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WOMEN’S FIELD HOCKEY

Rules of the Game

Women’s collegiate field hockey is a fall outdoor team sport.  The hockey field, or pitch, is 100 yards long by 60 yards wide, and contains a center line and two 25-yard lines.  A striking circle extends in a semi-circular arc sixteen yards from the goal.  Goal cages are seven feet high, twelve feet wide, and four feet deep.  Penn State’s field hockey team plays at the Bigler Athletic Complex. 

Each team fields eleven players, including a goalkeeper.  Players attempt to hit or dribble a plastic ball (slightly bigger than a baseball) past the opposing goalkeeper into the goal cage (all shots must come from within the striking circle).  The stick used to hit the ball has a curved head, and is rounded on one side and flat on the other.  A player may make contact with the ball only with the stick’s flat side.

A game consists of two 35-minute halves; the team with the most goals at the end wins. If the score is tied, up to two 7 ½ minute sudden-death overtime periods are played.  If still tied in a tournament game, five players on each team take alternating penalty strokes; this continues until a winner is determined.

Penn State Field Hockey History

Field hockey is one of Penn State’s oldest women’s sports.  The team won all four games in 1964, starting with a home 2-0 victory over Susquehanna.  Over the next nine seasons, the Lions achieved limited success under three coaches, going 23-25-1.  In 1974, Gillian Rattray became head coach, and a new era in Penn State field hockey began.

In 1979, Penn State played in the first of three consecutive AIAW national championship games, losing 2-0 to Long Beach State.  The Lions won the next two AIAW national championships, going undefeated (with two ties) in 1980.  One of the stars of these teams, Candy Finn, is still Penn  State’s season and all-time leading goal scorer.  She also has the distinction of being the only NCAA athlete to have scored the national championship game-winning goal in two different sports (field hockey and lacrosse).  Another player, 1978 captain Charlene Morett, was Penn State’s first three-time All-American, and succeeded Rattray as head coach in 1987.

Under Morett’s (now Morett-Curtiss) tutelage, Penn State women’s field hockey was an Atlantic 10 Conference power, winning regular season and tournament championships in 1989 and 1990.  After joining the Big 10 in 1992, the team earned Penn State’s first outright Big 10 championship in any sport in 1993.  The Lions have won five Big 10 regular season and four Tournament championships (winning both in 1997 and 1998).  In 2002 and 2007, they played in the National Championship game.  In 2005, they won one of Penn State’s unprecedented five regular season Big 10 fall championships, and in 2007 they tied for the most All-Americans in the nation.  Morett-Curtiss is fifth in victories among field hockey coaches, and   Penn  State has participated in all but one NCAA Tournament since the Tournament’s inception in 1982. 

Penn State historically has enjoyed a tremendous home field advantage.  They have enjoyed winning streaks of 25 games (twice, one of which included 17 shutouts) and 19 games, and unbeaten streaks of 32, 22, and 17 games.  Between 1977 and 1983, the Nittany Lions’ home record was 40-2-1 (95%).  

In the 1970’s, many field hockey players also were varsity lacrosse players.  Besides Morett and Finn, Mary McCarthy, Tami Worley, and most recently Jill Pearsall in 1994/1995 were All-Americans in both sports. Gillian Rattray coached both sports at Penn  State, and is a member of each sport’s Hall of Fame. In addition to her Broderick Award as the best field hockey player in 1981, Candy Finn also won that award in lacrosse in 1981 and 1982.  Times have since changed; players no longer participate in both sports at the varsity level, and coaches no longer coach both sports at Penn State.

In 20172018, the Nittany Lions lost to Michigan finished with a 12-6 record (6-2 in the Big Ten).  They lost 1st round matches in the Big Ten finals, and then to undefeated defending national champion (and subsequent 2017 national champion) Connecticut in the NCAA quarterfinals; they finished with a 17-5 record.  Katie Dembrowski, Skyler Fretz, Aurelia Meijer, Moira Putsch, and Jenny Rizzo were named 1st team All-Mideast Region, Fretz and Putsch were 1st team All-Big ten, and Putsch was a 1st team All-American and the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.  Penn state has appeared in 32 NCAA Tournaments, the second most after North Carolina (35). Tournament (to Iowa 3-2), and in the NCAA Tournament (to Harvard, 6-1), and finished the season ranked 14th nationally.  Gina Bromley and Corey Conley were 1st Team All-Big Ten selections and 1st Team All-Mideast Region (along with Aurelia Meijer, Moira Putsch, and Jenny Rizzo).  Conley also was a 2nd Team All-American, and Bromley and Putsch were 3rd Team selections.

