No. 5 Penn State Field Hockey rolls past Kent State, 8-0

UNIVERSITY PARK – The Penn State Nittany field hockey team (3-1, 0-0 B1G), ranked No. 5 in the NFHCA Coaches Poll, rebounded from a tough Tuesday setback to No. 6 Princeton by taking down visiting Kent State (1-5) on Friday afternoon. The Lions opened up a big lead in the first half and rolled to an 8-0 shutout victory, their third shutout in four games.

The Lions rode the strong performance of senior midfield Aurelia Meijer (Hattam, Netherlands) and another strong defensive effort to get back on the winning track. Meijer totaled six points off two goals and an assists. She played a role in four of Penn State’s eight goals.

Penn State set a strong early tone, taking possession less than a minute into the game and getting an early shot that sailed high. The initial burst was a sign of the next few minutes as Penn State controlled the ball, mostly in the middle of the field. Any Kent State offensive press was deftly repelled by the Nittany Lion defense. Emily Klingler (Selinsgrove, Pa.) made a solid run down the right side of the field to set up the first penalty corner of the day at the 26:22 mark. Kent State goalie Mary Crumlish notched a save against the first Lion shot and two more were blocked on a second corner.

Kent State pushed the ball down towards the Lion cage after the two corners, but the Lion defense, led by Cori Conley (Oak Park, Ill.), forced a turnover. Penn State responded in fine fashion. The Lion midfield, led by Meijer, moved the ball down field. Meijer sent the ball into the circle and sophomore Alexis Horst (Port Trevorton, Pa.) pushed the ball past Crumlish for the goal at the 24:35 mark to give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead. Meijer’s stick work to the right of the KSU goal forced a third Lion corner at the 16:30 mark. Anna Simon (Hanau, Germany) appeared to put Penn State up 2-0 on the corner but the goal was disallowed after review and the Lions retained their 1-0 lead at the 16:07 mark.

Kent State took its first shot at the 13:40 mark but Lion goalie Jenny Rizzo (Hershey, Pa.) made the save to keep the Lions up 1-0. Penn State then answered in furious fashion. Meijer once again pushed the ball downfield and picked up her second assist of the game with a slick connection to sophomore Abby Myers (Hartland, Wis.), putting Penn State up 2-0 at the 13:21 mark. Less than a minute later, senior Gini Bramley (Elizabethtown, Pa.) notched a solo goal from center circle and the Nittany Lions led 3-0 with 12:44 left in the first half. Kent State could not break through the Penn State defense, with Simon, Conley and Lauren McNally (Marmora, N.J.) holding the Flash to just three shots before a penalty corner as the half expired led to another. Rizzo easily saved the final shot and Penn State carried the 3-0 lead into the halftime break.

Penn State outshot Kent State 10-4 and had three corners to one for the Golden Flash. Rizzo had two saves in the opening 35:00 while Crumlish had three for Kent State.

The Lions crushed any hopes for a Kent State comeback quickly in the second half when Meijer scored two solo goals within :30 of each other. Meijer moved quickly down the right side of the circle to score unassisted at the 33:46 mark and then duplicated the same effort, from nearly the same spot, at the 33:14 mark, to give the Nittany Lions a 5-0 lead. The Nittany Lions changed goalies at that point, getting senior Colleen Conway (Franklin Lakes, N.J.) some important minutes in the cage.

Kent State had a scoring chance on a penalty corner with 25:00 left to play but Conway notched a nice save and a second shot sailed high. Conway had a second save, using her left foot to push a Kent State shot away at the 23:00 mark to keep the Penn State shutout in play. Penn State made it a half-dozen goals at the 20:49 mark when Emma Spisak (Boiling Springs, Pa.) scored off assists from Klingler and true freshman Meghan Reese (Coopersburg, Pa.).

Senior Moira Putsch (Media, Pa.) picked up an unassisted goal at the 14:32 mark to put Penn State up 7-0. With a number of Penn State’s younger players getting valuable playing time, Meghan Reese picked up her first career goal at the 6:20 mark to give the Lions an 8-0 lead that they would carry to the game’s end.

“We knew heading into this game that we had to take better care of the ball and in the second half we did,” said head coach Char Morett-Curtiss. “I’m very proud of the kids who went into the game in the second half. They kept the pace and the flow of the game going the way we wanted, and that’s important moving forward. Our defense, particularly the back four, were able to set the tone and tackle very well, too.”

The Nittany Lions outshot Kent State 27-9, including a 17-5 edge in the second half. Penn State had a 7-3 edge in corners. Rizzo ended the game with two saves in 39:50 while Conway had two saves in 30:10. Kent State’s goalies combined for 10 saves.

The Nittany Lions improve to 3-1 with the win while Kent State falls to 1-5. Penn State closes out a busy with a return to Philadelphia to face off against No. 3 Duke at 10:30 a.m. in yet another top 10 match-up. The game will be played at Temple.

Fans are encouraged to follow the Nittany Lion field hockey team online at www.GoPSUsports.com (click teams, click field hockey), on twitter @pennstateFH and on facebook at www.facebook.com/pennstatefieldhockey.

SCORING SUMMARY (assist) — TIME

1st: PSU — Alexis Horst (Aurelia Meijer), 24:35

1st: PSU – Abby Myers (Meijer), 13:21

1st: PSU – Gini Bramley (unassisted), 22:48

2nd: PSU – Meijer (unassisted), 33:46

2nd: PSU – Meijer (unassisted), 33:14

2nd: PSU – Spisak (Meghan Reese, Emily Klingler), 20:49

2nd: PSU – Moira Putsch (unassisted), 14:32

2nd: PSU – Meghan Reese (unassisted), 6:20

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