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Sep 1, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Penn State finished its tough season-opening road trip on Sunday afternoon with a match against No. 7 Virginia. Three Cavalier goals in the final 20 minutes were the difference in the contest, as the hosts prevailed by a final of 4-2.
Virginia came out aggressive with a relentless attack in the game's opening minutes. The star of the Cavaliers, Elly Buckley, forced Penn State's Kylie Licata (Mountain Top, Pa.) into a save in the first minute. Buckley would not be denied two minutes later, as the senior found the back of the cage off a penalty corner strike.
After the early Virginia onslaught, the Nittany Lions' defense settled into the game. The two sides played even for the remainder of the half, with neither team finding a goal for the final 32 minutes in the opening frame.
Penn State's best opportunity of the first came with under five minutes left on the clock, as Jenna Chrismer (Mountain Top, Pa.) fired a shot from the left of the circle just wide of the net.
The hosts outshot the Lions in the opening frame by a margin of 11-8. Both teams attempted three penalty corners and came up with five saves.
Half number two began with Penn State's offense showing a sense of purpose and urgency. The Nittany Lions forced the Cavaliers' goalkeeper Jenny Johnstone into four saves in the first four minutes of the second stanza to protect the host's one goal advantage.
PSU found the breakthrough goal it was desperately searching for in the 49th minute. On the Blue and White's fourth penalty corner of the half, senior Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.) fired a shot into the cage for her second goal of the season, tying the match at 1-1. Assisting on the set piece were Whitney Reddig (Lititz, Pa.) and Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.).
After the goal, the Nittany Lions looked hungry to take the lead, as the team dominated much of possession. However, Virginia retook the lead two minutes after Penn State leveled the game. Buckley ran over half the length of the field against the run of play and slotted a shot into the net to put the hosts back in front 2-1.
The Cavs added to their lead just minutes later, when Macy Peebles found Hadley Bell on the right side of the circle, who delivered a hard shot past Licata and into the net to make the score 3-1 with Virginia leading.
Even after going down by two scores, Penn State continued to battle. Gebhart made an excellent run from the right side of the circle and centered a pass to Taylor Herold (Fredericksburg, Va.) who perfectly struck the shot past Johnstone to draw the Nittany Lions back within one at 3-2 with nine minutes left in the game. Gebhart's assist was the junior's second of the day and fourth of the season.
Despite the comeback attempt, Virginia was too much for the Blue and White on Sunday, as Cavalier freshman Riley Tata put the game out of reach by poking the ball just over the line at the 68-minute mark to secure the hosts a 4-2 victory.
"I think we played a great game of field hockey today," stated Penn State head coach Charlene Morett. "We needed to finish a little more around the goal today but overall I think our performance was solid against a very good Virginia team."
On the afternoon, Penn State outshot UVA 21-19 and attempted nine penalty corners to Virginia's four. The Cavaliers' Johnstone was the difference, as the goalkeeper recorded a game-high 13 saves in the contest.
"Virginia's goalkeeper played very well today," said Morett. "With 21 shots and nine penalty corners I thought our offense was where it should be. I like the way our kids hung in there and battled throughout the game."
With the defeat, Penn State finishes its opening weekend road trip against two top-10 teams with a record of 1-1.
The Nittany Lions come home to open up their home schedule with a matchup against Temple on Fri., Sep. 6 at 6 p.m. followed by a contest vs. No. 4 UConn on Sun., Sep. 8 at noon. Both matches will be played at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.