No. 9 Nittany Lions Host No. 7 Michigan State on Sunday for Senior Day and Think Pink Day
Oct. 12, 2007
University Park, Pa. - The No. 9 Penn State field hockey team will put its five-game winning streak on the line on Sunday when No. 7 Michigan State comes to town for what should be a pivotal matchup in the Big Ten standings. The Nittany Lions and Spartans are tied for second place along with Iowa in the BIg Ten with 2-1 records in conference play.
Penn State (10-4, 2-1 Big Ten) is coming off a hard fought 1-0 win at Lafayette on Wednesday, which followed a 2-0 win at Indiana last Sunday. The Nittany Lions have recorded shutouts in three of their last four games to bring their shutout total to five this year, which is now tied for first in the Big Ten. After starting out the year in the middle of the Big Ten rankings in the defensive categories, Penn State's outstanding play on defense as of late has moved it up gradually. The Nittany Lions have allowed the third-fewest goals overall, the fewest goals in Big Ten play, and overall have allowed the second-fewest goals per game. The Nittany Lions are also second in the Big Ten in goals against average.
The Nittany Lions will need to continue that hot play on defense in order to extend their winning streak to six against a Michigan State (11-4, 2-1 Big Ten) team that leads the Big Ten in most offensive categories, including scoring margin, scoring average, goals scored, goals scored per game and assists. The Spartans have scored a Big Ten-high 71 goals in 15 games and have recorded 54 assists. They have also scored nine goals in Big Ten play, tied for first, but have also yielded five, whereas Penn State has scored seven goals but allowed only one in the Big Ten play.
Penn State leads the all-time series with Michigan State 22-7 and the Nittany Lions have also won the last three meetings, including twice last year. The Nittany Lions topped the Spartans 3-1 during the regular season in East Lansing and then defeated an upstart Michigan State team in a classic semifinal matchup in last year's Big Ten Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich. In that contest, Michigan State scored the first goal of the game with just over eight minutes remaining in regulation. Penn State then tied the game with under two minutes to play in regulation on a goal by Shaun Banta to send the game into overtime and then Kiersten Wood won it for the Lions with a goal in the ninth minute of overtime.
The PSU-MSU series has been rather streaky, as prior to Penn State's current three-game winning streak, Michigan State had won six straight in the series from 2001-2004 and before that, Penn State won six straight from 1996-2000. The Nittany Lions won the first meeting between the two schools back in 1987, Char Morett's first year as head coach, and the teams have met every year since 1992.
In addition to it being a matchup of top 10 teams and an important game for the Big Ten standings, Sunday will also be Senior Day as well as Think Pink Day for the Nittany Lions. Think Pink Day, which will be similar to the Lady Lions' Think Pink Day of last year and the one planned for later this year, is designed to bring more awareness to breast cancer. The first 200 fans to AstroTurf Field will be given a free pink Penn State Field Hockey t-shirt and fans will also have an opportunity to make donations to the fight against breast cancer. Additionally, Penn State's six seniors will also be honored prior to the game. Seniors Kiersten Wood, Mallory Weisen, Shaun Banta and Natalie Blasco, as well as redshirt juniors Britney Long and Jen Beaumont will all be recognized prior to the game.