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Coming off a solid showing at No. 7 Princeton, the Penn State field hockey team heads to Ann Arbor, Mich. on Sunday for its Big Ten opener against the Michigan Wolverines. Gametime is set for 1 p.m.
The Lions' quest to defend their Big Ten Championship begins with a team that is having a very similar season. Both squads have played neck-and neck against some of the best teams in the country, but haven't yet been able to break through. Sunday is actually Michigan's second Big Ten game as it hosts Iowa on Friday afternoon.
After Sunday's showdown, the Nittany Lions return home for the start of a four-game homestand beginning on Friday, Oct. 2 vs. Ohio State at 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network, so be sure to come out to the Penn State Field Hockey Complex to support your Nittany Lions! Penn State is having an outstanding showing at home games with a chance to lead the nation in attendance, so let's show the nation why!
GameTracker will be available for the contest. And as always, be sure to check the Penn State field hockey twitter page before, during and after the game to keep updated on the Nittany Lions.
Penn State has played some of the top teams in the country and it shows when looking at their cumulative record.
In total, the Lions' seven losses have come to teams with a combined record of 44-10 (81.5 win percentage). Five teams have dominant marks, led by No. 1 Maryland (9-0), No. 4 Virginia (8-0), No. 5 Connecticut (8-0), No. 7 Princeton (6-1) and Lafayette (6-1).
Penn State's two wins have both come against 5-3 teams as well.
Four of the losses have also come to top-10 squads. The Nittany Lions will still play another top 10 team this season (Michigan State).
Field Hockey To Be Featured On Big Ten Network
Not only are two Penn State field hockey games scheduled for the Big Ten Network, but a number of features will be run on the network as well, starting on Monday, Oct. 5 at 2:30 p.m.
As part of the first episode of Penn State: Access Granted, redshirt sophomore Lauren Alloway and redshirt freshman Ayla Halus give fans an all-access tour of their facilities, plus a special trip to the Berkery Creamery!
The show is scheduled to re-air on Oct. 8 (2 p.m.), Oct. 15 (1:30 a.m.), Oct. 20 (2 p.m.) and Oct. 28 (6:30 p.m.).
Bonenberger, Hoffsmith Featured On Big Ten Website
Seniors Amy Bonenberger and Brooke Hoffsmith were recently featured on the Big Ten official website. The two have been teammates for eight consecutive years after suiting up together in high school. To read the article, please click here.
First Field Hockey RPI Released
The first NCAA field hockey RPI was released this week with Penn State coming in at 26.
Six of the Nittany Lions' opponents are in the top ten and 11 in the top 25. Leading the way at No. 1 is Syracuse followed by Maryland while a surprise team in Stanford checks in third. The Cardinal are a perfect 7-0 on the season and travel to Happy Valley for an Oct. 5 showdown.
Virginia comes in at No. 5 followed by Michigan State (7), Connecticut (8) and Old Dominion (9). Princeton (11), Northwestern (14), Michigan (18), Indiana (22) and Iowa (23) are also among the top 25.
Shutting The Door
Junior goalkeeper Ali Meves had a stellar performance against Princeton on Wednesday.
After allowing a goal on the Tigers' first shot, she stopped 14 of the next 16 sent her way for the most saves by a Penn State goalie since Jen Beaumont had 16 against Ohio State on Oct. 8, 2006.
She's had a number of monster save performances to go along with her most recent career effort. The native of Lower Gwynedd, Pa. also made seven saves at Lafayette (9/16), eight vs. Lock Haven (9/4) and nine at Virginia (8/30).
A Big Draw
Penn State field hockey has been a big draw early in 2009, averaging 430 fans at its games (including road and neutral site contests). In total, 3,866 have already seen the Lions half way through the regular season schedule.
That average of 430 is more than double the next "most-seen" Big Ten opponent, Michigan (209).
Last season, the cumulative attendance at Penn State's 20 games was 5,223.
At this pace, the Lions would surpass that figure right around Game 15 (at Iowa on Oct. 18) with three more regular season contests and the postseason still to follow.
The Nation's Attendance Leader?
Penn State has a realistic chance to lead the nation in average home attendance.
The Nittany Lions have averaged 559 fans at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex, which is on pace to easily top last year's figure of 372, fourth best in the nation.
They're also well on their way to Penn State's largest home attendance in program history. For perspective, the Lions averaged: 372 (2008), 406 (2007), 364 (2006), 318 (2005), 390 (2004), 293 (2003), 413 (2002) and 302 (2001).
