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  The Digital Collegian - Published independently by students at Penn State
[ Tuesday, Oct. 5, 1999 ]

Defense, goalkeeping shining points in first half of 1999 season

Collegian Staff Writer

One would think a team in Penn State's position would be suffering from growing pains.

Six starters lost to graduation. Total inexperience at goalkeeper. What would you expect at the midseason point?

Probably not a 10-2 record and a No. 5 ranking. But that is exactly where the Penn State field hockey team is at with half a season left to play.


When the Lions score . . . they score.

PHOTO: Jason Fagone PHOTO: Jason Fagonebio
Penn State midfielder Tracy Larson makes a stab at the ball Sunday agianst Michigan.

In their 10 wins this season, the Lions have averaged 4.3 goals per game. Five different Penn State players have reached double digits in points.

Statistically, the best player on the field this season has been senior co-captain Tracey Larson. The veteran midfielder has been all over the field. Her 27 points have already surpassed her total from last season and her 15 assists are already a career-best.

"She's (Larson) been our go-to girl," Lions junior Irene Kofroth said. "I can always look to her. She's a really good team player."

Also providing offense for the Lions have been senior Traci Anselmo, junior Maegan Galie and sophomores Kiley Kulina and Meredith Shulzitski. The quartet has totaled 78 points.

But the offense also has struggled at times. In the Lions two losses, Penn State has run into a hot goalkeeper and came away with zero goals.

On the whole, the offense has been explosive at times, and quiet at others. The Lions will look to capitalize more on their opportunities inside the circle to improve their scoring output. Grade: B+


Other than a defensive lapse late in the season-opening game against Ohio and a breakaway by Michigan's Courtney Reid in last Sunday's game, the play of the defense has been solid. The Lions have posted six shutouts, with half of those coming against ranked opponents.

The Lions' 1-0 win against No. 2 North Carolina has been the showcase for that defense and was instrumental in Larson earning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors.

The defense has complimented Lions goalkeeper Heidi Leuchte by providing opponents with low-percentage shot opportunities.

"The defense does a good job of pushing the ball to spots where the shots aren't high percentage," Penn State field hockey coach Char Morett said.

With its solid play thus far, the defense has done its job of giving the offense the chance to win. Grade: A-


For a position that was one of the team's biggest question marks entering the year, the play of Leuchte has been nothing short of inspiring.

Although the defense has provided adequate blanket coverage for Leuchte, one cannot discount her play this season.

Leuchte, a redshirt freshman, has made an array of spectacular saves this year, most recently a punch clear on Reid's breakaway that probably saved the game for the Lions.

"Heidi has played so well," Lions senior Mandy Robinson said. "She's so solid mentally and she's made some incredible saves."

Having to fill the shoes of former Lions goalkeeper Jamie Smith is not an easy task. But Leuchte has certainly begun to live up to Smith's legacy. Grade: A


All together, the Lions have performed better than expected for a team that lost so many starters to graduation.

But the thing that defines this team is the chemistry between the players.

The Penn State field hockey team has played like a team in every meaning of the word.

The second half of this seasonshould be interesting. Overall Grade: A-

Field hockey

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Updated 1999-10-4  22:36:29   -5
Requested 2001-3-7  4:15:06   -5