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Nov. 8, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 4 seeded Penn State field hockey team will make its 28th appearance in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 11:30 a.m. when the squad takes on Albany in the first round of pool play. No. 3 in the NFHCA Poll, the Nittany Lions (17-3) are hosting the first two rounds of the tournament, with Syracuse facing Massachusetts on Nov. 10 at 2 p.m., as well. This is Penn State's third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Tickets for the First and Second Round games are $8 for adults and $5 for youth and students with valid college or university IDs. Tickets will be sold at the gate on the day of the game only.
"Our mentality is to play our game," said head coach Charlene Morett. "And play Penn State field hockey, push the pace and play with speed. Our team defense has been very strong, so we just want to attack as a team and defend as a team...The one thing we have continued to talk about from day one is, `Let's get better every day, let's get better each competition and let's get better each week.' And I can say that this team has continued to do that. They bring amazing energy to practice, outstanding enthusiasm and team camaraderie. People don't understand that this is a 23-person team effort and this has been a 23-person successful season."
Penn State earned the Big Ten's automatic berth into the tournament after claiming the 2012 Big Ten Tournament Championship for the second consecutive year with a momentous 2-0 victory over No. 13 Michigan this past weekend. Scoring her fifth game-winning goal of the season, senior Kelsey Amy (Sweet Valley, Pa.) notched her 23rd and 24th goals of the season for the 26th multi-goal game of her career. The Big Ten Tournament MVP currently sits at 58 points on the season, and has racked up 174 career points on 76 goals and 22 assists in her four years as a Lion. Junior Whitney Reddig (Lititz, Pa.) assisted Amy on the game-winner, tallying her 16th of the season for her 24th point.
Nine Lions have tallied over 10 points this season, including junior Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.), who has notched 12 goals and two assists for 26 points. One of the most versatile players on the team, Grzywacz has led Penn State's defensive effort in only allowing 28 goals, 125 shots on goal and 80 penalty corners. In contrast, the Lions have produced 83 goals, 237 shots on goal and 179 penalty corners. The squad currently has the third-best scoring average in the country, and is third in goals per game, fifth in points per game and fourth in penalty corners per game. Grzywacz has made six defensive saves this season for the fourth-best record in the country.
Penn State's adaptability has been proven by performances from sophomore Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.), Reddig and redshirt senior Hannah Allison (Mifflingburg, Pa.). The trio has combined for 65 of 223 points this season, while constantly provided pressure in the midfield to fend off the opposing offense. Gebart (24 points) was named to the All-Big Ten First Team and the Big Ten All-Tournament Team after a stellar year as one of the Lions' most dependable and dynamic players.
Adding feistiness to the offense, junior Ashtin Klinger (Selinsgrove, Pa.), sophomore Taylor Herold (Fredericksburg, Va.), sophomore Jenna Chrismer (Mountain Top, Pa.) and junior Lauren Purvis (Maple Glen, Pa.) have been flexible in their roles as forwards and midfielders. Purvis (11 points) has stepped up along the sidelines in battling for possession, while Herold (19 points) and Chrismer (12 points) have been consistent in providing momentum and goals at crucial moments. The pair has combined for four game-winning goals, while Klingler has notched four alone. The junior stepped up this season, providing 11 goals and two assists for 24 points.
Ayla Halus (Hershey, Pa.) remains the heart of Penn State's defense, recording her fourth shutout of the season against Michigan and the 15th of her career. The redshirt senior currently holds a 1.46 GAA, allowing only 27 goals in 1294:49 minutes of action. Halus, named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team, has made 76 saves this season for a .738 save percentage.
The Lions also earned the Big Ten Conference Title this year with an overall regular season record of 15-3 and a 5-1 mark in conference play. The squad all but swept the Big Ten yearly honors, with Morett named Coach of the Year, Amy named Offensive Player of the Year and Grzywacz named Defensive Player of the Year. Additionally gaining recognition for a tremendous season, Amy, Grzywacz and Gebhart earned All-Big Ten First Team, while Allison was recognized as a Sportsmanship Award honoree.
Penn State has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in eight of the past 10 years, making four quarterfinal appearances, one semifinals appearance and one appearance as a NCAA Finalist in 2007. In the history of the field hockey program, the Lions have made seven semifinal appearances and two Championship game appearances. Penn State's overall record in NCAA Tournament play is 22-31 for the fourth-highest total of tournament games played to date.
Coming off of an American East Championship, Albany currently rests at a 13-7 overall record and sits at No. 17 in the NFHCA poll. The Great Danes defeated #20 New Hampshire 3-1 to take home the title, with Corrine McConville notching two goals in the contest. The junior has racked up 14 goals and three assists for 31 points. Also finding the back of the cage, Daphne Voormolen scored her 14th of the season and sits at 31 points, as well. Leading point scorer Jess Longstreth recorded the assist to the game-winning goal, moving to 33 points on the season with eight goals and 17 assists. Goalkeeper Kristi Troch has anchored Albany's defense, boasting five shutouts on the season with 58 saves. The senior currently holds a 1.54 GAA and a .699 save percentage.
Penn State and Albany have both played incredibly competitive schedules this season, each facing more than nine nationally ranked opponents throughout the year. This is the first meeting between the two squads in program history.
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