By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com 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.