Nov. 8, 1997

Women's Field Hockey Loses Heartbreaker to Penn State

IOWA CITY, IOWA- The clock struck midnight on Michigan State's quest for a conference title, as top-seeded Penn State edged out the Spartans 2-1 in the semifinals of the BIG TEN Field Hockey Tournament.

With intensity raised up a notch and the pendulum of momentum swinging freely between the two squads, it was Penn States Maegan Galie who broke a 1-1 deadlock, scoring the game-winning goal ten minutes into the second half. Fifth-seeded Michigan State (11-10, 4-8) stormed back in the later part of the second half, peppering the Penn State (16-5, 8-3) net with shots, but could not put one past All-BIG TEN goaltender Jamie Smith.

"The game was back and forth and both teams could have won it, that's how close it was. Penn State had momentum for awhile, then we came back, especially in the last 15 minutes of the game. I thought we were going to tie it up. We were close. We hit a post, we had corners and we had the game plan, but we just came up one short," stated Michigan State head coach Michele Madison.

The Spartans jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game, as Rayna Hiscox scored her third goal of the tournament just 3:36 into the contest. Sofie Frankenhuis made a fine pass from outside the circle into Hiscox, who found herself all alone in front of Smith five yards from the Penn State net. Hiscox swept the ball around the pads of the sprawling goalkeeper for her team-leading 17th goal of the season.

Penn State picked up the momentum for most of the first half, outshooting the Spartans 11-4 in the first frame. MSU goalkeeper Beth George made excellent saves in the net for the second straight outing. Including a fine save coming out of the net to smother the attempt of PSU's Kym McKinney, who was lining up a shot within five yards from the net with 13:30 remaing in the half. But she couldn't overcome seven first half Lady Lion penalty corners, as PSU's Heather Gorlaski scored on a corner with 25 seconds remaining to knot the game at one.

On the energy of their late first half goal Penn State stayed on the attack early in the second half, as Galie blasted a shot past George to put PSU up 2-1. But Michigan State countered, as the Spartan offense began to control the action. MSU had two consecutive corners denied by Smith, who made fine saves on line drives by Hiscox and Frankenhuis with 14:45 left in the contest. The Spartans' best chance to tie game came just two minutes later, as Smith stopped a shot by MSU's Jill Lusher. The rebound came to Ann Barberich, whose attempt hit the post. The Spartan offense kept the ball in the Penn State zone for much of the final ten minutes, but could not get a shot past Smith.

A disappointing loss for MSU, they lose just their second of the season when they score the games opening tally (8-2). Penn State moves onto the conference finals against the winner of the Michigan/Ohio State semifinal, held followinf the MSU/PSU match.

The defeat ends the season for Michigan State, as they head home following an 11-10 campaign, marking the first tiem since 1980-81 that the Spartans have posted back-to-back winning seasons.

"It's been a very challenging season for the team, to overcome obstacles. But the key is that they did overcome it. To play like they did here - to play unbelievable hockey with an unbelievable winning attitude. Mental toughness and a fighter's spirit. They're winners," stated Madison following the contest.

The loss also ends the career for five Spartan seniors. Hiscox, Lusher, Sarah Wilson, Ann Berberich and Jenny Darga. Hiscox leaves the Michigan State program as its No.2 all-time leading goal scorer with 47. She also holds the career and single-season assist marks with 34 and 14, respectively. Lusher compiled 32 goals during her career As a Spartan, leaving her fourth on the all-time goal-scoring list. Wilson leaves as the program's No.2 in assists with 26, after posting back-to-bakc 13 assist seasons in her junior and senior campaigns. Berberich amassed a career-high seven goals this season, giving her 11 for her career, while Darga's contributions to the defense will be missed.

NOTES: Spartan goalkeeper Beth George came up strong in the tournament, stopping 13 of 16 shots she faces (.813 save percentage)...Hiscox scored three of the Spartans' four goals in the tournament, giving her a team-leading 17 on the season...Frankenuis' assist extends her freshman record of assists in a season (11)...The loss was MSU's a first neutral-site loss of the year (3-1)...With her 13 savesd for the tournament, George moves into ninth place all-time on MSU's saves list (199)...Penn State is now 14-1 lifetime against the Spartans, including 3-0 this season...The MSU program remains one win away from its 200th victory since the squad's inception in 1972 (199-233-42)...The Spartans are 0-8 when it scores one goal or less...Michigan State finishes 4-4 in one-goal games.

Michigan State           1     0     1
Penn State               1     1     2
Goal Scoring:
First Half:
MSU - Rayna Hiscox (Sofie Frankenhuis) 3:36
PSU - Heather Gorlaski (Sonje Volla, Kim Hicks) 34:35
Second Half:
PSU - Maegan Galie (Julie Spoaller) 45:34
Goalkeeper Saves:
MSU - Beth George - 8
PSU - Julie Smith - 5
                  MSU     PSU
Shots             13      15
GK Saves          5       8
Defensive Saves   0       0
Penalty Corners   7       9 
Penalty Strokes   0       0