UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Nittany Lion field hockey team (8-2, 3-1 Big Ten), ranked No. 8 in the NFHCA Coaches Poll, won a thrilling double-overtime game over No. 4 Northwestern (9-3, 1-2 Big Ten) in a battle of Big Ten powers. The Nittany Lions outlasted the Wildcats 2-1 (2OT) in the Sunday matinee played at Penn State, picking up an important Big Ten win.
The Nittany Lions took an early lead on a Mackenzie Allessie (Mount Joy, Pa.) goal and then won the game when Sophia Gladieux (Boyertown, Pa.) scored in extra time.
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Penn State had the first solid offensive press in the game, moving the ball into the Northwestern circle at the 12:00 mark. Senior Hannah Zemaitis (Camp Hill, Pa.) had a pass into the circle that the Wildcats were able to defend to halt the early effort. Northwestern's best first opportunity came at the 8:00 mark, but the Nittany Lion defense, anchored by Kelsey Love (State College, Pa.), held firm early. Northwestern was able to control possession for the next few minutes until a Northwestern green card at the 3:42 mark gave Penn State a player advantage. Penn State regained possession and moved the ball down field. Bree Bednarski (Wyoming, Pa.) had a close shot in the final seconds, but Northwestern goalie Annabel Skubisz knocked the shot away. The Wildcat defense kept Penn State off the scoreboard and the game moved to the second stanza tied 0-0.
After nearly five minutes of constant Lion pressure in the second period, Northwestern was able to move the ball down to the Lion circle and picked up a corner with 3:31 left in the half. Penn State blocked the shot off the corner and regained possession seconds later. The game moved to halftime scoreless.
Penn Sate outshot Northwestern 5-2 in the opening half but Skubisz' s five saves kept the Lions off the scoreboard. Brie Barraco had one save for Penn State and both teams had two penalty corners.
Towards the end of the third period, PSU's Gery Schnarrs stole a Northwestern clear at the 0:35 mark and fed Mackenzie Allessie, who dribbled into the circle, twirled once and drilled a shot past Skubisz to put Penn State on the board, scoring with just 0:24 left in the period.
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The Lion defended well in the fourth as Northwestern picked up another corner with 2:10 to play. A blocked shot off that corner led to another Wildcat corner. This time, the Wildcats connected, with Bente Baekers connecting off assists from Ana Medina Garcia and Clara Roth to tie the game at the 1:52 mark. Northwestern maintained possession for the rest of regulation and the game went to overtime tied 1-1.
A Penn State corner with 2:38 left in the second overtime period turned into a goa,l and ultimately a win, for the Nittany Lions. It was Sophia Gladieux who scored the game-winning goal for Penn State.
"That's just another battle in the Big Ten against an outstanding and talented team," said head coach Char Morett-Curtiss. "I thought our girls did a great job o competing and sticking with our game plan. We felt if we just stuck with it, it would pay off and it did. Elena (Vos) was outstanding on defense, Brie (Barraco) really kept control of the cage and Mackenzie (Allessie) dominated the midfield. Sophia's (Gladieux) shot was great in overtime. I'm very happy to get such an exciting win in front of a great Alumni Day crowd here."
Penn State held a slim 17-15 edge in shots in what was a tightly contested game. Northwestern had 11 corners to seven for the Nittany Lions. Barraco ended the game with three saves while Skubisz had 11 for Northwestern.
Penn State is now 8-2 overall, 3-1 in the Big Ten. Northwestern falls to 9-3, 1-2 in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions host Rutgers on Friday, Oct. 8, at 4 p.m. in their next outing.