When the opposing team gets 14 shots on goal, it’s easy to assume its margin of victory will be high. This was not the case when the Owls played Penn State on Sunday, as they were only down 2-0 in the defeat.
The low-scoring game featured a 12-save performance from senior goalkeeper Lizzy Millen. To add to this, she also dealt with the 11 penalty corners picked up by Penn State — which is currently fourth in the nation in penalty corners per game.
“Lizzy played great again, she always steps up for the big games. She’s such a competitor,” said coach Amanda Janney.
With the focus staying on the Owls’ stellar defense this season, this game brought a new point to light– how the Owls’ offense will adjust to teams with similar talent, such as the No. 9-ranked Nittany Lions.
“We just need to find ways to limit them in our midfield so they are not getting down into our defensive end as much,” Janney said. “We’re still trying to work out things in our midfield to get the passing going a little bit faster. We handled their pressure, they’re kind of a high-pressing team. They run it to you very hard, harder than our opponents in the past.”
Penn State made its presence known throughout the entire game, dominating the possession time and clogging up the middle of the field on defense. Facing double and triple teams, Owls offensive players were forced to make plays from the outside corners.
“They’re a very smart team and we know that we have to play smart, if not smarter, than them. We had to take a more intellectual approach to this game,” junior forward Alyssa Delp said.
The Owls were unable to make a scoring attempt until the second half, but the tempo of the offense picked up notably after that. Leading the charge were senior forward Amber Yountz and junior forward Alyssa Delp.
“After Friday (against Providence), knowing that we could come back from a 3-0 deficit, 1-0 wasn’t scaring us,” Delp said. “We felt like we had an established offense through the second half, we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
Delp mentioned that the team is working on various areas of the offense, including passing, transferring, keeping the ball away from the middle and getting elimination skills on the outside.
“We do like to use the middle to transfer and spread it around the field. It was difficult (against Penn State) with their strength being up the gut of the field,” Delp said.
Despite the loss to Penn State on Sunday, the team as a whole seems to feel that the challenge will only prepare them for the upcoming Big East matchups.
“We schedule these games for a reason,” junior defender Rachel Steinman said. “Playing top ten schools is what we need in order to be successful in the Big East.”
At this point in the season, It’s all about getting the team to put together the skill it’s shown so far this season, Janney said.
“We are just working on getting our backs and mids to have their best games at the same time. We think we have the fastest, most athletic team in the nation,” Janney said.
Ashlyn Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.