UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After a two-week hiatus from Big Ten competition, the No. 7 Penn State field hockey team returns to conference play when it hosts No. 11 Iowa on Sunday, Oct. 14, at noon. The contest marks the Nittany Lions’ Senior Day, where Hannah Allison (Mifflinburg, Pa.), Lauren Alwine (Elizabethtown, Pa.), Kelsey Amy (Sweet Valley, Pa.) and Ayla Halus (Hershey, Pa.) will be honored.
“It’s hard to believe they’re seniors,” said head coach Charlene Morett when asked about the graduating class. “I just feel that they’re a great group of women that have grown so much through this program. They have been a pleasure to coach. They really put a mark on this season with their goals and what they want to accomplish. And hopefully they can lead us to that victory on Sunday.”
The second annual Clash of the Classes Alumni Game will take place on Saturday, Oct. 13, at noon at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex. As part of Alumni Weekend, the former Lions will take the field to battle each other in a friendly, but no doubt competitive, game.
“This is our second annual Clash of the Classes,” said Morett. “It’s the players that graduated in the odd years playing against the players that graduated in the even years. Last year, it went to penalty strokes. So I’m sure it will be a very exciting game!”
The alumnae’s return and participation in the event signifies the strength and the history of the Penn State field hockey program. Their presence can only add to the excitement of the weekend, as the current Lions, 11-3 overall with a 2-1 mark in conference play, have a tough challenge ahead of them in the Iowa squad. The Hawkeyes, 9-3 overall, currently sit undefeated in the Big Ten with a 3-0 record.
“Iowa is very strong physically and very well coached,” said Morett. “Tracy [Griesbaum] is probably one of the best defensive minds in the game, and just really has her team in the right position with the right skills. I think that we need to recognize what they’re giving us; that’s going to be the key. We need to not put ourselves in situations that are going to be difficult. I would like to see our team get the ball into a good space and not be so quick to engage the defender, because they are such good defenders.”
Last time out, Penn State returned home to defeat California 6-2 for its 11th win of the season. Coming off of a tough loss against then No. 10 Northwestern, the squad rebounded by outshooting the Golden Bears 35-13. Sophomore Jenna Chrismer (Mountain Top, Pa.) earned her second game-winning goal of the season, netting her first of two goals in the opening six minutes of the contest.
Halus was a force in net, making seven saves to improve to a .712 save percentage and a 1.83 GAA. The fifth-year senior has now made 57 saves with only 23 goals against in 881:12 minutes of action.
Also finding the back of the net for the Lions were Amy, junior Ashtin Klingler (Selinsgrove, Pa.), sophomore Taylor Herold (Fredericksburg, Va.) and junior Whitney Reddig (Lititz, Pa.). Amy moved to 39 points on the season, tallying her 16th goal of the season, while Klingler has 20 points with nine goals and two assists. Also boasting 20 points on the season, sophomore Laura Gebhart has recorded 10 assists to co-lead the team with Reddig. Reddig, along with Allison, currently sits at 16 points. Adding depth to the Penn State offense throughout the season, junior Brittany Grzywacz, who recorded two defensive saves against the Golden Bears, sits at 19 points with nine goals and one assist.
Currently leading the Big Ten, Iowa is coming off of a tough weekend, narrowly defeating Indiana 2-1 in overtime and falling 2-1 to Louisville. Leading the Hawkeyes with 13 points, Aubrey Coleman scored the game-winning overtime goal against the Hoosiers, as well as the only goal in the Louisville contest. Coleman and Jessica Barnett lead the team with six goals apiece. Three Hawkeyes currently boast 12 points, including Barnett, Kelsey Mitchell and Marike Stribos. Stribos stepped up for Iowa against Indiana, netting the game-tying goal to send the match into overtime. Niki Schultheis, who assisted on Stribos’ goal, and Geena Lesiak lead the team with seven assists each.
Goalkeeper Kathleen McGraw currently holds the second-best goals against average in the Big Ten, sitting at a 1.30 GAA with only 16 goals against. McGraw has helped the Hawkeyes to the best team GAA in the Big Ten. The netminder had a nine-save weekend, moving her save percentage to .754 with 49 total saves. McGraw has recorded four shutouts this season, as well.
This will mark the 44th meeting of the two squads, with Iowa leading the all-time series with a 23-19-1 record. Last season, Penn State topped the Hawkeyes with a 3-0 win on Sept. 25 at Iowa.
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