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Nov. 11, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 4 seeded Penn State field hockey team ended its run in the 2012 NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon, falling to Syracuse (19-2) 5-2 in the Quarterfinals. The Nittany Lions, ranked No. 3 in the NFHCA Poll, end their season with an 18-4 record and a 5-1 mark in the Big Ten.
Junior Whitney Reddig (Lititz, Pa.) recorded both Penn State goals for her fifth and sixth of the season, with senior Kelsey Amy (Sweet Valley, Pa.) and redshirt senior Hannah Allison (Mifflinburg, Pa.) each providing an assist. Goalkeeper Ayla Halus (Hershey, Pa.) tallied 12 saves during the contest.
“Syracuse’s goalie was awesome,” said head coach Charlene Morett. “I though she the difference in the game, really. I think that Syracuse is a good team and their kids played very, very hard. It was an awesome second half. Where we had all of that momentum going, and then they were able to come back…it was tough to get to 2-1, and then all of a sudden it was 3-1…We had some great chances at the beginning of the game, and you have to score on those.”
“For the seniors, I just want to thank them for all of their years and the effort that they gave. I thought that Hannah [Allison] played exceptionally well today. She was a great leader on the field, as was Ayla [Halus]. Kelsey [Amy] had some great chances, too. But they have been a great group of seniors. And for Lauren Alwine to come in as a redshirt senior and try to help us out, it was a nice addition this year.”
Penn State seemed to have the advantage at the beginning of the contest, jumping to an offensive surge right at the whistle and immediately gaining a penalty corner. However, Syracuse boasts a powerhouse defense, anchored by goalkeeper Leann Stiver. Stiver denied sophomore Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.) on a hard shot from the top of the circle on the corner, and the squads went on to trade three shots each in the opening eight minutes.
The Orange began to pull ahead, producing seven unanswered shots in the following 10 minutes. Halus played outstandingly, holding off the opposition each time to keep the score knotted at zero. But at the 18:25 mark, it would be Syracuse to draw first blood. After an initial save on Leonie Geyer, Halus could not respond in time to stop the shot of Gillian Pinder. The Orange pulled ahead to a 1-0 on Pinder’s 10th goal of the season.
The Lions attempted to get their offense flowing, but the squad was repeatedly rebuffed by Stiver in net. After shutting down Penn State on two penalty corners and five shots, the Orange regained possession and flew down the field in the closing minutes of the half. With a centering pass from Emma Russell, Jordan Page extended Syracuse’s lead to 2-0 at the 30:08 mark. It was her eight of the season and Russell’s 22nd point on the assist.
Entering the second half, Amy and sophomore Taylor Herold (Fredericksburg, Va.) continued to push the pace they started in the second half, flying down the wings to gain an edge. Penn State began to control the game offensively, with Gebhart, Allison, Reddig and junior Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.) playing tremendously in the midfield. Their constant tackles and swift moves around the Orange’s defense were the differences in the first 15 minutes of the period.
The Lions drew eight penalty corners in the opening of the second half, producing 12 unanswered shots between Amy, Allison, junior Ashtin Klingler (Selinsgrove, Pa.), Grzywacz and junior Lauren Purvis (Maple Glen, Pa.). The squad seemed to be unable to get past Syracuse’s defense, though, as Stiver made eight saves in the sequence to keep Penn State off the board.
Finally at the 51:00 mark, the Lions drew their ninth straight corner. As the ball made its way to Allison at the top of the circle, the redshirt senior sent a quick pass to Reddig at the left corner of the net. Reddig one-timed the ball in out of midair to find the back of the cage for her 26th point. Penn State had now cut the deficit in half to move the score to 2-1.
Syracuse would respond minutes later, scoring off of a corner at the 53:17 mark. Alyssa Manley found Liz McInerney in front of the net, allowing McInerney to tally her seventh goal of the season. Just two minutes later, Page would score her second of the game from the top of the circle to give the Orange a 4-1 lead. It was the sophomore’s ninth of the season and McInerney earned her ninth assist.
The Orange went on to gain two more penalty corners, allowing a scramble in net to ensue with just over 10 minutes left to play. Although Halus made an initial save on Geyer, Iona Holloway would tap the ball in for her second goal of the season to extend Syracuse’s lead to 5-1.
Penn State continued to push forward, fighting in the midfield for possession and drawing two penalty corners in the closing minutes. On the second corner, Amy sent a commanding shot at Stiver, forcing the netminder to give a rebound. Amy hustled to the ball, and sent another shot towards the net where Reddig stood. The junior was able to angle her stick and deflect the ball in past Stiver for her second goal of the game. It was Amy’s 12th assist of the season.
Time expired to give Syracuse a 5-2 win over Penn State, allowing the squad to advance to the NCAA Final Four. The Lions outshot the Orange 25-20 and held a 15-7 penalty corner advantage. Halus’ 12 saves moves her season total 95, while Stiver made 13 stops to give her squad the win. Also proving to be invaluable on the defense, junior Abby Fuhrman (Bainbridge, Pa.) and Katie Breneman (Washington Boro, Pa.) played an excellent game, making key plays in both the backfield and midfield to aid the squad.
The Big Ten Conference Champions and Big Ten Tournament Champions had a stellar 2012 season, producing the Big Ten Coach of the Year in Morett, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in Amy and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in Grzywacz. Amy, Grzywacz and Gebhart were named to the All-Big Ten First Team, while Klingler received honors on the All-Big Ten Second Team. Amy additionally was the Big Ten Tournament MVP, and Halus and Gebhart were named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team.
Redshirt seniors Halus and Allison and senior Amy end their careers as Lions by leaving a huge mark on the program. Amy ends the season with 24 goals and 12 assists for 60 points, bringing her career total to 76 goals and 24 assists for 176 points. The senior currently sits at third in all-time career goals, third in all-time career points, 10th in all-time goals in a single season and eighth in all-time points in a single season in program history. Allison finishes the year with 18 points on six goals and six assists to bring her career total to 26 goals and nine assists for 61 points.
Halus played 4,387.45 minutes as a Nittany Lion, racking up 321 saves and 15 shutouts. Her 2012 season save percentage of .742 moves her career percentage to .722, while her season GAA of 1.61 leaves her with a 1.52 career GAA.
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