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Nov. 1, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa - The No. 4 Penn State field hockey team kicks off the 2012 Big Ten Tournament on Friday, Nov. 2 after receiving the highest national ranking in a decade. The Nittany Lions, who ended the regular season with a 15-3 overall record and a 5-1 notch in conference play, will begin competition in the semifinals as the No. 1 seed. The squad will take on No. 11 Iowa on Friday, Nov. 2 at 2:30 p.m. ET.
After clinching the outright Big Ten Conference Title for the first time since 2008, the Lions are riding a wave of momentum from the regular season. The squad will take on the No. 4 seeded Hawkeyes, who defeated Michigan State during the first round of tournament play. No. 2 seeded Northwestern was defeated by No. 7 Indiana 4-0 on the first day of competition, while No. 3 Michigan topped No. 6 Ohio State 1-0.
The Lions' only conference loss came from the Wildcats this season in a 5-4 overtime heartbreaker. Sitting atop the Big Ten with a 5-1 record, Penn State secured the Big Ten Championship when Northwestern fell to Iowa 3-2 in overtime to conclude the regular season. Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan all ended with a 4-2 conference record. Penn State has consistently been the top-ranked Big Ten squad in the country, never leaving the top-10 throughout the season. Northwestern is currently ranked at No. 9, ahead of No. 11 Iowa, No. 13 Michigan and No. 23 Michigan State.
Big Ten Coach of the Year Charlene Morett leads her squad into the 2012 tournament boasting the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Kelsey Amy (Sweet Valley, Pa.), and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.). Amy leads the squad with 51 points and 21 goals, while Grzywacz has notched 25 points on 12 goals and 1 assist. Junior Whitney Reddig leads the team with 14 assists. Nine Lions have tallied over 10 points this season, including Amy, Grzywacz, junior Ashtin Klingler (Selinsgrove, Pa.; 24), sophomore Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.; 24), Reddig (22), redshirt senior Hannah Allison (Mifflinburg, Pa.; 17), sophomore Taylor Herold (Fredericksburg, Va.; 15), sophomore Jenna Chrismer (Mountain Top, Pa.; 12) and junior Lauren Purvis (Maple Glen, Pa.; 11).
In the 6-1 victory over Michigan State, Herold notched the game-winner in the second multi-goal game of her career. Gebhart, Purvis and Reddig each found the back of the cage, as did Grzywacz on her sixth penalty stroke of the season. Purvis had a three-point game, as she recorded the assist to Herold's second goal of the contest. Allison and graduate student Lauren Alwine (Elizabethtown, Pa.) recorded assists, as well.
Senior goalkeeper Ayla Halus (Hershey, Pa.) anchored the Lions' defense, making seven saves to improve to a .740 save percentage. Allowing only one goal in 63:37 minutes of action, Halus moves to a 1.52 GAA, which is 18th in the nation. The co-captain has allowed only 15 goals this season and has made a total of 71 saves.
The Hawkeyes came back and defeated the Spartans on Thursday, Nov. 1 in overtime. Dani Hemeon notched the game-tying goal off of one of 14 Iowa penalty corners. Natalie Cafone found the back of the cage 10 minutes into the extra period to give Iowa a 2-1 victory. Goalkeeper Kathleen McGraw, who was named to the All-Big Ten First Team, made two saves and allowed only one goal in 80:04 minutes of action.
Iowa leads the all-time series against Penn State witha 23-20-1 record. The Lions, however, lead the Big Ten Tournament series with a 5-3 record. In the 2012 regular season, Penn State topped Iowa 5-1 on Oct. 14 in Happy Valley.
The Big Ten Network will provide coverage of the entire tournament, as the quarterfinals will be streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network. The semifinals and the championship game (Nov. 4) will be available both on BTN and BTN2Go.
Check back to GoPSUSports.com for continued updates during the 2012 season. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/PennStateFH and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/pennstatefieldhockey.