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Penn State field hockey sent a sizzling message Friday within two minutes of the start of its game against Michigan State – “we’re home.”
“We love our fans here,” said forward Grace Wallis (Blue Bell, Mount St. Joseph Academy). “Great win at home.”
The final tally in the Big Ten rivalry was 4-0 Nittany Lions. Penn State is 7-1 (2-0 conference) and Michigan State is 4-3 (0-2 conference). It was Penn State’s second shutout of the season and first home game in nearly a month.
A straight shot ripped right at the Spartans’ goalie – Monique Jardell – expressed the tone Penn State’s offense was planning on unfolding for the next 60 minutes. Jardell rejected it but ended up giving the Nittany Lions four points.
“Big Ten games always mean a lot,” Wallis said. “We always want to come out and play our game.”
Each goal was scored by different players. It started with Wallis charging an open right lane to the endline, where she dished a pass to junior Carly Gannon (Havertown, Haverford). Gannon swung and slammed the ball into the backboard.
“Char always tells us to run the right endline, and it was open a lot of the night,” Wallis said. “It kept working, so I kept doing it.”
After one quarter, the score was 1-0 Penn State. During the second quarter, the Nittany Lions turned up the temperature on the turf.
“I loved the way we moved the ball around the field,” Penn State Head Coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss said. “I think we came out with great tempo today.”
Nearly seven minutes elapsed before Penn State scored its second goal. Senior Mackenzie Allessie (Mount Joy, Donegal) received a ball –that caught some air after hitting a Spartan’s stick – from the left. Allessie continued her pace, picked the ball up in the air, settled it, carried it into the circle, made a slight pull, and smashed it into the lower left.
“I thought their goalie played really well,” Morett-Curtiss said. “She made some great saves during the game.”
For the next 90 seconds, it was Michigan’s turn at a chance to capitalize. They had a series of consecutive corners, but were unable to put one in. It gave the Spartans’ defense a moment to catch their breath.
But it wasn’t a longstanding offer. Penn State’s defense drove the ball back down to its scoring side on the left. Junior Sophia Gladieux (Boyertown, Oley Valley) took the ball to the endline, eliminated a defender, saw where the goalie was positioned, executed fancy stickwork, and shot.
Gladieux’s finish made it 3-0 Penn State.
Michigan State was able to hold it down in the third. They applied more pressure on the ball, among other tactics. The Spartans face-off against Maryland on Sunday.
“They were overloading us on one side, which our strikers started to recognize and did a good job with,” said Michigan State Head Coach Helen Knull. “I expect them to be ready against Maryland on that stuff. Get it on our front foot and we’ve got to capitalize on the chances that we get. Because in the first half we had five shots and four of them were on goal. We’ve gotta finish those.”
It was Anna Simon (Hanau, Germany) who had the final say in the game. She scored on a corner, a clean chip that hit the backboard making it 4-0.
Being home brought out big energy in her players, Morett-Curtiss said. They had a “phenomenal” practice prior to Friday’s contest.
A few more working items: midfield movement to “help create better passing lanes for the backs,” get a stick on the endline attack when the ball crosses an open cage, and end the third quarter slow down, Morett-Curtiss said. But, overall, she said she was pleased with how her team possessed the ball.
“We’re trying to get a little more flow in our midfield,” she said. “One thing that we talked about, we’ve got to organize quickly so we can prepare for what’s coming at us and really step it up. We’re still working on getting our midfield to interchange.”
Michigan State fought all the way to the end, Knull said. She said she wants them to work on mental preparedness and find a sense of urgency.
“I felt like we came out really slow, and sluggish, and reactive,” she said. “We’re holding back, which was not part of our game plan. I thought, first half, we go in 3-0 down, that was 100 percent us. We did not put it on the foot. And, the second half, we made adjustments, came out ready to go. And, then it was a 1-0 second half. I’m disappointed that we really didn’t start the game out with how we finished it.”
Michigan continues its Big Ten road trip to take on Maryland Sunday, while Penn State plays at home against Ohio State. The Nittany Lions lead the series history with the Spartans 37-10.
Penn State: 4
- Goals – Gannon (1), Allessie (1), Gladieux (1), Simon (1)
- Shots – 20
- Shots on goal – 10
- Assists – Wallis (1)
- Corners – 11
- Saves – Brie Barraco (4)
Michigan State: 0
- Goals – 0
- Shots – 6
- Shots on goal – 4
- Assists – 0
- Corners – 5
- Saves – Jardell (6)