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EAST LANSING, Mich. - Katie Dembrowski was clutch in the final minutes of the Big Ten Semifinal Friday afternoon as she scored the game-winning goal against Maryland to give Penn State a 3-2 win at Ralph Young Field on the campus of Michigan State University.
Penn State advances to face Michigan on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 12 p.m. ET for a shot at the Big Ten Tournament title.
"We talked about getting better pressure on the ball," said head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss.
"We changed our press from the first time we faced them, I felt that we were connected as a team. The first goal Moira [Putsch] had - just great composure - and Cassie [Kline] the same thing, just shoot and score. We've put Katie [Dembrowski] in that position against Northwestern, Stuart [Smith] actually made that call and she responded well. I'm so proud of the way we weathered a couple of their corners and defensively we came out in the first five-minute and said 'We're here to play which was a big difference from the last time we played them. So I'm really proud, we possessed the ball better, we really played as a team," Morett-Curtiss finished.
Moira Putsch, as she has all season long, wasted no time in scoring, posting the games the first goal with a shot from point blank in front of the goal as she dribbled around the goalkeeper who has come out to challenge the junior from Media, Pa.
Putsch, who gathered in a pass from Maddie Morano, tapped in the ball giving Penn State its first lead of the game in the eighth minute.
A short 11 minutes later Maryland knotted it up at a goal apiece as UMD's Sabrina Rhodes scored for the Terrapins.
The final goal before halftime came from Cassie Kline as the collected a rebound from a Putsch shot and finished it in the cage giving Penn State a one-goal lead in the 20th minute that would last through the half.
At the half, Penn State trailed in shots 13-4 but held a 2-1 lead.
"We didn't have a lot of shots, but they were quality shots," said Morett-Curtiss.
Both teams turned up the defense in the second half as they went back-and-forth with field position for the first 23 minutes of the second half before Maryland was able to knot it up once again 2-2 with a goal from Brodil Keus.
The final 12 minutes of the match was an intense battle for position, possession, and ultimately a game-winning goal.
With four minutes on the clock, Moira Putsch inserted the ball to Katie Dembrowski who reared back and fired the ball home scoring the game-winning goal and helping the Nittany Lions advance to the Big Ten Tournament Championship game where they'll match up with the Michigan Wolverines.
Penn State moves to 16-3 on the season and will make an appearance in the championship game for a second straight season following the tournament title last season in College, Park, MD.
Penn State will be back in action Sunday, Nov. 5 at 12 p.m. when the Nittany Lions play Michigan in the final game before NCAA Tournament season.
For more on Nittany Lion Field Hockey, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter and Instagram at @PennStateFH, and on Facebook at PennStateFieldHockey.