Penn State to Clash with Buckeyes in Second of Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament
Nov. 6, 2008
Bloomington, Ind. - The No. 10 Penn State, the Big Ten regular season champions, field hockey team begins competition at the Big Ten Championships on Friday at 10 a.m. Eastern Time in Bloomington, Ind. on the campus of Indiana University. As the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, Penn State is the only team to receive a bye during the first round and faces the No. 17 Ohio State, the fifth-seeded team in the league. Friday morning's game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network, as will the other semifinal round game and the championship bout. Each game of the tournament can followed via GameTracker on GoPSUsports.com.
The Nittany Lions come into the tournament winning 11 of their past 13 games. Penn State's nine-game winning streak came to an end on Oct. 31 when it lost to No. 10 Michigan State, 2-1, in its final game of the season. After a scoreless first half, the Spartans rallied from a one-goal deficit to take the lead with 26 seconds remaining. In the weekend before, head coach Char Morett's squad shut out Indiana and Michigan to secure its fifth regular-season Big Ten Championship.
Penn State was bound to face either Michigan or Ohio State. The Nittany Lions held both clubs to no scoring when they faced earlier on in the season. When Penn State traveled to Ohio State, Jen Beaumont made five saves and Bethany Marvel tipped a Jessica Longstreth shot into the net for the lone goal to give the team its first conference victory of the season.
Regardless of Thursday's result, Penn State will face one of the two teams it faced in last year's 2007 Big Ten Tournament in Columbus, Ohio. After upending Ohio State, 3-0, on rival turf, Penn State loss a harrowing game in overtime, 3-2.
Should Penn State rule victorious Friday, it will play the winner of Iowa-Michigan State in the championship game Sunday at noon.
The Series vs. Ohio State
Penn State holds a 30-8-2 advantage over Ohio State in the all-time series between the two schools. The teams have heatedly faced each other since Penn State's inclusion into the Big Ten Conference in the early `90s. Penn State shut out Ohio State, 1-0, in the conference opener in September on the Big Ten Network. The Nittany Lions took both games in the series last year, 1-0 and 3-0, and held the Buckeyes to three total shots in the two contests. Ohio State's last win over Penn State came in 2006, when the Buckeyes took the Nittany Lions into overtime and upended them, 4-3. The series began in 1978, when head coach Charlene Morett was a player, and the Nittany Lions won 5-1.
Scouting the Buckeyes
Ohio State advanced to the second round after enacting revenge on Michigan for its loss earlier in the season. Melissa Palm scored two goals and the Buckeyes held a 17-3 advantage on penalty corner opportunities. Palm got on the scoreboard early, scoring off two rebounds in the first half of play. After Michigan's Kelly Fitzpatrick tied the game up at the 39:46, Aisling McKeon scored the game-winning goal just two minutes later. Buckeye goalkeeper Ally Tunitis stopped three shots in her fifth career start to remain undefeated on the season.
The Buckeyes responded well to a sluggish start early in conference play and won five consecutive games, including a 2-0 victory over No. 8 Iowa. The winning streak began when Ohio State changed formations, replacing goalkeeper Lindsay Quintiliani with Tunitis.
Ohio State dresses the conference's top scorer in Linda Haussener. The Switzerland native leads the team in goals, 18; assists, 11; and points, 47. The Buckeyes average 2.92 goals and 15.5 shots. They have been more than average in garnering penalty corner opportunities, referenced by the 17 they garnered against the Wolverine defense in the first round of the tournament. Ohio State has received great output from Emily Mikac, who has produced 10 goals this season.
Nationally, Haussener ranks seventh and ninth, respectively, in points and goals. They are tied with Penn State for the second-most shutouts in the country and are 15thr in scoring. It is ninth in the NCAA with a 1.12 goals-against average.
Scouting the Nittany Lions
Penn State comes into the conference tournament swaggering after winning the regular season championship. The Nittany Lions have used key positional changes, a balanced scoring attack and a stifling defensive front to dismiss opposing offenses.
Defensively leading the charge is Jen Long, last year's Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year; Amy Bonenberger, who has tallied three crucial game-winning goals; and one of the nation's top goalkeepers, Jen Beaumont. Beaumont is second in the nation in save percentage, deterring 82.1 percent of shots on goal. Penn State, like Ohio State, is second in shutouts, holding opponents to no goals every other game this season.
Sporting the offensive front is Allison Scola, who leads the team in assists (12) and points (26). After starting off the season cold, Scola produced late in the season, earning a seven-game point streak during a portion of the season. Likewise, Daneen Zug has stepped up for the Nittany Lions on penalty corners and now leads the team with nine goals. Bethany Marvel and Jessica Longstreth have both filled in, earning vital points for Penn State throughout the season.