Penn State field hockey focused on game management in last regular season contest against Indiana; up next, Big Ten tournament

Penn State field hockey had two big tests last weekend, which should have the team prepared for a strong finish in both the regular season and last conference game before the Big Ten tournament.


The No. 15 Nittany Lions (current National Field Hockey Coaches Association rankings) fell 2-0 at home to No. 1 Northwestern Friday and then upset No. 8 Iowa 2-1. Northwestern went on to beat No. 3 Rutgers in shootouts to clinch the 2023 Big Ten Conference Championship.


Northwestern will have a bye week in round one of the Big Ten Conference tournament.


The Iowa at Penn State game was key to the Nittany Lions standings in the tournament, as well as Iowa’s. The matchup between the two highly skilled teams is now even after Penn State defeated the Hawkeyes two seasons in a row. Historically, they both have 15 wins and 15 losses.


“I’m so proud of just the team effort,” senior Carly Gannon said after the game. “I like to say one through 24, because there are 24 of us….everyone, we need energy and intensity everywhere. And, when we play together and we play with energy, we are our best.”


Phia Gladieux scored both goals against Iowa. Gannon, who went all in on an attempted final touch, wowed fans when she completed a split in front of the cage. Gannon emphasized that she didn’t touch the ball and that she wanted to make sure the “credit was given where credit was due.”


From the back to the front, Penn State worked tightly together in its Iowa game to transfer the ball, connect on both the long and short game, and adjust the pace. Whomever had ball, she brought at least one teammate along with her going forward or laterally.


They had a lot of the same game play on Friday against Northwestern, but the Cats’ stingy defense wouldn’t budge.


Gladieux said about the Iowa game: it “was a testament to what Big Ten field hockey is all about: aggressive, scrappy and intense.” She called it a “nailbiter til the very end.”


“We were able to possess the ball very well,” she said. “We had great composure on and off the ball. I give huge creds to our defense. They did a great job in slowing the play down and shutting down some big scoring opportunities for Iowa. For me, I know my opportunities are limited. I know I am going to be man-marked. This isn’t anything new, so I know I can’t take my opportunities for granted. And, I think I did a good job of just staying hungry to score and essentially doing what I know best – finding the back of the cage. I think everyone just came out super strong and I am so beyond proud of how everyone played. This is a huge win for us, finishing out the season and eventually heading into the Big Ten tournament.”


Penn State’s backfield received a shoutout also from Gannon, who said her sheroes are goalie Brie Barraco, Kelsey Love, Gery Schnarrs, Anouk Knuvers, and Julienne van Bekkum.


“That’s a big goal of ours is to play with consistency,” Gannon said. “They stepped out.”


No. 16 Penn State downs No. 5 Iowa 2-1 in Big Ten romp at State College – FAN (


Game play going forward should showcase moving to space for the Nittany Lion’s midfield, connecting on a pass or play once in the space, anticipating where teammates are cutting, and rebounding on shots, Gannon said.


“We worked together,” Penn State head coach Lisa Bervinchak-Love said after defeating Iowa. “It wasn’t pretty all the time, but we found a way to win the game. We got those two goals. It was important for us to keep possession of the ball. There were moments when we were throwing the ball away. But, it was like, you’ve gotta keep attacking, we don’t want to be defensive. It’s about game management; get the ball to the corner.”


LB is moving her big hitters and inserters around on corners to switch things up. It’s part of finding the right option at the right time for attack penalty corners, she said.


Defensively, Penn State’s corners are looking more solidly, too. LB was happy with her double teams, and seeing her athletes coming up with the ball and then getting it out to take away Iowa’s scoring opportunity.


“We’ve been working on our corner execution,” LB said. “We need to be more threatening. We scored on a deflection. But, we need to execute each piece.”



When two very talented squads fight that hard over a ball, there’s bound to be cards. And, yes, there were cards. There were nine given to keep everyone honest.


“The last time we had that many cards, it was here at Penn State, probably 10 years ago,” LB said. “It was against Northwestern. It was crazy like that, it was insane. I thought we were getting picked on with the cards at one point. So it was nice to even out a little bit, honestly.”


Despite the loss, Iowa head coach Lisa Cellucci said the future is bright for the Hawkeyes. Iowa takes on Rutgers tonight, while Penn State battles with Indiana.


“I felt like we played really well,” Cellucci said. “I actually felt like we dominated most of the parts of the game in how we move the ball. Penn State has a fantastic team. They are always very, very fast. So, the tempo was a track meet, which caused for a lot of transitions. We’ve had a really good run. A few unfortunate season-ending injuries. Our freshman have been fantastic. They are going to be key going forward. We need to be able to use our final third and get upgrades. We had too many balls go off the endline and sideline. We’ve got to clean it up.”


Penn state is 8-7 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten. Iowa is 12-4 and also 3-4 in the Big Ten.


The tournament takes the top seven teams. The way the seeding is currently, the top seven are Northwestern, Rutgers, Maryland, Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State, and Michigan, in that order.


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