UNIVERSITY PARK — The Penn State Nittany field hockey team (7-3, 3-1B1G), ranked No. 7 in the latest NFHCA Coaches Poll, held on for an important Big Ten road win at No. 17 Rutgers (7-3, 1-3 B1G) in a key match-up Friday in Piscataway, N.J. Penn State opened up a 2-0 lead after one half of play and rode that early advantage to a 3-2 win over the Scarlet Knights.
Penn State controlled possession for the opening minutes of the game, keeping the action on the Rutgers side off the field and nearly scoring four minutes in but a Nittany Lion shot from Moira Putsch (Media, Pa.) drifted wide of the cage and Rutgers goalie Gianna Glatz. Rutgers countered with a solid offensive run that led to a shot that slide to the right of the goal and Lion keeper Jenny Rizzo (Hershey, Pa.) at the 29:07 mark. Glatz kicked away a Penn State shot a minute later and action continued 0-0. Freshman Meghan Reese (Coopersburg, Pa.) moved the ball across the top of the circle, nearly connecting on a pass at the 23:40 mark, but Rutgers was able to defend and regain possession. Senior Aurelia Meijer (Hattam, Netherlands) just missed on a hard crossing shot, Emily Klingler (Selinsgrove, Pa.) had a point black shot saved by Glatz and the Lions then picked up their first corner at the 21:52 mark.
Glatz made a hard save on a good Meijer shot to keep the game scoreless. Rutgers was unable to put together an offensive push and Penn State once again reset its offense. Mary Nell Smith (Dauphin, Pa.) forced a second Penn State corner with 18:50 on the clock. She then took the corner, fed the ball to senior Madison Morano (Hammonton, N.J.), who tapped it to freshman Anna Simon (Hanau, Germany) who blasted a shot past Glatz to give Penn State a 1-0 lead at the 18:33 mark. Rizzo fought off two quick Rutgers shots after the reset, keeping Penn State on top as the clock moved below the 17:00 mark. Penn State regained possession and moved the ball downfield where Morano had a shot pushed aside by Glatz.
Penn State continued to dominate the action, with Abby Myers (Hartland, Wis.) picking up Penn State’s seventh shot of the half with 15:30 to play in the opening period. Glatz picked up her fourth save with 13:00 left in the half as the Lions built up a 9-3 shot advantage. Rutgers was hit with a green card with 9:00 to play and Penn State found itself with a player advantage for two minutes. Rutgers, however, was able to kill off the penalty and action resumed at the 8:00 mark with the Nittany Lions up 1-0. Senior Cori Conley (Oak, Park, Ill.) pushed back on a Rutgers press with 6:00 on the clock, Rutgers regrouped and nearly scored seconds later, but Rizzo made a diving stick save to keep Penn State on top at the 5:25 mark. Myers put Penn State up 2-0 with just 0:34 to play in the half, taking a sweet crossing pass from Gini Bramley (Elizabethtown, Pa.) and easily sending the ball past Glatz as the first half came to an end.
The Nittany Lions outshot Rutgers 11-3 in the opening 30 minutes and had a 2-0 edge in penalty corners. Rizzo had two saves for Penn State while Glatz had four for the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers began the second half working to push the ball down to Penn State’s side of the field. But the Lion midfield and defense, with Katie Dembrowksi (Palmyra, Pa.) taking the lead, kept the Scarlet Knights from mounting a serious threat through three minutes. Penn State countered a brief Rutgers push, moved the ball downfield, and began pressuring the Knight defense. A slick Meijer move toward the cage forced a Penn State corner at the 31:10 mark. Penn State could not connect on the corner, with Glatz collecting another save for RU. Myers nearly worked the ball fully from left to right to set up another goal, but the Rutgers defense was able to finally regain possession with 28:00 left to play in the game.
Nittany Lion keeper Rizzo saved a solid Rutgers shot at the 26:50 mark, only to have Scarlet Knight Nikki Profita score seconds later with 26:36 to play to cut the Nittany Lion lead in half, 2-1. The goal energized the Rutgers offense and Rizzo stepped up to push back on two separate Knight efforts in front to the Penn State cage, including a super save a the 23:17 mark. Rizzo’s save total increased to five as the clock hit 23:00. Penn State picked up another penalty corner with 20:00 left in the game. Meijer almost scored off a Simon corner but Glatz was able to just deflect the ball wide, keeping the score at 2-1 Penn State. Penn State reeled off two quick shots in the 17th minute but the Lions could not connect. A solid Bramley fast break led to an extended PSU possession and another corner for the Lions at the 15:45 mark. Rutgers was able to clear the ball and out Penn State still led 2-1 with 14:53 to play. A subsequent Lion corner saw a Dembrowski shot hit the post and dribble wide before a crossing shot went out of bounds, giving Rutgers possession with 14:10 on the clock. Putsch intercepted a Rutgers pass, leading to a Nittany Lions possession right in front of the RU cage. Bramley tapped the ball to senior Cassie Kline (Millersville, Pa.) who sailed a shot past the Rutgers keeper to put Penn State up 3-1 with 13:35 to play.
Rutgers picked up its first penalty corner with 10:30 to play in the game, but Rizzo made a nice save to keep Penn State up by two. The Nittany Lions then moved action down to the Rutgers side of the field for the next couple minutes and when Rutgers managed to regain possession, the Scarlet Knights took timeout with 8:17 on the clock.