No. 18 Field Hockey Drops Hard-Fought 2-1 Final at No. 5 UConn
Sept. 3, 2010
STORRS, Conn. - Despite playing neck-and-neck with No. 5 Connecticut, the No. 18 Penn State field hockey team fell just short in dropping a 2-1 final on Friday afternoon. Junior Jessica Longstreth (Richboro, Pa.) evened the score in the second half, but Cara Silverman's goal just 16 seconds later proved to be the difference.
"It was a solid effort from our team," said head coach Charlene Morett. "We had numerous chances after they scored the go-ahead goal. We came back and attacked, which is very positive."
Redshirt sophomore Ayla Halus (Hershey, Pa.) was the story early on, making 10 first-half saves to keep the game scoreless at the half. The defense in front of her impressed as well, highlighted by standout performances from senior back Daneen Zug (Manheim, Pa.) and redshirt sophomores Alex Schlener (Bethlehem, Pa.) and Kristen Schaefer (Millersville, Pa.).
After Halus stopped UConn's first 12 shots on goal, the Huskies broke the deadlock at 47:34 when Silverman deflected a serve into the back of the cage.
Penn State continued its relentless attack, leading to the game-tying goal off a penalty corner less than three minutes later at 50:11. Longstreth executed a perfect drag flick over goalkeeper Sarah Mansfield's head to even the score. Schaefer and junior Casey McCartin (Horsham, Pa.) were credited with the assists on the play. It marked McCartin's first-career helper. Ironically, her first-career goal came a year ago against the No. 5 Huskies which also ended in a 2-1 final.
"That corner was absolutely awesome," said Morett. "It was perfectly executed and Jessie just roofed a great drag flick."
The momentum was short-lived, however, as Connecticut responded with a goal just 16 seconds later to make it 2-1. Silverman scored her second of the day when she dribbled into the circle, beating Halus just inside the post.
The Huskies held the shot advantage, 18-7, but Penn State didn't lack scoring chances. Zug had a potential goal waved off while Mansfield made four saves to keep the Nittany Lions at bay.
Penn State did finish with five corners to only three for the Huskies.
"Our corner execution has been positive," said Morett. "We talked at halftime about drawing corners in the second half, [which is what we did]."
Halus recorded 12 saves, her third straight double-digit save performance to start the season. She owns an impressive .875 save percentage over the first three games, all coming against ranked foes.
Freshman Natalie Buttinger (Kitchener, Ontario) made her collegiate debut in the second half as well.
The Nittany Lions return to action next Sunday (Sept. 12) when they host local rival Lock Haven at 12 p.m. at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.
Follow Penn State field hockey on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PennStateFH.