No. 9 Field Hockey Travels to No. 6 Connecticut, Hosts Lafayette This Weekend
Aug. 30, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – After topping the No. 3 and No. 8 teams in the country, the No. 9 Penn State field hockey team will travel to No. 6 Connecticut on Friday, Aug. 31, for a 7 p.m. matchup before returning home to face Lafayette at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 2nd. The Nittany Lions look to improve on their 2-0 record, which is the best season start since 2007. Both games will be available via Gametracker.
Penn State opened the 2012 season in style, defeating No. 3 Old Dominion 5-2. Senior Kelsey Amy (Sweet Valley, Pa.) led the squad with two goals, including the game-winner, while junior Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.) scored on a penalty stroke. Junior Lauren Purvis (Maple Glen, Pa.) tallied a goal against the Monarchs, as well as against No. 8 Virginia in the 3-2 victory. Sophomore Casey Haegele (Warrington, Pa.) netted a goal in the ODU contest, while Grzywacz and junior Whitney Reddig (Lititz, Pa.) each scored in the UVA match.
Amy, tied with Grzywacz and Purvis with four points on the season, was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after her performance against Old Dominion. Netminder Ayla Halus had an excellent weekend, earning Big Ten honors as the Defensive Player of the Week. The fifth-year senior made 11 saves during the two contests, holding off a penalty stroke and only allowing four goals. Halus currently has a 2.00 GAA and a .733 save percentage.
No. 6 Connecticut has steadily become one of Penn State’s biggest rivals, with the last win over the Huskies coming in 2006. UConn had an impressive campaign during the 2011 season, going 19-3 overall with a 6-0 mark in the Big East. After falling in the Big East Championship to Syracuse, the squad made it all the way to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament, only to lose in double-overtime to then No. 1 North Carolina. Connecticut returns three of the top five leading point scorers from last season, including standouts Marie Elena Bolles, Anne Jeute and Chloe Hunnable.
The 2012 Huskies are made up of four seniors, three juniors, four sophomores and 13 freshmen. Bolles, a member of the U.S. Under-21 National team, currently leads the squad with two goals and three assists after wins over Bucknell (3-0) and Sacred Heart (8-0). Hunnable most recently scored her second career hat-trick against Sacred Heart, bringing her point total to six. The sophomore scored 14 goals during the 2011 season, tallied 32 points and was named Big East Rookie of the Year. After scoring 15 goals, Jeute returns to the Huskies as a Second Team All-American. Connecticut’s goalkeeper, Sarah Mansfield, recorded a .752 save percentage, a 1.24 GAA and earned All-American First Team honors last season.
Penn State’s last contest against the Huskies ended in a 1-0 loss in overtime. The Lions hold the advantage in all-record, going 16-15-4 since 1978.
The Lafayette Leopards return as the Patriot League Champions, winning the tournament in a 3-1 victory over Bucknell. The 2011 squad went 11-9 overall and 4-1 in conference play. The Leopards made a first round NCAA Tournament appearance, falling to Ohio 2-1 in overtime. Returning all five of their leading point scorers, Lafayette’s offense will be led by Deanna DiCroce, Kelsey Mead, Emily Valeo, Aimee Smith and Brittany Blass. Dicroce tallied 14 goals and 38 points, while Mead recorded 19 points. Jessica Deutsch and Mara Kish will compete for starts, after recording records of 6-6 and 5-3, respectively.
The 2012 squad is made up of five seniors, seven juniors, five sophomores and six freshmen. The Leopards, who will take on James Madison on Sept. 1, most recently defeated Ball State 5-1. Blass tallied two goals in the season opener against Ball State, while Valeo recorded a goal and two assists. Both currently lead Lafayette with four points. Deutsch, who had a 1.73 GAA and a .775 save percentage last season, made three saves. Kish similarly recorded a 1.74 GAA and .679 save percentage in the 2011 season, and both goaltenders each had 18 goals against and two shutouts.
The Nittany Lions and the Leopards will face each other for the 19th time, with Penn State leading the series with a 16-2 advantage. Last season, the Lions won 6-0 on the road. Lafayette’s last win in the series came in 2009 after a 1-0 overtime victory.
Check back to GoPSUSports.com for continued updates during the 2012 season! Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/PennStateFH and find us on Facebook at facebook.com/pennstatefieldhockey.