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Gebhart Heads to Australia Youth Olympic Festival as Co-Captain of U.S. U-21 National Squad

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Jan. 14, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State field hockey’s Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.) will serve as a co-captain to the U.S. Under-21 National Squad at the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival. Gebhart will join the most elite field hockey players in the country, including members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Field Hockey Team, to take on the top athletes in the world from Jan. 16-20. Team USA will open the Festival on Wednesday, Jan. 16 against China.

“I was named a co-captain of the squad, and I'm very honored to be given the opportunity to represent and lead this team,” said Gebhart. “International field hockey is a fast-paced, high-skilled game. Our opponents are incredible players; they have different tactical elements and skills than what exists in the U.S. I learn so much from the competition we play against, and from the coaches we get to work with.”

Before traveling to Sydney, Gebhart and the U-21 Squad competed against New Zealand during the 2013 U-21 New Zealand Tour. After falling 2-1 on the first day of competition, the U.S. responding by winning the next three games 6-0, 4-3 and 5-2. Assistant coach and Australia native Stuart Smith headed over to Auckland to cheer on Gebhart, and Big Ten Coach of the Year Charlene Morett traveled to Australia over the weekend to be present for the Olympic Festival.

Taking advantage of the unique and remarkable experience, Gebhart has been able to tour both New Zealand and Australia during her down time. “[In New Zealand], we had an off day in the middle of the series when we were able to go into the city of Auckland; it’s a beautiful place,” she said. “Yesterday, the team went into Sydney for the day. We are staying on a college campus and traveling to the 2004 Olympic venues for games and practices.”

An invaluable asset to the Penn State field hockey team, Gebhart was most recently named an NFHCA Second Team All-American for the first time in her collegiate career. The sophomore also was named to the All-Mideast Region First Team, and previously earned Third Team All-American honors after a stellar rookie season in 2011.

Gebhart helped lead the Lions to the NCAA Championship Quarterfinals, where Penn State fell to Syracuse 5-2 after a hard-fought battle. A momentous year for the squad, the Lions were ranked as high as No. 3 in the country and sat at the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. She ended the year with six goals and 12 assists for 24 points.

One of seven Big Ten athletes on the U-21 Squad, including Northwestern’s Maddy Carpenter and Iowa’s Dani Hemeon, Gebhart was named All-Big Ten First Team in 2012 for the second consecutive year. The 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year was also named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team.

“I get to play for so much more than myself on this trip,” said Gebhart. “Every time I step on to the field, I am representing the United States, Penn State, my coaches and teammates, and my family. I've been given an incredible opportunity to play in two amazing countries; I'm very excited to be here, and to be competing in this tournament. I hope we are able to perform well and take this team one step closer to the Junior World Cup in July.”

The full field hockey schedule of the 2013 Australia Youth Olympic Festival is listed below and is available here.

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Jan. 16
Australia vs. Great Britain - 9 a.m.
China vs. USA - 11 a.m.

Jan. 17
China vs. Great Britain - 1 p.m.
USA vs. Australia - 5 p.m.

Jan. 19
USA vs. Great Britain - 9 a.m.
Australia vs. China - 11 a.m.

Jan. 20
Bronze Medal Match - 8 a.m.
Gold Medal Match - 8:30 a.m.




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