Depsite a comeback scare, No. 3 Penn State field hockey (8-1, 2-0 Big Ten) won a thriller against No. 14 Northwestern in an conference matchup at the Field Hockey Complex in Happy Valley.
Juniors Moira Putsch and Aurelia Meijer and senior Shay Cannon scored for the Lions in the victory. Junior keeper Jenny Rizzo made 9 saves on her birthday.
How It Happened
Penn State opened the scoring very early in tonight’s game; Shay Cannon scored 4:46 into the game to give the Lions a 1-0 lead, which is something that Char Morett-Curtiss’ squad has failed to do in recent games.
The hot start continued when the Lions won three quick penalty corners in the minutes after Cannon’s second of the season. Northwestern held firm though, and denied the Lions a second goal.
Midway through the period, the Nittany Lions won two more penalty corners, but once again, Northwestern’s stout defense kept the Penn State attack at bay.
The Wildcat attack finally offered a response of their own with two penalty corners coming right after Penn State’s fifth of the game. The Nittany Lion defense stopped both opportunities, but this signaled a shift in momentum.
Northwestern equalized late in the first half off of its fourth penalty corner of the game. It won another penalty corner after its goal, but Jenny Rizzo made a save to keep the Wildcats from gaining their first lead of the evening.
After Penn State created a few more goal-scoring opportunities, the first half ended with the score tied at 1. Shots at the break were 10-8 in favor of the Lions; both teams recorded seven shots on target.
In the second half, Penn State once again got off to a fast start, scoring less than three minutes into the period to take a 2-1 lead. Moira Putsch deflected Cori Conley’s blast from the edge of the circle past Northwestern keeper Annie Kalfas, marking her seventh goal of the season.
The Nittany Lions kept the early pressure on with two more penalty corners, but they didn’t convert on either of those chances. Once again, however, momentum shifted, this time in favor of the home team.
Penn State gave themselves some breathing room 10:34 into the second half through the Dutch connection of Bes Bovelander and Aurelia Meijer. Bovelander assisted Meijer’s fifth goal of the season to give the Lions a 3-1 lead going into the home stretch of tonight’s game.
With 20 minutes left in the game, Northwestern had a chance to halve the Lions’ lead through a penalty corner, but the opportunity was wasted.
Directly after the corner, Penn State countered and almost put the game to bed with a fourth goal, but Aurelia Meijer’s lob shot over the keeper was cleared off the line by Northwestern’s defense.
In the middle stages of the half, Northwestern found a lifeline with a tap-in goal by Eva Van Agt, but the Lions quickly responded by winning a penalty corner down the other end of the field. They scored a goal, but the goal was disallowed because of an offensive foul.
The Wildcats completed their comeback with just over six minutes left in the period, walking the ball into the goal after a goal-mouth scramble to tie the game at three.
After a Nittany Lion timeout, Northwestern had a huge chance to take its first lead of the evening, but Pascale Massey’s shot went wide of Jenny Rizzo’s goal.
Momentum was firmly on the Wildcats’ side, but Penn State won a late penalty corner with a chance to score a potential game-winning goal. Enter Moira Putsch, who deflected Katie Dembrowski’s shot past Northwestern’s keeper with 1:23 left in the game.
Northwestern pulled its goalie to gain an extra attacker, but it couldn’t find another equalizer, and Penn State won the game.
Player Of The Game
Moira Putsch | Junior | Attacker
Cometh the hour, cometh the (wo)man. Putsch’s goal with 1:23 left in tonight’s game proved to be the game-winner, and it was her second of the night. When the Lions needed her most, she stepped up and put in a clutch performance for Char Morett-Curtiss’ team.
The Lions are back in action on Sunday for a top-ten home matchup against No. 9 Michigan at noon. Defending the Field Hockey Complex is extremely important to Moira Putsch.
“We say we’re not gonna lose on our field,” Putsch said. “It’s everything to us, especially after how last season ended [2-1 loss to Princeton in the NCAA Tournament].”