Women’s Hockey Series Preview vs. Syracuse

Story posted December 3, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Justin Ciavolella

History repeats itself.

Between Penn State and Syracuse history has been lopsided with the Orange winning 30-of-35 matchups, but a two-game series in University Park could flip that script.

The Nittany Lions are coming off of a six-game stretch against non-conference opponents, including three losses against ranked-opponents. They were able to pull off three victories against unranked opposition to get their record to 11-8-1 on the season.

Syracuse has yet to find the same success from the past two seasons, when the Orange posted winning records, and owns a 7-9-1 record on the year.

In terms of history repeating itself, just like last season owns a better conference record. The Orange are 4-0-0 in CHA action, while Penn State is 3-1-0. Part of gaining the better conference record last season was Syracuse’s ability to win two games and record a tie in four games against Penn State.

In those head-to-head meetings, the Orange and Nittany Lions scored a combined 15 goals, but nine of those 15 came in one game, leaving six goals for the other three contests.

Those same offensive inconsistencies could repeat themselves when the two teams face off for the first time this season. It is hard to win when a team cannot score, and Jeff Kampersal’s Nittany Lions and Britni Smith’s Orange are the epitome of this.

All of the victories for the blue and white have come when scoring three or more goals. As for the other nine decisions on Penn State’s record, the Nittany Lions have not scored more than two goals in any of them.

Tessa Janecke leads the inconsistent offense with a team-leading 11 goals on her freshman campaign. The Illinois native, who leads the conference in goals, is ahead of Courtney Correia, who has eight goals, and Kiara Zanon, who has seven.

That trio of forwards are also the leading point-getters on the blue and white. Zanon paces the teams with 20 points and 13 assists, while Janecke is at 18 and Correia is at 15.

The Orange has their own trio of players that is trying to get them through similar offensive inconsistencies. Despite a 16-goal series against Post, Syracuse has struggled to get things going, having just one win when scoring under three goals, and scoring more than three times in just two occasions when recording a loss or draw.

Sarah Thompson, Madison Primeau and Sarah Marchand combined for eight goals against Post with Thompson leading the way with five. Thompson, who was named CHA Forward of the Month, is tied with Primeau with a team-leading eight goals.

That trio helped disguise the offensive inconsistencies against Post, helping the team to 127 combined shots throughout the weekend.

They will look to do the same thing this weekend when facing CHA Goaltender of the Month Josie Bothun. Bothun has made 446 saves this season, the third most in the NCAA, while allowing 39 goals.

Following a strong month of November, which included two shutouts, the Minnesota native owns a 2.10 goals against average and .920 save percentage on the season.

In the opposing crease will be Arielle DeSmet. DeSmet has a 5-9-1 record on the season, starting all but two games for Syracuse. The Vermont native has faced 438 shots this season, making 404 saves for a .922 save percentage and 2.32 goals against average.

The 2020-21 CHA Goaltender of the Year figures to be back in net after not appearing against Post. Amelia Van Vleit and Ariella Merlino took care of business stopping 12-of-13 shots sent their way.

Puck drop is set for 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday inside of Pegula Ice Arena.

Justin Ciavolella is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jtc5751@psu.edu.