer through elementary school but when she reached middle school, she wanted to try something different.

"I went to a very small middle school and they had a field hockey team," Myers said. "I played it just for something new. The team wasn't very good so it was hard to really learn the game or the fundamentals, but then I got into it more. 

Going into her eighth-grade season, Myers met a man from Wales named Tom Carter who recruited her to play club field hockey for his team in Milwaukee.

"I would go every Friday night and play. That is where I really developed my skills," Myers said. "He was coaching a select team at the time and I think I met him through my parents. A group of girls from my area would go as well and we would go 45 minutes to Milwaukee to play. He played in Wales and in college. He was also on the national team." 

Recruiting players from the Midwest is not common for Penn State. The former Penn State players from the Midwest area were all found through alumni connections, so for Penn State to find Abby was a rarity. 

I never thought I would be coming to Penn State because they were ranked fifth in the country," Myers said. "I was one of the best in Wisconsin. There were about two other girls who went Division one in Wisconsin. Then you come here and everyone is at that standard, even high school players. It's almost a slap in the face when you come here and really need to step up your game. It's definitely a good challenge to have."

"I think, for [Myers], the challenge is that she didn't compete against a high level of kids consistently like kids from New Jersey and Pennsylvania do throughout their club and high school careers," Morett-Curtiss said. "She's come a long way in just a month where she's competing against these kids. She's more confident and less tentative."

The freshman has been working on stepping up her game since she arrived at Penn State throughtout the summer to be ready to compete at an East Coast level for the reminder of her career. 

"I think that Abby brings a lot of versatility to the team," Morett-Curtiss said. "The other thing is she is a great person, a great student, she's easy going and she is feisty on the field. She's the total package."

Penn State will travel to Evanston, Illinois to take on Northwestern Friday.  

Rizzo Prepares for USA Junior National Team Debut

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

Penn State goalkeeper Jenny Rizzo has been selected to the United States U21 junior national team and the one person she has to thank is her fourth grade gym teacher.

"I actually never knew what field hockey was until I came to Pennsylvania." Rizzo said. "I grew up in Long Island, New York and they didn't have much of that out there. My gym teacher in fourth grade was the coach at the high school level.  We used to play in gym class and she really thought I had potential.  She told me to come out to their camps, so I started going to camp. There was just something about hitting the ball with the stick that was just really fun for me." 

Rizzo decided to join a local field hockey team and played all the way through high school, but it was not until her sophomore year that she became a goalie.

She had been a right midfielder since she began playing the sport, but her high school team needed a goalkeeper and Rizzo was the answer.

"My coach told me they needed a goalie and she thought I was pretty athletic and that I would be able to do it," Rizzo said. "I was definitely nervous to transition into the goalie position because I didn't know if it was the right decision since I knew I wanted to play at a college level. I never had a desire to have balls hit at me, but I started playing and I really enjoyed being in the cage." 

It is safe to say that she made the right decision. 

Because of her switch in positions, Rizzo has now secured her spot to compete in the 2016 Field Hockey World Cup in Chile at the end of November, but the process was not easy. 

"USA Field Hockey has a program called 'High Performance' so every year around May, any college student who is under 21 years old can try out for the team," Rizzo said. "You go to High Performance locations throughout the country and there's East Coast, West Coast, Midwest and some down south.  You just train with the people in your area."

Rizzo started in May at Drexel University. After spending some time there, her Drexel coach selected multiple athletes who stood out and sent them to a young women's High Performance tournament at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim, Pennsylvania at the end of June. From there, the U21 junior national team head coach, Janneke Schopman, watches each game and chooses the girls she thinks are the best to go to a junior national camp to then be selected for the national team.

"There's definitely more pressure with [Schopman watching] than a collegiate game," Rizzo said. "I know she saw a lot of my clips through video, so I didn't even know she was watching for some of them. So, I am kind of glad about that, but at the same time the added pressure kind of makes me play better."

After being selected by Schopman to attend the junior national camp, Rizzo had the opportunity to compete against India's Olympic field hockey team before they left for Rio this past July.

