Aug. 10, 2010
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The Penn State field hockey team officially beings practice on Wednesday. Read what head coach Charlene Morett had to say about the upcoming season in this exclusive Q&A on GoPSUsports.com.
Morett, who enters her 24th season at Penn State, is one of two Nittany Lion coaches on the verge of the same milestone victory. While head football coach Joe Paterno enters 2010 with 394 career wins, Morett has 396, looking to become only the fourth Division I coach in NCAA field hockey history to reach that plateau.
Be sure to check back throughout the preseason for feature stories, photos, video interviews and more as the Nittany Lions prepare for the Aug. 27 season-opener against Old Dominion.
Q: Talk about the incoming freshmen class as a whole.
Morett: As a whole, I think it's a very solid class from the forward line players through the midfield, into the defensive backfield, all the way back to the goalkeeping position. We have a solid group of freshmen. Lauren Purvis and Brittany Grzywacz really highlight that incoming class because they're two who were on the U.S. Under 19 team that went to Argentina this past spring. Fortunately, I was one of the coaches who went with them. I had the chance to see - up close - their potential playing at the next level instead of the high school leagues. They were both very impressive in the way they played and the way they were able to contribute to the team's success.
Q: Bring us position by position. Let's start with the goalkeepers.
Morett: There's a lot of talent at goalkeeper. I think that was one of our question marks last year, the goalkeeping aspect and also the forward line play. We were inexperienced in those two areas, which doesn't bode well for success. This year, we obviously have Ayla Halus and Ali Meves who are returning. Both have significant experience. Ali played in more games last year than Ayla, but Ayla got a lot of experience playing in the spring when Ali got hurt. So I would say they're coming in neck-and-neck into the preseason. Kylie Licata is an incoming freshman who will redshirt.
Q: How about the defenders?
Morett: We did lose a significant amount at defense. I would say more from the center of our field into the backfield. We lost the leadership of Laura Cahill back there. She pretty much directed the defense. We feel good; we've made a position change with Daneen Zug. We took her out of the midfield and put her into the backfield last spring. She showed a lot of poise out there, making some good decisions [while showing] some good communication skills. So we're hoping Daneen will be the quarterback of the defensive backfield. We have some returning athletes who can vie for their starting positions. Then you have to throw the freshmen in the mix; they're good athletes as well.
Morett: Leading into our midfield area, we have Jessica Longstreth, who is very dynamic with her speed. We think we have a couple incoming freshmen who can match her speed. If we can get more of our speedy players in the midfield, it will create a lot of difficulty for the opposition.
Q: And finally, the forwards.
Morett: We have Kelsey Amy returning at the forward line. Casey McCartin saw some time at forward as well. We floated Jenny Purvis up there [along with] Natalie Buttinger. There are also some incoming kids - Whitney Reddig and Lauren Purvis - who should really spot some time on the line.
Q: How would you assess the team's overall season outlook?
Morett: I think last year, we just had some difficulty scoring. We had a lot of close games, but couldn't find the goal. Now that Kelsey [Amy] played High Performance for the Pennsylvania senior team this year, that gave her a lot of confidence. Also, with Lauren Purvis coming in with her Under 19 experience, she can be dangerous around the goal cage. Also, Brittany Grzywacz as a corner shooter is someone who has a lot of tools as a freshman, with the drag flick and the straight shot. I think our corner execution will be much more consistent and much more dangerous, which we hope will lead to more goals.