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By Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Finishing the season with a win against the 16th ranked Northwestern Wildcats was a nice way for Penn State to build some momentum going into the Big Ten Tournament.  But the real test begins Thursday, with a match against third-seeded Indiana, who happens to be the host school for the whole tournament. 


Indiana, being the host school, has chosen to play in the last time slot on Thursday, at 5:30 p.m.  The winner of the game will advance to face the winner of the Michigan vs. Iowa contest. 

Michigan is certainly a daunting team to have to face in the second round, but coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss and her staff are only focusing on Indiana right now, and only watching tape on Indiana. 

"I think we can put pressure on the host school just by being aggressive," said Morett-Curtiss. 

Being the sixth-seeded team, the Nittany Lions are in a position where they find themselves as underdogs.  But lately, the term underdog could not be more opposite of how the team has been playing.  The squad has won three of its last four games including an overtime win against Rutgers, a win on national television as time expired against Iowa and the win at Northwestern.  It's safe to say the team is finding itself and playing its best field hockey of the year.

"With the inexperience of this team it just took us a while to figure out which positions the girls play better and how they can play better together," said Morett-Curtiss. 

It can be dangerous when a lower-seeded team flies under the radar and comes in hot.  Morett-Curtiss believes the team isn't playing with house money, but is still an underdog capable of making some noise.   

"We've sort of gotten over that nervousness and fear; we're the underdog so let's be aggressive., said Morett-Curtiss" 

Morett-Curtiss has won six Big Ten tournaments over her career, and that experience will no doubt be helpful in this year's games.  This year especially, there are a lot of tough teams and a lot of chances for upsets.

"I think it's a tournament where there's a lot of parity," added Morett Curtiss.

The Nittany Lions will face Indiana on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. All games in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds can be seen live on the Big Ten Network.

By Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There was nothing more perfect than Aurelia Meijer's interview on the Big Ten Network after her dramatic game-winning goal with no time left against Iowa over the weekend.  Meijer's positive attitude and passion for the game shone through in the interview, and her coach thought it was a special moment as well.


"I think her interview was just so priceless; it was so spontaneous.  Just all the interactions just even from some friends of mine that send out [things] on our alumni page and people contacting me about it I think that was priceless," said head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss. 

Meijer has improved so much throughout the season that she has become the main go-to option even as a freshman.  She has been taking all the practice reps on penalty corners in practice this week.

There are still critical games to be played this weekend in the Big Ten, including at Northwestern.  There is a big mess in the middle of the standings in the Big Ten Conference, with Northwestern, Ohio State and Indiana at 4-3, and Penn State at 3-4.  With a win this weekend, the Nittany Lions would be tied with the Wildcats and could move up from the six seed all the way to the three seed.  But the team is not concerned about seeding at this time because of the importance of playing well going in.

"We're not worried [about seeding].  Not at all.  I think what's most important for us is a win against Northwestern because, for us, that's good confidence and good momentum going into the tournament," said Morett-Curtiss. 

For Penn State, coming out of Evanston with a win will have to be because of great corner defense.  Northwestern is leading the nation in penalty corners and they have a great success rate of scoring goals on corners. 

"Their corners are very dangerous.  They look to go to the close post and far post for tips and bring a lot of people in to tip the ball.  Our focus needs to be on not giving up corners and corner defense," said Morett-Curtiss. 

After the Northwestern game, the team will try and get as much rest in as possible before heading back to Illinois for the Big Ten tournament.

"The two most important things about the Big Ten tournament are you have to believe you can win the tournament and you have to be rested," said Morett-Curtiss.

The team will just watch video on Sunday upon their return from Northwestern, and then they leave Wednesday for the tournament, which will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

By Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With no time left in regulation, and Penn State with one more opportunity in a tie game on a penalty corner, Aurelia Meijer took control.


"The only thing I was thinking was we are not going to overtime.  I don't want overtime," said Meijer.

On the second penalty corner in a row with zero ticks on the clock, Meijer took the feed and rocketed a shot that blew past the Iowa keeper and nailed the bottom right of the goal.  It was the first time all season that State was able to control the end of the game and come out with a last second victory.

