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Nov. 4, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State field hockey team (15-5, 4-2) squeaked out a 1-0 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday afternoon, to earn a berth into the Big Ten Championship game on Sunday at 2 p.m. Penn State's lone goal in the semifinals came on a penalty stroke by sophomore Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.).
"I really think the defensive effort was outstanding on both sides today," said head coach Charlene Morett. "I am just very proud of our team and am looking forward to playing this Sunday."
Redshirt junior Ayla Halus (Hershey, Pa.) had a phenomenal game in goal, making six big saves to record her third shutout of the season. Senior defender Lauren Alloway (Hummelstown, Pa.), who has been a catalyst in the back all season, anchored a great defensive effort that allowed just three Ohio State shots on goal.
The first 100 Penn State students that attend this Sunday's championship game will have free admission. Additionally, Rotelli will be providing free pizza to all fans in attendance. Championship game tickets will run at $8 for adults and $5 for students/senior citizens. Groups of 15 people or more may also purchase tickets for $5. Parking for the game will be free on Sunday in the Shields parking lot.
The No. 3 seeded Nittany Lions had a really quiet second half against the Buckeyes, recording just two shots. However, the one shot on a penalty stroke near the end of the first frame would be the game clincher. The first shot of the game was not recorded until 20:39 in by Ohio State. Twenty seconds after that, Berta Queralt of the Buckeyes hit a second shot that was stuffed by Halus.
Ohio State kept up the intensity, earning the first penalty corner of the game with about 13 minutes remaining in the half. Danica Deckard's shot off the corner was stopped by Halus, which gave the Nittany Lions some momentum heading down the final stretch of the first period.
Penn State kept the ball in Ohio State's end for most of the final 10 minutes of the half. Junior Kelsey Amy (Sweet Valley, Pa.) played a beautiful ball to sophomore Lauren Purvis (Maple Glen, Pa.) right in front of the net. Purvis hit it just wide, but Penn State kept riding the momentum. A foul was called on Ohio State in the circle that forced a penalty stroke. Grzywacz converted and PSU had a 1-0 lead with 4:56 to go in the first half.
Penn State kept up the offensive pressure in the second half. Amy and freshman Jenna Chrismer (Mountain Top, Pa.) had two nice shots that were saved by Ohio State's Ally Tunitis. Other than that, Ohio State would apply the most pressure for the remainder of the game.
The Buckeyes had two shots by Paula Pastor-Pitarque at the 54 and 55-minute mark. Her first shot attempt was saved by Halus. The second one went wide. The Penn State defense did a great job of keeping the Buckeyes out of the circle though. Ohio State would have one more legit chance with 13 seconds to go. Pastor-Pitarque recorded a slow, dribbling shot that Halus made an easy stop on.
Penn State now turns to the Michigan Wolverines, who defeated the Nittany Lions 2-0 back in Ann Arbor on Oct. 16. In 37 total matchups, Penn State holds a 22-15 advantage over Michigan in the all-time series. The Wolverines have won six of the last seven matchups. The Nittany Lions' last victory over Michigan came on Oct. 26, 2008 in a 3-0 victory at home.
The Nittany Lions will be appearing in the Big Ten Championship game for the first time since 2006. In its last championship game appearance, Penn State was defeated by Iowa, 2-1, on Nov. 6, 2006. The Lions hold a 4-3 record in Big Ten Championship game appearances. However, PSU's last conference tournament title came on Nov. 8, 1998, when it defeated Michigan by a score of 3-1.
"We haven't won one of these in a long time," said Morett. "I have a ton of confidence in this group. Playing at home will give us a lot of motivation and emotion."
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