No. 8 Nittany Lions Zero in on Unblemished Conference Record against Spartans
Oct. 29, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 8 Penn State field hockey team caps its championship-winning season Friday at 4 p.m. as it travels to East Lansing, Mich. to take on No. 10 Michigan State. The game can be followed via GameTracker on GoPSUsports.com.
The Nittany Lions look to finish their conference schedule undefeated Friday. Penn State (13-4, 5-0 Big Ten) wrapped up its fifth regular season championship Sunday when it defeated Michigan, 3-0. The victory over the Wolverines - which saw three-point performances from Allison Scola and Daneen Zug - capped off an emotional weekend that began with a game-winning goal by Amy Bonenberger 51 seconds into overtime. Jen Beaumont shut out both the Hoosiers and Wolverines with ten combined saves. The senior goalkeeper has not allowed a goal in the past 264 minutes. The champions are riding a month-long, nine-game winning streak.
Michigan State (13-4, 3-2 Big Ten) comes into its final conference game losing three of its past four after rising as high as No. 4 in the national rankings. After losing to No. 2 Wake Forest, Michigan State dropped two consecutive conference games - a 1-0 loss to Michigan and a 3-2 loss to No. 9 Iowa in overtime. Its only win in that timeframe was a 2-1 double-overtime victory against sub-.500 Ohio.
Friday's game against Michigan State is the final contest for the Nittany Lions this regular season. The Spartans face Central Michigan on Sunday to round out its schedule. Penn State, with the No. 1 seed already locked for next's weekend's Big Ten tournament in Bloomington, Ind., gets a bye during the first round and will not play again until Nov. 7. The Nittany Lions will face the winner of fourth- and fifth-seeded teams, which, depending on this weekend's outcomes, will either be Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa or Ohio State.
The Series vs. Michigan State
Penn State owns a 22-8 all-time lead over the Spartans. Michigan State, as the No. 8 team in the nation at the time, upended the Nittany Lions, 3-2, in 2007. Two current Nittany Lions - Scola and Bethany Marvel - scored goals in the game. Penn State defeated Michigan State twice in 2006.
Scouting the Nittany Lions
Penn State comes into its final game leading the nation in two categories. The Nittany Lion defense, led by senior Jen Long, is responsible for the most shutouts in Division I field hockey with nine, tied with James Madison and Ohio State. Penn State has blanked its opponent 53 percent of its games this season.
Jen Beaumont, the current National Player of the Week, leads the league in save percentage, allowing just 83.1 percent of shots on goal in the net. As a team, Penn State also leads that category with an 83.9 save percentage. Penn State is second in goals-against average, holding opponents to just .88 goals per game.
The Nittany Lion offense is third in the nation as it has garnered 10.12 penalty corners per game. Syracuse, which leads country in seven team and three individual categories, owns the most opportunities as the Orange average 11.61 per game.
Scola is the team's point leader with 24. She also has the most assists with 12 and is 13th nationally in setting up goals. Daneen Zug scored the most goals on the team with nine. Amy Bonenberger and Bethany Marvel are tied with three game-winning goals apiece.
Scouting the Spartans
Michigan State has been offensively productive this season, amassing 20 shots and 3.88 goals per game. It leads the Big Ten in goals and is second in scoring margin. It is led by three players who have more than 30 points each. Jeamie Deacon leads the team with 32 points, sporting a balance of 11 goals, 10 assists and 32 points. Floor Rijpma has 14 goals to her credit, and Chantae Miller possesses 31 points, likewise. Gwen Riley also has 10 assists.
Nationally, the Spartans are fifth in four categories - scoring average, goals per game, points per game and penalty corners per game - and sixth in scoring margin and assists per game.
Michigan State, coached by a native of Holland, plays an international style of field hockey. It boasts six foreign players from The Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Ireland and Canada.
Penn State's defense has allowed .36 goals per second half this season. It has shut out opponents in the latter frame in 13 of its 17 games this season.
Accolades for Beaumont
Jen Beaumont received Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and National Player of the Week awards for her two shutouts this past weekend over Indiana and Michigan. During conference play, Beaumont has a .21 goals-against average and saved 95.7 percent of shots faced. As it currently stands, Beaumont's 2008 Big Ten season in second-best all-time in save percentage and goals allowed per game.