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Nov. 16, 2013
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Penn State's season ended in heartbreaking fashion in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon, as the Nittany Lions came up just short of Princeton by a score of 5-4. PSU finishes the year with a record of 13-6.
Penn State matched its third-highest goal total of the season with four scores. The Lions received goals from Whitney Reddig (Lititz, Pa.), Ashtin Klingler (Selinsgrove, Pa.), Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.) and Taylor Herold (Fredericksburg, Va.). Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.) picked up two assists and Reddig and Grzywacz each added one in the contest.
The match did not start how the Nittany Lions had hoped, with the Tigers scoring less than four minutes into the match. Princeton's Allison Evans received a great pass from Cat Caro and slotted a shot past Kylie Licata (Mountain Top, Pa.) to grab an early 1-0 advantage.
The early goal seemed to wake Penn State up and the Blue and White equalized just over five minutes later. On PSU's first penalty corner of the afternoon Grzywacz fired a shot toward the cage that Reddig redirected past the Tigers' keeper to knot the score at 1-1.
Six minutes later the Tigers nearly regained the lead. A Princeton forward fired a shot that forced Licata to make an incredible diving save to keep the score at 1-1.
The Nittany Lions took their first lead of the half in the 19th minute off a sensational goal from Klingler. The senior received a pass in space from Gebhart and made a nice move around the defender and then unleashed a shot past the Tiger keeper to give the Blue and White a 2-1 advantage.
Unfortunately for PSU the lead was short lived. The Tigers' Maggie Copeland received a pass on the left post and hit the board with just over 13 minutes left in the opening frame to tie the match back up at 2-2.
Both teams pushed for a go-ahead goal for the rest of the first half but neither team managed a score and the match was 2-2 heading into the halftime break.
Just like the first half, the Lions did not get off to a good start to open the second stanza. Princeton's Michelle Cesan deflected a penalty corner into the cage to put the Tigers back on top 3-2. Just five minutes later Princeton struck again, as Cat Caro hit a hard shot from the top right of the circle into the board to give the Tigers a two-goal cushion.
Despite the two-score deficit, Penn State refused to go away quietly. With 10 minutes left in the half the Nittany Lions drew within one off a penalty corner. Gebhart stopped Reddig's insert pass and teed the ball up for Grzywacz, who drilled a shot into the cage to cut the Princeton lead to 4-3.
The momentum was short lived for the Blue and White, as the Tigers abruptly answered with a goal of their own just a minute later to increase their lead back to two at 5-3.
After the setback, Penn State once again dug in and made another comeback charge. Herold cut in from the right on the endline and sent a sliding shot past the Princeton keeper to once again make it a one goal match at 5-4.
Herold's goal set the Nittany Lion attack into a frenzy, as the team pushed up the field searching for the tying score. With two and a half minutes left on the clock, Amanda Dinunzio (State College, Pa.) got open and found herself one-on-one with the Tigers' keeper. The junior used great stick skills to dribble around the keeper and get off a shot as she was falling to the turf. Unluckily, the shot hit the post and caromed back into play and the threat was over.
The Tigers held off the Lions for the remaining two minutes to hold on and win by a final of 5-4. For the match, Princeton outshot Penn State 16-10 and attempted five penalty corners to the Blue and White's two.
MATCH NOTES: The Nittany Lions now have an all-time record of 23-33 in the NCAA Tournament ... Penn State is now 24-9 all-time vs. Princeton, including a record of 6-4 in postseason play ... PSU is now 4-1 when playing on Saturday's this season ... Reddig's goal gives her six on the season, tying her career high ... Klingler now has eight goals on the season, ranking her third on the team ... Gebhart picked up her team-leading 13th and 14th assists on the season, the most in a single season in her career ... The nine combined goals are the most of any match this season.