Lions Set for NCAA Championships

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State men's golf turns it focus toward Sugar Grove, Illinois for the upcoming NCAA Championships.  Read More

Lions Set for NCAA Championships

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a top five finish at the NCAA Washington Regional, Penn State men's golf is headed to Sugar Grove, Illinois for the 2017 NCAA Championships.

Advancing past the regional round for the first time since 2010, the Nittany Lions are making their fifth appearance at the NCAA Championships under the direction of head coach Greg Nye.

"I think we're really starting to peak as a team and everyone's game is kind of coming into place and this last tournament kind of showed that," junior Cole Miller said.

Miller is coming off of his fifth individual title of the year, having captured the individual championship at the Washington regional at 7-under. Freshman Ryan Davis also stepped up for an eighth-place finish, concluding the event at 1-under.

Miller, a second team All-Big Ten honoree, and sophomore Charles Huntzinger, a unanimous first team All-Big Ten selection were the only two Nittany Lions with NCAA regionals experience headed into the event, which has now provided a wealth of youth on the roster with valuable postseason familiarity.

"You have to be able to play well to get through and to be able to play well as a team and make it through as a team is just the greatest thing," Miller said. "I've had a smile on my face ever since we've got through and it's been amazing. To be able to share it with teammates makes it all the more better." 

The Nittany Lions now turn their focus toward navigating the course at Rich Harvest Farms, home to Northern Illinois' men's and women's golf squads. Having never competed on the course as a team, Penn State head coach Greg Nye has relied on a variety of reports from those who have, but still a bit of uncertainty remains.

"We talked a bit about when we don't hit it perfect, what's our approach going to be on this golf course that looks like it's going to be, in the numbers, very penal, so we have to be very smart about how we go about taking on targets out in Chicago," Penn State head coach Greg Nye said.

A welcome report though comes from Huntzinger, the only Nittany Lion who has played the course, having competed at the Western Amateur Championship a few years ago prior to Penn State.

"It's definitely one of the nicer courses I've played, it's a very difficult course," Huntzinger said. "Being able to compare that golf course with some of the ones we've played this year, seeing how we've played, comparing notes, I think we're in a good spot and we're looking forward to it."

For both Miller and Huntzinger though, regardless of the course, it all comes down to the work that goes in before Friday arrives.

"We're kind of the fighter team, with balancing with everything on the course, as long as you're prepared, usually just about any golf course you'll be able to handle so from there on it's just preparation work," Miller said. "You have to study the course really well."

Freshman Alec Bard will have a different kind of familiarity come Friday, as he and his brother Derek Bard, will be the only set of siblings squaring off in the upcoming NCAA Championships in Sugar Grove. Derek, a senior a Virginia, helped UVA to a fourth-place finish at the Baton Rouge Regional with a 12th-place finish. 

"It's his last college tournament ever so for us to be able to qualify and for this to be the one chance we'll play in the same tournament, our family is definitely excited," Alec said. 

The NCAA Championships format consists of three days of stroke play, spanning 54 holes from Friday, May 26 through Sunday, May 28 featuring 30 teams and six individuals. Monday will feature a final day of 18-hole stroke play narrowed down to 15 teams and nine individuals, with eight teams advancing to match play. 

Match play features two rounds to crown a 72-hole individual NCAA national champion, with the team national champion field determined by a match play quarterfinal and semifinal round Tuesday, May 30, with finals closing out the event on Wednesday, May 31.

Lions Battle to NCAA Semifinal Spot

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Nittany Lions Maria Auth and Cat Rainone lift Penn State to its second straight NCAA national semifinal appearance, battling to a 14-12 win against Princeton.  Read More

Lions Battle to NCAA Semifinal Spot

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's lacrosse head coach Missy Doherty has known since the beginning of fall that the 2017 Nittany Lions were a special group. Sunday's NCAA quarterfinal matchup only continued to prove the feeling as fourth-seeded Penn State gritted out a gutsy 14-12 win against fifth-seeded Princeton.

"It was a battle, but we've really been battling all season long," Doherty said. "I love games like that. I loved the game today. Obviously you always want to come out of it with a victory, but just to have a battle -  that's what they prepare for, that's why they work in the offseason, to face games like this where they're tested all game long." 

Through the entire outing, there wasn't a shortage in testing opportunities, as both Penn State and Princeton traded goals to keep each squad on their toes with no more than a two-goal lead.

Freshman Maria Auth sparked early momentum for the Nittany Lions, registering three goals in the opening half of the first frame.

"That was probably the best feeling I've ever experienced," Auth said. "I've never experienced anything like that, but it was a credit to my teammates getting open, helping me out with clearing through, I couldn't have scored those goals without them."

Auth, who had scored 13 goals through 17 games with one start prior to the matchup, wasn't finished though.

With Penn State trailing by one in the second half with less than six minutes to play, it was Auth again, with her fourth goal of the game to tie the score, 12-12.

In a career-high performance, Auth led the team with five points, adding one assist to a team-high four goals.

"She's a great individual attacker and through the course of the season, especially later in the season, she really became a great team attacker - started to know where to move the ball, know how people are working and mixing in that great individual talent," Doherty said. "You could really see that today."