"I was proud of my team, I was proud of us and I knew we could do this because we have never done this and now we did it," said Meijer.

Not only did Meijer net the game winner, but she also scored Penn State's two other goals.  The first came with 24:45 left in the first half that trickled in to the net.  She was in good position to nab the rebounded shot.  The second goal came with 2:20 left in the first half, which was also a rebounded shot, and the net actually fell down because so many players were around the net hitting into it.  Meijer has shown an ability to be in good position even in traffic.  Her head coach, Charlene Morett-Curtiss put it best.

"What a fantastic day for her," said Morett-Curtiss.

When Iowa scored twice in the second half, Morett-Curtiss saw her team start to get down on themselves, so she called a timeout with eight minutes remaining and got the team back on track.  From there, they didn't look back. 

"It's huge, we've just been here too many times and we haven't closed the game out and to see them at this point of the season dig deep and get that victory, that gives us a great surge of confidence going to Northwestern next weekend and hopefully into the Big Ten tournament the following weekend," said Morett-Curtiss.

Meijer stole the show Friday, and this game certainly can help Penn State with seeding heading into the all important conference tournament.  

By Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head field hockey coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss and head men's basketball coach Pat Chambers go way back. In fact, they both hail from Delaware County, Pennsylvania. 

"He's my homeboy and I'm his homegirl," Morett-Curtiss joked.

"When we first did the coaches caravan with Bill O'Brien, the one stop was in Delaware County. So we'd be going by the Tower Theater and Upper Darby and pointing out different things, so we really have a good relationship.  I was really excited when he was hired, I love his high energy and I love the way his team plays."

What else do Coach Morett-Curtiss and coach Chambers also have in common?

They both coach a hard fighting team that is determined to go far in postseason.

Last season, Penn State basketball became a national rooting interest for many in its battle in the Big Ten Tournament, fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Penn State field hockey also has one chance to get invited to the NCAA tournament.  The team must win the Big Ten tournament to get in.  They also have a very talented senior in Steph Hussey, who is the de facto leader of a young squad and wants to make the most out of her time left in Happy Valley.  Sound Familiar?

Hussey just hit the game-winning goal over the weekend against Rutgers that was described perfectly by Morett-Curtiss.

"It reminded me of Jose Bautista with the bat flip, and you know what's ironic is in our overtimes, Hussey plays back, so to be up there, she just snuck right in front of the six Rutgers players on that side of the field."

Hussey was out of position, and the coaching staff was wondering why she was sneaking up the field as the play developed.  But it's that same experience and will to win that D.J. Newbill had here that Hussey shares. 

Hussey will play her last game at home on senior day against Iowa, and that game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.  She and Haley Kerstetter will be taking their home field for the last time, but coach Morett-Curtiss likes to focus on the seniors more during the winter banquet in January.  There are still a lot of crucial field hockey games to be played in the mean time. 

Iowa is currently tied with Penn State in the Big Ten Standings, and the Nittany Lions want the best possible seed going into the Big Ten tournament.  The Rutgers win eliminated the Scarlet Knights from playing in the Big Ten tournament, as only the top eight teams in the conference advance, so that helps the Lions.

"That took a lot of pressure off of us [moving forward]," said Morett-Curtiss.

If Penn State can get past Iowa and beat Northwestern in Chicago, they can slide into the fifth spot in the Big Ten.  Also, Michigan still plays Michigan State, so the conference standings are very up in the air. 

 "Any team in our conference is capable of winning the tournament.  I think there's a lot of parity amongst all of us.  The way it's seeded right now, it could be all flipped up [by the end]," said Morett-Curtiss. 

When asked what the team's mentality is going into the all-important Big Ten Tournament, Morett-Curtiss made sure not to look past the game against Iowa first.

"It's the same mentality we're taking into Iowa.  It's not a nothing-to-lose attitude, but for us it's something to prove; it's to prove to ourselves how hard we've been working and how much we've improved, and we're a team that plays with a lot of pride and we want to improve our record.  So I think that's our mentality Friday; it'll certainly be out mentality for the rest of our season." 

Morett-Curtiss said the key to the rest of the games is simple.

"We can play so much faster.  We need to play an accelerated style."

