Oct. 9, 2010

Courtesy of Penn St.

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Kelsey Amy blasted a pair of goals and Ayla Halus was a force in the cage as the No. 16 ranked Penn State field hockey team upended No. 7 Michigan State, 4-1, during a crucial Big Ten match-up on Friday afternoon at Ralph Young field.

With the victory, the Nittany Lions improved to 9-3 overall, including 3-1 in conference action. The win also snapped Penn State's three-game skid against Michigan State, who fell to 10-3 with a 1-2 mark in league play.

From the outset, Penn State proved to be the aggressor. Less than one minute into the game, Amy took control of a long penalty hit into the circle. On the play, she dribbled to the right side of the cage and launched a rocket that gave the Lions an early 1-0 lead.

Reeling from the initial setback, Michigan State pieced together a response. The Spartans uncorked five straight shots and earned a pair of penalty corners following Amy's score. Although Halus and the defense held strong throughout the onslaught, Katherine Jamieson eventually found an opening at 15:08 after a scramble in front of the cage that knotted the game at one.

Going toe-to-toe with the defending Big Ten champions, Penn State landed another blow just before halftime. After the team earned a penalty corner, Jessica Longstreth helped set up Daneen Zug, who fired a shot on goal. Although MSU goalkeeper Molly Cassidy deflected the initial attempt, Zug corralled the rebound and blasted another shot that could not be denied.

Holding a slim 2-1 advantage at halftime, Penn State kept searching for some breathing room in the second half. Amy led the attack with a pair of quick shots that were batted away. Later in the period, the sophomore sensation took the ball down the right sidelines again, dribbled into the circle, and unleashed a successful one-timer that gave the visitors a 3-1 cushion with 15 minutes remaining in regulation.

Although Michigan State picked up the intensity and earned three penalty corners in an eight-minute span, Halus was up to the challenge. She held tough against the surge and eventually kicked aside three straight attempts in the middle of the half.

With the clock slowly winding down, Penn State came back with one last offensive. Just four minutes remaining in the game, Hannah Allison put an exclamation point on the victory. At the 66:27 mark, she dribbled into the circle and launched a high shot that cleared the goalie and iced the 4-1 victory.

During the game, Michigan State held a 16-10 lead in shots and an imposing 10-5 edge in penalty corners. Despite the discrepancies, Penn State eased into the victory behind an outstanding effort by Halus. The sophomore goalkeeper eventually finished with nine saves which helped keep the Spartan attack quiet.

Penn State will have an extended break before the squad returns to the field next Sunday. The Nittany Lions will be back in action on October 17 when the team heads to Columbus for a 1 p.m. match-up with Ohio State.