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."
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By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
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."
By Gabrielle Richards,
GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Twenty-eight years ago, head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss opened her playbook for the first time as the head coach for the Nittany Lion field hockey team. Since then, her teams have won three Big Ten Championships and have made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament each year. This year, Coach Morett-Curtis and the team are eager to work hard for another successful season.
In a press conference on Monday, Morett-Curtiss used the words "chemistry" and "experienced" to describe this year's squad.
"We have a lot of talented players, but we need to make sure that we're getting them in the right positions," Morett-Curtiss said. "I'm excited about the senior class that we have coming back."
With seven seniors and a pair of fifth-year seniors, the Nittany Lions will bring a level of maturity to the field unparalleled by younger squads in the conference.
Heading into this weekend's home opener, the Nittany Lions are ranked No. 8 by the NFHCA (National Field Hockey Coaches Association), putting them ahead of Old Dominion but just behind Virginia.
For the past ten years, Penn State has opened the season against Old Dominion but 2014 brings new additions to the schedule. Maryland, Quinnipiac, Drexel and Lock Haven are new to the schedule this year. Maryland is not only a new addition to Penn State's schedule, but a new addition to the Big Ten Conference.
"I think it makes it more challenging, but at the same time it's a welcomed addition to the conference," coach Morett-Curtiss said of the schedule additions. "You look at some of the conferences, where the ACC, they have a lot of strong teams. So, a win or a loss against them really only helps strengthen your schedule. That's what I think is going to be positive for us."
Much like any sport, the longer a team plays together, the more familiar they become with one another. Familiarity doesn't even begin to describe the 2014 roster. With two Big Ten Championships and three NCAA Tournaments between them, this senior class is prepared for a challenging schedule.
Seniors Jenna Chrismer, Laura Gebhart, and Taylor Herold have been major contributors to the Penn State offense since the trio first came to Penn State. Katie Breneman and Katie Andrews have been a constant force in the backfield, as they started in all 19 contests last season. Fifth-year senior Kylie Licata will be returning to the cage, also starting every game last season.
Casey Haegele, Amanda Dinunzio and Natalie Buttinger also return to the Nittany Lion roster, all of whom saw action in 13 games last season.
The forward line is one of the strongest dynamics that the Nittany Lions will field this season. Chrismer, Gebhart and Herold have been major assets to the forward line since their freshman seasons. The trio combined for 21 goals, 20 assists and 145 shots on goal last season, ranking them as the top contributors of last year's squad.
Licata, who was the Nittany Lions only goalie last season, will return to the field with her 0.683% save percentage intact.
Aside from the seniors experience in conference play, Gebhart recently returned from playing on the U.S. National Team this summer.
"It was a huge learning experience," Gebhart said in Monday's press conference. "It's really great that I can come back to Char (coach Morett-Curtiss) and we can talk about things that I learned, how we can implement them at Penn State and how we can pick up our level and just really take the whole program to the next level."
This leadership and experience will help mold the incoming freshman class, as this group of seniors will be leaving behind big shoes to fill.
"I'm always excited to get the fall season started," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "We were really fortunate this year that we were able to schedule two scrimmages. As a coach, you're always trying to find the perfect fit. We have a lot of talented players, but we need to make sure that we're getting them in the right positions."
The Nittany Lions open their regular-season this Friday against Old Dominion at 5 p.m. and Virginia on Sunday at 12 p.m..
Head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss and the Nittany Lions tallied a 13-6 overall mark in 2013, which included a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Midfielder Laura Gebhart and goalkeeper Kylie Licata return as 2013 first-team All-Big Ten honorees. Senior forward Taylor Herold led the Nittany Lions with 30 points last season. In all, Penn State will field nine seniors in 2014.
The Nittany Lions open the season on Aug. 29 against Old Dominion on the sparkling new turf at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.
GoPSUsports.com spent a morning with the Lions during preseason practice to provide an inside look at preparations for the season.
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 18th of August cannot come soon enough for Sandy Barbour.
Introduced as Penn State Director of Athletics on Saturday afternoon, Barbour is thrilled to begin her tenure as the leader of an athletic program that aspires to continue its long history of excellence on and off the field of play.
"When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and most importantly students, you dream about coming to a place like Penn State," Barbour said. "You dream about the opportunity to lead a program like Penn State athletics. Why? Because it represents the opportunity to have it all: Athletic excellence, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal responsibility. So thank you, Eric [Barron]. I am absolutely thrilled, over the top excited about this opportunity and about being the athletic director at Penn State."
A graduate of Wake Forest where she was field hockey team captain, Barbour grew up on the East Coast and has always had a deep passion for Penn State University and its athletic department. That's what drew her to the position when she originally spoke with President Barron about the opportunity.
Immediately, Barbour felt a connection with the people, pride and remarkable accomplishments of Penn State University and its athletic department.
"I love the 'We Are Penn State.' I particularly love what it stands for. It stands for family," Barbour said.
Barbour desires to see national titles in all 31 sports on campus. But first and foremost, she will strive to lead a department with student-athletes who are elite performers in the classroom.
"We are athletic programs again that are all part of a university," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes will be students first, Penn State is incredibly proud of the academic performance of their students and we will continue to be."
Eager to hit the ground running when she begins her duties as athletic director in 23 days, Barbour wants to learn from everyone in the department, especially the head coaches leading Penn State's 31 athletic teams.
"Unity doesn't mean one opinion, and I actually embrace that, embrace the diversity of opinion, diversity in a variety of different ways, and I actually think that will make us stronger in our ability to move forward," Barbour said. "As I said before, I have something to learn from everybody, and I'll be doing a lot of listening."
Numerous head coaches were in attendance at Saturday's introductory press conference. The coaches and athletic department staff then had a chance to mingle with Barbour at a private reception before she boarded a flight to Chicago for Big Ten meetings. The head coaches in attendance exuded great confidence in the future direction of the athletic department.
"There is a culture, history and tradition of tremendous academic achievement at Penn State and that will continue," said head football coach James Franklin. "I know it's important to our president, athletic director and all of our coaches. That will continue. I know we'll spend as much time as we need to so we can start building."
"I am truly thrilled that Sandy Barbour will serve as the next athletic director for Penn State," Lady Lions head coach Coquese Washington said. "Sandy is a strong, dynamic and passionate leader. She is also an incredibly smart visionary and strategic thinker. It is exciting to imagine all the ways Penn State University, and Penn State athletics in particular, will be positively impacted by her leadership."
"I loved everything I heard today," head women's hockey coach Josh Brandwene said. "She has passion, vision and just a great understanding of the Penn State community. Both as a head coach and as an alumnus, I am really excited to start working with her."
Barbour will return to California in the coming days to prepare for her full-time return to Happy Valley on Aug. 18, and the new leader of Penn State Athletics is fired up to get started.
"We are Penn State. I'm all in. I'm ready to get going," said Barbour.
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