Heroic Efforts Earn a Win on Alumni Day
Oct. 3, 2011
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
"We need to know as a team that we are always still in the game," said junior forward Kelsey Amy. "Even if we don't have the momentum in our favor, the game isn't over until someone has the winning score."
Momentum was something that the Nittany Lions tried to capture from Northwestern before the game was even underway. Just before the start of the opening half, the Lions faced the alumni and fans and yelled out an energetic "We Are..." followed by a roaring "Penn State".
Penn State carried its pregame momentum into the first half with an early goal scored by Amy, whose heroics throughout the game lifted her teammates around her.
The Lions controlled the lead throughout the first half, and headed into the locker room at the intermission with a three-goal lead over the 16th-ranked Northwestern Wildcats.
"Well, I think we didn't play a great first half despite the lead," said coach Charlene Morett. "Our girls showed a lot of determination in the second half and we looked a lot stronger."
Just as the rain stopped and started throughout the contest, the energy jumped back and forth between the teams up until the game-clinching goal. The Wildcats came out of halftime with high spirits as they took advantage of penalty chances and scored two quick goals to even up the contest at three goals apiece.
It was one of those Northwestern penalty chances that not only added a goal on the board for the visitors, but also proved as a scary moment for Penn State players and fans. Amy, who had already propelled her team with a goal and an assist at this point in the game, went down with an apparent knee injury.
"There was a play where my body went one way and me knee twisted the other," said Amy. "The pain was like a knife through my heart, but I said to myself that I am not going to sit out of the last six minutes of the game. I needed to be out there. I wanted to be out there."
And that is exactly what she did. After only minutes on the sideline, the junior went right back out on the field and helped her team hold off the Northwestern offense to force overtime. Heading into the sudden death overtime period, Penn State regrouped, discussed the plan, and went out ready to execute.
"We talked about keeping the tempo up," said freshman Taylor Herold. "We needed to focus on tough defensive play and then worry about taking the ball up the field."
Right off the bat in the decisive period, the Penn State defense came up huge with a clutch save by junior goalie Ayla Halus and a great defensive break up on a Northwestern penalty chance.
Just as it was discussed in the intermission, the defensive strength allowed Penn State to control the tempo, and provided them scoring chances. After a failed penalty corner chance and a shot that went wide of the goal, it was freshman Taylor Herold who stepped up and scored her third goal of the season to seal the Nittany Lion victory.
"I am just trying to be that spark off the bench," said Herold. "I go in and make something happen whether it be lifting the tempo or helping push the ball down the field."
Despite the cold and the rain, the Nittany Lion field hockey team kept the spirits high in Happy Valley with its impassioned effort on Alumni Day.