"It was really cool. They were phenomenal," Rizzo said. "We just went into it just thinking we are going to grow from this no matter what happens.  It was really cool to be put under that much pressure and we really played well against them considering they were an Olympic team.  We followed them in the Olympics the whole way." 

At the conclusion of her final training camp, Rizzo still did not know if she had landed a spot on her dream team. 

"I got an email from Janneke before [Rizzo] knew," Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "So I called [Rizzo] and asked how it was going and she said everything was good and I just told her that I knew she made the team. She was so excited. I think they selected 12 and then were going to select another six, but she was in the top group right from the start. "

"It's pretty awesome to be selected," Rizzo said. "It's always been an aspiration of mine to play at an international level, so it was pretty rewarding."

With her Penn State season underway, Rizzo had one final training camp with her national team two weekends ago. She left after a game to go to Spooky Nook that evening and missed class on Monday and Tuesday. But, this balancing act has never been a problem for the sophomore.

"She just does a great job getting ahead in classes. She's always prepared," Morett-Curtiss said. "She went away last year to Trinidad and Tobago for a tournament and she had to miss a week of classes, she had to submit reports to our faculty advisor who wasn't really keen on her going because it was a lot of missed class time, but she checks in with her professors and stays on top of her academics. She's the prototype of being a student athlete." 

Rizzo leaves for Chile with the U21 junior national team November 21, but until then, her focus is winning a national championship with her fellow Nittany Lions.

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By: Ryan Berti, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- At the age of 17, most American student-athletes are searching for the next place to go in life. The decision on whether to go to a nearby college in their home state, or to travel across state lines in order to explore somewhere new, can seem like a challenging one.  The move away from home and into intercollegiate sports appear as starting anew in a foreign place.

Most student-athletes do not truly face those fears, however. Wherever they go inside the U.S., their accents, cuisine and customs might be slightly different, but these are all just small disparities in a place where the language and overall style of living largely remain the same.

For Penn State Field Hockey's Aurelia Meijer and Bes Bovelander, their experiences have been far from familiar to the average American student-athlete.

Raised in the Netherlands, both Meijer and Bovelander came to University Park to join the field hockey squad. For the latter, this is her first semester on campus, while the former became the first international player in program history last season.

Missing out on Christmas and her father's 50th birthday, all the while adjusting to an entirely new culture, the move to the U.S. for Meijer last year was full of challenges the majority of student-athletes never have to face.

"Last year was a bit of a culture shock," Meijer said. "Everything is different; including the field hockey. You don't have your family anymore and you don't have your old friends or your old habits. They're all gone, and you have to start all over again."

While English is taught and spoke in Holland, the current sophomore says she had a difficult time in her first few weeks holding conversations.

Finding a way to transition between her new home and where she grew up was something that would not come easy, but one thing that helped bridge the gap between the two was her involvement in athletics.

Meijer was instantly in a group she could call herself a part of with the field hockey team, and being able to make those immediate bonds are what helped her find a place she felt she belonged.

"[The transition] was pretty hard, but you have your whole team," she said. "You already have a lot of people that you know that are friends and they always say that they are your family, and it's kind of true because you're always with them and they'll always be there for you, so it helps a lot."

After a freshman season that saw her start all 19 games and record six goals, she solidified herself as one of the most outstanding players on the field and most outgoing players off of it.

Now in her sophomore year, Meijer continues to play with ease. A goal in Tuesday's game against Bucknell accounted for her sixth point in the season's first five games.

With the arrival of Bovelander, Meijer has found more comfort off the field, as well by finding someone who understands what it's like coming here from the Netherlands.

The two have in common the things they find odd; including the American's overly positive energy, the students driving oversized cars instead of riding bikes, and then of course - there's the food.

"In the Netherlands, I will eat cookies and chocolate, but here it's like everywhere. There's junk food everywhere," Meijer said. Other foods Americans see as every day consumptions, like bagels with cream cheese, waffles and the large amounts of pizza, are seen more so as sweets rather than actual meals in Holland.

Bovelander, whose mother also played field hockey in the United States at the University of North Carolina, has been able to use her connection with Meijer to better understand Penn State since she already had a years experience under her belt.

