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  The Digital Collegian - Published independently by students at Penn State
[ Friday, Nov. 12, 1999 ]

Let the playoffs begin
Lions start first round of NCAA championships tomorrow

Collegian Staff Writer

The Penn State field hockey team begins its run for the National Championship this weekend, taking on North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The No. 6 Lady Lions begin the four-round tournament Saturday in Iowa City, Iowa, hosting No. 8 North Carolina at 2:30 p.m. at Grant Field. No. 4 Iowa and No. 14 Kent State face off at noon in Saturday's first game of the day.

The day's two victors will battle for a berth in the Final Four at 3 p.m. Sunday.

PHOTO: Colin Gillette
PHOTO: Colin Gillette
Junior Maegan Galie winds up to hit the ball in a game against Iowa earlier this season at Bigler Field.

The Lions (17-4, 8-2 Big Ten) made the tournament with an at-large bid and represent the Big Ten along with Iowa and conference tournament-champion Michigan. The tournament offers Penn State an opportunity to move past the 2-1 double-overtime loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals last weekend.

North Carolina (15-5, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) comes into the tournament after being humbled last weekend by No. 3 Wake Forest. The Tar Heels lost for the third time this season to the Demon Deacons, 6-1, in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

The Tar Heels are a relatively young team, with only one senior, and are led in goal by redshirt freshman goalkeeper Amy Tran, who has recorded a 1.03 goals-against average in 19 games.

North Carolina scored 56 goals on offense this season, with half of those scored by junior forward Kristen McCann and sophomore back Abby Martin. Both scored 14 goals in the season, with McCann recording one more assist than Martin.

By comparison, Penn State has scored 71 goals this season and boasts the three top scorers in the Big Ten.

Lions senior midfielder Tracey Larson, the Big Ten Player of the Year, leads the team with 57 points and is second on the team with 16 goals.

Juniors Maegan Galie and Traci Anselmo combined have scored 30 goals and 87 points.

Penn State is no stranger to the baby blue of North Carolina, with the two teams playing 17 times since 1982. Although the Tar Heels lead the series, 12-4-1, the Lions emerged victorious the last time these two teams met. Back on Sept. 5, the Lions pulled out an exciting 1-0 win against North Carolina at Bigler Athletic Complex.

"The chance to play Penn State again is exciting for me and the team," North Carolina field hockey coach Karen Shelton said in a North Carolina press release.

Penn State field hockey coach Char Morett said she expects to take a different approach against North Carolina this time around.

"We've certainly grown," Morett said, "and I'm sure they have, too. We'll try to play as sharp as we can. A lot will come down to corner execution."

Lions redshirt freshman goalkeeper Heidi Leuchte said she thinks Penn State could have an advantage, facing the Tar Heels on familiar turf.

"We've played there before," Leuchte said about Iowa's Grant Field, "so we know what it's like."

A win on Saturday would send Penn State to the NCAA quarterfinals and a possible rematch with Iowa. The Hawkeyes defeated the Lions twice this season, including a 3-2 come-from-behind victory on Oct. 17 at Bigler.

"Yeah, I would," Morett said regarding her team's desire to face Iowa again. "But they're (the Hawkeyes are) gonna have a tough time with Kent."

Field hockey

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Copyright © 2001 Collegian Inc.
Updated 1999-11-12  0:15:42   -4
Requested 2001-6-17  8:26:05   -4