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No. 5 Penn State Field Hockey Drops Season Opener To No. 6 Virginia 2-1

No. 5 Penn State field hockey (0-1) was defeated by No. 6 Virginia (1-0) 2-1 in a non-conference matchup to open up the 2023 season in Charlottesville. The Nittany Lions struggled to capitalize and score despite six penalty corners.

It was a back-and-forth match between the two teams and Penn State dominated the majority of the first half of the game with an early goal. Virginia, however, remained strong to force a tie and subsequent game-winner in the fourth quarter.

How It Happened

There was minimal action in the 15 minutes. The Cavaliers threatened toward the goal in the final two minutes of the quarter and just missed conversions in back-to-back connections with the post. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions didn’t produce a single shot.

Penn State got its first real opportunity of the game during a penalty corner at the six-minute mark of the second quarter. Mackenzie Allessie set up Sophia Gladieux for her first shot of the year but it went wide of the net.

Five minutes later, freshman Natalie Freeman

Five minutes later, freshman Natalie Freeman found the back of the net in her first collegiate outing. Her conversion gave Penn State an edge heading into the locker room for halftime.

Out of the break, the Nittany Lions earned another penalty corner but couldn’t execute. The Cavaliers turned the tide and received a penalty corner of their own, and while they couldn’t convert on the first attempt, Virginia netted the tying goal by way of Laura Jansseen minutes later.

Play was competitive in the remaining minutes of the third quarter and into the fourth. Eventually, freshman Minnie Pollock registered her first collegiate goal to lift the Cavaliers into the lead.

Virginia dominated the final minutes of the game and kept Penn State at bay from creating any offensive momentum to hang on to a 2-1 win.

Takeaways:

  • Natalie Freeman had quite the debut for the blue and white and scored her first goal of her college career. With many of the Nittany Lions’ leaders in points gone from last season, Freeman’s gritty play out of the gates will be key for Penn State as the season progresses.
  • Penn State had many opportunities to score in this outing, including six penalty corners to Virginia’s three. Set pieces were integral to the Nittany Lions’ offense in 2022, and conversions off penalty corners will prove to be the difference in many of their games remaining on the schedule.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will travel to Washington, D.C., to take on American at 1 p.m. on Sunday, August 27.

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About the Author

Matt Brown

Matt is a senior 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 taking down any Dollar Dog challenge or rewatching the Big Ten Maps Commercial. To reach him, follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @matt_brown63, or email him at [email protected].

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