LEWISBURG, Pa. – After clinching a spot in the 2013 Patriot League Tournament on Saturday, the Bucknell field hockey team returned to Graham Field on Sunday to take on No. 8 Penn State, putting forth a strong effort but falling 2-0 in the non-conference match-up. The loss drops the Bison to 7-6 overall, while Penn State moves to a 10-3 mark this season.

“I was really proud of them,” said head coach Jeremy Cook of his team. “Playing against a team that is that fast and has that many offensive weapons, it was great to come out and hold them to just two goals and 16 shots. It’s a considerable improvement over the way we played them last year.”

After engaging in a defensive battle with the Nittany Lions in the opening minutes of play, the Bison earned the first offensive chances of the contest on a penalty corner six minutes into the half. Both junior Liz Wills and senior Vickie Resh challenged Penn State with shots, but the game remained scoreless, with the Nittany Lion defense just able to keep the Bison at bay.

Just three minutes later, Penn State earned its own corner and capitalized on the chance to take the lead, as Brittany Grzywacz sent a blast from the top of the circle that was tipped in by Jenna Chrismer, putting the visitors up 1-0.

The Bison continued to defend their way through strong penalty corner efforts from the Nittany Lions, with Wills batting a shot out of the air on the goal line at 15:02 to keep Bucknell within striking distance. Penn State broke through again at 16:39 however, using another corner to take a 2-0 lead. Senior goalkeeper Erica Perrine made a diving save to defend Grzywacz’s initial shot from the top of the circle, but Lauren Purvis was waiting for the rebound and put it away for the Nittany Lions.

As play wound down in the first half, Bucknell’s defense only increased its pressure on Penn State, with Wills knocking down a second shot on the goal line, but the Nittany Lions kept the Bison scoreless, carrying their 2-0 lead into halftime.  

The second half featured grueling defensive play on both sides of the field, with each team barely allowing the ball into the circle and both goalies keeping it firmly out of the cage. Perrine was impenetrable in Bucknell’s net, making six saves in the second half, including two big stops in the final three minutes of action.  

The Bison also picked up their tempo considerably in the second 35 minutes of the contest, generating more offensive pressure. With five minutes left to play, sophomore Kiersten Sydnor sent a shot into the circle that senior Rachel Misko tipped up high, but Penn State’s Kylie Lacata made a high-reaching save to keep Bucknell scoreless as the clock wound down.

Penn State outshot Bucknell 16-7 to earn the 2-0 win, and the Nittany Lions earned nine corners to the Bison’s four. Perrine made a season-high 11 saves in the loss, while Lacata stopped four shots for her sixth shutout of the year. Bucknell continues to play impressive field hockey against ranked opponents, turning each game into a hard-fought battle and never allowing its opposition to gain more than a two-goal advantage.

“Their corners are spectacular and dangerous,” added Cook in reflecting on the game. “It gave us great practice with defending some of the best penalty corners in the country, so that is positive. I also thought we really picked up our work rate towards the end and generated some strong offensive opportunities in the last 15 minutes. It was a great game from start to finish, and it will definitely help us in getting ready for BU next week. “

Bucknell will play two games on the road in New England next weekend, traveling to Boston, Mass. for a key Patriot League contest against Boston University on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 12 p.m. before heading up to Durham, N.H. for a 2 p.m. non-league game with New Hampshire on Sunday, Oct. 20.