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December 2012 Archives

Football, Women's Soccer Voted Teams of Year; Senior Day Voted Event of 2012

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As we get set to ring in the New Year, would like to announce, as voted on by the Penn State fans, the football and women's soccer squads as the 2012 Penn State Teams of the Year.  Additionally, the football team's senior day victory over Wisconsin was voted as the No. 1 Penn State Sporting Event of 2012.

The 2012 calendar year was a tremendous one for Penn State's sports teams.  The results speak for themselves, and all 31 Penn State teams across the University Park campus should be recognized for their efforts in 2012.  The long list of achievements on the field of play include one national title, seven Big Ten titles, and in the classroom, more than 270 Academic All-Big Ten honorees.

8436290.jpegNo team in any sport across the country weathered an offseason with more challenges than the Nittany Lion football team.  Without the 31-member senior class' leadership, it is hard to imagine how the 2012 football season would have gone.  Michael Mauti and Michael Zordich spearheaded the effort to keep the team intact when the NCAA announcement came out on July 23.  The seniors set the standard for how the team was going to approach every day with a workmanlike attitude.

The Nittany Lions started the 2012 season 0-2 following a last-second loss at Virginia, b
ut they caught fire in the latter stages of September.  Penn State rattled off five-straight victories en route to winning eight of its final 10 games, including six in the Big Ten.  The Nittany Lions finished second in the Big Ten Leaders Division.

Under the direction of Maxwell Football Club's Collegiate Coach of the Year and Big Ten Coach of the Year Bill O'Brien, Penn State set the standard for hard work, attitude and perseverance in 2012.  O'Brien's leadership set the stage for a hard-working, gritty style of play Penn State fans grew accustomed to every Saturday throughout the fall.

"I think we did a really good job of playing together," O'Brien said.  "Our players did a great job buying into how offense, defense and special teams work together.  We showed that to the players on film that here's how it works when it goes well and here's how it works when it doesn't go well.  The mantra is One Team."

O'Brien engineered a dynamic, fast-paced offense that featured the Big Ten's passing leader (Matt McGloin), top receiver (Allen Robinson) and a running back (Zach Zwinak) who gained 100 yards six times in eight Big Ten games and 1,000 yards for the season. Penn State led the Big Ten in total offense (437.0 ypg) in conference games and was second in scoring offense (32.6 ppg) and second in pass offense (283.1 ypg) against Big Ten foes this season.

Penn State gained more than 500 yards of total offense three times in conference play, topped by 546 yards vs. Indiana, its highest total against a Big Ten foe since gaining 557 yards against Michigan State in 2008.

8436293.jpegThe 2012 Nittany Lions had two All-Americans (Jordan Hill and Michael Mauti), six first-team All-Big Ten selections and three individual conference award winners:
 Michael Mauti - Big Ten Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year; Allen Robinson - Big Ten Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year; Deion Barnes - Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

The Nittany Lions saved their best game for last.  On a snowy November afternoon in Beaver Stadium, it would have been hard to script a better finish for the 2012 team.  A senior class that will forever be remembered for its commitment to Penn State had to earn ever ounce of success it achieved, even on its special day.  After an emotional senior ceremony to honor the 31 members of the senior class, the Nittany Lions quickly found themselves down 7-0 to Wisconsin.

The Lions roared back to take a 21-14 lead until the final 18 seconds of the game when the Badgers sent the contest into overtime with a late score.  Sam Ficken's leg put Penn State up 24-21 in OT before a missed field goal preserved the Senior Day win.  Defensive tackle Jordan Hill was the star of the show.  Hill was simply not going to let the Lions be denied in his final game, notching 12 tackles in dominant fashion.  Penn State walked off the field following a superb season into a locker room scene it will remember forever.

Penn State won five Big Ten championships and had five coaches selected conference coach of the year during the fall season alone.  Among the teams on the list was the 15-time defending Big Ten champion women's soccer team.  Under the direction of Big Ten Coach of the Year Erica Walsh, the women's soccer team turned in the most successful campaign in the program's illustrious history in 2012.

8436297.jpegWalsh and the Nittany Lions finished 21-4-2, which included a march to the College Cup Final for the first time in program history.  The road to the fourth College Cup in school history featured dramatic wins over Michigan in shootout for the ages and an overtime game-winner from senior Christine Nairn against Florida State in the College Cup Semifinals.

Nairn and junior Maya Hayes earned NSCAA First Team All America honors.  Nairn, Hayes and Whitney Church were named First Team All-Big Ten.  Standout freshman midfielder Raquel Rodriguez earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.

The Nittany Lions move into the offseason with a great deal of motivation after coming up short in the College Cup Final, but the 2012 team took the program to new heights and laid the groundwork for what is going to be a bright future ahead for Penn State Women's Soccer.

"To put it all in perspective, I would say imagine a year, one year from now, you set a goal for yourself and you work towards it every day to the best of your ability and then you actually achieve that goal," said coach Walsh.  "You realize as its going on that you control the things that you can control, but there's so much in your sport that's outside of your control that when it does come together, you got to cherish it.  You got to live it and love it."

Thank you to all of the Penn State fans for making 2012 an outstanding year.  We wish you the best in 2013, and we are looking forward to seeing you on campus soon.

Watch a pair of videos to look back on the teams of 2012 and the event of the year.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Men's Hoops Game Blog - FINAL: Penn State 84, Duquesne 74

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage of the Nittany Lion basketball team.