"It's good to have someone who experience the same, like if I have a question I can go to her," Bovelander says. "It's fun to have somebody who is experiencing the exact same thing," Meijer added.

In practice, the two agree the language barrier can be a bit hard to break through at first. But when in doubt, their teammates guide them through examples so they can follow along.

Through all the hardships of their move to America, the two have found bliss in not only the company of each other, but the company of their teammates and the overall community.

"The people here are so nice and everybody just wants to help you," Bovelander said. "It makes it a whole lot easier."

The girls noted one of their favorite aspects about campus is the overall proud nature of the students as they support the school through their apparel and overall spirit.

"It's so cool to see how proud people are for Penn State," Meijer said. "We didn't have cultures like this in Holland at all, so it's really good experience."

As the two continue on through the season on the turf they share a passion for, their skills will grow side-by-side with the friendships between themselves and others, giving them a sense of home away from home.

Although they have lived just a short time in America, they do have one thing they definitely recommend for all other international students trying to make the same move to a college in the States.

"Join a sports team," Bovelander said. "If you're on a team you'll have friends like immediately, and if I wasn't on a team, it would be so much harder."

"Yeah," Meijer agreed. "And just be excited for it and enjoy your time."

Penn State's First Five Minutes Key To Bucknell Victory

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Feature Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - After a slow start against Lock Haven Sunday afternoon, Penn State forward Shay Cannon said her team wanted to do the exact opposite against Bucknell Tuesday evening.

"For Bucknell, we want to dominate the first five minutes," Cannon said. "We want to keep bringing it up as the game goes on." 

Penn State did just that.

Before fans even had a chance to get settled into their seats, the Penn State offense was already forcing the ball into the circle to set up Gini Bramley for a goal just 59 seconds into the game. 

"It's really important for us to get off to a really good start and get our momentum up so everyone can get in and get a really good team effort," Bramley said.

Only one minute and nine seconds went by after the first goal before Cannon got a perfect look at the cage to put the Nittany Lions up 2-0. 

With just under three minutes remaining in Penn State's crucial first five minutes of play, the Nittany Lion offense wanted to produce more. The ball found it's way back into Cannon's hands four minutes and 41 seconds into the game as she sent the ball into the back of the cage for the second time of the night.

"I think we've spent a lot of time at practice working on preparing and being ready to take any shot," Cannon said. "Plays that I'm not expecting, I have been really preparing myself for any situation and lately it's been really successful. It's a testament to my other strikers and midfielders."

With Cannon's two quick goals, she has extended her scoring to five goals in the last three games. 

"Shay is just always around the cage," Penn State head coach Morett-Curtiss said. "She has quick hands and sometimes you don't even see the ball go from her stick into the cage. She is just a natural goal scorer, so I am just proud she has been able to finish."

Kasey Morano and Carly Celkos each added goals before the end of the first half followed by a goal by Aurelia Meijer in the first five minutes of the second half. Brooke Birosik joined Penn State's scoring party later in the second half.  

With a 5-0 lead at half time, Penn State was able to rotate in the majority of its players to get a lot of playing time.

"That was the difficult thing against Lock Haven because we couldn't get more kids in," Morett-Curtiss said. "We need to see how they perform as well at this level and get some starters some rest because in three days we will be going to Iowa."

The Nittany Lions (6-0) defeated the Bison (2-3) 9-1 Tuesday evening at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

"I just was really proud of the speed of play. I was really proud of the way they came out to start this game," Morett-Curtiss said. "One thing we talked about was just getting pressure in the first five minutes, getting shots on goal and if we can knock one in that's awesome. For them to get three goals in the first five minutes of the game, it's just a great start."

With Tuesday night's win, Penn State extends its record to 6-0 on the season for the third time in program history and the first time since 2002.

"This is something we have been working on since each of us got here," Colleen Conway said. "Seeing our team have this kind of start has been our dream since we first got here."

On top of keeping a perfect season, the Nittany Lions jumped one spot to No. 4 in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll released Tuesday afternoon.

