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Penn State Prepared For Big Ten Tournament

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By Mandy Bell, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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.

Offense Stands Strong To Stay Unbeaten At Home

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By Mandy Bell, 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.

Rizzo, Gochnauer Shine Against Princeton

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By Mandy Bell, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - No. 5 Penn State defeated the No. 11 Princeton Tigers 4-2 Sunday afternoon at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex, but Nittany Lions were not satisfied. 

The Nittany Lions (11-1) got off to a slow start when the Tigers' Krista Hoffman snuck Princeton's (6-4) only shot on goal of the first half past Penn State goalkeeper Jenny Rizzo into the back of the cage.

"Once you start getting into the grove of things blocking shots gets pretty easy," Rizzo said. "I think that once you make that first save, you just keep it rolling. Even if you do let a goal in, I just kind of have to reset. In other positions you can get mad at yourself and it doesn't really matter, but I am the last line. You got to push it to the side." 

Despite the fact that Penn State answered with three well-set-up goals before the end of the first half, the Nittany Lions' head coach Char Morett-Curtiss was looking for more.

"I just thought we were really flat," Morett-Curtiss said. "I thought giving up that goal early is obviously an issue that we have. I don't think we played with a lot of inspiration today, which is disappointing as a coach. The goals were beautiful. Some of the goals were absolutely perfect. But at the same time I think we missed a lot of opportunities to score more goals."

Princeton came out much stronger offensively in the second half. The Tigers were forcing themselves into the circle to get more looks on goal, meaning the Nittany Lions had to place their trust in Rizzo to stay in the game.

"Jenny having to work so hard was because of the defense," Morett-Curtiss said. "Our defense just let them walk into the circle and take shots. I think that's obviously an issue that we have right now and that's something we have to continue to work on. We thought we had these things ironed out but we don't. We need a stronger presence. Jenny was brilliant. I think she really kept the lead for us in that second half."

After allowing Princeton's only shot on goal to find the cage in the first half, Rizzo came back in the second half blocking any ball that was shot her way. The sophomore goalkeeper recorded eight saves and only allowed one goal in Princeton's 10 shots on goal in the second half.

"I just was not ready for the first goal," Rizzo said. "I realized that I really need to be in this game and the only way we were going to win it is if my defense and I were working together. Once my defense started talking and we were communicating a little bit more, it got a little bit easier."

Although the Penn State squad may not have been clicking the way it has been for the majority of its 2016 season, senior forward Kirsten Gochnauer has been someone Morett-Curtiss can constantly rely on.

"I think Kirsten is the most consistent player that we have," Morett-Curtiss said. "She is just one end to the other. You see her put some strong block tackles down in the defensive end and she's right there in the offensive end either helping set things up or finishing." 

Gochnauer scored her second goal of the season halfway through the second half securing the Nittany Lions' fourth and final goal of the game. Her last goal of the season came against Old Dominion in the first game of Penn State's season.

"It was great to score," Gochnauer said. "I missed the same shot in the exact same position about five minutes earlier in the game, so you kind of beat yourself up. It was awesome to have another opportunity at that one and kind of put it away."

The Nittany Lions have already put this game behind them and began looking ahead to their next matchup.

"I think we just have to realize that you have to keep chipping away," Gochnauer said. "Maybe you're not playing your best game or you're not as connected as you think you should be, but taking it one game at a time and taking it into practice this week will help. You just have to keep going. Ohio State is next. They are always a great opponent. Each game is different. You can always learn something from each game."

The Penn State Nittany Lions will host the Buckeyes at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex. 

Putsch Leads Penn State Past Michigan State

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By Mandy Bell, Student Writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK - The Penn State Nittany Lions faced off against the Michigan State Spartans Friday evening at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex despite the unfriendly weather.

The two teams competed in a brisk 53 degrees as a steady light rain fell for almost the entire duration of the game. 

No matter how cold or how wet it got on the field, it did not bother the Nittany Lions.

"I think it's kind of fun playing in this weather," Moira Putsch said. "Especially in this atmosphere. When we have such a big crowd, it totally doesn't seem cold. We are working so hard that it doesn't affect us. I really like the rain. It makes it feel intense."

Penn State (10-1) got off to a slow start falling early to Michigan State (5-5) 1-0 in the first half. About six minutes after the Nittany Lions found themselves in a deficit, they turned to their most consistent leader.

Putsch retrieved the ball to the left of the Michigan State goal right before it trickled out of bounds. With three defenders in front of her, Putsch fixated on the goal. She passed the ball underneath the stick of the first defender and was able to catch back up with it before it reached her second defender.

Then, Putsch juked toward the goal making her defender move in the same direction. As the second defender stepped to her right, Putsch crossed her over and passed the defender on her left. 

Putsch was then in the center of the action with the defense collapsing in on her. She overran her ball just slightly, but was still in control.  She knew at this point that she had to attack quickly. Putsch then did a full spin, turning her back to the goal, to shoot the ball from her weak side. The shot went through a handful of defenders, passed the goalkeeper and landed right in the unreachable right corner of the cage.