Take a look back at Penn State's 84-74 victory over Duquesne, marking its fourth-straight win heading into non-conference play.

Starting Lineups:
Penn State - G - Marshall, G - Newbill, F - Travis, F - Taylor, F - Borovnjak
Duquesne - G - Colter, G - Jones, G - Johnson, F - Pantophlet, F - Marhold

15:51 1st Half - Penn State 8, Duquesne 5
Both teams expected an up-tempo game on Saturday afternoon, and as the teams reached the first media timeout, that has been case thus far in the Bryce Jordan Center.  The Nittany Lions are 3-for-5 to start the game with baskets from Jermaine Marshall, D.J. Newbill and Sasa Borovnjak.  Duquense has been very active on the defensive end of the floor, but the Lions are moving the ball well on offense.

11:17 1st Half - Penn State 14, Duquesne 9
Despite limiting the Dukes to 3-for-10 shooting to start the game and holding them off the scoreboard for nearly five minutes, the Nittany Lions are led by just two until Brandon Taylor knocked down his second 3-pointer of the afternoon to make it 14-9, Nittany Lions.  Four turnovers have hindered the Lions in the early minutes, but a 5-for-11 shooting start has Penn State on top by five.

7:49 1st Half - Penn State 23, Duquesne 15
Penn State's 3-point shooting has been the story of the first half so far.  The Lions have shot 5-for-8 from beyond the arc helping contribute to the eight-point lead.  Penn State's last five field goals have all been 3-pointers, including a pair of triples from Taylor and Nick Colella.  Duquesne is just 6-for-18 to start the game.

3:51 1st Half - Penn State 27, Duquesne 20
Penn State clamped down on the defensive end of the floor, holding the Dukes without a point for nearly 4:30.  During that span, the Lions rattled off 11 unanswered points to claim a 25-15 lead on the scoreboard.  Penn State has seven assists on 10 made field goals in the first half.  Newbill is the Lions' leading scorer with nine points on 3-for-6 shooting.

Halftime: Penn State 39, Duquesne 28
The Nittany Lions trailed Duquesne 15-14 with 10:33 to play in the first half.  From there, the Lions out-scored the Dukes 25-13 en route to a 39-28 lead at halftime.  Newbill led Penn State with 11 points and seven rebounds.  Colella chipped in with nine points on 3-for-4 from the perimeter, equaling his career high.  Penn State dominated the glass, out-rebounding Duquesne 23-14.  The Lions closed the half on an 8-2 spurt, which included a trio of free throws after two technical fouls on the Duquesne bench.  The Lions held the Dukes to just 11-for-28 shooting from the field and 4-for-12 from three-point range.  Finally, for the third-straight game Sasa Borovnjak has given the Lions a big boost.  Borovnjak has eight points and three rebounds, marking his third-consecutive night of eight or more points.

15:52 2nd Half - Penn State 52, Duquesne 41
The opening minutes of the second half have been marked by runs from both teams.  The Nittany Lions used a 6-0 scoring spurt to build their largest lead of the night at 45-30.  Borovnjak was the driving force behind the rally.  The Nittany Lion big man is now into double figures for the third-straight night.  He is 6-for-7 from the field tonight.  Duquesne answered the Penn State run with a 9-2 burst to close within eight before Colella drained his fourth 3-pointer of the night.

11:50 2nd Half - Penn State 63, Duquesne 42
The Nittany Lions head into the second media timeout on an 11-0 scoring run, thanks to a fifth 3-pointer from red-hot Nick Colella.  The senior is having a career day for the Nittany Lions.  He is 5-for-6 from beyond the arc for 15 points.  Additionally, the Nittany Lions are doing a tremendous job turning offensive rebounds into points (17-3 in second-chance points).  Additionally, the Dukes have gone nearly four minutes without a point.

7:55 2nd Half - Penn State 69, Duquesne 54
Penn State has used a balanced scoring attack to build a 15-point cushion as the teams head into the final 7:55 of action.  Newbill is leading all Lions with 16 tallies.  Colella has 15 points and Borovnjak has 14 tallies on a sizzling 7-for-8 shooting.  Marshall also has nine points.  Duquesne has trimmed what was once a 22-point edge for the Lions down to 15, but Penn State is still in control.

3:46 2nd Half - Penn State 73, Duquesne 60
Thanks to a 12-2 scoring run from Duquesne, the Nittany Lion lead that was once 22 went down to 11 at 69-58 before a big put-back from Jon Graham and a basket from Newbill pushed the margin back up to 15.  Nevertheless, Colella and Marshall have fouled out and the Dukes still have life.

FINAL - Penn State 84, Duquesne 74
The Nittany Lions will head into Big Ten play with an 8-4 mark after capping off the non-conference season with four-straight victories.  The Dukes got as close as five points in the final minute, but the Lions scored the final five points at the foul line for a 10-point victory.  Newbill was the catalyst for the Nittany Lions, scoring a career-best 23 points with 12 rebounds and five assists.  Colella finished with a career-high 15 points on a red-hot shooting night from beyond the arc (5-of-7).  Borovnjak added 14 points and five rebounds, marking his third-straight game in double figures.  The Lions out-rebounded the Dukes 50-28.  Penn State was terrific from the foul line in the second half, knocking down 19 of its 27 attempts.

The Nittany Lions weathered some foul trouble in the second half and found a way to win against an aggressive Duquesne team.  Penn State's confidence level continues to grow with each passing day.  The Lions head into the Big Ten averaging 78.5 points per game during its last four games.

