No. 9 Field Hockey Downs No. 8 Virginia 3-2
Aug. 26, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time since 2007, the No. 9 Penn State field hockey team ended the season-opening weekend with a 2-0 record. The Nittany Lions (2-0) defeated No. 8 Virginia (1-1) 3-2 on Sunday afternoon, after a heated contest at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex. Penn State defeated No. 3 Old Dominion this past Friday, as well.
"We had a great weekend and I'm proud of the way that we played," said head coach Charlene Morett. "But at the same time, we have to keep improving and we're getting ready for Connecticut."
Goalkeeper Ayla Halus (Hershey, Pa.) was tremendous in net for the Lions, making six saves and facing five penalty corners in the second period. The fifth-year senior also fended off a penalty stroke by Carissa Vittese late in the game at the 63:58 mark. Halus remained solid for Penn State, holding the lead despite a surge from Virginia's offense in the final ten minutes of play.
"Ayla was outstanding," said Morett. "She was really focused on the job that she had to do and had just an outstanding save on the stroke."
Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.) put the Lions on the board first, scoring her second goal of the season just four minutes into the game. The junior found her way to the top of the box and directed her shot through several bodies to find the back of the net. Junior Lauren Purvis (Maple Glen, Pa.) would score the only other goal of the first period late in the half, taking advantage of a rebound off of the post. It was her second goal of the season, as well.
Penn State kicked off the second half with the momentum of a 2-0 lead. After one of their six penalty corners of the game, sophomore Jenna Chrismer (Mountain Top, Pa.) was able to find junior Whitney Reddig (Lititz, Pa.) directly at left corner of the net. Chrismer chipped the ball up after a scramble in front of Virginia's Rebecca Holden, and Reddig fire the ball behind the goalkeeper to extend the Lions' lead to 3-0.
With fifteen minutes left to play, Virginia's offense seemed to take control of the game. Producing eight shots in that time period, Olympian Paige Selenski scored after breaking away from Penn State's defenders. The redshirt senior flew down the far left wing and fired a shot past Halus to put the Cavaliers on the board.
Halus, however, refused to be rattled. At the 16:00 minute mark, the goalkeeper made a diving save on Selenski to keep Penn State's two-goal lead. Minutes later, Halus showed remarkable skill by blocking Vittese's penalty stroke. The Hershey native received help from Grzywacz, who played an incredible defensive game.
Virginia's final goal came with seconds left to play, as they were awarded a penalty corner. Selenski took the corner, finding Jess Orrett at the top of the box. Selenski moved back into position a took a pass from Orrett, settling the score at 3-2 in favor of the Lions as time expired.
Penn State outshot Virginia 12-10 and recorded six penalty corners over the Cavaliers' five. All five of Virginia's corners came in the final half of the game.
During halftime, the Nittany Lions honored Penn State alum Tara Maguire for her generous donation of the brand new Field Hockey Complex score board. Both the school and the field hockey team are extremely appreciative for Maguire's continued support of the program.
"It's honestly hard to even talk about because I'm just so grateful to Tara and the Maguire family," said Morett. "You can see how it has totally enhanced our facility. And just to have a player, that played so hard with such great passion and energy, be so generous to give us something so beautiful for our facility...for our fans and our players to meet her, and match her face and that energy with this scoreboard and what it represents is very special."
"This team is a very strong team and a very together team," said Tara Maguire. "They looked outstanding today. And as far as the gift...You never leave Penn State. Once you're a Penn Stater, you're always a Penn Stater. And Char played such an important role in my life, in so many ways other than field hockey. Obviously we are very happy to do this. Penn State is a huge part of my life and I just wanted to give back and help the future field hockey players."
The ninth-ranked field hockey team will take on Connecticut on the road on Friday, Aug. 31, for a 7:00 p.m. contest. Penn State's next home game will take place on Sunday, Sept. 2, at 2:00 p.m. against Lafayette.
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