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No. 5 Penn State Field Hockey Falls To No. 2 Northwestern 5-4 In Overtime Heartbreaker

No. 5 Penn State field hockey (8-2, 3-1 Big Ten) couldn’t keep pace with No. 2 Northwestern (10-1, 1-1 Big Ten) in a last-second 5-4 defeat in Evanston, Illinois Friday afternoon.

Despite entering the contest with an underdog label, the Nittany Lions jumped out to an instant 1-0 first-quarter lead thanks to junior forward Sophia Gladieux. While Northwestern fired back with several sequences of cohesive offensive stability, the Wildcats’ goalkeeping let the home squad down for most of regulation.

However, down the stretch, Northwestern midfielder Peyton Halsey took matters into her own hands. The Pennsylvania native took out her home-state squad with vengeance by scoring two unanswered goals in the fourth quarter and one additional strike in overtime, giving the Wildcats an improbable, come-from-behind 5-4 victory.

How It Happened

To kick off the match, Northwestern midfielder Katie Jones fired the contest’s first shot nearly three minutes in. Immediately, Nittany Lions’ goaltender Brie Barraco covered the bulleted attempt into a crucial stop.

After losing the initial field possession battle, Penn State found its second wind — courtesy of two-time first-team All-Big Ten honoree, Sophia Gladieux. In less than a four-minute span, the junior forward fired two attempts on net, with the second resulting in a go-ahead goal to give the Nittany Lions a momentum-building 1-0 lead.

Coming off of the setback, Northwestern bolstered three additional shots of its own, but Barraco’s steady net presence failed to give an edge to the home squad’s front line. Rounding out the first quarter, Penn State took a solid, 1-0 advantage into the opening intermission.

Less than a minute and a half into the second period of play, the Wildcats began to drastically turn the tide. The home team’s sixth shot of the matchup resulted in a game-tying goal, thanks to the shifty stick handling of Netherlands’ native Bent Baekers.

With the showing knotted up at a 1-1 clip, the one-two punch of Gladieux and Mackenzie Allessie began to overwhelm the favorited Wildcats. Towards the middle of the second quarter, the combination helped the Nittany Lions bolster a newfound stability on offense, with each firing shots toward opposing keeper Annabel Skubisz’s direction.

The second attempt, rattled off by Allessie, lifted Penn State to a 2-1 lead heading into the locker room. For the second time in two weeks, the Nittany Lions entered the halfway point of a top-five road matchup with the advantage, just as Charlene Morett-Curtiss’s group did against Michigan.

Despite starting the third quarter at a 3-to-1 shot disadvantage, the Nittany Lions continued to pepper the Wildcats’ net with opportune attempts. Following a near score from Allessie, the veteran midfielder was awarded a penalty shot off of a dirty defensive sequence from Northwestern.

Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, Allessie was awarded a penalty stroke, which she ultimately converted into the squad’s third goal of the afternoon. Facing a ghastly 3-1 deficit, the No. 2 Wildcats continued to push the pace on the offensive end, leading to more goal-scoring attempts from the fifth-year centerpiece, Baekers.

At the 41-minute mark, Alina Marshall and Ana Medina Garcia facilitated a surgical passing sequence, leading to a double-assisted goal off the stick of Baekers, which cut the Wildcats’ deficit to just one score. The goal ended up being the last conversion of the third quarter, with the matchup sitting at a 3-2 Penn State advantage.

Down the stretch, the two squads traded goals, but the Wildcats were seemingly never able to answer Penn State’s timely calls in crunch time. At the 47-minute mark, Allessie found the net for her third goal of the afternoon, giving the senior her first hat trick of the season.

Ultimately, Northwestern tacked on another goal thanks to Peyton Halsey, bringing the deficit to a 4-3 margin in favor of the Nittany Lions. While it appeared as though Penn State would escape Evanston with a one-goal victory, the clutch Halsey had other plans.

With just 56 seconds remaining, Halsey miraculously found the back of the net for the Wildcats, giving the tied-up 4-4 chance at victory. As the clock winded down to quadruple zeros, the two top-10 foes entered the Nittany Lions’ first overtime bout of the campaign.

The same story held true in the extra period, with Halsey torching the Nittany Lions on the offensive end. To finish off the come-from-behind effort, Halsey poured on the game-winning score with a penalty shot, giving Penn State its second loss of the season.

Takeaways

  • After embarking on a seven-game winning streak since falling to Louisville in late August, the Nittany Lions couldn’t seal the deal against the Wildcats. Late defensive blunders proved to be pivotal for Morett-Curtiss’ group, which gave up three unanswered goals down the stretch.
  • Sophia Gladieux is her, folks. Through 10 games, the junior superstar has posted 10 goals on 26 shots on net. If the Boyertown, Pennsylvania native continues to produce at such a high rate, the two-time All-Big Ten selection could wind up as a clear-cut conference player of the year candidate at the season’s conclusion.
  • After earning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors as a sophomore in 2020, Mackenzie Allessie’s game appears to be back in tip-top shape after a production decrease during her junior run. Through Friday’s matchup, Allessie has accounted for nine total goals — good for the second most on the Nittany Lions’ talent-laden roster.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will round out their two-game road trip with a matchup at Indiana. The contest is set for 11 a.m. on Sunday, October 2 in Bloomington, with live coverage airing on BTN+.

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a junior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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