"We feel really confident.  We feel like this was a momentum game for us," Newbill said.

The Lions now shift attention to the 18-game Big Ten schedule.  Penn State opens the conference slate on Jan. 3 at Wisconsin (8:30 p.m. on BTN).

"They are a resilient bunch.  They are going to keep pressing on, keep competing and keep getting better," head coach Patrick Chambers said.    

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Three Rivers Classic A Homecoming for Skoff

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By Pat White Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (7-8-0) will close out 2012 at the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Dec. 28-29. The Nittany Lions will tangle with Robert Morris (7-4-2) in the first round at the CONSOL Energy Center.

The two-round tournament that also features No. 5 Miami (11-3-4) and Ohio State (7-6-5) will be played at the CONSOL Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Skoff-Matt.jpegThe tournament is especially meaningful for freshman goaltender Matthew Skoff (McKees Rocks, Pa.), who grew up in the Pittsburgh area. After a three-year stint with the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League, Skoff is excited to play in his hometown.

"It's going to be a pretty cool experience being from Pittsburgh," Skoff said. "I played hockey away from home the past three years, so it is a bit of homecoming for me. Playing in the CONSOL Energy Center, home of my favorite team growing up (Pittsburgh Penguins), is pretty exciting."

Skoff said he celebrated a traditional Christmas with his family and enjoyed spending time with loved ones he hasn't seen in a while. He also used time to reflect on the first 15 games of the season.

"It's a good step in just reflecting on what the team has done so far," Skoff said. "We look at what we can keep consistently doing well, what we like and what we can improve on throughout the rest season."

One key characteristic of the Nittany Lions in their inaugural season has been resiliency and hard work.

"We have surprised a lot of people with the games we've been in and the teams we have competed with," Skoff said. "I'm proud of the guys for being a very good bounce-back team. We can improve on that, instead of being a bounce-back team we can be more consistent at playing our game all the time and dictating the flow."

Despite a 3-6-0 record, Skoff has played well for Penn State between the pipes. He has started nine games and dawns a 2.32 goals against average with a .926 save percentage. Skoff registered his first win against Buffalo State on Nov. 3 and his first shutout against Fredonia State on Dec. 11. He has shown signs of being a top-shelf collegiate goaltender with his endurance and poise in net.

Skoff said that playing a 60-game schedule in the USHL last year prepared him for the wearisome college hockey schedule. The holiday break was an opportunity to rest mentally after a busy semester in the classroom and on the ice.

Now, Skoff prepares to play in front of his friends and family in Pittsburgh against a Robert Morris team that defeated Penn State, 3-2, back on Dec. 15. This will be the first time playing in the three-year-old CONSOL Energy Center for the Pittsburgh native. He played in the previous home of the Penguins, Mellon Arena, in high school.

"I'm looking forward to playing in front of Pittsburgh fans and other Penn State alumni," Skoff said. "I'm excited to see what it's like to play in front of Pittsburgh fans. I know my mom, dad, aunts and uncles will all be there, so it will be a lot of fun."

Although there is a lot of excitement surrounding his homecoming, Skoff knows that there is still a job to do.

"It isn't all about me," he said. "We have two winnable games and we have to take care of business. It'll be a good experience not only for me but for Penn State hockey, in general."



VIDEO: Nittany Lion Freshmen Growing Each Day

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a semester under their belts, Brandon Taylor, Donovon Jack and Akosa Maduegbunam are growing more confident with each passing day.

All three Nittany Lion basketball freshmen have contributed to Penn State's 7-4 mark to start the 2012-13 season.  Taylor has started the last seven games for the Lions, averaging 9.1 points per game during that span.  The Tabernacle, N.J., native is shooting 45 percent from the floor and a team-best 39 percent from beyond the arc heading into Saturday's final non-conference game against Duquesne (4 p.m. on ESPN3).

Jack has come on strong of late, scoring eight and six points, respectively, in Penn State's last two outings.  The Reading native is visibly becoming more confident every time he steps on the floor.  Jack gave head coach Patrick Chambers big minutes in the overtime victory over Delaware State on Dec. 15.  Maduegbunam is beginning to find more consistency on the practice floor, which has led to minutes in the past two games.

The Lion freshmen have one more opportunity to grow on Saturday when Penn State takes a three-game winning streak into its contest against Duquesne before jumping into their first Big Ten season.  We caught up with all three to see how their first semester in college basketball transpired.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Vote for the Top Penn State Sports Event of 2012

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2012 calendar year was one marked by excellence and achievement from numerous Penn State teams.

8416786.jpegAs we close in on the final days of 2012, wanted to take time and reflect on a tremendous year for Penn State Athletics.  The hiring of head coach Bill O'Brien on Jan. 6, in many ways, set a tone for the athletic department throughout the calendar year.  O'Brien's introductory press conference highlighted a clear vision for how the football program would try to do its part in helping the athletic department move forward as One Team.

The results speak for themselves, and all 31 Penn State teams across the University Park campus should be recognized for their efforts in 2012.  The list of achievements on the field of play, including one national title and seven Big Ten titles, and in the classroom, including more than 270 Academic All-Big Ten honorees, is tremendous.

The spring season included a Big Ten and NCAA title from the wrestling team for second-straight season.  Three Nittany Lion wrestlers - Frank Molinaro, David Taylor and Ed Ruth - won individual national titles.  The Lady Lions, who clinched a Big Ten title on the BJC hardwood in February, earned a spot in the Sweet Sixteen for the 12th time in program history.  The men's volleyball team earned a trip to the NCAA National Semifinals for the 27th time.  The women's lacrosse team reached the NCAA Quarterfinals.

