UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – No. 6 Penn State defeated Lock Haven on Wednesday, recording a 5-0 victory.
The Nittany Lions advance to a 6-2 record, while the Eagles move to 4-3. Laura Gebhart registered the game-winner, scoring at the 20:09 minute mark of the first period.
Gebhart’s goal came late into the first half after a back-and-forth sequence for possession in the middle. Kelsey Amy finally broke through Lock Haven’s defense and found Gebhart waiting at the front and center of the net. With a pass from Amy, Gebhart was able to send the ball past goalkeeper Kelsey Moll to give the Lions a 1-0 lead.
“I think it was really important for us to get some goals from the field,” head coach Charlene Morett said. “We talked about being in the right position and finding our players in front of the cage…so I thought that that was a lot better…The first goal was beautiful. I said to the team that it was in the top five of my coaching career, just the way that it was passed down the field and the way it was finished.”
Penn State came out of the gate with an offensive mindset, recording 14 shots in the first half alone. Gebhart nearly put the squad on the board at the 17:17 mark, as the ball nearly popped up over Moll’s shoulder on her shot. With gritty work from Hannah Allison in the midfield and smart defense from Abby Fuhrman, Gebhart would be able to score minutes later.
The Eagles refused to back down, however, with Nakira Downes taking every offensive chance she was given. Downes’ speed helped her earn several breakaways down the field, pushing past several Penn State defenders to put herself in front of goalkeeper Ayla Halus. With 10 minutes to play in the first period, Downes was able to send the ball at Halus after a Lock Haven penalty corner, but Halus remained perfect in net.
Soon after, the Lions would earn a penalty corner of their own. With a beautiful pass from junior Whitney Reddig, Amy took a commanding shot from the top of the box and fired the ball past Moll for a 2-0 lead. Reddig earned her fifth assist of the season and the 25th of her career, while Amy reached the milestone of 60 career goals on her eighth goal of the season.
As the second period began, Lock Haven’s defense continued to challenge the Lions in the offensive zone. Moll fended off two back-to-back penalty corners before Penn State’s forwards prevailed. After a defensive save by Beverly Rhule, her first of two, Ashtin Klingler moved up to take advantage of the rebound. Klingler wound up and shot the ball past Moll for her third goal of the season. The Lions now led 3-0.
Minutes later, Taylor Herold would extend Penn State’s lead to 4-0. After an intense game of persistent offense from Herold, the forward’s hard work would finally pay off with help from Lauren Alwine. Alwine forced the ball deep into Lock Haven’s zone in the right corner before sending a long pass up to Herold in front of the net. She took a quick shot past Moll to score before a single defender could reach her. It was her first goal of the season and Alwine’s first career point.
Penn State’s final goal came after the squad’s sixth of seven penalty corners. Reddig set up the play for the Lions, sending the ball to Gebhart at the top of the box. Gebhart stopped the ball for Allison, who snuck in from the back to send a shot flying past the Lock Haven netminder. Allison’s first goal of the season set the score at 5-0 in favor of Penn State.
With a bit more than 20 minutes to play, Elaina White stepped in for Moll at goal, while Kylie Licata took over the Lions’ net for her first game of the season. Also seeing action for the first time this year, Haley Kerstetter and Bethany Mink hurried onto the field for their first collegiate game. The remaining action was defined by offensive hustle and disciplined defense. Ally Lauth played tremendous for Penn State, making several diving plays to maintain possession. Junior Jacqueline Kenney fended off the Eagles’ forwards in the closing minutes, staying resilient and sound at back.
After one final save from Licata on a Lock Haven penalty corner, Amanda Dinunzio took the ball out of Penn State’s zone as time expired. The Lions outshot the Eagles 22-7, with Moll recording four saves and White making one. Halus earned the win with two saves, while Licata finished the contest with three saves. Both share the second shutout of the season.