"It's only giving us motivation to continue this success," Cannon said. "We know we can't take it for granted. It's just making us work harder because we know what we want the outcome to be at the end of the season."

The Penn State Nittany Lions will travel to Iowa City on Friday to take on the Hawkeyes.

Depth, Attitude lifts Penn State Past Lock Haven

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - For the first time since 2002, Penn State field hockey is 5-0 to start its season, following a 4-1 win against Lock Haven (3-1) Sunday afternoon.

Depth and attitude allowed the Nittany Lions to accomplish the feat that has only happened five other times in Penn State history.

Penn State's four goals were scored by four different Nittany Lions: Moira Putsch, Gini Bramley, Shay Cannon, and Kasey Morano.

"The strikers and forwards, it's their job to score. We've been hammering them all week" Penn State head coach Char Morrett-Curtiss said. "We've been working on scoring with them because, again, it goes back to it being their role. They just have that hunger to score and as you move through the season, you can't key on one person. They are very unselfish players. They pass the ball and sometimes we even want them to shoot a little bit more. But they did a really nice job around the goal today."

After 33 minutes of scoreless play, Putsch put the first goal on the board, followed by a quick goal by Bramley at the beginning of the second half. 

"I think [our depth] says a lot. A lot of our games where we score a lot of goals, the goals are so spread out," Putsch said. "I think that says a lot about us and who we are as a team and how strong we are. We don't rely on just one or two players. It's everyone coming together, which is really big for us. It's awesome to have this depth. It feels really good."

The Nittany Lions (5-0) proved they do not rely solely on one or two players to win games when 20 of the 27 players checked in to Sunday's game.  

"We talked before the game that we want to get a good lead so we can get everybody in. It's the goal we always have," Cannon said. "It's a testament to how hard everyone works because we all get in and it pays off."

During the first half, the Penn State offense could not find a way around Lock Haven's tightly packed defense.

"They played us really well by packing into our offensive 25, so it was definitely more challenging for us because we like to use the space," Putsch said. "We had to kind of change our game a little bit, but I think learning and adapting how we did that today was really good."

Despite the changes that the Nittany Lions had to make in the locker room at half time, the team's positive attitude is something that has held steady since the beginning of the 2016 season. 

"I think last year we would get down on ourselves and play frantically after they would score. But this year, we've come right back and dominated and scored. It hasn't stopped us yet," Cannon said. "If something were to happen where they score, we know not to get down on ourselves because we have the composure and confidence to score right away."

Penn State will try to extend its record to 6-0 for the third time in program history against Bucknell Tuesday before facing its first Big Ten opponent of the season on Friday.

"Tuesday night, it's a quick turnaround for us to play two Pennsylvania teams. I think our fitness level is very good," Morett-Curtiss said. "Fortunately it was cool today - it got a little hotter in the second half. Hopefully Tuesday night is a little bit cooler as well."

Penn State will host Bucknell at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex. 

Field Hockey Hosts Two In-State Rivalries

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - The stands at the Penn State field hockey complex will be more crowded than normal when opponents from Lock Haven and Bucknell come to town.  With the added pressure of the big crowd and in-state rivalries, the Penn State Nittany Lions will be calming their nerves the only way they know how: a dance party.

"It started last year when we weren't doing very well and we knew we needed something to change," senior Emilee Ehret said. "We started to play that song before every game and it gets us going."  "Once we started doing it last year, we started to do pretty well and we would look forward to going crazy in the locker room."

The Lock Haven Bald Eagles (2-0) will travel a mere 38 miles to take on the No. 5 Penn State Nittany Lions (4-0) Sunday.  Then, on Tuesday, Bucknell (1-2) will make its 70-mile trek to Happy Valley.  

"Bucknell and Lock Haven are always tough because they are both Pennsylvania teams," Ehret said. "It's always a big rivalry when we play a Pennsylvania team because we want to be the best in the state. It's always super close when we play against them."

For Ehret, the rivalry is a little more intense. Ehret's stepmother played field hockey for Lock Haven during her collegiate years and even competed against Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss.  