Additionally, 171 Penn State student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades during the winter and spring seasons.  Men's gymnastics' Miguel Pineda was named a first Academic All-American.

The fall campaign was one for the Penn State record books.  Penn State won five Big Ten championships and had five coaches selected conference coach of the year.  The field hockey team (Char Morett) won the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, the men's soccer team (Bob Warming), women's soccer (Erica Walsh) and women's volleyball (Russ Rose) teams all won Big Ten championships.  Additionally, after leading the Nittany Lion football team to an 8-4 campaign, including six Big Ten wins, Bill O'Brien was named Big Ten Coach of the Year.

In postseason competition, the women's soccer team reached the NCAA College Cup Final for the first time in program history.  The women's volleyball team played in the NCAA National Semifinals for the 10th time in school history.  The women's cross country team captured the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional crown on its home course.

The story was much of the same in the classroom.  A fall record 100 Penn State student-athletes achieved Academic All-Big Ten recognition this semester, including a trio of 4.0 students - football's John Urschel, women's volleyball's Maggie Harding and women's cross country's Katie Rodden.  Football's Pete Massaro and Urschel earned first team Academic All-America honors.  Harding won the Elite 89 Award for the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship for having the highest cumulative grade point average of student-athletes participating in the championship.

With so many events to choose from, narrowing down the list of outstanding Penn State sporting events from 2012 to just 10 was a challenge, but here are your 10 nominees for the top sporting event of the outstanding 2012 calendar year for Penn State Athletics.

From now until Dec. 28, cast your vote for the top event of the year.

7550286.jpegMen's Track's Robby Creese Breaks Four-Minute Mile
February 12, 2012 - Seattle, Wash. - Freshman Robby Creese runs 3:59.52 mile

Freshman phenom Robby Creese etched his place in Penn State history by becoming just the third athlete in school history to break the four-minute barrier in the mile run at the Flotrack Husky Classic at the University of Washington.  Riding the wave of momentum following a superb start to his first indoor track season in Happy Valley, Creese ran a 3:59.52 mile, which was the second fastest in Penn State indoor track history.  Creese joined Ryan Foster and Larry Mangan as the only three Nittany Lions to crack four minutes.

7674055.jpegWrestling Clinches Second-Straight NCAA Title
March 17, 2012 - St. Louis, Mo. - Penn State Clinches NCAA Championship

Head coach Cael Sanderson and the Penn State wrestling team reached the mountain top of the wrestling world for the second-straight season with a truly dominant performance at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis.  The Nittany Lions mathematically clinched their third all-time team national title during the morning session inside the Scottrade Center on final day of competition at the three-day tournament.  Penn State put icing on the cake with three individual national champions, including senior Frank Molinaro (149), sophomore David Taylor (165) and sophomore Ed Ruth (174), who finished the 2011-'12 season with a combined record of 88-0.  Penn State cleared second-place Minnesota by 26.5 points in the final team standings.

8416705.jpegWomen's Basketball Beats LSU for Sweet Sixteen Berth
March 21, 2012 - Baton Rouge, La. - Penn State 90, LSU 80

When the 2012 NCAA Tournament draw was released, the fourth-seeded Lady Lions knew their road to the Sweet Sixteen would likely include a clash against fifth-seeded LSU on its home floor.  The Big Ten regular season champion Lions dispatched UTEP in the first round in Baton Rouge, setting up a showdown with the host Tigers for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.  LSU led 37-36 at halftime before claiming a 50-44 edge in the second half.  However scoring runs of 9-2 and 8-2 from Penn State in in the second half, along with a 30-point night from Maggie Lucas fueled the Lions for a 90-80 victory over LSU in a hostile Maravich Center.  The Lady Lion victory sent Penn State into the Sweet Sixteen for the 12th time in program history.

7821970.jpegMen's Volleyball Tops George Mason for 14th-Straight EIVA Crown
April 28, 2012 - Rec Hall - Penn State 3, George Mason 1

Penn State's string of success in the EIVA is unmatched.  On the heels of the heels of claiming the best record in the conference in 2012, Penn State earned the luxury of hosting the championship match on its home floor.  The eighth-ranked Nittany Lions used 15 kills from Joe Sunder and 11 kills from freshman Aaron Russell to claim a 3-1 victory over George Mason in the EIVA title match inside Rec Hall.  The Lions quickly built a 2-0 lead after a strong start to the match, but George Mason answered by winning the third set.  Nonetheless, Penn State erased a 12-9 Patriot lead in the fourth set en route to the victory, automatic bid in the national semifinals and its 27th appearance in the NCAA Championship.

navyfootball.jpgFootball Downs Navy for Bill O'Brien's First Win
September 15, 2012 - Beaver Stadium - Penn State 34, Navy 7

Following an 0-2 start to the 2012 season, the Nittany Lion football team had one of the best practices of its season on the Monday of Navy week.  Penn State did not look back from there.  Led by three touchdowns from standout sophomore receiver Allen Robinson, the Nittany Lions rolled past Navy, 34-7, en route to the first victory for head coach Bill O'Brien.  The Lions led 20-0 at halftime following a pair of Robinson scores and a third touchdown pass from Matt McGloin to Jesse James.  McGloin finished with four touchdown passes, and sophomore Mike Hull put an exclamation point on the victory with a 74-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the second half.  O'Brien received a shower of water when the clock ticked to 0:00, and the win kick-started a string of five-straight victories for the Nittany Lions. 