Sophomore Kayla Brisolari responded minutes after Auth's tally with the game-winning go-ahead goal on the free position.

"She looked over to see if we wanted to work the ball but it was a tie game at that point and I was like, if you want to take it, take it, because we need a goal and she did a great job of getting in and putting that shot away," Doherty said.

Penn State closed out its longest scoring stretch with a Katie O'Donnell goal to regain the two-goal advantage, 14-12, with less than two minutes remaining. 

The Nittany Lions owned the lead on the draw in the second half, with sophomore Madison Carter finishing with 12 draw controls on the day, in addition to three goals.

"It provides a lot of momentum, you need the ball to be able to do things on offense," Carter said. "The girls on the line were coming and helping out, the girls in the circle were boxing out and we were just able to come up with those possessions which was great and really kept the momentum going." 

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Princeton only dialed up the pressure, peppering the Nittany Lions with shot after shot.

It was senior goalkeeper Cat Rainone who proved poised under pressure though, coming up with a pair of critical late saves, denying IWLCA First Team All-American Olivia Hompe on a wide open attempt in the final seconds to lock up the win. 

"That last save she had there at the end I was like stop jumping, stop jumping, we've still got eight seconds on the clock," laughed O'Donnell. "She played great today and she had some great momentum saves and really kept us going and kept our energy up and we were able to build off of that and take it into the offensive end." 

For Doherty, the last save was simply signature Rainone at her best.

"She's a goalie who just grinds it out, grinds it out, grinds it out, and when we're at practice and it's a competitive thing, that's when she plays her best," Doherty said. "To see their top scorer come in and just take a shot wide open and her to come up with a huge save, I'm just so proud of her." 

With the victory, the Nittany Lions are set for their second consecutive appearance in the NCAA national semifinals, slated to meet top-seeded Maryland Friday, May 26 at 5 p.m. in Foxboro, Massachusetts (Gillette Stadium). 

"We're excited," Doherty said. "Our goal is to do our best every single game and certainly going against Maryland you need to be ready to be on top of things. We have things to grow from, from our last game with them but it's always a great matchup when we play them."

Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Lions Focused on NCAA Quarterfinals

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State turns its focus internal ahead of its fifth NCAA quarterfinals appearance in the last six years.  Read More

Lions Focused on NCAA Quarterfinals

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Ahead of its fifth NCAA quarterfinals appearance in the last six years, fourth-seeded Penn State women's lacrosse is set to host Princeton Sunday afternoon in the final matchup of the year at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

"We're so excited about our win from last weekend and knowing we have Princeton coming up, we know we have a lot things we need to work on to make sure that we play our best game Sunday," head coach Missy Doherty said. "I think the girls are really driven by that, we've recognized the things that we need to make sure we get better and they've been really diligent in practice so far in making sure they are working on those things."

It has been an all-in mentality for the Nittany Lions since the very start of the 2017 season, one that guided by stead leadership, has resulted in calm composure amidst not only challenges, but uncontrollable changes too. 

"I don't think we'll face anything for the rest of our season that we haven't faced already, in the regular season, Big Ten's or games we've been in," Doherty said. "That grind of competing for 60 minutes, there has been a different element this year with the 90-second shot clock so there's no more stalling, no more really long possessions."

With the introduction of an entirely new element in the 90-second shot clock, as Doherty puts it, anything can happen and any one team can always be in the mix, something that the Nittany Lions have simply embraced.

From shot clocks to the usual ups and downs and shifts in momentum, perhaps what's proven to keep the Nittany Lions calm under pressure comes from an unparalleled focus on what's internal.

"First half on Sunday, we played really well offensively and defensively, but more so on the offensive end," IWLCA First Team All-American Steph Lazo said. "We were a huge power house, we were up 8-1 at one point because we were playing our game, we were focused on what we were doing and we didn't let any of the outside stuff kind of play into that."

For senior three-time captain Erika Spilker, that type of composure is different from any team she's ever been a part of. 

"We don't get rattled," Spilker said. "If one thing goes wrong, it's not the end of the world, and that goes with the leadership. Because we're all pretty confident in ourselves personally and each other, it helps with the composure because if one thing goes wrong, we're going to learn from it and move forward."

Coming off of its highest scoring performance in an NCAA Tournament round two win against JMU that put the Penn State composure to the test last weekend, Penn State will look to keep it rolling, headed into yet another win or go home matchup.

That's nothing the Nittany Lions aren't used to though, coming off of last year's berth to the NCAA national semifinals.

"I think it definitely helps that we made it last year," Lazo said. "We all kind of remember that feeling of working hard to get to the final four and we want nothing less than that. We're super focused, we're ready to go and ready to play on Sunday."

As Doherty noted last weekend though, there are no easy games when it comes to NCAA Tournament time, as Princeton brings a new set of challenges when it comes to pregame preparations.

"Their scoring is pretty spread out amongst a lot of different people," Doherty said. "They make it really challenging just to pick one or two people." "They come down hard in transition, they're fast. We need to be ready to stop their offensive break."