They do that by getting good transition numbers, and by getting all the girls up-field attacking.

Morett-Curtiss is also using coach Franklin's football team as motivation.  The coaching staff put Carl Nassib's quote after the loss to Ohio State on the players' practice sheets, Tuesday.  The quote was simply 'Losses stink.  You learn from them and you get better.'

With only a few games remaining, the goal is simple: win the next few for seeding, then it's show time in the Big Ten tournament. 

"We're going to keep working hard to improve our chances," said Morett-Curtiss.

With a combination of Steph Hussey, an experienced coaching staff, and maybe some luck with how the dominos fall in the rest of the conference, we could be seeing a deep run in the Big Ten tournament like Pat Chambers' team last March. 

By Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Aurelia Meijer is someone that lights up the room, and coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss raves about her positive attitude and energy.  As a freshman from Holland, Meijer certainly deserves the praise for her statistics on the field, but she also is making an impression with her teammates and the coaching staff.


"[Meijer] contacted us by sending a video through an international recruiting service and we just loved her speed with the ball, we loved her feistiness and her skills and when we got to meet her we just fell in love with her personality," said Morett-Curtiss.

Meijer is fitting right in with American culture, and jumped at the chance to play her college hockey in the United States.

"I wanted to speak English, I wanted to experience a new culture and I love the United States.  Penn State is a really cool and well-known university, and everyone in Holland loves it," said Meijer.

The one thing she probably cannot get in the U.S. is her favorite food, hagelslag; a chocolate sprinkle that is put on toast or bread.  She did say she has a good substitute, as waffles are her favorite food in America.

On the field, she is putting up great numbers, with three goals and ten points.  Obviously Meijer loves to play the game, but she also enjoys other parts of being on the team.

"I love the spirit and the fans, there are so many people that care about the sport it's just a lot of fun."

Morett-Curtiss loves her competitive streak, which one wouldn't detect in her cheerful off-field demeanor.

"She is really our go-to player to get the ball in scoring position...She tackles back when she loses the ball right away and that's just instinctive for her.  She brings that great competitive spirit to the team," said Morett-Curtiss.

"When we brought her and her father in for a visit it was everything we saw on Skype; just very positive and very upbeat.  She just exudes energy and positivity and is very supporting and caring for her teammates."

Meijer has made an instant impact in a foreign place and is beloved by her coaches and teammates.  That is hard to do, but Meijer made it easy and will continue to be a go-to player for the Nittany Lions going forward.  

By Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State field hockey demonstrated its growth and improvement in Friday night's matchup. Maryland entered the game ranked ninth in the nation in goals per game.  Against Penn State, they only scored one goal.  That is a testament to The Lions' defense, something head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss and her staff wanted to work on during the week.

"We've been working this week on doing a better job getting the ball out of the backfield.  This week, we need to concentrate on improving our defense, that's been sort of an inconsistency," said Morett-Curtiss.

Of course, Morett-Curtiss said this before the game.  Once she saw the product her team put out against one of the top teams in the country, she was happy with the result.

"They fought hard all game long, I'm proud of them...I thought that every kid on that field competed today."

One of the reasons Penn State was so stout on defense was goalie Jenny Rizzo's solid play.  She saved seven shots, including what easily could have been a goal with nothing separating Maryland's Sarah Sprink and the net except for the freshman.  She made the save to keep her team in the game.

"Jenny Rizzo had some great saves," said Morett-Curtiss.

In addition, the defense, led by Steph Hussey in the backfield, limited Maryland to just 15 shots on goal, a number the Terrapins are used to surpassing.  Hussey is new to the position, as she usually plays near the net, but Morett-Curtiss wanted more power in the backfield. 

It was certainly a much cleaner game on Friday from a defensive standpoint, and with the defense stepping up at the right time, it should set shots up offensively down the stretch.  There are still plenty of opportunities to right the ship in the Big Ten before the Big Ten Tournament rolls around.  Charlene Morett-Curtiss knows that her team performed much better than in the previous game against Princeton.

"We have to get back on track, but (Maryland) is sitting at the top of the conference and I'd say we were right there with them today."