8416731.jpegField Hockey Shuts Out Michigan for Big Ten Title Sweep
November 4, 2012 - Iowa City, Iowa - Penn State 2, Michigan 0

On the heels of winning the Big Ten regular season title, the Nittany Lion field hockey team capped off an impressive run through the postseason tournament draw with a dominant defensive performance against third-seeded Michigan.  Standout senior forward Kelsey Amy tallied both of Penn State's goals to lead the Nittany Lions to a 2-0 victory over the Wolverines and their second-straight Big Ten Tournament championship.  Senior goalkeeper Ayla Halus notched three saves and earned her fourth shutout of the season.  The victory boosted the Lions into hosting NCAA Tournament competition for second time in three seasons.

8308722.jpegWomen's Cross Country Claims NCAA Regional Title on Home Course
November 9, 2012 - Blue/White Course - Penn State Clinches NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional

There is no better motivation for a team to enter a season knowing it has an opportunity to host postseason competition at home.  When the Nittany Lion cross country team began its formal preparations for 2012 at the end of the summer, it knew the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals loomed on the Blue/White Course loomed in early November.  Penn State took full advantage of the opportunity and unseasonably warm weather to edge No. 9 and defending NCAA champion Georgetown (61-63) for a victory.  Junior Victoria Perri and senior Brooklyne Ridder led the way with fourth and sixth-place finishes, respectively.  The Lions went on to finish 14th at the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17.

8416748.jpegFootball Ousts Wisconsin on Senior Day to Remember
November 24, 2012 - Beaver Stadium - Penn State 24, Wisconsin 21 OT

It would have been hard to script a better ending to the 2012 football season.  A senior class that will forever be remembered for its commitment to Penn State had to earn ever ounce of success it achieved, even on its special day.  After an emotional senior ceremony to honor the 31 members of the senior class, the Nittany Lions quickly found themselves down 7-0 to Wisconsin.  The Lions rallied back to take a 21-14 lead until the final 18 seconds of the game when the Badgers sent the contest into overtime with a late score.  Sam Ficken's leg put Penn State up 24-21 in OT before a missed field goal preserved the Senior Day win.  Defensive tackle Jordan Hill was the star of the show.  Hill was simply not going to let the Lions be denied in his final game, notching 12 tackles in dominant fashion.

8369918 (1).jpegWomen's Soccer Edges Florida State in Dramatic Fashion for first Trip to College Cup Final
November 30, 2012 - San Diego, Calif. - Penn State 2, Florida State 1 OT

After winning its 15th-straight Big Ten title, the Nittany Lion women's soccer team etched its place in program history with a remarkable run through the NCAA Tournament.  But the string of postseason victories will be trademarked by a soggy night in San Diego on the final day of November.  The Nittany Lions had been to the College Cup three times before their trip to the West Coast, but never to the College Cup Final.  Senior midfielder Christine Nairn changed that with an overtime goal that will live in Penn State women's soccer lore forever.  After taking a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute, Penn State held on until the final 48 seconds when Florida State tied the contest in improbable fashion.  Nevertheless, Penn State's senior class was not going to let the season end.  A long pass from Maddy Evans on the right wing into the box set up Nairn's tap-in, game-winner from six yards out, sending Nittany Lion women's soccer into the College Cup Final for the first time in program history.

8393292.jpegWomen's Volleyball Punches Ticket to 10th NCAA Semifinal
December 8, 2012 - West Lafayette, Ind. - Penn State 3, Minnesota 1

Faced with the task of needing a third victory over the same team to earn a spot in the NCAA National Semifinals, the top-seeded and Big Ten champion Nittany Lion women's volleyball team entered its regional final match in Purdue's Mackey Arena focused on the task at hand.  Penn State built a 5-0 lead over eighth-seeded Minnesota in set one en route to a 1-0 lead in the match.  No strangers to adversity, though, the Nittany Lions dropped set two and found themselves in a 23-21 deficit in the third set.  Just two points from going down 2-1 in the match, Penn State answered.  Micha Hancock and Deja McClendon combined for four-straight tallies to make it 25-24 before Big Ten Player of the Year Ariel Scott finished the match with a kill, punching Penn State's ticket into the NCAA Semifinals for the fifth time in six season and the 10th time in school history.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Hoops Teams Sweep Doubleheader Heading into Holiday Break

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  The Nittany Lion and Lady Lion basketball teams will both head into the holiday break on a high after combining for a doubleheader sweep inside the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday.    

The men's squad dispatched New Hampshire by a score of 72-45 before the women's team rolled past NJIT by a score of 82-37.  The final game before the holiday break can be one of the toughest contests of the season to stay focused for, but both teams played crisp basketball with good effort for 40 minutes.

Nittany Lions Use Hot Start to Cruise Past New Hampshire
8426504.jpegThe Nittany Lions controlled the pace of Sunday's game from the tipoff en route to a 72-45 victory over New Hampshire heading into the holiday break.  Fueled by a 22-2 scoring run covering nearly seven minutes of game time, the Nittany Lions dominated all facets of the first half on the way to a 25-point lead at the break.

The Nittany Lions shot 55 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, but it was their defense that set the tone for the afternoon.  New Hampshire managed just 18 percent shooting the first half, largely a by-product of very good rotations and closeouts from the Nittany Lions.