The Nittany Lions are by far the Big Ten's leader in home attendance, almost 200 ahead of Michigan in second place.
The 559 fans for home games would shatter last season's national leader (North Carolina, 431) in average attendance.
The Tar Heels are averaging 569 fans so far this season, only 10 more than the Lions. Penn State is also well ahead of Maryland (445), Michigan (372) and Lock Haven (136), who all finished in the top five last year.
More Attendance Tidbits
Many fans stopped by the home opener vs. Lock Haven (Sept. 4) on their way to football eve, creating a buzz of an atmosphere.
Then on Sunday, Sept. 6, (vs. No. 5 Connecticut), the third largest crowd in the history of the Penn State Field Hockey Complex (694) witnessed a thrilling game.
The 694 fans only trail the 794 on Sept. 1, 2008 against Maryland and 770 on Sept. 2, 2007 versus Connecticut. Four of the top five crowds in the facility's history have come against the Huskies.
The attendance total of 694 stands as the 23rd largest crowd in NCAA Regular Season history and 32nd largest in NCAA history.
This past Sunday (Sept. 20) vs. West Chester saw another large crowd with the final total standing at 513.
Fans can continue these attendance figures with six home games still remaining. With a strong showing the rest of the way, Penn State has a chance to lead the nation in attendance. COME BE A PART OF IT!
New Foe = New Conference
After playing seven different conferences so far in the nonconference season, the Big Ten marks the eighth different conference that Penn State will play this year.
The Nittany Lions have played teams from the Ivy League (Princeton), CAA (Old Dominion), ACC (Virginia, Maryland), NEC (Lock Haven), BIG EAST (Connecticut), Atlantic 10 (West Chester), and Patriot League (American, Lafayette).
The Nittany Lions will still play the NorPac (Pacific, Stanford) in additional nonconference action.
The Series With Michigan
Penn State owns a 22-11 all-time record against the Wolverines with the 33 all-time meetings standings as the Lions' fifth most played opponent.
The Nittany Lions won the most recent contest, 3-0 at home on Oct. 26 of last season.
The series has been extremely competitive recently with the teams splitting the last eight meetings.
The first-ever meeting between these Big Ten rivals wasn't until 1992, Penn State's first season in the Big Ten, meaning all 33 meetings have come in the last 18 years.
In total, the squads have played twice in a single season on eight occasions and three an amazing four times. Big Ten teams played each other twice during the regular season in the early to mid 90's.
The teams have also played seven times in Big Ten Tournament action, most recently in 2007, when Michigan picked up a 3-2 overtime victory.
Penn State dominated the early years by winning 11 of the first 12 meetings and 17 of the first 19. Ever since, Michigan has bounced back, taking nine of 14.
Much like the Nittany Lions, the Wolverines have hung tough with some of the best teams in the country before falling by the slimmest of margins.
Heading into the Big Ten opener on Friday vs. Iowa, they owned a 2-6 record with wins over Temple (5-1) and Ball State (4-0). They have lost by a single goal to nationally ranked squads: No. 2 Wake Forest, No. 4 North Carolina, No. 7 Syracuse and No. 16 Louisville. The defeats to Syracuse and Louisville both came in overtime.
Michigan also dropped a 4-1 decision to defending national champion and No. 1 Maryland.
Along with the Terps, another common opponent is Connecticut, who defeated the Lions, 2-1 and then beat the Wolverines, 5-1.
Also much like Penn State, Michigan has seen a balanced offensive attack through the early part of the season. Meredith Way and Bryn Bain are tied for the team lead with four goals and (eight points) apiece. Paige Layots and Alicia Mayer have six points (2g, 2a), Alex Zeringue has four (2g) and Zara Saydjara has three (1g, 1a) to go along with three others who have two points and another who has one.
Paige Pickett has started all eight games in goal, posting a 2.33 GAA and .714 save percentage. Christi Barwick has also played 41:59, stopping two of three shots sent her way.
Start Of A New Streak?
Penn State recently split a pair of games against Pennsylvania foes.
After last Wednesday's loss to Lafayette ended a 30-game winning streak against instrate foes, the Nittany Lions hope that Sunday's win over West Chester will be the start of a new run.
To put the streak into perspective, an astonishing 2,194 days (over six years) came in between losses to teams from the Keystone State.
The Nittany Lions had an offensive outburst on Sunday vs. West Chester which led to their second win of the season, both coming at home.
Entering the game, the Lions had scored seven goals in the first seven games, but finished with five in a 5-0 rout.