Penn State will travel to Lock Haven on Sunday, followed by another road with Rutgers next Friday.


By Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State field hockey will host its first ever white out Friday in a showdown with top ten team Maryland.  The white out is something that head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss is excited about.


"I think it's great that we can drum up that type of enthusiasm like what the football team obviously does, and I think it's great too that we've had different events like pink zone, so I think it just speaks a lot about the school spirit that Penn State has and how it's contagious from one sport to another," said Morett-Curtiss.

The game won't be without its challenges, as Maryland is a team that ranks ninth in goals scored, averaging 3.77 goals per game.

"They have great leadership, with a variety of seniors on the field in important positions; Sarah Sprink is their deep back and I would say she is really the backbone of the team, just sets the tone with great ball speed and vision out of the backfield," said Morett-Curtiss.

Morett-Curtiss certainly has a lot of respect for Maryland going in.

"Anna Dessoye, Alyssa Parker, some of their players just have a lot of quick stick skills and we're really going to have to be on our toes.  We have to focus on marking tightly this week in practice and hope that carries over into the game."

Marking tightly in practice is one of the keys to success, but getting better play in the backfield is also pivotal to knocking off Maryland, a team still undefeated in conference play.

Coach Morett-Curtiss is looking to move Steph Hussey to play the back position, to gain a little more power in the backfield.

"We feel like we need a little more punch out of the backfield.  Steph has a really hard hit and she's played back in her career, so we just think against Maryland were going to really look to be a little stronger with our outlet passing," said Morett-Curtiss.

Penn State's consistency looked a little better this weekend and, after the typical Friday win, the Lions came out Sunday and looked very strong in the first half against Princeton, something that made the coaching staff happy. 

The game was moved from six o'clock to 4 o'clock for fear of weather and so more fans will be able to attend before the homecoming parade. 

Penn State is currently ranked second in the nation in average attendance, averaging 600 fans per game.  After the bout with Maryland, the Lions travel to face Lock Haven on Sunday, as the Big Ten Tournament looms in the distance. 


By Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In need of a momentum-building win, Penn State led Quinnipiac going into the second half on a very chilly Breast Cancer Awareness night.  Then, in the second half, Aurelia Meijer fired a strong pass inside the circle from right of the net.  Steph Hussey was in position to grab the rebound near the goal as Meijer's pass rattled off of a few sticks and finally past the goalkeeper after Hussey put the ball in the net.  Hussey would give her team a comfortable 4-1 lead, and it was the senior from Miami who shined in the cold weather.

For a team with such youth, having a senior leader like Hussey to turn to after a tough loss is crucial.

Hussey also had a goal to give her team a 2-1 lead with 23:09 remaining in the first half.  Hussey, again, was in great position in between the posts to wrangle in an assist from Brooke Birosik and knocked in her first goal of the evening.

Birosik netted a goal of her own on a penalty stroke, going top left to put her team up 3-1.  Gini Bramley opened up the scoring, connecting for a goal with the side of her stick from the outer-left portion of the circle to put her team up 1-0. 

We were definitely better defensively, low.  We just talked [this week] about getting people back so we can get more scoring chances," said coach Morett-Curtiss after the game.

Penn State certainly put themselves in good positions to score, as three of the four goals came in tight windows near the goal.  Morett-Curtiss mentioned the struggles with being in good position to find shots, but those struggles disappeared Friday night. 

"I feel that this team keeps growing, and I have to remind myself of their inexperience at times, but again we had a really good week of practice and tonight I really liked the energy," said Morett-Curtiss.

Having Hussey there, who has been a part of three NCAA Tournament appearances, certainly helps with the inexperience of a team with many freshman starters.  It is nights like Friday, where Hussey dominates a game after a gut-wrenching loss to Ohio State that provides a sense of levelheadedness and calmness to the players and coaches alike.  

By Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's Schreyer Honors College is certainly preparing students for successful careers after graduation.  But the Honors College is also a big draw for girls looking to come and play field hockey while receiving a top-notch education. 


There are a lot of smart girls on coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss' field hockey squad.  After all, the team did take home a prestigious academic distinction a year ago.

"Let's not forget that our team won the women's highest GPA last spring," said Morett-Curtiss. 