Penn State talks every day at practice about playing good team defense.  The Nittany Lions looked like a team building a great deal of trust on the defensive end of the floor on Sunday.  The Lions forced 15 turnovers, and they did a great job disrupting the timing of New Hampshire's offense with deflections and crisp rotations.

"The past couple days, we have been working on our foundation, and that is defense," senior guard Nick Colella said.  "I think we did a really great job all the way around."

Coach Chambers said after the game that he told his team all week to expect a gritty 40 minutes of effort from visiting New Hampshire.  He preached that message at practice, and the Nittany Lions came out of the locker room ready to play.

"The level of energy and effort was there," Chambers said.  "I felt like we were all dialed in for 40 minutes."

The first-half scoring run set up the victory, but Penn State's defense and effort was the difference.

"We wanted to go out and play harder than them," Chambers said.  "And I felt like we did that."

The importance of defensive effort moving into Big Ten play cannot be overstated.  Penn State knows that it will need stops in conference play to compete every night.  The Lions improved on the practice floor this week, and it translated into the type of defensive effort Chambers is expecting every night in the Big Ten.

Redshirt junior Jermaine Marshall was superb on Sunday afternoon, scoring 15 points and corralling five steals.  Marshall, who led four Nittany Lions in double figures, played with good pace and took quality shots in the victory.  Coach Chambers said that the redshirt junior is playing as well as he has played right now.

Sasa Borovnjak added 11 points and four rebounds, while Brandon Taylor and D.J. Newbill each scored 10 points in the victory.  In all, nine different Nittany Lions scored in the victory.

Penn State knows that it has work to do before Saturday's final non-conference game of the season against Duquesne.  Nonetheless, the Lions took another step forward in building the night-in and night-out habits and effort necessary to compete on the defensive end of the floor heading into Big Ten play.

Lucas' 21 Points Leads Lady Lions Past NJIT
The Lady Lions took a 7-0 lead to open the second game of the doubleheader, and they never looked back in an 82-37 rout of NJIT.

8426509.jpegJunior guard Maggie Lucas sparked Penn State to a 44-9 over the Highlanders at the break with 13 first-half tallies.  Lucas weathered an uncharacteristic 2-for-12 shooting performance in last Sunday's win over South Dakota State, and she was motivated to get back on track early.

Lucas dispatched any thoughts of another slow shooting day by draining a 3-pointer six seconds into the game.  She scored 10 of Penn State's first 14 points on her way to the 38th 20-point game of her Lady Lion career.  Lucas finished with 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting and eight rebounds.  Like any great shooter, Lucas' mindset never changes.

"I go into every game feeling pretty confident," said Lucas.

Lucas led four different Lady Lions in double figures.  Nikki Greene tallied 12 points and six rebounds, while Alex Bentley and Ariel Edwards each chipped in with 10.  Bentley also had eight steels.  Dara Taylor scored six points and dished out eight assists.  Penn State forced 24 turnovers, which led to 24 points.  Ten different Lady Lions scored in the win.

"I thought we did a good job tonight playing an inside-out game...I think we are at out best when we get contributions from the posts and guards," said head coach Coquese Washington.

Penn State will now shift into Big Ten play, which begins on Jan. 3 in the BJC against Northwestern. The Lady Lions end the non-conference slate 10-2 overall and unbeaten at home (6-0).

"The Big Ten Conference is one of the best conference's to play in...We have to come back ready to go," Lucas said.

Washington added that she is expecting the league to be very competitive and go down to the wire again in 2013.  The defending Big Ten champions will come back to work following a few days off.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nittany Lions Continue Growth on Ice

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a team that you expected to grow as the season progressed and the Nittany Lions haven't disappointed through 15 games in their inaugural season. They launched 63 shots in the first game in program history, reeled off three wins in a row early in the year and, along the way, have shown steady improvement on the ice.

When I watched this program play three months ago you could tell that they were in the infancy of their transition into Division I hockey. However, when the Nittany Lions faced off against Robert Morris on Dec. 15, you could tell that this was a much more confident and mature team.

"As a whole, I can't be too disappointed," said head coach Guy Gadowsky after the Nittany Lions last game on Dec. 15. "We have certain objectives that we want to's a matter of learning how to put it all together."

Gadowsky-Guy.jpegOne thing that has made this transition easier for the Nittany Lions is the person at the front of the program. Since Guy Gadowsky took the reins at Penn State it has been nothing but positives and optimistic building blocks. To observe Gadowsky on the ice during practice, on the bench during games and listen to him speak with the media, you know that he is committed to making Penn State into a national competitor, soon.

No one expected this team to run through their schedule undefeated and everyone knew that there would be bumps along the way. Through it all, this team has shown the moxie of their leader in taking every moment and building on it. Mistakes will be made, especially mental lapses, like the one that allowed the go-ahead goal vs. Robert Morris, but it is about limiting those mistakes and making progress towards playing a full 60 minutes of focused, intense hockey.

"We've kept our focus pretty well," Gadowsky said after the Robert Morris contest. "We got some pucks on net and got to net. I thought we were much improved (overall). We made one big mistake, which is better than making five big mistakes, like we had earlier (in the season).  We're not going to win an NCAA tournament in the first semester of our first season and I think we have come a long way."

That last statement shows me that Gadowsky is in this for the long haul. He is dedicated to molding this program and doing it his way. He knows expectations are going to be high from the Hockey Valley faithful, but also knows that this young program has a high ceiling and shouldn't be rushed along.

