Penn State Field Hockey Big Ten Tournament Preview

Penn State field hockey finished its 2021 regular season last week with an impressive 3-2 overtime win against Michigan to give itself the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

As the season ends, the true test starts as Penn State will hope to secure some postseason hardware.

Since Penn State joined the Big Ten, head coach Charlene Morrett has brought home seven Big Ten titles, as well as an impressive 33-20 Big Ten Tournament record. However, the Nittany Lions sit behind No. 1 Iowa and No. 2 Rutgers, both of whom they lost to in the regular season.

Last year, the Nittany Lions lost in the first round after a heartbreaking overtime loss to Ohio State. However, after an impressive year led by Sophia Gladieux and Anna Simon, Penn State aims to rebound this time around.

Gladieux and Simon found themselves top five in goals, shots on goal, and game-winning goals in the conference this year. Additionally, Mackenzie Allessie ranked at the top of the Big Ten for assists. On the other side of the field, Brie Barraco tallied 75 saves in her 17-game season, landing her the top spot in the conference.

With an all-around effort from the Nittany Lions, they hope to put their skills to the test as they face one of the toughest conferences in field hockey this season.

The Iowa Hawkeyes rank second in the Big Ten in goals, totaling 58 in only 16 games played. Although their offense was competitive, their defense is what separated the team from the pack. The Hawkeyes allowed only nine goals this whole season, with Grace McGuire registering 36 total saves on the year, including ten shutout performances.

Iowa also has two of the top three assist leaders in the Big Ten, with Maddy Murphy at 10 and Ellie Holly at nine, respectively. This playmaking and defensive powerhouse will be a true test for Penn State if it can make it all the way through.

For now, Penn State will focus on its first opponent: No. 6 Maryland. The Nittany Lions fared well against the Terrapins early in the season, as they escaped College Park with a 3-2 win in overtime. However, this Maryland team is certainly not one to be overlooked.

Led by Bibi Donraadt, Maryland is No. 3 in the Big Ten in scoring and No. 2 in assists. Even after going 4-4 in conference play, Maryland still ranks No. 6 in the NFHCA Division I Coaches Poll. However, if history repeats itself and the Nittany Lions make it through the first round, No. 2 Rutgers and No. 7 Indiana still may have something to say.

The Hoosiers, being the lowest seed in the tournament, didn’t have the most impressive year. They were second to last in the conference in shots and goals. Its defense didn’t do it too many favors, either, as they finished in the bottom three with saves and second with penalties.

One bright spot for Indiana is Arabella Loveridge. Although she ranked near the bottom of the conference for total saves, she did produce six shutout performances on the year. Although, a dismal 2-6 record for Indiana in the Big Ten makes the Scarlett Knights a very probable winner in that matchup.

Rutgers doesn’t stick out in many statistical categories in the Big Ten, but it won games when it mattered most. Putting up a 6-2 record in the Big Ten, the Scarlet Knights were only bested by Iowa and Michigan and even escaped University Park with a 1-0 win.

Morrett and the Nittany Lions will have to look out for Milena Redlingshoefer, as she is tied with Gladieux and Simon for most game-winning goals in the conference.

The rest of the tournament rounds out with No. 4 Michigan and No. 5 Northwestern. The Wolverines enter this tourney with the Big Ten leader in goals and points in Sofia Southam. However, right under her at second in the conference for goals and points sits Bente Baekers for the Wildcats. Nevertheless, one of these teams will have a date with tournament favorite, first-seeded Iowa.

Penn State will begin the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday, November 4. The game will start at 5 p.m. in Piscataway, New Jersey, and will be broadcast live on BTN+.

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About the Author

Tobey Prime

Tobey is a senior studying broadcast journalism from Lancaster, PA. He is a major Pittsburgh sports fan and Miami Heat fanatic. When Tobey isn't writing for Onward State, you can catch him looking at photos of his pugs. Send your best insults to [email protected] or sports takes to @tobey_prime on Twitter.

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