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Sophia Gladieux & Mackenzie Allessie Paving The Way In Penn State Field Hockey’s Potent Offensive Attack

No. 4 Penn State field hockey is rolling, folks.

After a tight overtime loss at No. 3 Northwestern on September 30, the Nittany Lions stayed near the top of the NFHCA Coaches Poll despite the setback. As the No. 5 team in the nation, they took down No. 4 Iowa after a 90-second overtime period for the program’s first victory over the Hawkeyes since 2018.

Much of the squad’s success is directly due to Penn State’s defense. Its goalie, Brie Barraco, is third in the Big Ten in saves and fourth in goals allowed. Across 13 games, the Nittany Lions have allowed just 17 goals, one of the best totals in the conference.

Head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss gives the defense a lot of credit for the Iowa win. After all, the team allowed just one goal to one of the best teams in the country.

However, what really pushed Morett-Curtiss’ team over the edge this year is her two leading scorers — Sophia Gladieux and Mackenzie Allessie. This year, Gladieux has recorded 15 goals, while Allessie has found the net 10 times. Overall, the pair has contributed to more than half of Penn State’s 39 goals this season.

Morett-Curtiss, as well as her team, knows how special that duo is. Gladieux is mentioned by Penn State staff as someone worthy of national attention. She’s earned her team’s trust, so much so that trusting Gladiuex’s instincts with the ball is an integral part of Morett-Curtiss’ game plan.

“I just think that [she]…is always a dangerous person to score,” Morett-Curtiss said after the Iowa win.

The two goalscorers also rank as the highest-scoring duo in the nation. Even in the leadup to Penn State’s goals, Allessie is one of the best in the country. Her 0.69 assists per game mark sits as the 13th-best in Division I play.

Against one of the best teams in the nation, Gladieux was a considerable focus for Penn State’s offense. Throughout the game, Morett-Curtiss directed her to push up the field for a possible attack. After the match, the coach spoke about how the duo of Allessie to Gladiuex was a critical one-two punch for the Nittany Lions’ attack.

“We want to get it behind them and then when [Allessie] got the ball, [Gladieux] needs to be just more behind them and she makes those lateral runs,” she said.

Behind Penn State’s duo is Anna Simon, who has recorded six points in the team’s last three games. Against Iowa, Simon scored Penn State’s first goal under nine minutes into the match and assisted Gladiuex for her overtime winner.

After a slow start to the season, Morett-Curtiss hopes that Simon can be the final piece of her puzzle and that the Iowa game will prove to be a jumping-off point.

“I think Anna getting that goal tonight was for her confidence,” Morett-Curtiss said. “I believe that we’ve got some weapons on the field.”

The win over Iowa led to another overtime victory against Lafayette later that weekend. Penn State isn’t always winning games pretty, but it has managed to stay hot no matter who it faces. It won’t be a shock when the Nittany Lions continue this trend against a difficult schedule to end the season.

The Nittany Lions will have two more non-conference matchups against Bucknell and Kent State, respectively, in the coming weekend before facing No. 2 Maryland at home and No. 20 Rutgers on the road.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a sophomore journalism major at Penn State. He enjoys yelling into the Twitter void over various sports items that don't really matter. If you ever want to meet him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. Find (and disagree with him) on Twitter (Joe_Lister21) or by email ([email protected])

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