Big Ten Play Opens for Field Hockey on Saturday

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Jen Beaumont, who has recorded three straight shutouts in goal, will look for a fourth straight when Penn State opens its Big Ten schedule on Saturday at Michigan State at 1:30 p.m.

Michigan State Game Notes (.PDF)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.;September 22, 2006 - Riding a seven-game winning streak, the Penn State field hockey team will begin defense of its Big Ten title on Saturday when the Nittany Lions travel to Michigan State for a 1:30 p.m. match with the Spartans. The Nittany Lions went a perfect 6-0 during the regular season in the Big Ten a year ago to claim the regular season title before being ousted in the Big Ten Tournament.

Big Ten play could not be beginning at a better time for Penn State, as it has been playing some its best field hockey of the year leading into this weekend. The 7-2 Nittany Lions have gone the last 229:54 without allowing a goal while scoring 13 goals in their last three games. This steller defensive play has lowered the team goals against average to 0.88, which leads the conference.

Offensively, junior forward Shaun Banta has recorded three straight multiple-goal games and has scored in four consecutive contests. She was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after scoring five goals in two games last weekend and then she followed that up with two more goals in Wednesday's 3-0 win over Penn. Meanwhile, junior Mallory Weisen has recorded points in six straight games and has an assist in her last four straight contests. She leads the team in assists with five after not having a single career assist entering the season, and has set a career high for points in a season with nine.

Michigan State enters Saturday afternoon's game with a 3-6 overall record. This is the Big Ten opener for the Spartans as well. Their wins have come over Temple, St. Joseph??s and Yale. Four of their losses have come to teams that are currently ranked in Louisville, American, James Madison and Wake Forest. They have been outscored on the year 24-19 but have far more penalty corners than their opponents, 73-44. Michigan State is also outshooting its opponents.

Penn State holds a 20-7 advantage over Michigan State in the all-time series. The Nittany Lions topped the Spartans last year, which ended a six-game losing streak against the Spartans. Prior to last year, Michigan State had won each regular season matchup from 2001-2004, including two games in the Big Ten Tournament. That streak followed a six-game winning streak by Penn State in the series from 1996-2000. Penn State won the first meeting back in 1987 and the teams have met every year since Penn State??s first year in the Big Ten in 1992.



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