Atop Princeton's potential scoring threats is Olivia Hompe, an IWLCA First Team All-American who was also named the 2017 Ivy League Attacker of the Year. Leading the team with a program single season record-setting 107 points, Hompe has accounted for 72 goals and 35 assists through 18 games, averaging a national-best 4.00 goals per game.

"Every time we play them every year, it's always just a gritty match," Doherty said.

Penn State and Princeton have already met in the regular season, with the Nittany Lions earning a 13-8 win on the road, but the two teams are also fairly familiar postseason opponents. Most recently, it was Princeton knocking off Penn State in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at Virginia.

That's in the past though, as Penn State looks toward another successful week of practice before putting it all out on the Penn State Lacrosse Field for the final time, seeking a second consecutive NCAA national semifinals appearance.

Reach Arielle at ans26@psu.edu or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent

Checking in from Brazil: Day 12-13

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State spends its final day in Brazil training on the beach before catching a flight home.  Read More

Checking in from Brazil: Day 12-13

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CheckingInFromBrazil1213.jpg

Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip.

CHECKING IN FROM BRAZIL: DAY 12-13

Hi everyone, it's Kendall White!

It's been a long two days, with the last day in Brazil and a long day of travel home, but we're all back safe and sound.

On our last day in Brazil, we started the morning with a beach training session with a Brazilian beach coach, and of course AD helping out. It was fun to learn the different skills and strategies for beach and have some fun in the sun at the same time!

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After the session and some lunch, we all wanted to make the most of the beautiful day before we left for the United States. Some of us should have probably used some sunscreen. It took it a little while to set in so we all packed up our stuff and headed to the buses all packed and ready to go. 

We made one final detour to see the Olympic Village and the area where the Olympic stadiums are in Rio. It was astounding, with magnificent facilities all lined up in a row. It was sad to learn that Brazil has yet to do anything with the beautiful village, as nothing is going on in the stadiums or in the apartments anymore.

It was amazing to see such large buildings and apartments so empty. It was also very eye-opening to know that our idols lived there, in the Olympic village. The place we all strive to be in the future, playing for our country against the best teams in the world.

After the village, we continued to the airport where we made our way onto a 10-hour flight home, getting in some duty-free shopping time before leaving. I don't know about everyone else, but that sunburn did not help me get too comfortable in flight.

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It was a long flight but the movies on the mini TVs on the back of the seats helped entertain us until it was time to go to sleep. When we woke up we had arrived at JFK airport in New York. After going through customs and getting our luggage, we had a four-hour bus ride back to State College. 

We had the sweetest couple as our bus drivers, offering us snacks and drinks the whole trip. Half of us decided to sleep on the floor the whole trip and the rest of us contorted our bodies to fit each situation (it was quite entertaining to look at).

By the last hour, we were alive and talking, reminiscing about our trip to Brazil and joking around like always. We finally made it safe and sound to Penn State and although we are so grateful for the amazing trip, it is good to be back home in Happy Valley. 

I for one would have probably never left the country in my life if it hadn't been for this trip. Thank you to everyone who supports us and makes blessings like our foreign trips possible.

Kendall White, #3

Checking in from Brazil: Day 11

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State women's volleyball spends its last full day in Brazil at the beach! Read More

Checking in from Brazil: Day 11

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CheckingInFromBrazil11.jpg
Penn State women's volleyball has officially set out on its 12-day tour of Brazil, marking the fifth Nittany Lion foreign tour in program history. From May 4-16th check in for updates, photos and videos from the team as Penn State tours São Paulo and Rio De Janiero to match up against top talent on the court, while also taking in iconic sights. Stay tuned for daily updates throughout the trip. 

CHECKING IN FROM BRAZIL: DAY 11

Hey guys! It's Heidi here!

I'm sad to say it's our last full day in Brazil. It has been such an awesome experience, especially since it is my first time out of the country! Thank you all for making this trip possible we are very lucky to have all of you.

Today was a beach day. Clare [Powers] and Simone [Lee] set up a sand volleyball tournament for all of us to compete in. My partner was Allison [Farrell]! It was awesome and so much fun. We had two courts going with three four-team pools.

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The games were played to 15 and then once the pools were finished, there were consolation brackets and champion brackets. These games were played to 21 to find out the overall winners. Clare and Simone won the whole tournament, winning 21-17 in the final match.

After the beach volleyball tournament, we walked to the mall around the corner from the hotel to grab some lunch. There were a variety of options. I chose to each a sandwich with an acai bowl (it was delicious). Some of the other teammates had American food and Chinese.

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After lunch we were allowed to hang out on the beach and catch some sun! A lot of us went swimming in the ocean. The waves were huge, it was tiring after a while! 

Other girls decided to go with the pool on the hotel rooftop. The view is gorgeous. We can see the entire city, the Christ the Redeemer statue, and the wonderful beach.

People went swimming in the heated pool on the roof and after the ocean, the rest of us joined them. It was a long day and filled with sun and smiles. After the pool we had dinner at the hotel. It was pizza! We all enjoyed a slice of pizza while talking about our favorite times on the trip.

Thank you all again for making this foreign trip possible for us! 

- Heidi Thelen

@GOPSUSPORTS

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