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Oct. 26, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Buoyed by a pair of victories against top-20 opponents over the weekend, the Penn State field hockey team continued its upward surge in the national polls as the Nittany Lions now rank among the top-10 teams in the National Field Hockey Coaches' Association poll and the NCAA RPI rankings.
In the NFHCA poll, Penn State jumped two spots to settle into the ninth position after victories over Princeton and Duke last weekend. The Nittany Lions also moved up one place in the Ratings Percentage Index and now stand eighth in those rankings.
Among teams from the Big Ten, PSU sits second in both polls. Presently, only Ohio State outranks the Nittany Lions as the Buckeyes currently stand in fifth place in both of the national rankings.
Penn State's outstanding defensive unit has been at the forefront of the Nittany Lions' resurgence in 2010. As a team, PSU leads the nation with an .817 save percentage after allowing just 20 goals while setting aside 89 shots.
Over the weekend, the unit was on full display as the Lions surrendered only one goal to Duke on Saturday before blanking Princeton on Sunday. Penn State's performance against the Tigers was especially impressive considering the Ivy League power entered the contest with the second-ranked scoring offense in the nation.
Ayla Halus headlines the defense as the team's standout goalkeeper. A four-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honoree, she stands second in the nation with an .835 save percentage and ninth with a 1.15 goals-against average.
Halus has certainly been assisted by a strong contingent of defensive standouts. Lauren Alloway, Alex Schlener, and Daneen Zug have anchored the unit and started all 16 games, while Kristen Schaefer has made 13 starts as a back. Midfielders Jessica Longstreth, Jenny Purvis, and Brittany Grzywacz have also been crucial to the team's defensive dominance.
On the offensive end, sophomore Kelsey Amy stabilizes the team's potent attack. During her second season in Happy Valley, she currently leads the squad with 13 goals and 29 points. Longstreth also has eight goals and a team-high 11 assists, while forwards Hannah Allison and Lauren Purvis have also been solid throughout the year.
In the RPI, Maryland holds the top spot and is followed closely by Virginia, North Carolina, UConn, and Ohio State. Syracuse, Princeton, Penn State, Michigan, and Old Dominion round out the top 10.
The Terrapins also rank first in the NFHCA poll, while North Carolina, Virginia, UConn, and Ohio State are also in the top-five. Princeton, Syracuse, American, Penn State, and Louisville complete the list of the top vote getters.