Early in the year it was evident that this team was young. It was hard to gauge where they stood early on, because we really didn't have anything to compare to, but over the past couple of week this team has started to show signs of clicking into place. It has developed like a 10,000-piece LEGO set that Gadowsky started building last year, not knowing if those pieces he had put together were ever going to form into a team. Now he looks on and sees that with a good number of those pieces starting to take place that he has a team forming.

The puck movement has steadily improved throughout the season and each line is communicating better. They now have a knowledge base on how one and other work, are reading each other's body language better and anticipating moves instead of forcing passes to where they hope their line mates are going to be. That comfort level has allowed them pick up their pace of play and that has led to more quality scoring opportunities.

The game has also become more physical now that the Nittany Lions are skating as a cohesive unit. Against Robert Morris, there were more glass shaking hits and a tougher backcheck, which comes from solid play in the neutral zone and a trust between teammates.

There is a heightened trust on the lines now, one that comes from playing day-in and day-out with each other. The early season breakdowns in the neutral ice have been replaced by steady play from all lines through the neutral zone. A timid power play has gown and unleashed eight shots during a two-minute shift versus the Colonials, which is a step in the right direction for Gadowsky.

"We had worries when we weren't getting many shots," Gadowsky said in an earlier press conference. "If we weren't getting opportunities, if we weren't working for opportunities or were being selfish and not shooting pucks, I would be concerned. It's tough to get 40 shots on net and be too concerned that you are not getting enough offense."

Sitting in the end zone at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion on Dec. 15 you couldn't be concerned about this team. You can see that this team has taken some giant steps forward and will enter the final weekend of the 2012 season with two more opportunities for improvement after a much needed break for the holidays.



UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's the final game of the non-conference season for the Lady Lions and NJIT will present the final opponent before moving into the Big Ten schedule. A three-game winning streak is on the line, as well as a string of 11 straight victories inside the Bryce Jordan Center, dating back to a Jan. 7, 2012 loss to Michigan State. 

Bentley-Alex.jpegThe Lady Lions (9-2) enter the week ranked No. 11 in the most recent AP Poll and are No. 10 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll after claiming a pair of wins last week. Penn State defeated Virginia Tech, 60-41, in Blacksburg before handing South Dakota State a 60-50 defeat to close out the week at home. NJIT (6-6) is at .500 entering the weekend and dropped their last game at VCU, 64-52.

The Lions are 1-0 all-time vs. the Big West Conference, with that victory being a 79-57 decision over the Highlanders during the 2009 season. 

The two teams have one common opponent this season in Fairleigh Dickinson. PSU claimed a 101-44 victory vs. FDU inside the BJC on Dec. 2, 2012 and NJIT lost a nine-point decision to the Knights on Dec. 5, 2012.

Riding the Bentley
Senior Alex Bentley has been a steady contributor on the court for the Lady Lions during her career and her all-around game as placed her among some of the most revered players in the history of the program.

Thirteen points and five assists is a great game for many players, but for Bentley, who put up those exact stats vs. South Dakota State, it's just another day at the office. The point guard moved her career assists total to 503 and now has over 1,000 points, 500 assists and 250 steals in her career. Those numbers are equaled by just five other players in Penn State history. Bentley joins Nancy Kuhl, Tina Nicholson, Jess Strom, Helen Darling and Suzie McConnell in the elite club and became just the ninth player in school history to eclipse the 500-assist mark.

Making those numbers more impressive, she moved up two more spots on the career scoring charts last weekend against the Jackrabbits. She has now poured in 1,474 points in her career and now ranks 12th Penn State's career scoring list, passing Katina Mack (1,463; 1992-96) and Jess Strom (1,466; 2002-05). Bentley needs just 64 points to move into the Top 10 in Lady Lion history and eclipse Tanya Garner's career total of 1,538 from 1988-91.

A Finale After Finals Week
The Lady Lions had were busy studying last weekend, but had no need to open up a playbook for their opponent. Penn State student's raided the coffee isle at the local grocery stores and subsidized the local Starbucks to fuel their late night studying for finals week on the University Park campus.

The finals week preceded the Lady Lions non-conference finale with NJIT this weekend. Penn State has played a tough pre-conference slate to get them ready for what they will see in Big Ten play. After completing their coursework last week, the Lions will now focus on their final test before hitting conference play and starting defense of their Big Ten championship.

Greene Coming Up Big
Nikki Greene has been the presence in the lane that head coach Coquese Washington has wanted to see all season. The senior poured in 17 points and pulled down six rebounds against South Dakota State is the first player in school history with 190-plus blocks and over 800 rebounds in a career.

The senior is one of just three players in PSU history with multiple 20-rebound games, after hauling in 20 boards at Cal State Northridge earlier this season and continues to move up the rebounding and blocked shots lists.

Greene can move into seventh on the all-time rebounding charts with eight vs. NJIT and if she can post her third game with double-digit rebounds can reach sixth on the all-time list. As a shot blocker, the Diboll, Texas native is just 12 swats away from becoming just the second player in school history with 200-plus blocked shots.

Follow's Greg Campbell on Twitter @SID_Greg



Holdcroft's Inaugural Season a Dream Come True

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By: Sean Flanery, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Last year when Penn State announced the beginning of a Division I women's hockey program, the news couldn't have arrived at a better time for one State College hockey player. 