Only one of the seven goals had been in the first half, but they scored three in the first stanza on Sunday, including one only 4:03 into the game. That ended a scoreless drought of 222:22 in the first half of games. The only other first half goal prior to that had been in the season-opener at No. 16 Old Dominion.
The Nittany Lions also had 29 shots, 22 on goal, the most since last Sept. 19 vs. Georgetown when they had a whopping 36 shots and 24 on goal.
Junior Daneen Zug finished with a game-high seven shots (six on goal), mostly coming off penalty corners. She more than doubled her shot total in the game alone. She entered the day with six and finished with 13.
Penn State hopes that last Sunday will be déjà vu to last season.
One year and one day before the 5-0 win over West Chester, the Nittany Lions dominated Georgetown, 6-0. Both games were at home.
That win propelled them to 10 wins in the next 11 games to put themselves in prime position for an NCAA Tournament berth.
In both games, Christine Dudek had a part in two of the goals. On Sunday, she posted a goal and assist while she had a career-high two scores last year against the Hoyas.
Both games also compared in the amount of relentless pressure by the Penn State offense. Along with the similar shot totals, the opposing goalkeepers finished with huge save totals - Georgetown's Deirdre Crovo had 18 and West Chester's Joelle Zarefoss finished with 17.
In three home games thus far, Penn State has posted a 2-1 record, outscoring its opponents 9-3.
They have also outshot their three foes, 56-27. On the contrary, the Lions have been outshot, 93-41, away from home.
The first three home games have seen a different Lion player score her first-career goal. It started with Hannah Allison vs. Lock Haven (9/4) leading up to Casey McCartin (9/6) and Alex Schlener (9/20).
The Nittany Lions are home five more times this season, including four straight in early October.
Penn State has spread the wealth on the offensive end with five players (Hannah Allison, Amy Bonenberger, Christine Dudek, Jessica Longstreth & Casey McCartin) tied for the team lead with two goals apiece.
Bonenberger, Dudek, Longstreth and McCartin all scored their second goals in Sunday's win over West Chester.
There's A First Time For Everything
Three Nittany Lions have scored their first-career goals this season (Hannah Allison, Casey McCartin, Alex Schlener).
Junior goalie Ali Meves had her first-career double digit save performance on Wednesday at Princeton.
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Ayla Halus picked up her first-career shutout on Sunday vs. West Chester. It was also Penn State's first shutout of the season.
Halus made her first collegiate appearance in relief of Meves at Maryland on Sept. 12. She was strong, making seven saves in the final 45:46.
Halus then made her first-career start the following day against American. She made six saves in that contest.
Meves' first-career start came in the season-opener at Old Dominion (8/28). She entered the season having played in four career games, all in relief.
Redshirt freshman Kristen Schaefer made her first-career start against American (9/13). She was one of six Lions to play all 70 minutes.
Redshirt Senior Christine Dudek has tallied three assists through nine games this season after having none in the first three years of her playing career.
After a scoreless freshman and sophomore year, she broke out with 10 points (five goals) last season.
This year, she assisted on Hannah Allison's second goal vs. Lock Haven while setting up fellow senior Amy Bonenberger in the season-opener at then-No. 16 Old Dominion.
Dudek then scored a goal at defending national champion and No. 1 Maryland. It came on only her second shot of the season with both coming in a span of nine seconds. The second shot found the back of the cage after a scramble in front of the goal.
Most recently, Dudek tallied her third assist off Bonenberger's penalty corner goal on Sunday vs. West Chester (9/20).
Her three assists lead the team while her three-point performance on Sunday also propelled her to the team-lead with seven points (2g, 3a).
She has made the most of her shots with two goals on only five attempts.
Sharing The Workload
Junior Ali Meves and redshirt freshman Ayla Halus have shared time in goal, with Halus recording 185:46 while Meves has played 445:52.
Halus started her second game of the season (and career) on Sunday and earned her first-career shutout.
Meves has gotten the starting nod the past two Wednesdays after Halus played the final 115:46 at the Terrapin Invitational. The junior keeper had 14 saves on Wednesday at Princeton and seven saves last week at Lafayette.
This season marks the first time that two Penn State goalies have eclipsed 100 minutes since 2000 when Heidi Leuchte played 488 and current assistant coach Annie Zinkavich played 1,150.
Stroke Of Excellence
Sophomore Jessica Longstreth found herself in a familiar position vs. American (on Sept. 13) when she took a second half penalty stroke.
It was her second of the season (and career). She found the back of the cage for the first time after a failed attempt vs. Lock Haven (Sept. 4).
