PSU Field Hockey Wins Shoot Out Thriller

The #3 Nittany Lions remain unbeaten in conference play with the win over Michigan State.
UNIVERSITY PARK – With their perfect Big Ten record and nine match winning streak in serious jeopardy, the Nittany Lions dug deep and turned in a performance for the ages in the final home match of the season vs. MSU, who was also unbeaten in Big Ten play. Penn State scored twice in the final five minutes of regulation to tie the match at 3-3 and then completed the comeback victory by surviving two overtime sessions before coming through in the penalty shootout to win 4-3.
The Blue and White trailed by a score of 3-1 in the 66th minute, unable to find the back of the cage the entire second half, despite having multiple penalty corner opportunities and shots that the team could not convert into goals. Then everything changed for the Lions.
A pair of seniors in Brittany Grzywacz (Collegeville, Pa.) and Whitney Reddig (Lititz, Pa.) got the PSU comeback in motion. Grzywacz fired a shot off a penalty corner towards the goal and Reddig astutely redirected the ball into the cage to close the Spartan lead to just one at 3-2.
The goal lit a fire under Penn State, as the team poured forward trying to tie the match before the time ran out. Just under two minutes after Reddig’s goal, the Nittany Lions found the equalizer.
Senior Abby Fuhrman (Bainbridge, Pa.) ripped a shot from the right of the circle that was stopped by the MSU keeper and Taylor Herold (Fredericksburg, Va.) was there to collect the rebound and place the ball in the net to tie the match and give the Lions new life. The goal was Herold’s second of the match and the team-leading 10th of the season.
Reddig and Herold’s goals forced overtime for just the second time this season for PSU. In the first extra session, both sides had a number of opportunities in the first five minutes, but neither could convert into the game-winning goal.
In the 77th minute, Michigan State’s Allie Ahern had what looked to be the winning score. The Spartan forward had a breakaway and dribbled around Kylie Licata (Mountain Top, Pa.) and shot towards the empty cage. Hustling back the entire play, Grzywacz saved the Lions by laying out and making a diving save at the line to keep the ball out of the net, forcing the second overtime session.
In the final 15 minutes of action, Penn State had the upper hand in most of the run of play, outshooting MSU 7-2. The Nittany Lions earned its 19th penalty corner of the afternoon just as the clock ran out to give the Blue and White one last opportunity to win before going to a shootout. Off the corner, Grzywacz uncorked a shot from the top of the circle that caromed off the post and back into play to send the match to shootouts for the first time for PSU since 2007.
Junior captain Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.) was the first to step up for an attempt in the shooutout. Gebhart gave Penn State an early 1-0 lead, beating the keeper and shooting into the cage to give PSU the advantage. After scoring the opener, Licata shut down the next two Spartan attempts, coming off her line and playing really aggressive to hold MSU scoreless.
Ashtin Klingler (Selinsgrove, Pa.) stepped up and converted PSU’s third attempt to give the Lions a 2-0 cushion with three MSU and two Lions remaining. After Michigan State’s Kristen Henn found the cage to cut the lead to 2-1, Penn State and the Spartans each missed their next opportunities to set the stage for Herold to grab the winner.
The junior found an opening and put the ball past the keeper and into the cage, sending the team and fans into a frenzy. The goal gives the Lions their 10th consecutive win and places them alone atop the Big Ten standings with a record of 4-0.
In the first 35 minutes of play, neither team was able to generate offense. Herold scored the opening goal with just two minutes left in the frame, ripping a shot from the left of the circle into the bottom left corner of the net. However, at the stroke of halftime, MSU earned a penalty corner and converted, sending the teams into the break level at 1-1.
The Spartans added goals in the 37th and 60th minutes to take a 3-1 lead late into the match before the Penn State rally ensued.
On the day, Penn State fired a season-high 35 shots and attempted a season-best 19 penalty corners.
The Nittany Lions will hit the road for the remainder of the regular season. The Blue and White will travel to Iowa City next weekend for a Big Ten showdown with the Hawkeyes on Friday, Oct. 25 in a match that is slated to begin at 3 p.m. The contest vs. Iowa will air live on the Big Ten Network. After facing the Hawkeyes, Penn State will face UC Davis for the first time in program on Saturday Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. The match will be a neutral site match in Iowa City.
The Blue and White will then wrap up the regular season at Michigan, as the showdown with the Wolverines could play a large role in deciding the Big Ten regular season champion. The match is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 1 at 4 p.m.
MATCH NOTES: The win moves Penn State’s record to 26-10 against Michigan State in the all-time series … Penn State is now 4-0 in conference play, the best start since the 2008 season … The win pushes Penn State’s winning streak to 10 consecutive matches, the second longest active streak in the country … The 10-match win streak is tied for the sixth longest in program history … The last time the Nittany Lions recorded a double-digit win streak was the 2006 season when the team won 10 consecutive matches … PSU is now 3-0 when playing on Saturday’s this season … The Nittany Lions are 4-2 at home this season … The win was the first time the Lions have won after going to overtime since an October 1, 2011 4-3 win over Northwestern … Herold scored two goals for the second time this season and now has the team lead with 10.

--Penn State Media Relations
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