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Penn State Field Hockey Riding Momentum Ahead Of NCAA Tournament Final Four

For the first time since 2007, Penn State field hockey will play in a semifinal game in the NCAA Tournament. After winning both the opening-round matchup against Louisville and the quarterfinal game over Albany, the Nittany Lions are just two wins away from their first NCAA national championship victory.

Their opponent will be the No. 1 seed, undefeated North Carolina Tar Heels, who are looking to win their fourth title in the last five seasons.

Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss spoke with the media on Tuesday about what it’s going to take to beat the undefeated Tar Heels.

“We need to make sure that we’re connected as a team,” Morett-Curtiss said. “Attacking inside the 25 is really a big, big part of our focus this week.”

Another big part of the Nittany Lions’ game this season has been the dominant scoring threat off penalty corners. This season, the penalty corner has become a big part of the Nittany Lions’ offense, and a large part of that is the success of senior Mackenzie Allessie.

While she hasn’t been a dominant goal scorer as of late, Allessie has been racking up points this season off of assists. A large part of that comes from serving and setting up penalty corners.

While she was described by Morett-Curtiss as a quiet leader, she brings out her big personality on the field during games.

“She has that competitive spirit that you see on the field that really shows her leadership style,” Morett-Curtiss said. “I think she just goes out there to be a consistent player, stick with the game plan, and help the attack and help the defense.”

Allessie scored arguably the biggest goal of her career, which ended up being the game-winning goal, in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Albany. It was her first goal since October 21 when the Nittany Lions faced Maryland.

While that goal was huge for the team, the outstanding play from senior goalkeeper Brie Barraco has also been key to Penn State’s success.

Her stellar play this year, and especially in the past few games, has kept the Nittany Lions in almost every game they’ve played. This season, in 20 games, Barraco has allowed only 21 goals and led the Big Ten in save percentage (.802).

Barraco has recorded eight shutouts this season, with the most recent two being in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Morett-Curtiss spoke on how her leadership on the defensive side this year has resulted in season-long success.

“Brie has been lights out,” Morett-Curtiss said. “She doesn’t try to be the hero of the game, but she has settled into a position where she really protects the goal line.”

Whatever happens this weekend, this will go down as one of the most successful seasons in Penn State field hockey history, as this is only its 11th Final Four appearance in school history.

An emotional Morett-Curtiss held back tears when speaking about how proud she was of this team and what it was able to represent all season long.

“This season has been fun, fun from start to finish,” Morett-Curtiss said. “They’re just a group of women that really care for each other, love each other, and play for each other, and I think it speaks volumes in their style of play.”

Penn State will try to do the unthinkable and knock off undefeated North Carolina at noon on Friday, November 18. You can watch the game on ESPN+.

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About the Author

Matt Brown

Matt is a Junior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in Sports Studies from Bensalem, Pa. Matt is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and an overall sports fan in general. When not watching sports, you'll find him watching reruns of "The Office" or "Friends." To reach him, follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @matt_brown63, or email him at [email protected]

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