Penn State had two penalty strokes last season, both from Allison Scola, and both goals.
The most penalty stroke attempts this century was four in 2004, a mark that the Lions can realistically surpass this season.
Second Half Bunch
The Lions have impressed in second half action this season with eight of their 12 goals coming in the final 35 minutes.
Christine Dudek's goal vs. West Chester snapped a scoreless first half skid which reached 222:22. Prior to the marker, Penn State's previous six goals had come in the second half. Amy Bonenberger scored in the first half in the season-opener at No. 16 Old Dominion.
Ironically, the trend was opposite last season, with nearly 66 percent of their goals (27 of 41) in the first half , 13 in the second and one in overtime.
Why Does My Shirt Have To Be "Red?"
The Penn State field hockey team has a number of redshirts on its 2009 roster, led by four redshirt freshmen (Hannah Allison, Ayla Halus, Kristen Schaefer, Alex Schlener), a redshirt sophomore (Lauren Alloway) and two redshirt seniors (Christine Dudek, Jen Miller).
The squad only includes two true freshmen, but when you add the redshirts, the freshmen become 38 percent of the team.
In total, 7 of the 19 players have redshirted.
Speaking of freshmen, one of those redshirts, Hannah Allison, had a performance to remember in the home opener vs. Lock Haven on Sept. 4.
She had a hand in all of Penn State's goals, finishing with five points, the most by a Nittany Lion freshman since Brittney Long had that many on Sept. 18, 2005 vs. West Chester.
Another freshman, Shaun Banta, also had five (2g, 1a) on Sept. 17, 2004 vs. Lafayette.
Allison was the first Nittany Lion with five points in a half since yet another freshman, Kristen Miller, had two goals and an assist in the second half of a 12-1 home win over Saint Joseph's (Sept. 21, 2003). Current assistant coach Annie Zinkavich was the starting goalkeeper in that game.
The five points were also the most for any Lion since Allison Scola last Oct. 19 at Northwestern.
The last player to have more than five was current senior Bethany Marvel when she recorded a hat trick (six points) on Oct. 23, 2007 at Bucknell. In that game, her sixth point came only 1:50 into the second half.
The performance earned her Penn State Student Athlete of the Week on Sept. 7, an honor she shared with senior football quarterback Daryll Clark.
Overall, Allison is second on the team in scoring with five points and tied for the team lead with two goals.
Coaches Who Know How To Win
Penn State is playing some of the greatest coaches in NCAA history this season.
The squad has already faced three of the top five winningest active coaches (all win totals as of the beginning of the season): Beth Anders (Old Dominion, 554), Nancy Stevens (Connecticut, 462) and Missy Meharg (367, Maryland).
Current Lion coach Charlene Morett is fourth on that list with 389 career wins entering the season.
All-time, Anders is first in NCAA Division I history with her 554 wins while Stevens is second, Morett is fourth, Meharg is fifth, Virginia's Michele Madison is 18th (250 wins) and West Chester's Kathy Krannebitter is 24th (212).
In addition, Lock Haven's Pat Rudy had 459 wins entering the year, but she isn't yet eligible as a DI coach since Lock Haven recently moved to Division I.
The most-played "non-conference" on Penn State's schedule this season is the Patriot League.
The Lions lost to the league's preseason favorite, American University, 3-1 on Sept. 13. The Eagles were selected as preseason favorites for a seventh straight season.
They then fell to Lafayette, ranked No. 2 in the preseason conference poll, 1-0 in overtime on Sept 16.
Penn State looks for better luck against the Patriot League when it hosts Bucknell (predicted fourth) on Oct. 13.
Even with the recent loss, Penn State is still an incredible 55-6-2 all-time against the Patriot League.
The Lions have faced Bucknell the most (31-2-2 record) followed by Lafayette (14-2), Lehigh (8-0) and American (1-2).
Starting Her 'Starting' Career With A Bang
Junior goalkeeper Ali Meves had a strong first four starts of her career.
Meves recorded her first-career win in the home opener vs. Lock Haven. She finished with eight big saves, including a number in the first half to keep the Lions close, allowing them to take a second half lead behind an offensive outburst.
On Aug. 30, Meves made a then career-high nine saves on 10 shots to keep the Nittany Lions close against No. 6 Virginia.
Meves and redshirt freshman Ayla Halus look to fill the hole left by departed All-American goalkeeper Jen Beaumont.
The "Big" CC?
