By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK - The Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 2-0 Thursday afternoon, but it did not come easily.
The Nittany Lions had 19 shots on goal against Ohio State goalkeeper Liz Tamburro in Thursday's matchup. Tamburro only allowed two shots by Moira Putsch and Shay Cannon to sneak into the back of the cage, as she recorded 17 saves on the day.
"I thought Ohio State really came to play today," Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "It was a really competitive game. We had some beautiful goals. It would've been nice to show a little more poise in the circle but their goalie played really well today."
"I played with Lizzie [Tamburro] on a club team in high school for like three years," Putsch said. "I have to give her a ton of credit because she is an amazing goalie and I knew that going into it. I knew it was going to be a challenge. I think the goals we did have were so quick and direct that not many people would have enough time to think when they were shot."
Cannon had a connection with the Buckeyes as well as she played with Ohio State's defensive back Caroline Rath in high school.
"If it's playing against people like Lizzie [Tamburro] it kind of stinks because she's so good," Putsch said. "But it's a lot of fun to play people you know because it's a kind of sport where people are really friendly."
"It's competitive on the field, but then you are friends after," Cannon said. "It was funny because Caroline Rath, their center back, played with me at home. So it was fun playing center forward against her. She's a great athlete so it's nice to go head-to-head with her."
The Nittany Lions suffered a double overtime loss to the Buckeyes last year, but Morett-Curtiss said that played no part in the team's preparation for the matchup this year.
"We really put that season in the rearview mirror," Morett-Curtiss said. "The one thing that was in the back of my mind was that we had a two goal lead against them last year and they just came on strong. So we just tried to keep our backs deeper a little bit, be more steady and be more poised as we were bringing the ball out. I thought we accomplished that."
"We wanted to come out strong," Cannon said. "Last year we had an unfortunate finish and we knew what we had to do to get it done and win it."
With Thursday's win the Nittany Lions extend their unblemished home record to 7-0.
"I think we have the best fans in the whole NCAA, all of the Big Ten, just everything," Putsch said. "I think they are huge. Having all of them there and hearing them when I am dying out there, they make me keep going, so I think that's huge."
Penn State avoided focusing on any sort of rivalry and treated the game like any other Big Ten Conference game.
"Any time it's a Big Ten contest there's going to be a little bit more on the line," Morett-Curtiss said. "Everyone is fighting for standings in the conference, which could always impact the tournament. We love our field and we love our fans. It's always nice to be home."
Penn State recorded its fewest amount of goals so far this season, scoring two against the Buckeyes. Although a win is still a win, the Nittany Lions found multiple lessons from the game that will hopefully enhance their play for the rest of the season.
"[Not scoring as many goals] was frustrating, but I think for me, I had like six shots that didn't go in," Putsch said. "I think it was a really good learning point. I am going to take what I didn't do from the game and hopefully that will help in the future."
"I had a couple opportunities where I should've taken the shot, but I was a second too late and didn't get the shot off," Cannon said. "That's definitely something I need to take into the next game of taking the shot no matter if it's off my back foot or back hand and not waiting."Penn State will travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to take on Wake Forrest at noon Saturday.