"[My stepmom] will definitely show up wearing a Penn State shirt," Ehret said. "My dad would be pretty angry if she didn't." 

Morett-Curtiss has been coaching against Lock Haven and Bucknell since she joined the Nittany Lions' coaching staff in 1987. Because of the long history, Morett-Curtiss feels as though she knows the teams extremely well.  

"I would say there was more a rivalry feel in years past. We have great respect for both of them," Morett-Curtiss said. "Lock Haven beat us last year. Bucknell always gives us a great game. Both teams, I would say, are very athletic and very well-coached. They are not games that we can overlook before we head out to Iowa."

In its first two games of the season, Lock Haven scored eight goals in each game leading the team to two easy victories. With both Penn State and Lock Haven being undefeated to start this 2016 season, Morett-Curtiss is focused on having a better outcome than last year. 

"Just looking at tape they are very well organized. They have five seniors that are very solid on the field. They have three girls from Trinidad and Tobago that are very talented," Morett-Curtiss said. "We know they can control the game and can score. Scoring 16 goals in two games is very impressive.  Our defenders are just going to have to be on their mark." 

Since 2001, the Nittany Lions have never played Lock Haven and Bucknell in back-to-back games. Sophomore Jenny Rizzo believes that this will bring two straight games of large crowds. 

"There's a little bit of pressure, but I think it's good pressure. It lifts us up a lot. It always helps having people show up and cheer for us," Rizzo said. "There's no better feeling than getting a win in front of a big crowd." 

Fifteen of the 27 girls on the team are Pennsylvania natives. When playing a Pennsylvania team, the players have a slightly different mindset entering a game than they would against an out-of-state team. 

"It's kind of cool because a lot of girls from our team are from Pennsylvania, so it's that 'dominate the state' mentality.  Each week at practice we will focus on how we need to dominate the state," Rizzo said.  "It was our mindset for Temple and that's going to be the same mindset with Lock Haven and Bucknell.  We just want to make sure we are the best in the state."

The 27 girls will fill the Penn State locker room before the games on Sunday and Tuesday dancing to "Turbulence" by Laidback Luke. The song builds up at the beginning, increasing the girls' energies and anticipation. Then, when the beat drops, the team sprays water all over each other to let loose before the big game starts.    

"With close-distance games, we try to keep the energy very positive.  It can get really intense, but the more light-hearted we feel, the better we play," Ehret said.  "We know we love playing field hockey, so we just try to have the best time we possibly can.  

The Nittany Lions will host the Bald Eagles at noon on Sunday at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

Composure Key in 2-0 Opening Weekend

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
  It was less than a week ago that Penn State field hockey head coach Char Morett-Curtiss met with the media during fall sports media day, answering one reporter's question regarding what changes would be coming in 2016.

Her response was composure.

"We lost five games in the last five minutes just giving up goals," Morett-Curtiss said. "I think that's something that we have definitely been talking about and working on, is just that composure out of the back field a little more."

Opening the 2016 season at home with traditional opponent Old Dominion, No. 18 Penn State saw an early deficit as the No. 20 Monarchs scored in the second minute of play. A goal from junior Moira Putsch tied the score, but ODU's Danielle Grega scored again to make it 2-1. The Nittany Lions scored once more to even it up 2-2, heading to halftime with the score locked.

"I think we were really nervous," Morrett-Curtiss said. "It's the home opener, there are a lot of fresh faces out there and I think we just needed to settle down and just play our game."

Finding composure, the Nittany Lions came out of the break with four unanswered goals, including another from Putsch and one apiece from seniors Brooke Birosik and Kirsten Gochnauer.

With a 6-2 win in the season-opener under their belt, the Nittany Lions entered Sunday's mid-afternoon matchup looking to sustain the same composure against fifth-ranked Virginia.

The Nittany Lions struck first in the opening half as sophomore Aurelia Meijer fired high from the top of the circle to give Penn State a 1-0 lead.

Penn State continued to control possession throughout the remainder of the first half, with junior Skyler Fretz leading the back field and helping to limit the Cavaliers to just one first half corner opportunity.