"There's a lot of adrenaline on a play like that," Putsch said. "Right after it happens I am never out of breath. Then 10 seconds after the whistle starts again, that's when I am out of breath. It's just a lot of adrenaline going through and a lot of focus just to keep it up because I know it's really important for us the next few minutes to not let up and not let them come back."

"She really had to work for that one and she needs to be like that more often," Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "She just really set that up for herself and it was just a great shot. I also thought she gave Shay [Cannon] a couple good passes. She was just really working hard tonight which is good to see."

With Friday evening's goal, Putsch has successfully put at least one goal on the board in all 11 games of the 2016 season.

"It feels great, but I feel like every single time I have scored, afterward so many people on our team also have," Putsch said. "It says so much that so many people on our team score. It feels great, but I am just thinking of the bigger picture and everyone always comes up big right after. So it's awesome." 

Once Putsch got the first point on the board for the Nittany Lions, her teammates followed her lead. Just under five minutes after Putsch's goal, Aurelia Meijer scored to give the Nittany Lions a 2-1 lead at the half.

Midway through the second half, Putsch set up teammate Gini Bramley for a perfect look at the back of the cage. Bramley came back a few minutes later to tack on the fourth and final goal of the game giving Penn State a 4-1 victory.

Penn State will take on Princeton Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

Sister, Sister for Morano's

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By Mandy Bell, Student Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - In 2014, Penn State junior forward Kasey Morano finished her high school career taking the New Jersey title home to Eastern Regional High School. In the middle of smiles and celebration, her younger sister and teammate Maddie Morano had other feelings.

"It was one of the happiest days of my life and she just starts crying," Kasey said. "She told me she would miss me and we thought we'd never play together again. That was definitely my favorite memory of us because it was a mixture of happy and sad emotions. I have a picture of her crying and me holding her and it is my favorite picture." 

Little did the Morano sisters know that in two years, they would be together again at Penn State. 

Growing up, both Kasey and Maddie started playing field hockey early in elementary school. Kasey began when she was in second grade and Maddie started in kindergarten. Both wanted to be exactly like their mom, who played collegiate field hockey at Lock Haven University.

"In our hometown, we didn't have field hockey," Maddie said. "[Our mom] started the program. That's why we played in camps with a bunch of older girls because there wasn't a program for us. She got us really involved and taught us how much you can love the sport."

At ages five and seven, the Morano sisters were taking part in camps with the local high school coach competing with girls who were much older than they were.

"We were the youngest ones at the camps," Kasey said. "We weren't very good obviously, but we did our best. It was just fun. We played a lot of kid games. We actually did a middle school league when we were younger, so we always were playing more competitive leagues against older kids."

Playing against higher-level competition paid off when Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss showed interest in both of the Morano sisters when they reached high school.

"We had eyes on both of them," Morett-Curtiss said. "They couldn't make the full week of our camp, so we had them up here for two days and I think they just really loved Penn State at that point. Their brother was here, so I think that made it a little more comfortable for them. Kasey was a little unsure with her decision, but Maddie always new she wanted a big time athletic program, wanted the big school and wanted the school spirit."

"Before I even came here, Penn State was never in my mind," Kasey said. "For some reason, not sure if it was because my older brother went here and I didn't want to go to the same school as he did, but I just didn't want to go to Penn State. Then my dad made me visit here and I just knew it was the school for me. I didn't want to like it, but I loved it. There was something about it. I was definitely fighting it, but I just couldn't help it."

Both girls approached colleges separately and picked the schools that they wanted to go to without discussing it with each other. It just so happened to be the same school.

 With Maddie just beginning her freshman year, it is the first season that Morett-Curtiss has the Morano sisters on her Penn State squad. 

"I don't even think about them being sisters," Morett-Curtiss said. "I've coached so many. I think I've coached seven sets of sisters since I've been here. Because they play two different positions, I don't think of them as sisters so much, but when you see them together there's no doubt about it."

Off the field, Kasey and Maddie are nearly inseparable. During preseason, Maddie went to Kasey's apartment every day after practice and even during the season the two are together for the majority of the time off of the field.

At the beginning of the season against Bucknell, the Morano sisters shared a special moment on the field when Maddie assisted Kasey for a goal.

"It was funny because I had the ball and Kasey was wide open," Maddie said. "There was a girl right in front of me, so if I didn't pass it to [Kasey] it would've been really bad. I was trying to trick the defenders so it didn't look like I was going to pass it to her and it apparently fooled Kasey because she told me she was freaking out thinking I wasn't going to pass it to her."

"I thought she wasn't going to pass it to me and that would've started some problems," Kasey said. "That would've looked so bad, like we are sisters."

After that goal, Kasey and Maddie's parents were able to have a special moment in the crowd watching their two daughters work together on the field.

"I feel like I owe a lot to my mom because she really wanted the dream for us just as much as we did," Kasey said. "Don't get me wrong, we wanted to kill her sometimes. We would be playing and she would take us off the field if we were being fresh. But, she just really pushed and she would always say, 'You'll thank me one day' and we'd just be like 'Alright, Mom,' and roll our eyes. But she was so right. 

After this week's homestand, the Nittany Lions will be back on the road again. The sisters just found out that they will be rooming together on the next road trip and they couldn't be more excited. 

Penn State will host Michigan State on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.


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