Three girls on this year's team are currently in the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State, including Kirsten Gochnauer, Lisa Winters and Colleen Conway.  All three student-athletes are reaping the benefits of being involved with such a prestigious academic institution.

Freshman goalkeeper Colleen Conway was drawn to Penn State because of the rare combination of academics and a first-rate field hockey program.

"I definitely feel like I get to represent the school for academics and athletics, and it just makes the experience so much better.  That was one of the biggest reasons I came here, actually," said Conway.

Conway drew interest from a few Ivy League schools, including the Princeton Tigers, a team Penn State faced earlier in October.  Yet, Conway chose Penn State, and enrolled in Schreyer's.  Assistant coach Stuart Smith is proud of the education Penn State can provide his players.

"Not to say we swooped under the radar and took her from an Ivy [League school], but she came in and met with Dean Brady and the Schreyer Honors College people and made a decision not just for the hockey, she's a great goaltender, but also what we can provide with Schreyer's and beyond college.  She has a 4.0 GPA.  She's killing college, smashing it," said Smith.

Freshman Lisa Winters is enjoying her time in the Schreyer Honors College, as well. 

"I like to focus on academics and athletics so to be able to do both is awesome," said Winters. 

But Winters agreed with the other girls in the Honors College - the time management aspect of balancing a Division I sport with the Honors College is a challenge.

"It definitely teaches a lot about time management because there's a lot to do for both!  That's definitely the most challenging part," said Winters. 

Junior Kirsten Gochnauer thinks it is all about finding a balance.

"Knowing you have to study and you also have to get to practice, just finding that balance [helps], it's different for everyone," said Gochnauer.

Gochnauer does love the way Schreyer Honors College is set up.

"Especially with the smaller classes with such great professors here and getting the solo attention from those professors is a great thing," said Gochnauer.

Coach Morett-Curtiss is thrilled that Schreyer's is such a big draw for recruits, and with the program itself.

"Schreyer's is tremendous.  First of all, Dean Brady and his staff just do an outstanding job every time we bring players in because a lot of the time, we're looking to recruit against universities like Duke, Virginia and Princeton.  So that gives us an edge in recruiting."

"We're proud of our academic record at Penn State, and we really look to recruit players that are committed both academically and athletically," added Morett-Curtiss. 

Cori Conley is Bright Spot in Tough Loss

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11357432.jpegBy Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer
Whenever Penn State was in trouble on an Ohio State attack, Cori Conley was there to keep things under control.

Conley was a major part of a dominant defensive effort by Penn State, despite heartbreaking the 2-1 defeat in the second overtime period to the Buckeyes. One thing head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss noticed was the strength of her defense, including Conley.

"The backs just did a good job, especially Cori," said Morett-Curtiss.

Conley seemed to serve as an excellent safety net on dangerous-looking attacks. She had many timely tackles, knocking balls loose and clearing the ball away from danger when the Buckeyes had possession in the attacking circle.

The defensive statistics were solid, as Ohio State's first penalty corner did not occur until overtime.

"It was good we only allowed six shots. We played really tough defense and we didn't even allow them a corner at all, except for overtime. We played really well defensively and were able to tackle outside the circle...I feel like we played a really good defensive game," said Conley.

Not one to talk about herself, Conley stressed the importance of freshman goalie Jenny Rizzo in helping send the game to overtime.

"We reacted well to the good shots. Jenny reacted well saving them, and our defense and breaking out we did a really good job with," said Conley.

The frustrating part for the Lions is they showed they are capable of going off on offense, as they scored six goals on Friday night against Michigan State. The offensive statistics from Sunday's game, though, will be something the team learns from.

The Lions had 21 shots on goal and 14 penalty corners against the Buckeyes.

Penn State did score a goal on a penalty stroke, as Brooke Birosik went top shelf and put it past Buckeye goalkeeper Liz Tamburro.

Conley explained the team's faith in Birosik's ability to knock in goals.

"She [coach Morett-Curtiss] has really good trust in Brooke with her shot," said Conley.

The defense sparkled Sunday, led by Conley, and that is something that can be built upon going into next weekend. 


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