"I was just thriving off of everyone's energy and I felt like we were all here and everyone be on and ready pumped everyone up," Fretz said.

The Nittany Lion attack started clicking in the second half as junior Shay Cannon made it a 2-0 advantage off a feed from Putsch. Sophomore Gini Bramley found the back of the cage less than five minutes later - on her birthday, widening the margin to three.  

Without surrendering a single goal and allowing just one more corner opportunity, Penn State held on for its first home victory against a top-five team since topping No. 3 Old Dominion 5-3 in 2012.

"I think just getting that first game under your belt is real important," Morrett-Curtiss sad. "We just talked about how we felt when that game started and those jitters are gone now and we grew as that game went on, but we need to make sure that we start at the beginning of the game and plan on playing hard for 70 minutes."

Sophomore goalie Jenny Rizzo also earned her second career shutout, while also closing out the day with four saves.

"Obliviously the shut out is on me, but I think my defense did a great job with Skyler [Fretz] and the rest of us back there just to keep them [Virginia] outside the circle, keep the shots low and if it wasn't for them - they had one defensive save so they really helped me out there," Rizzo said.

Morett-Curtiss was also quick to give recognition to the Nittany Lion defense.

"I thought Skyler Fretz played the best she's played in a Penn State field hockey game. She just played with such composure. So I think Skyler really set the tone for our back field and I think Jenny [Rizzo] was there and she had an answer for every shot."

At 2-0, Penn State will hit the road for its first road trip of the 2016 campaign next week, traveling first to Temple before traveling to Albany to square off against its second 2015 NCAA Tournament team of the season.

But for this weekend, Morett-Curtiss sees the progress her team has made in taking a big step toward full composure.

"With such a high quality opponent like Virginia, we didn't get frazzled and we really stuck to the game plan as we brought the ball out of our backfield," Morett-Curtiss said.

By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fresh off a pair of early exhibition matches, Penn State field hockey is ready to officially open its 2016 season.  Ranked No. 18 in the latest National Field Hockey Coaches Association Poll (NFHCA), the Nittany Lion schedule features matchups against eight teams ranked within the top 20 this season.

Prior to preseason, Penn State took some time to travel overseas as a team, heading to Holland for a nine day trip, spanning five cities to train and tour. Having spent some time bonding, the Nittany Lions are back and determined to continue building team comradery heading into a challenging 2016 campaign.

We caught up with head coach Char Morett-Curtiss, senior Brooke Birosik and sophomore Aurelia Meijer to talk 2016, the trip to Holland and the season opener.

Here are five things you need to know before heading out to the season opener Friday, Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. vs. Old Dominion in the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

1.     Season Opening Tradition.

Since her days as an assistant under former Old Dominion head coach Beth Anders, head coach Char Morett-Curtiss noticed that Penn State had not really played ODU in program history and decided to make a change. The Nittany Lions have opened with a matchup against the Monarchs every year dating back to 2003.

2.     Senior Class.

Morett-Curtiss praised seniors Emilee Ehret, Carly Celkos, Kirsten Gochnauer and Brook Birosik for their leadership, while also mentioning how each individual holds an important role on the team this year.

3.     World Travelers.

Penn State's trip to Holland featured a stop Aurelia Meijer's home in Hattem, Netherlands. The Nittany Lions were able to train with Meijer's club team and of course, enjoy a family meal together.

4.    Tough slate.

      In her 30th season at the helm of the program, Morett-Curtiss has once again put together a tough schedule for the Nittany Lions. The 2016 campaign features seven NCAA Tournament teams that made the field in 2015.

5.    Hall of Fame. 

      Morett-Curtiss and former football kicker Craig Fayak are both set to be inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in late October. The two are part of the organization's 54th annual ceremony. Originally from Aldan, Pennsylvania, Morett-Curtiss is also a member of the Delaware County Hall of Fame. 

BLOG: Fall Sports Media Day in Review

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While the Penn State Fall Sports season may have kicked off with women's soccer in action last week, Nittany Lion fans got a unique perspective from the annual athletics Fall Sports Media Day.