Penn State could make a case to be an honorary member of the ACC due to the number of nonconference games against one of the top conferences in the country.
This season is no different, with Virginia and Maryland, arguably the ACC's two best teams, on the slate.
Over the previous two years (2007 and '08), Penn State played nine games against ACC squads, posting a 5-4 record. That included four straight games in 2007 as part of its magical run to the National Championship Game.
All-time, Penn State has faced - Maryland (31 times), North Carolina (28), Virginia (16), Duke (5), Wake Forest (4) and Boston College (1).
Ironically, Penn State head coach Charlene Morett began her head coaching career with a current ACC school, Boston College.
Tough Schedule On Tap
The latest NFHCA Coaches Poll (Sept. 22) sees an incredible 10 of Penn State's opponents in the Top-20. Cracking the top 20 are: Maryland (1), Virginia (4), Connecticut (5), Princeton (7), Michigan State (8), Stanford (13), Old Dominion (15), Indiana (17), Northwestern (18) and American (20). Additionally, Ohio State, Iowa, Lafayette and Michigan are also receiving votes.
Also on the docket are eight NCAA Tournament teams from 2008, including National Champion Maryland and National Semifinalist Iowa.
The following squads made the final NFHCA Coaches Poll: Maryland (1), Connecticut (5), Iowa (6), Princeton (9), Michigan State (10), Virginia (12), Ohio State (14) and American (18). Lock Haven, Old Dominion, Stanford and Indiana all finished among "Others Receiving Votes."
The Lions also face 10 from the preseason top-20 and five more who received votes. Only three teams - Lafayette, Pacific and West Chester - didn't garner votes.
Facing Defending National Champions
As part of their challenging schedule, the Lions faced a defending national champion for the 21st time on Sept. 12 at Maryland.
With the loss, Penn State is now 5-16 against defending champs, with the last win coming, 1-0, over the Terps on Nov. 11, 2007.
Only The Best...
Along with facing the defending national champion and a number of ranked foes, the Nittany Lions also face four preseason conference favorites.
In total, they face four who were predicted to win their respective conferences in their preseason polls: Old Dominion (CAA), Virginia (ACC), Lock Haven (NEC) and American (Patriot League).
The Big Ten, NorPac and Ivy League don't have preseason polls. Otherwise, the number could be even more with Big Ten powers along with teams like Stanford and Princeton on the slate.
Lions Ranked 11th In Preseason NFHCA Poll
Following a Big Ten Championship season, the Penn State field hockey began 2009 ranked No. 11 in the preseason Kookaburra/NFHCA Coaches Poll. The Nittany Lions, who concluded last season in the same position, have 10 opponents ranked in the top-20.
In total, 10 of the Lions' 2009 opponents garnered a preseason national ranking, including six of the top nine: Maryland (1), Connecticut (5), Virginia (6), Princeton (7), Michigan State (8), Iowa (9), American (14), Old Dominion (16), Ohio State (18) and Michigan (19). Other opponents, Northwestern, Indiana, Lock Haven, Bucknell and Stanford all received votes as well.
Five of the seven Big Ten squads were ranked in the top-20, second most of any conference behind the ACC. The other two teams - Indiana and Northwestern - received votes, effectively ranked 26th and 27th, respectively.
Streaks To Greatness
The field hockey program has put together a number of impressive streaks both recently and looking back to its storied history. The Lions look to extend these streaks in 2009.
With Penn State's nine game winning streak in 2008, the squad put together streaks of nine games or more in three of the previous four seasons (also 10 in 2006 and a school-record 17 in 2005). Ironically, the one season that it didn't put together a streak of that magnitude was in the National Finalist season in 2007 when the longest win streak "only" reached five.
Entering 2009, the Nittany Lions have picked up double-figures in wins in an incredible 31 consecutive seasons, a streak that is still alive.
Additionally, the Lions have never had a losing record under Morett. The worst season came in 2004 when they finished 10-10. Every other season of her storied career has consisted of a winning record.
2009 Media Guide Now Available!
The 2009 media guide is now available! In it, you can find everything you need to know about Penn State field hockey including stats, player bios, a complete history section and much more!
Copies are available for only $5. They will be available at every home game and can also be purchased through the publications store on GoPSUsports.com. Click here to order!
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Penn State field hockey is now on Twitter! You can find exclusive notes and features to help you stay one step ahead when following the Nittany Lions.
Included will be live in-game scoring updates, so if you can't make it to Happy Valley, you'll still be able to follow all the action. Go to www.twitter.com and search for the username PennStateFH. Click here for a direct link.