Coming off a close win at home on Friday against Northwestern, No. 3 Penn State (8-2, 2-1 Big Ten) had momentum going into its second conference game in a row against No. 9 Michigan (7-2, 3-0 Big Ten). Despite the strong fan turnout due for Penn State’s annual Pink Zone game, the Wolverines proved to be a frustrating team to go against — taking down Penn State 3-0.
Junior Kate Dembrowski led the Lions in shots with 3 and junior goalkeeper Jenny Rizzo had 7 saves.
How It Happened
The first ten minutes of the game proved to be a back and forth affair with both teams getting penetration into their opposing zones and shots coming in from all angles.
This early back and forth action would soon be stopped by a goal from Michigan off a counter attack from a Penn State corner. Despite Rizzo’s best efforts, Michigan became the first team on the scoreboard.
The Nittany Lions tried their best to regroup and prepare for an attacking play on Michigan’s goal, but the Wolverines showed great ball control and stick skills. Junior Gini Bramley picked off a Michigan pass near the midfield and was able to get the ball to a teammate for a scoring chance, but despite Bramley’s great defensive play the ensuing shot went wide.
After Penn State’s failed attempt to get in on the scoring action, Michigan would take it back into the Nittany Lion end and score once more, this time on a strong shot from Carly Bennett with 8:20 left in the first half. Michigan would get its second penalty corner of the day shortly after, but the Lion defense was able to come together to stop what could have been another Michigan goal.
Halftime would come quickly after, with Penn State looking a 2-0 deficit in the face as they exited the field.
The action would heat up again as the second half started up, with Penn State getting themselves an early penalty corner.
The Penn State offense would continue beating down on Michigan. With strong play from players like sophomore Maddie Morano, who had a great deke to create an open shot, and excellent goalkeeping from Rizzo, the Nittany Lion were able to create two more penalty corners soon after the first one earlier in the half. Even though its team started clicking, the back of Michigan’s net still proved impenetrable.
A wild play involving redshirt freshman Abby Myers falling over the Michigan goalkeeper almost resulted in another Penn State corner, but a timeout was taken by the Wolverines to challenge the play. The challenge from the Michigan bench proved correct and the call was overturned, making the Nitanny Lions go back on the defensive.
The overturned call drained Penn State of its momentum, taking off the impressive offensive display they were putting on. The Wolverines soon took advantage of this, charging up the field with Esther De Leijer sneaking a shot past the Penn State defense, the ball going through Rizzo’s legs and into the net. De Leijer’s goal would make the score 3-0, cementing the Michigan lead and making it much more difficult for a Penn State comeback.
The Nittany Lions kept up the pressure after Michigan’s goal, going back on the offensive and rediscovering the chemistry they had found during the start of the second half. This time, Penn State would find themselves getting three more penalty corners. But the staunch Wolverine defense and strong play from the Michigan goalkeeper kept the hungry Lion offense at bay, with none of its chance resulting in a much need goal.
The frustrated Penn State squad wasn’t able to find its way into the Michigan goal despite eight total penalty corners, compared to Michigan’s 3. Also of note was the close number of shots both teams had, Michgan had 13 and Penn State had 12. However, the Wolverine were able to put more in the way of Rizzo, landing 12 shots on goal compared to Penn State’s 9. This proved the difference as No. 9 Michigan beat No.3 Penn State today 3-0.
Despite this setback, Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss is ready to prepare her squad for its lengthy upcoming road trip and the squad’s next opponent, Michigan State.
“(Michigan State) is just a blue collar, fighting team. We’re on the road for the next four weeks and it’s not something that we’re looking forward to, but we have to take it one weekend at a time and look at the video and find out what we can work on,” Morett-Curtiss said.
Player Of The Game
Katie Dembrowski | Junior | Midfielder
Dembrowski earns Player of the Game, helping keep the inconsistent Penn State offense going strong with three shots, two of them making their way on goal, the most out of the entire squad, along with strong play throughout. Dembrowski also played the most minutes out of every player excluding Rizzo in goal, lasting a whole 63 minutes despite the hot weather and tough pace of game.
The Lions will travel to East Lansing for another Big Ten matchup against unranked Michigan State on September 29.