Coaches and student-athletes from seven different Penn State programs set to compete this fall met with members of the media to talk 2016 and their expectations for the upcoming year.

Check out some highlights and links to videos, transcripts and extra coverage from today's event.

Penn State field hockey head coach Char Morett-Curtiss was impressed with her team's camaraderie following preseason. With two scrimmages out of the way, the Nittany Lions topped Kent State 6-1 and Drexel 4-2 in a pair of exhibition matches. 

The Nittany Lions will look to transfer a successful preseason into their home opening weekend beginning with Old Dominion Friday, Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. and Virginia Sunday, Aug. 28 at noon. Where's all the camaraderie coming from? This summer Penn State field hockey too a trip to Holland to compete and tour as part of their foreign tour. 

 "I think our trip to Holland was really a great team building experience and it really brought us together off the field as well so I think that's really showing on the field this year, especially during pre-season and our two scrimmages," said senior Brooke Birosik. 

Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day Nine

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Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day Nine

Day Nine in Holland and lesson learned as told by Field Hockey student-athletes Gini Bramley and Lauren McNally

May 16, 2016

The Penn State women's field hockey team, under the direction of head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss, has embarked on a ten-day, five-city exhibition tour of The Netherlands, playing five games against a variety of competition in the most renowned field hockey country in the world. Through the student-athletes' own words and pictures, the #PSUFH2Holland daily blog chronicles their adventures on and off the field.


Days 9 & 10, May 14-15

The Hague - Amsterdam - Philadelphia - State College

 

Lauren McNally, sophomore, Marmora, N.J., and Gini Bramley, sophomore, Elizabethtown

"Hi everyone, Lauren McNally and Gini Bramley here, as we reflect back on the nine days we've all spent exploring Holland, we learned multiple things to improve our field hockey game and our knowledge about the Dutch culture. Throughout the days, we grew as a team on and off the field due to some amazing competition and rotating roommates from hotel to hotel.

"Every one of us learned something to improve our own game and to take back home to have a successful season in the fall. For example, taking the ball on the move and using simple passes to eliminate defenders. Playing field hockey teams from a country that has field hockey as its main sport really helps you grow your field hockey IQ. They have speed, great small passing, and find each other and use smart passes to get up the field in order to set up great scoring opportunities.

"Not only playing against the Holland teams was fun -- yet challenging -- talking to them after the games was interesting and fun too. We talked about what their everyday lives were like in Holland and what girls our age do. It is interesting how the club field hockey teams don't practice as much as we do. They practice two times a week for about four hours, with an hour break in the middle. Also, girls don't play for their school teams because they don't have one. In the U.S., we play field hockey for our club and school teams.

"We also learned the history of the Netherlands, like the seven canal bridges in Amsterdam that align perfectly, as well as the sizes of the houses there and how the residents have to transport their belongings through windows because of thin staircases. We saw many old churches and in Utrecht went up the Dom Tower, which was built in the 1300s and contained old bells that were rung on special celebrations.

"Fun memories that we look back on are the Escape Room, strolling through the streets of Utrecht, biking through the beautiful city of Zwolle, kayaking through the canals, exploring Amsterdam and meeting all the wonderful people through all of it. One person that helped us immensely with directing us toward the right stores, helping us get to places on time, and being our guide was Judith. She showed us around in her home country and more specifically in her home city, Utrecht.

"This was definitely an experience of a lifetime, from experiencing the huge sense of community from the field hockey culture to the Dutch culture in general. We all have gained new perspectives on life and the different things out in the world. I think I can speak for the team in that we are headed home with many learning experiences. After every game, Coach Char (Morett-Curtiss) asked us what we learned from the Dutch and how we could improve our game. Off the field, we noticed how the Dutch rarely use their phones and ride a bike everywhere. Living more simply like the Dutch is something I'm definitely going to try when we get back in the States."

 

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Gini Bramley and Skyler Fretz explore the Dutch city of Utrecht by kayak.
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The team gathered at a restaurant in The Hague on the final night of their tour of Holland.
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Coaches, staff, parents and supporters were part of the final night celebration.

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The airport in Amsterdam...next stop, the U.S.A.!


 
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