Field hockey to take on defending national champs in NCAA first round

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- No. 9 Penn State travels to College Park, Md. for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament this weekend, as the Blue and White face Princeton, the defending national champion, in the first round on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Saturday's match between Princeton and Penn State will be the 33rd meeting in the series between the two sides and 10th in postseason play. Historically, The Nittany Lions have a 24-8 overall record and a 6-3 postseason advantage over the Tigers heading into Saturday's showdown.

However, the matchup has been much more competitive in recent years. Penn State held on to a thrilling 4-3 win earlier this season at Princeton, snapping the Tigers' 17-match winning streak. Penn State received goals from Ashtin Klingler (Selinsgrove, Pa.), Taylor Herold (Fredericksburg, Va.), Lauren Purvis (Maple Glen, Pa.) and Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.) in the win. Princeton claimed victories in the 2011 and 2012 meetings, winning a 3-2 overtime thriller in University Park a season ago. Each of the last four matches has been decided by one goal.

In postseason action, Princeton won the latest meeting between the two sides, earning a 2-0 victory in the first round of the 2008 tournament. The last Penn State NCAA Tournament win came in 2003, as the Nittany Lions won their first round matchup 3-1 over the Tigers in a contest that was played in College Park, Md.

The Nittany Lions are no stranger to postseason play, as the program has qualified for the NCAA Tournament 29 out of a possible 32 seasons. Penn State's 29th appearance ranks third for all-time NCAA Tournament berths. The first round match will be the program's 56th, which places Penn State fourth in tourney games played. The Lions all-time NCAA Tournament record is 23-32.

Head coach Charlene Morett is a huge reason for all of Penn State's success. The coach is tied for fourth in all of Division I for most NCAA Tournament qualifications from a head coach with 24 and has led the Nittany Lions to the postseason in 24 of her 27 seasons at the helm.

Morett has guided the Lions to two National Championship games and three Final Fours. A season ago, the team won its first round match vs. Albany by a final of 2-1 before falling to Syracuse in the quarterfinals, just one step away from the Final Four.

The winner of the match will play the winner of No. 1 Maryland and American on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Maryland for a chance to go to the Final Four.   

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Last Updated November 15, 2013