Field Hockey Wraps Up Day One of Preseason Camp
Aug. 11, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2010 Penn State field hockey team officially opened preseason training camp Wednesday, which included a team building session along with its first practice. A young Nittany Lion squad looks to bounce back from an up-and-down 2009 to vie for the program's 26th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance.
"This year, we did a special thing for preseason," said head coach Charlene Morett. "We did a great team building program run by Erik Kapitulik and his personal company called The Program."
The program focuses on leadership and team building. The Nittany Lions did everything from flutter kicks to push ups to tug of war and more, all while bonding as a team and developing leadership skills.
"It challenged us in a lot of different ways," said senior co-captain Daneen Zug (Manheim, Pa.). "It challenged our competitiveness. Most of the time, we were split up. In our smaller groups, we had to come up with ways to win in different situations or come out on top in different battles.
"It worked on our leadership, communication skills and problem solving," she continued. "That's something we'll really need this year during the games."
"In the small groups, it was really obvious that we need to be there for each other," said redshirt junior co-captain Lauren Alloway (Hummelstown, Pa.). "Caring, but also holding each other accountable and pushing each other."
The afternoon session saw the Lions hit the field for their first practice.
"We really start the beginning of preseason focusing on fundamentals," said Morett. "We did that today. Focus on fundamentals - passing, receiving, defense. We want to get ourselves into that competitive frame of mind."
Penn State has an exhibition game next Friday (Aug. 20) at Maryland while its first regular season contest is the following Friday (Aug. 27) at home vs. Old Dominion. Fans will have plenty of opportunities to see the Lions in action; 11 of their 17 games will be at home, their most home games since 2003.
A young squad features eight freshmen, five sophomores, three juniors and only three seniors. High school All-Americans like Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.) and Lauren Purvis (Maple Glen, Pa.) spearhead a strong freshman class looking to mesh with a returning group of veterans such as Zug, Alloway and junior Jessica Longstreth (Richboro, Pa.) to form an impressive balance of defense and scoring.
Morett is high on the incoming freshman class.
"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," she said. "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."
Penn State struggled to score in 2009, but with Kelsey Amy's (Sweet Valley, Pa.) late-season emergence - all of her team-leading 18 points came during the final half of the season - coupled with talented newcomers, it should turn into a strong point in 2010. Amy, a sophomore, also played for Team PA at the High Performance Nationals in Virginia Beach this summer.
The goalie competition will be intriguing to watch, with senior Ali Meves (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.) and redshirt sophomore Ayla Halus (Hershey, Pa.) in the running for playing time. Meves started 18 of 20 games last year, but Halus saw significant action in the spring when Meves got hurt.
As Morett said, "I would say they're coming in neck-and-neck into the preseason."
Joe Paterno isn't the only Penn State coach in search of his 400th career win this season. While Paterno has 394 career wins, Morett enters the season with 396 victories, looking to become only the fourth Division I coach in NCAA field hockey history to reach the historic milestone.
That said, all Morett is worried about is the season at hand.
"I'm really looking forward to the start of the season," she said. "We have a group of girls who are committed. Hopefully we will see the results from today's program taken onto the hockey field."
"We are so excited," said Zug when asked about the upcoming season. "Our team has been ready for this preseason for a while. We've been talking about it since last season ended. We're going to come out with a bang this year."
Check back to GoPSUsports.com for continued updates leading into the 2010 season.
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