PSU Attempts to Complete Perfect Big Ten Season vs. UM
Oct. 31, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State travels to Ann Arbor for its final regular season match of the season. The Nittany Lions will try to wrap up the first undefeated Big Ten season since Michigan State went 6-0 in 2009. Friday's match is slated to begin at 4 p.m.
Penn State has already clinched at least a share of the Big Ten crown and is attempting to become the outright champs for the second consecutive season, a feat that has never been done in program history. A win would give the Blue and White its second undefeated Big Ten season in school history, with the first coming in 2005.
Michigan and Penn State will face each other for the 41st time on Friday afternoon, with the Nittany Lions holding a 25-15 advantage over the Wolverines in the series history. Penn State has won each of the last three meetings, with two of the contests coming in the Big Ten Tournament championship match each of the last two seasons.
The Lions hold a slight edge over the Wolverines when playing at their place, going 8-7 in the 15 trips. However, the Blue and White has not won in Ann Arbor since recording a 3-2 victory in 2005. Each of the last seven matches between the two sides has been decided by two goals or less, dating back to the 2009 season.
Penn State continued its great run of play last weekend by grinding out a tough 2-1 comeback win over Iowa on Friday before cruising to a 5-0 victory over UC Davis. The two wins push PSU's current winning streak to 12 matches, the longest active streak in the nation.
All seven Nittany Lion goals in Iowa City came from seven different players. Jenna Chrismer and Brittany Grzywacz scored in Friday's win over the Hawkeyes and Laura Gebhart, Taylor Herold, Whitney Reddig, Casey Haegele and Abby Fuhrman all found the back of the net vs. the Aggies.
The Blue and White played phenomenal defense in the two matches, recording its Big Ten leading seventh shutout of the season and also not allowing a single penalty corner in either contest.
Abby Fuhrman was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in her career on Tuesday. The senior became the fourth Nittany Lion to earn the accolade this season, joining Brittany Grzywacz, Laura Gebhart and Kylie Licata. Fuhrman's accolade marks the seventh-straight week a player from Penn State has received the honor. Fuhrman helped hold the opposition to just one goal in two matches last week, while scoring a second half goal in the win over UC Davis.
The Nittany Lions have stepped up their game during conference season, going 5-0 with one match remaining in the regular season. Penn State has outscored its opponents 18-5 through the five matches, shutting out Northwestern and Indiana.
The Lions have already captured a share of their seventh Big Ten regular season title and will try to win it outright against Michigan. With a win the Blue and White would become the first team to go undefeated in Big Ten regular season action since Michigan State pulled off the feat in 2009. A PSU loss would give Northwestern a chance to claim a share of the Big Ten regular season championship if it wins its final match vs. Ohio State.
Michigan comes into November winners of three of its last four matches. The Wolverines have a season mark of 10-7 and are 2-2 in Big Ten play with two contests remaining. Three of Michigan's four conference matches have been decided by one goal, including an overtime win over Ohio State and an overtime loss at Michigan State. The Wolverines have thrived at home this season, posting an unblemished 6-0 record heading into the weekend showdown with the Nittany Lions and have won nine straight contests in Ann Arbor.
Michigan's Rachael Mack leads the Wolverine scoring attack. Mack currently ranks second among all active players in career goals with 69 and third in points with 158. Mack has found the back of the cage 18 times already this season, placing the senior second in the Big Ten in goals, just one behind Iowa's Natalie Cafone.
After the regular season finale at Michigan, the Nittany Lions begin postseason action with the Big Ten Tournament next week. The Blue and White enters as the No. 1 seed and has earned a bye. The team will play the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup on Friday, Nov. 8 at 10 a.m. in Columbus, Ohio. The match will be broadcast live on BTN.