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Sept. 21, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 6 Penn State field hockey team opened the Big Ten season in style, defeating No. 24 Indiana 7-1 to give head coach Charlene Morett her 400th Penn State win. The Nittany Lions sit at 1-0 in the Big Ten with a 9-2 overall record, while the Hoosiers move to 0-1 and 5-2.
As time expired in contest, Morett was surprisingly met by her team and staff, sporting bright blue t-shirts bearing "400" on the back.
"A lot of credit goes to the athletes that come here and that they understand the tradition of success," said Morett after the win. "They understand that the expectations are very high and that we're going to keep the bar high. And I've been very blessed to have an amazing staff. LB (Lisa Bervinchak-Love), who has been with me so long, is not only a great coach but a wonderful friend to me. And to have Stuart Smith for the past three years, Jen Long, a former player, and all the other former players that have helped me...they share this...I'm really speechless and honored."
Junior Ashtin Klingler (Selinsgrove, Pa.) kept her scoring streak alive, netting the game-winning goal just 20 seconds into the contest. As the Big Ten battle began, senior Kelsey Amy (Sweet Valley, Pa.) gained possession and flew down the right wing of the field. Finding Klingler in front of Indiana's Maggie Olson, Amy sent a long, centering pass to the junior, who banked her shot in behind the netminder to give the Lions an early 1-0 lead. It was Klingler's fifth goal and her second game-winning goal of the season.
"I tell you what, that first goal was an amazing team effort," said Morett. "Just the way it was passed down the field...And for them to execute the corners with such authority was just so impressive. I said to them, `Have you been practicing at night?', because it looked so good today."
"I think just scoring in the first 20 seconds of the game was incredible," said Amy. "From there on out we just had them on their heels and we capitalized on it...Our passing was awesome today. It's something we definitely put priority on and definitely something that we've been focusing on the most."
The Hoosiers were unable to recover after the Lions' immediate strike, with Penn State scoring three more goals before the end of the half. On the second penalty corner of the game, Amy was able to feed a pass over to junior Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.) from the left of the net. Winding up, Grzywacz sent the ball rocketing at Olson, which deflected up and into the net beyond the goalkeeper's reach. The Lions went up 2-0 with less than 10 minutes played on the midfielder's eighth goal of the season.
Sophomore Laura Gebhart played tremendously for the Lions, earning her 20th career assist on Amy's goal at the 16:24 mark. After a penalty corner, Gebhart made the stop and tricked Hoosiers' defense by faking a pass and delivering the ball to Amy at the left of the net. Amy swung back and sent her shot speeding past Olson for her 13th goal of the season. A minute later, Gebhart recorded a goal of her own after she worked her way through Indiana's defense. The sophomore then beat the goalie one-on-one and sent the ball into the right corner of the net for her fourth goal of the season.
"I think (this game) was absolutely awesome," said Gebhart. "It's a testament to Char and her coaching. And to open up the Big Ten like that on top of it...it's awesome."
With Penn State up 4-0, the Hoosiers sent Viki Green in at goalkeeper. The Ireland native was able to fend of the Lions' offense for the remainder of the half, but found herself at a disadvantage with a Penn State penalty corner early into the second period. Amy and Gebhart proved to be a dangerous pair, setting up another play for Amy's 14th goal of the season and her second of the game at the 41:24 mark. Just 90 seconds later, junior Lauren Purvis (Maple Glen, Pa.) was able to capitalize off of rebound given up by Green. The forward forced her way to the front of the net and sent the ball into the back of the net to put the Lions up 6-0.
Also extending her scoring streak, fifth-year senior Hannah Allison (Mifflinburg, Pa.) would tally Penn State's final goal of the contest. Coming off of a penalty corner, Gebhart stopped the ball in front of Allison, who then swung back and sent a shot past Green from the top of the box. It was the veteran's fifth goal of the season and Gebhart's third assist of the night.
Indiana began to push back with a surge of offense late into the game. The Hoosiers meticulously controlled possession for nearly two minutes before Morgan Fleetwood broke through Penn State's defense. Coming front and center in front of goalkeeper Kylie Licata (Mountain Top, Pa.), Fleetwood sent a shot into the left corner of the net to beat the redshirt sophomore. The score now sat at 7-1 in favor of the Lions.
Despite the Hoosiers controlling the majority of the final ten minutes, time expired to give Penn State its first Big Ten win of the season. The Lions held a 24-9 shot advantage and earned nine penalty corners to Indiana's four.
Netminder Ayla Halus (Hershey, Pa.) played the majority of the contest for the Lions, making two saves and allowing no goals in nearly 56 minutes of play. Licata, who played just over 14 minutes in net, recorded one save and allowed one goal. Green made a total of six saves with three goals allowed during her time in net.
Penn State returns to action on Sunday, Sept. 23, when they host Michigan for a noon contest. The Lions' second Big Ten game of the season will begin with a special presentation to Morett in honor of her 400th Penn State victory.
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