Field Hockey to Host No. 4 Syracuse in First Round of NCAA Tournament
Nov. 9, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State field hockey team will be making its 25th appearance in the NCAA Tournament this weekend as the Nittany Lions earned an at-large bid and will serve as the hosts for the first two rounds of the playoffs with their opening round game coming against Syracuse on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
In addition to Saturday's first round action against Syracuse, Penn State will also host the opening round match-up between Ohio State and Albany scheduled for 2 p.m. The winner of those two contests will square off on Sunday at 2 p.m. for the opportunity to advance to the Final Four.
Tickets for the postseason are $8 for adults and $5 for students and youth. They can only be purchased at the gate each day.
The postseason appearance is the first for Penn State since 2008. Over the past 10 years, the squad has now advanced to the NCAA Tournament seven times and competed in the finals on two occasions.
Penn State last hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in 2002 when the squad eventually cruised to the championship game and finished as the national runner-up. Overall, this will be the ninth time that the Nittany Lions have served as the hosts during the tournament.
Penn State (14-5) enters the postseason riding a wave of momentum after capping off the regular season with a strong run. The Lions captured eight of their last 10 contests, including victories over fellow NCAA Tournament participants Princeton and Michigan State.
PSU is led by a balanced attack that has been equally dominant on both sides of the ball. Sophomore goalie Ayla Halus has headlined the defensive effort and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors for her performance. Entering the tournament, she ranks third in the country with an .815 save percentage while posting six shutouts.
Freshman midfielder Brittany Grzywacz has also made an immediate impact during her first season in Happy Valley. A second-team All-Big Ten selection, she leads the squad with three defensive saves. Veterans Lauren Alloway and Daneen Zug along with sophomores Kristen Schaefer and Alex Schlener have also played crucial roles on the team's defensive unit.
On the offensive end, Penn State has been guided by first-team All-Big Ten selections Kelsey Amy and Jessica Longstreth. Amy, a sophomore forward, leads the team and ranks third in the conference with 19 goals. Longstreth, a junior midfielder, stands second on the team with 35 points and is one of only five players in the country with at least 10 goals and 15 assists.
Hannah Allison has also made considerable contributions with seven goals, including two game-winners. Lauren Purvis has had a hand in seven scores during the year as well, while her sister Jenny has two goals and assisted on another.
Syracuse enters the tournament after earning the Big East's automatic bid following a thrilling 1-0 victory over UConn in the conference championship on Sunday. Overall, the Orange have posted a 15-4 record and enter the postseason on an eight-game roll.
Syracuse is led by Big East Coach of the Year Ange Bradley and a slew of All-Conference competitors. First-team All-Big East selection Martina Loncarica headlines the group with 10 goals and seven assists. Lindsey Conrad, Leonie Geyer, Laura Hahnefeldt, Nicole Nelson, and Heather Susek all earned second-team All-Conference honors for the Orange as well.
In addition to Penn State, the Big Ten placed three other teams in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State will compete in the Nittany Lions' group at the PSU Field Hockey Complex, while Michigan State will battle No. 3 Virginia in Charlottesville. Big Ten champion Michigan rounds out the group with a first-round date against Old Dominion in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Maryland earned the top seed in the tournament and will also serve as the host of the Final Four beginning on November 19. North Carolina garnered the No. 2 seed followed by Virginia and Syracuse.