[ Friday, Sept. 17, 1999 ]
Larson leads Lady Lions to battle UConn
The Penn State field hockey team will not be losing the services of senior Tracey Larson anytime soon, and it will need her as it faces yet another juggernaut this weekend.
PHOTO: Gordon Marshall
Tracey Larson plays past a West Chester defender Wednesday night. Larson turned down an offer to play with the U.S. National Team and will play tonight against Connecticut.
The No. 1 Lady Lions (5-0) will attempt to defend their top national ranking against No. 6 Connecticut, 6 p.m. tonight at Bigler Athletic Complex.
The team's second leading scorer (two goals, nine assists), Larson was invited to join the U.S. National Team for the next two weeks in Australia, but had to turn down the offer due a question of how much class time she is allowed to miss.
Although disappointing for Larson, keeping her in the lineup gives the team a big advantage.
"She's got the speed and she makes things happen on the offensive end," Penn State coach Char Morett said. "She's always there defensively, too."
The Lions are coming off their third shutout victory of the season, blanking West Chester 5-0 Wednesday night.
Connecticut (4-0, 1-0 Big East) comes into town after a dominating offensive performance against No. 14 New Hampshire. The Huskies took the ball to the net 18 times in a 7-2 win.
The Huskies, national semifinalists a year ago, have returned nearly their entire roster, with the exception of two players. They have a spread-out attack, with six different players registering at least five points each. Especially tough has been senior Nicole Castonguay, leading the team with five goals.
Also impressive has been Castonguay's defense, which recently earned her Big East Defensive Player of the Week honors.
In between the pipes, veteran goalkeeper Danielle Vile has been a force to reckon with. Although her 1.50 goals-against average is high compared to her career average, she has held opponents in check while giving her team the opportunity to win.
Vile will have her hands full with a Lions team that has scored five goals in every game but one. The Huskies will have to focus on stopping Penn State's big three Larson, Traci Anselmo and Maegan Galie.
After a slow start, Galie really has picked up her game, registering four goals and five assists in the last three contests.
The Anselmo-Larson combination has been lethal all season, as Larson has assisted on all six of Anselmo's goals.
Larson also has had a knack for putting the ball in the net, scoring twice in the last two games.
The Lions have been solid on defense, allowing an average of only 6.2 shots per game. Those few shots have met with a brick wall named Heidi Leuchte, who has dominated the goalkeeper position this season, allowing three goals in 315 minutes for a 0.67 goals-against-average.
The only question is whether the Lions will be ready for Connecticut with only one day of preparation time.
"I think we'll be as prepared as you can," Anselmo said.
Senior Mandy Robinson, who scored her first career goal against West Chester, feels the team will be ready.
"We play our own game," Robinson said. "We don't look to necessarily go after a certain team. We just play the way we play and we usually come out on top."
Copyright © 2001 Collegian Inc.
Updated 1999-9-16 23:03:11 -5
Requested 2001-3-7 3:51:44 -5