Field hockey ranked sixth in NFHCA preseason poll

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The NFHCA released the first edition of the Division I National Coaches Poll on Tuesday (Aug. 27) and the Nittany Lions were placed sixth in the preseason rankings. The number six ranking is the highest preseason mark for the program in the past five seasons.

Penn State is the highest ranked of the four Big Ten teams in the Top 20, joining Michigan (9), Northwestern (11), and Iowa (13). The Blue and White will play seven teams in the preseason Top 20. Along with facing the Wolverines, Wildcats and Hawkeyes, the team will additionally face Princeton (3), UConn (4), Virginia (7) and Old Dominion (8).

Penn State earned high expectations for this season based of the success the team achieved in 2012. Last year's squad claimed both the Big Ten regular season and Big Ten Tournament titles on its way to the NCAA Quarterfinals.

The Lions return 8-of-11 starters from last season's team, including three Big Ten Players to Watch in Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.), Whitney Reddig (Lititz, Pa.) and Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.).

Other returning starters to the 2013 squad are Katie Breneman (Washington Boro, Pa.), Abby Fuhrman (Bainbridge, Pa.), Taylor Herold (Fredricksburg, Va.), Ashtin Klingler (Selinsgrove, Pa.) and Lauren Purvis (Maple Glen, Pa.).

Newcomers to this season's team are freshmen Sarah Bates (Highland, Md.), Brooke Birosik (Harrisburg, Pa.), Carly Celkos (Voorhees, N.J.), Emilee Ehret (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Kirsten Gochnauer (Mount Joy, Pa.)

Penn State opens up the regular season this weekend on Friday., Aug. 30 at 5 p.m. when the team faces an early test against No. 8 Old Dominion in Norfolk, Va. The schedule does not get any easier after the opener, as the team travels to Charlottesville, Va. to square off against No. 7 Virginia on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 1 p.m.

The Nittany Lions begin their home schedule with a matchup against Temple on Friday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. followed by No. 4 UConn on Sunday, Sept. 8 at noon.  

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Last Updated August 29, 2013