Licata Looks to Continue Success Against Iowa
Oct. 25, 2013
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Licata started playing field hockey at a young age, joining her first team when she entered sixth grade. Years later, when it was time to begin touring colleges, Licata knew Penn State would be the best school for the advancement of her field hockey career.
"When I came it, it was just like home to me," said Licata of Penn State's campus. "I came on probably three visits here, and then I finally decided, `You know what I'm tired of looking at schools. I'm going to Penn State.' I was born on a Penn State, West Virginia football game day, and so my dad was running in and out of the operating room and my mom's like, `Get in here!' It was kind of like destiny. I was supposed to come here."
Licata's success as the Lions' starting goalie this season has come with many impressive achievements. She currently leads the Big Ten Conference in shutouts, recording a total of six on the season thus far. The Lion's goaltender also has the second highest save percentage (.710) and the second lowest goals against average (1.36) in the conference. These statistics, alone, speak volumes of her play, but Licata's overall style is what really helps her shine.
"I think I have a really unique playing style compared to a lot of goalies out there," said Licata. "I'm very aggressive, but when I came here I learned to be patient in the goal and just do me. I kind of have that mix of discipline slash aggressiveness, and Char [Morett] said that a couple times to me. I really like being aggressive. I really like going out there, getting the ball away from them, and just helping out my defense."
Head coach Char Morett has noticed her goaltender's improvement in the cage this season, and with the help of assistant coach Stuart Smith, Licata has been prepared for all possible situations.
"I think that Kylie has grown tremendously from the beginning of the season," said Morett. "Stuart does an outstanding job every week of preparing her for our opponents, replicating their scores, their corner options. I think he's been totally committed to improving her as a goalkeeper. I would say that with Kylie, we don't want to lose her spontaneity and her aggressiveness, but at the same time we want her to be a little more calculating from situation to situation. Sometimes I think if it were up to Kylie, she'd go flying at everybody. At this level of hockey, kids can work around that, but I think that she's just played more consistently as the season's gone on."
While Licata's dedication to growing as a player has majorly contributed to her stellar play, she is quick to credit the rest of her team as well, firmly believing that the connectedness on the field is what allows her to excel and remain confident in the cage.
"I think we all, between me, the defenders, the midfielders, we just all connect," Licata said. "If somebody gets beat, I have full trust that the forwards are going to get back and come help mark out, just like Brit [Grzywacz] during the Michigan State game. Even though I missed that, she has my back all the time. I just think we're a very close team and will fight for each other."
Morett agreed with the sentiments, believing the communication between Licata and the defense is a definite strength this squad possesses.
"I think that she's got an outstanding defense in front of her that obviously has her back," Morett said. "Brit [Grzywacz] has made a couple defensive saves as the season has gone on, and just with them not giving up some great scoring opportunities, between Kylie and the entire defense, that's been something that I've noticed."
Even with all the success Licata has experienced this season, she understands the importance of staying focused and preparing for the next game, which for the Lions is a conference match against No. 19 Iowa.
"Iowa is going to be a great team," Licata said. "They're literally the same playing style as us. We just need to take them on and just do our style of play against them. We match up very well. Char told us that in the beginning of the week. We just match up well between corners, offense, defense, just everything. It should be a great game."
After coming off such an exciting conference win against Michigan State, the Nittany Lions know they will need to be ready for a strong Iowa team.
"What I like about our team is that we are balanced and stay competitive," said Morett. "We did some video early in the week, so we know what to expect from Iowa."
Licata and the rest of the Nittany Lions are prepared to engage in a defensive battle Friday afternoon, as they aim to not only remain undefeated in the Big Ten, but also to continue their winning streak. The Lions currently have the longest active winning streak in the nation with 10 consecutive victories.
"I think it's going to be a big defensive battle," said Morett. "I think we both play strong defense. I think we have some key players that can be offensive threats. It's almost like a mirror type of game. I think that they're just so well coach, and they're very disciplined in how they play the game."
"Going out to Iowa, we know that it's a challenging place to play," Morett added. "We're hoping that we can get the women's soccer team, who also plays in Iowa that night, maybe we can get them out a little bit to our game and we can get out to their game so we can show a little bit of that One Team support."