No. 5 Penn State field hockey shuts out Bucknell in home finale

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Playing in the final home game of the regular season, the No. 5 Penn State field hockey team posted its second shutout in row with the 2-0 defeat of Bucknell University Tuesday (Oct. 23). The Nittany Lions move to a 14-3 overall record, while the Bison sit at 9-8. Sophomore Taylor Herold (Fredericksburg, Va.) notched the game-winning goal with only 13 minutes remaining in the game.

"In the second half... they did a lot of great things," said head coach Charlene Morett. "You just have to battle in a game like that. And Bucknell is a very, very good team; they're very well coached and they have a great structure. So we really just needed to stick to our game plan...Possession was huge. I thought that Laura Gebhart played a great game, one of her best games, and Brittany Grzywacz, and I thought that the defense had a great game."

After 57 minutes of aggressive and intense play, the Penn State offense finally broke through a tough Bucknell defense. The first goal of the contest was initially set up by an assertive Whitney Reddig (Lititz, Pa.), when the junior stole the ball and brought it into the circle. Sending a long pass to senior Kelsey Amy (Sweet Valley, Pa.) at the right of the net, the forward moved in and seemed to be positioning herself for a shot. At the last moment, Amy passed across the center to Herold and the sophomore fired the ball over the pads of goalkeeper Erica Perrine. It was Herold's fifth goal of the season and Amy's ninth assist.

After 16 games in the 2012 regular season, the Nittany Lions have established themselves as an offensive powerhouse, scoring more than any other team in the Big Ten conference and resting in the top-five of the NCAA. However, every member of the Penn State squad stepped up to battle in this defense-oriented matchup. Despite outshooting the Bison 4-0 in the opening five minutes, those in the backfield recognized Bucknell's determination as the Lions defended against a penalty corner at the 6:24 mark. Sophomore Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.), who played outstandingly, fended of the Bucknell offense and cleared the ball out of the circle without allowing a shot.

It seemed that Penn State would score early on in the game, which is a typical characteristic of the squad, when junior Ashtin Klingler (Selinsgrove, Pa.) made an intricate move to keep the ball in bounds at the midfield line. Sending a pass across the entire field, Klingler found Amy at the far right of the Bison's circle. Despite barreling a shot towards Perrine, Amy was denied by a sliding kick save from Perrine.

The offensive stalemate continued throughout the first half, even in the face of Penn State producing 16 shots. Bucknell's defense proved to be resilient, fending off five penalty corners in the opening 35 minutes. It was the first time all season that Penn State failed to score in the first half.

As the second period began, a sense of determination set in for the Lions. Holding the Bison to only one shot, Penn State's defense was remarkable. Junior Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.) appeared to cover the entire field, while junior Abby Fuhrman (Bainbridge, Pa.) was a force to be reckoned with. The defender constantly cleared the ball and stole opportunities away from Bucknell, and would carry the ball inside the circle to set up several scoring chances. Sophomore Katie Breneman showed grit and determination throughout the entire contest, swiftly moving the ball out of the reach of the Bison and frustrating the offense.

Penn State began to send in reinforcements, with Katie Andrews (Lancaster, Pa.) and Lauren Alwine (Elizabethtown, Pa.) entering the game midway through the second period to shake up the lineup. Pushing back against Bucknell's staunch defenders, Amy and redshirt senior Hannah Allison (Mifflinburg, Pa.) continued to fire shots at Perrine. Eventually at the 57:01 mark, the duo of Amy and Herold broke the deadlock, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead with less than 13 minutes left to play.

After fighting off two shots from Allison and Amy, Perrine had to face Grzywacz one-on-one for a penalty stroke at the 62:01 mark. Sending a signature drag flick towards the netminder, Grzywacz found the back of the cage for her 11th goal of the season and gave the Lions a 2-0 lead. The junior is now five-for-five in penalty strokes on the season.

The Bison failed to move past the midfield in the remaining minutes of the game, and time expired to give the Lions a 2-0 victory. Penn State outshot Bucknell 29-2, 11 of which were produced by Amy, and held a 9-2 penalty corner advantage. Perrine was tremendous in net, making 12 saves to bring her season total to 84. The Lions' lone save came from Fuhrman, who fended off a shot from Bucknell's Rachel Misko. Goalkeeper Ayla Halus (Hershey, Pa.) earned her third shutout of the season and the 14th of her career.

Penn State returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 27, when the squad travels to No. 21 Michigan State for the final game of the regular season. The Big Ten matchup will begin at noon.

The 2012 Big Ten Tournament will be hosted by the University of Iowa at Grant Field in Iowa City, Iowa. The first two rounds will be held Nov. 1-2, while the championship game will be played Nov. 4.

Check back to GoPSUSports.com for continued updates during the 2012 season. Follow Penn State field hockey on Twitter at twitter.com/PennStateFH and like the team on Facebook at facebook.com/pennstatefieldhockey.

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Last Updated October 26, 2012