Fast Start Leads Penn State Field Hockey To 9-1 Win Over Bucknell
Ranked 4th in the nation entering Tuesday night’s game against in-state foe Bucknell, Penn State cruised its way to a 9-1 win over the Bison (2-3) to maintain its undefeated start to the season. In their first six games, the Nittany Lions (6-0) had outscored opponents 24-5 and their dominance at both ends of the field was no different in the matchup against Bucknell.
How It Happened
Penn State dominated the game from the opening play when junior forward Shay Cannon stole the ball away from Bucknell less than ten seconds into the game and set up the Nittany Lions’ offensive attack. After Penn State pushed the ball down the field, sophomore midfielder Gini Bramley registered her first of two goals to put Penn State on the scoreboard 59 seconds into the game. Cannon followed with goals of her own at the 2:08 and 4:41 marks, giving the Nittany Lions a commanding 3-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
Following the fast start, Penn State maintained the up-tempo attack and never looked back en route to the 9-1 win. Junior forward Kasey Morano also scored twice to lead the Penn State offense while midfielders Brooke Birosik, Aurelia Meijer, and Carly Celko each added a goal.
That speed and aggression characterized the Lions’ offensive onslaught, a total of 26 shots compared to the Bison’s seven. Penn State consistently kept the ball on Bucknell’s half of the field. The Bison did not even manage to take a shot during the first 11:06 of the game and until after Penn State had opened up a comfortable 3-0 lead.
“I was proud of the speed of play that they came out with to start this thing,” head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss said after the game. “One thing we talk about is getting great pressure in the first five minutes and shots on goal. Bucknell gave us some room to get our passing going and we did a great job taking advantage of that.”
Despite yielding nine goals, Bucknell goalie Emily Finn made 12 saves, including multiple athletic diving and sliding stops to keep the game somewhat close early on in the game.
Penn State goalkeeper Jenny Rizzo shut out the Bison for the first 40:02 of the game until Nicole Rupnik scored from ten yards out on an assist from freshman forward Brittany Willwerth to cut the deficit to 6-1. After the Bucknell goal, Morett-Curtiss replaced Rizzo in goal with sophomore Colleen Conway, who held the Bison scoreless for the remainder of the game. Conway was one of nine players who came off the bench in the win.
“Colleen always works really hard at practice and always pushes Jenny,” Morett-Curtiss said. “It was awesome to get her a lot of time today. A game like this gives the team a good morale because a lot of players who’ve been working really hard at practice who got playing time tonight so it gives us a surge of confidence moving forward.”
Player of the Game
Shay Cannon I Forward I Junior
Cannon, who has scored five goals in her last three games, set the tone early for Penn State on offense. The Wilmington, DE native’s quick steal and pair of early goals put the Nittany Lions in control from the opening seconds and keyed them to the win.
The Nittany Lions, the only undefeated team left in the Big Ten, will play their first conference game of the season this Friday when they visit #16 Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes at 3:00 pm, which begins a two week stretch of road games, three of which will be against ranked opponents.
“We’ve been working so hard and I think everyone is so proud of the way that we’ve been committed to this team,” Cannon said. “It’s very exciting going into Big Ten play and being 6-0, but it only gives us motivation to continue this success. We know we can’t think it for granted so it’s making us work harder because we know what we want the outcome to be at the end of the season.”