Nittany Lions and Wildcats to Meet in Big Ten Showdown
Oct. 4, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions host the Wildcats from Northwestern at 1 p.m. on Saturday in a match that will likely have major implications on the Big Ten title chase. The two squads enter the weekend with unblemished conference records and both ranked in the top-10 in the latest NFHCA poll.
On Saturday, the first 250 fans will receive a pink Penn State Field Hockey hat to honor Breast Cancer Awareness month. To go along with the giveaway, there will be a "Tweet Your Seat" contest, giving fans a chance to win official Penn State apparel.
All fans are reminded that Penn State has a no bag policy that will be enforced at every Penn State home event throughout the year. One clear plastic one-gallon bag per person is the only bag permitted at all Penn State home events.
Saturday's clash will be the 34th in the series between Penn State and Northwestern. The Lions have a stranglehold on the all-time series with a record of 27-5-1. However, the matchup has been much more competitive in recent years, as Penn State has won three of the last five meetings, with two of the matches going into overtime.
The Wildcats pulled off a thrilling overtime win in last season's contest, tying the match at 4-4 in the 64th minute after trailing 3-1 earlier in the match. Northwestern then scored just 12 seconds into the extra session to grab the comeback win and give Penn State what turned out to be its only Big Ten loss of the season in 2012.
As of late, the meetings between the two sides have produced plenty of goals, with the teams combining to score at least six goals in each of the previous four matches. Last season's nine combined goals matches the most goals scored in series history.
Penn State comes into the weekend winners of six consecutive matches. The latest two victories came last weekend over Miami (Ohio) and Indiana. The Nittany Lions defeated the RedHawks by a final of 2-1. The Penn State goals came from Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.) and Ashtin Klingler (Selinsgrove).
The Blue and White then opened up Big Ten action by defeating the Hoosiers in a commanding 4-0 shutout victory. The win marks the fourth year in a row that Penn State has won its Big Ten opener. Goals in the match came from Klingler (2), Abby Fuhrman (Bainbridge, Pa.) and Taylor Herold (Fredericksburg, Va.).
A major reason for the Blue and White's success has been its defense, which has recorded four shutouts in its last six matches. PSU's four shutouts are tied with Northwestern for the most in the Big Ten this season. The Lions have allowed one goal in their last four matches combined. Penn State has allowed just 8.4 shots per match this season and 3.9 penalty corners per outing, as opposed to the Nittany Lions attempting 18.3 shots and 9.5 penalty corners per contest.
The conference has taken notice of Penn State's defensive efforts, as the team has received the last three Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors. Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.) is the most recent recipient of the award, claiming the accolade after Grzywacz won it the previous two weeks.
Northwestern enters the match as one of the hottest teams in the country. The Wildcats have won 10 of its last 11 matches, with the only loss coming to No. 4 Virginia in Charlottesville. NU has five wins against top-20 opponents, including a victory over now No. 7 Duke.
The Wildcats are 2-0 in Big Ten play, with wins over Iowa and Michigan. This weekend's match vs. Penn State is their first of six-straight road contests, which spans the entire month of October.
Northwestern's point leader is Nikki Parsley, who has 18 points off eight goals and two assists coming into Saturday. The senior's eight goals also top the team in the category. Parsley and the Wildcats have scored 33 goals this season for an average of 2.75 per match.
After Saturday's match with Northwestern, the Lions have a week to prepare for Ohio State, as the Buckeyes come to Penn State for a match on Friday, October 11 at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex. The match begins at 3 p.m. and will kick off the busy homecoming weekend. After Friday's Big Ten match, Penn State will go on the road to face Bucknell on Sunday, October 13 in a match that is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.