Team Accomplishments 

National Champions
1980 (AIAW), 1981 (AIAW) 

Atlantic 10 Regular Season Champions 
1989, 1990  

Big 10 Regular Season Champions 
1993, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2013

Big 10 Tournament Champions
1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2011, 2012

NCAA Tournament Appearances                                                                        
1982 (4th), 1983-1985, 1986 (4th), 1987, 1988 (3rd), 1989, 1990 (4th), 1991 (4th), 1992, 1993 (final 4), 1994 (final 8), 1995 (final 8), 1996, 1997 (final 8), 1998 (final 8),1999-2001, 2002 (runner-up), 2003-2006, 2007 (runner-up), 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 (final 8), 2013, 2014,2017,2018

Coaches

Gillian Rattray (1974-1986) 176-49-21

Penn State Pioneer - women’s athletic equality
1980, 1981 AIAW Nat Championship coach
2004 NFHCA Hall of Fame inductee
2005 US Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee

Charlene Morett-Curtiss (1987-present)  481  493-187193-8

1989 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year
1993, 1998. 2008, 2012, 2016 Big 10 Coach of the Year
1990-91, 1993, 2000, 2007, 2010, 2016 Mideast Region Coach of the Year
1989 USFH Hall of Fame inductee  

Notable Players

Charlene Morett (1975-1978)

Only Penn State 3-time 1st team All-American  (1977-79)
1982 USFHA Co-Athlete of the Year
2 time Olympian 

Candy Finn (1978-1981)

1979-80 1st team All-American, 1980 Olympian
1981 Broderick Award (field hockey) 
PSU single season goal leader (34)

PSU career goal leader (90)

Jen Long (2005-2008) 

2007, 2008 first team All-Big 10, All-American
2007-2008 Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year 
2008 National Defensive Player of the Year 

Kelsey Amy (2009-2012)

2010-2012 first team All-Big Ten
2011-2012 Big Ten Tournament MVP

2011-2012 first team All-American

Brittany Grzywacz (2010-2013) 

2012, 2013 (unanimous) Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year
2012, 2013 All-American
4-time All-Big 10 (2012, 2013 1st team)  

Laura Gebhart (2011-2014)

2011 Big 10 Freshman of the Year
2014 National Player of the Year finalist
4-time 1st team All-Big 10
4-time All-American (2013, 2014 1st team)


Player Recognition

Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year – Jen Stewart (1989).

Atlantic 10 Tournament Most Valuable Player – Chelle Frates (1989); Kristen Winters (1990).

Big 10 Freshman of the Year – Shelly Meister (1992); Kim Hicks (1993); Sonje Volla (1995); Tracey Larson (1996); Kiersten Wood (2004); Jessica Longstreth (2008)

Big 10 Player of the Year – Jen Coletta (1995); Heather Gorlaski (19998); Tracey Larson (1999); Traci Anselmo (2000); Kiley Kulina (2001)

Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year – Jen Coletta (1995); Tara McGuire (1996); Dawn Lammey (1998); Tracey Larson (1999); Natalie Berrena (2005), Allison Scola (co-winner, 2008), Kelsey Amy (2012), Moira Putsch (2017)

Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year – Becca Main (1993); Jill Pearsall (1994); Heather Gorlaski (1997); Traci Anselmo (1998, 2000); Jill Martz (2001); Jen Long (2007), Jen Long (2008), Brittany Grzywacz (2012, 2013)

Big 10 Tournament Most Valuable Player – Heather Gorlaski (1997); Traci Anselmo (1998), Kelsey Amy (2011, 2012)

First Team All-Big Ten – 72  selections74  selections

Broderick Award (National Outstanding Player of the Year) – Jeannie Fissinger (1989); Candy Finn (1981).

National Player of the Year – Brenda Stauffer (1982),

First Team All-Americans – 56 selections, including Kiersten Wood (2006 and 2007), Jen Long (2007 and 2008), and Laura Gebhart (2013 and 2014)