Tonight at Rhodes Field, Penn’s defensive four will look to put a deep freeze on an aggressive Penn State offense.
They might have their work cut out for them.
The Nittany Lions average 20 shots a game and boast Corey Hertzog, the top scorer in the country.
The junior has scored 14 goals — just eight less than Penn has scored all together — and has logged four assists already this season.
Shutting down the powerhouse forward will be necessary if the Red and Blue (11-2-0, 4-0-0 Ivy) hope to avenge their 5-0 loss from last year.
Going into the game, Penn is ranked 14th nationally, while Penn State (9-5-1) fell out of the rankings back in September.
While this match does not impact their conference standing, it will affect their NCAA seeding and tournament play should Penn make it to the postseason. Additionally, playing at Rhodes Field is a huge factor in the team’s mindset.
“I think revenge from last year and home field is a big thing for us. We want to prove that this is our house and you can’t come in here and pretend that Big 10 means something to us because it really doesn’t,” junior back Jake Levin said.
Levin, along with the other backs and goalie Ben Berg will look to extend a five game shut-out streak.
Last year, the Quakers let in four of Penn State’s five goals in the second half. This year, however, with the increased focus on fitness, they enter the game sure of their second half and overtime abilities.
“Our guys are confident that the longer the game goes on that they’re going to be the ones that find the goal to get the win,” coach Rudy Fuller said.
This season, both the Nittany Lions and Penn have both scored almost twice as many goals in the second half of games as the first half. Statistically, Penn State tends to foul more often in overtime, which Fuller sees as characteristic of their mindset.
“I just think that it shows that when they get to overtime they’re playing to win and not just sitting back and hoping for a tie,” he said.
So far Penn State has only won one of its three overtime matches while the Quakers have won all three of theirs. Keeping calm and collected means less set pieces for the opponent and less scoring opportunities.
Penn State also has the benefit of a large fan turnout at games.
Fuller is hopeful that students would make the trek to Rhodes tomorrow, saying he “would dance up and down Locust Walk if it would mean people would be there at our game.”