German Freshman Anna Simon Impresses In First Season With Penn State Field Hockey
Anna Simon came as a surprise to the field hockey coaching staff with her impeccable shots from corners after graduating from Karl-Rehbein-Schule in Germany.
The Hanau native played for German side Hanauer THC for 11 years and was even a member of the U16 German National Team for a season. Her most impressive accomplishment for Hanauer THC was being named the best defender at U18 South German Indoor Field Hockey Championships.
Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss saw her stick skills and strong play in the defensive end when recruiting her, but her goal-scoring abilities from penalty corners were a pleasant surprise.
“When she was here for the summer, our players here were like, ‘Wow, Anna can really hit the ball,'” Morett-Curtiss said. “Then we started the preseason, and we got her in the routine of taking corner shots. She’s been a money player for us.”
Simon’s shot from the top of the circle put the Nittany Lions up 1-0 against Rutgers earlier this season.
You would think that Simon, who’s been a shooter on penalty corners for as long as she can remember, would’ve sent tape of her shooting skills to college head coaches during her recruitment, but she did not. Looking back, Morett-Curtiss is happy that she found out about those skills after her recruitment wrapped up.
“We never saw her shooting skills,” she said. “I’m sort of glad we didn’t see any clips of her taking corner shots. Maybe other schools would’ve jumped on her a little bit more aggressively.”
The 5’9” freshman put together an exciting season, scoring a team-leading 12 goals and adding two assists in her debut campaign. Senior midfielder Gini Bramley is the only other Nittany Lion with two game-winning goals.
Simon was named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Week after scoring twice in a 4-0 victory over Temple in August. That Temple game was one of two in which she scored multiple goals — the other was an 8-0 blowout of Michigan State at home.
The German started in all 17 of Penn State’s games this season and has quickly become one of the team’s most reliable players. Despite being about 4,000 miles away from home, she’s settled into life in Happy Valley quite well, thanks in part to Penn State’s senior leadership.
Simon said that Aurelia Meijer in particular has been helpful throughout the season. Meijer also had to adjust to life in North America after moving from her home country of Holland before her freshman year.
“The seniors have been so helpful,” Simon said. “There are 12 of them, and I’m going to miss them so much — especially Aurelia, because she’s an international too.”
Hanau, Germany and State College are obviously two very different places, so Simon’s adjustment to a new lifestyle was a bit difficult at first. On the field, she said the North American style of field hockey emphasizes going forward more than she was used to in Germany.
Although she’s young, the Nittany Lions’ coaching staff admires Simon for her confidence and growth as a player. Her ability to adapt from midfield to defense is what sets her a part.
“She has really grown with her confidence on the attack,” Morett-Curtiss said. “We put her into the midfield a bit. She can be a person to provide great skills that we need for an offensive push.”
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