Being born and raised in State College, Pa., freshman center Jill Holdcroft has called Happy Valley home for a lot longer than most other students. While, until recently, hockey hasn't been a part of the University, it has always played a very important role in Holdcroft's life. 

Holdcroft's family holds a great history within the game of hockey, including a history at Penn State. Her father, Tim Holdcroft, as well as both of her uncles, Bob and David, played for the Penn State club team in the 1980's. The freshman forward has three siblings, two older brothers, Steven and Robbie, and a younger sister, Jessalyn. Her older brother, Robbie, was the first to take part in the game at the college level, spending time in Pittsburgh with Robert Morris' Division I program from 2008-11.

Growing up, Holdcroft's life was surrounded by hockey, which is why she has played from a very early age. For two years in high school, Holdcroft was the only women playing on the State College Area high school's men's team, serving as assistant captain during her senior year.

The freshman explained that women's hockey has never been very popular, especially here in the community of State College, so growing up she commuted so that she could take part in the game she loved. Her family would make the drive for practice and games with the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite club team where she played for four seasons.

While Holdcroft didn't mind the commute to Pittsburgh, she said she is very happy to see the sport growing in her backyard.

"Girl's hockey is not really big here," said Holdcroft. "So, it's really cool now to have a lot of girls playing hockey right here in my hometown. Going to Pittsburgh was the closest that girl's hockey was for me and we went to tournaments all over the country, but it's pretty cool to now watch hockey grow right here."

When the school first announced the news regarding the Division I program, Holdcroft didn't hesitate to express her interest in the Blue and White. She contacted then newly announced Penn State head coach Josh Brandwene to express her interest in the school. While Penn State was always her favorite school throughout her youth, before the Nittany Lions announced their new program, Holdcroft was torn between playing Division I hockey elsewhere, or attending Penn State as a regular student.

"I was definitely looking to play Division I hockey," said Holdcroft, "but Penn State was always an option for me. The two ended up coming together pretty early on in my college search. As soon they turned Division I, I was like, 'this is my number one school right here.'"

Eventually, the two came to a mutual agreement. Holdcroft wanted to play hockey for Penn State and coach Brandwene wanted the young hometown-native to be a Nittany Lion, as well.

Holdcroft has earned the right to call herself a significant part of the history of the game in Happy Valley. As one of 17 freshmen on the Penn State squad this season, Holdcroft has excelled on the ice. The center has played in all 18 games in the first half of the season and is currently tied for fourth in points on the team with six.

The State College native has been competing at a high level all while adjusting to a position change on the ice. Holdcroft was primarily a forward throughout most of her career, but coach Brandwene and the Nittany Lions needed her to adjust to playing the center position, where she has since thrived. Holdcroft has greatly improved in the face-off circle where she holds the third best win-percentage (.476) of those who have taken 50-plus face-offs on the team.  While it has been a very different transition for the 18-year-old, she says she has drawn on prior experiences playing center and relied heavily on advice from sophomore center Jess Desorcie, who spent time with Division III Connecticut College last season before transferring to Penn State.

"I played center a little bit before," said Holdcroft, "but it was kind of a transition that I had to make (for the team). It was especially important with the systems that we work in at Penn State. I'm getting used to it and I'm getting help from some of the older girls. If I have a question, I'll ask (Jess Desorcie) about the position and where I'm supposed to be."

Since starting the season, Holdcroft has only improved within her position and for that very reason she has climbed up the depth chart. She began the season with the third line, but currently centers the second line for the Nittany Lions, which includes forwards Micayla Catanzariti and Birdie Shaw. The line change proved to be the right choice for coach Brandwene, with the line producing and bringing great intensity to the ice since they joined forces.

"We all have similar playing styles," said Holdcroft. "We like to go hard, so it's a lot of fun playing with them. We have great communication on the ice and we're all good friends off the ice, so when we're kind of struggling we all come together and talk about it. We say, 'hey, what can we do here', and figure things out. It's actually been a really fun line to be on."

There have been a few upsets and tough breaks thus far, but the Lions continue to endure the hardships and embrace the highlights together. While the Nittany Lions strive to make progress as a team in its first season, Holdcroft will continue to relish in every moment because for this 18-year-old this is more than just hockey, it's a dream come true.



O'Brien, Nittany Lions Up and Running During Offseason

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Lasch Football Building has been a hub of activity since the 24-21 overtime victory over Wisconsin on Nov. 24.

In the weeks since the Senior Day triumph in Beaver Stadium, head coach Bill O'Brien and the coaching staff hit the recruiting trail, the returning Nittany Lion players ramped up offseason conditioning, O'Brien held extensive coaching staff meetings to iron out personnel plans and spring practice and conducted one-on-one exit interviews with every returning player.

8417131.jpegCoach O'Brien said the meetings with more than 80 players were positive as the Nittany Lions look ahead to the 2013 season.  While his eyes are on recruiting, spring practice and next season, O'Brien took some time to reflect on his first campaign at the helm of Penn State Football.

"It was a very good start to a new era of Penn State football," O'Brien said. "Just like any season, you wish you had a few plays back, but it just feels like it was a successful season."

Following an 0-2 start, the Nittany Lions caught fire in the latter stages of September.  Penn State rattled off five-straight victories en route to winning eight of its final 10 games, including six in the Big Ten.  The Nittany Lions finished second in the Big Ten Leaders Division.

Relentless effort on the practice field throughout the season and an emphasis on complementary football played a paramount role in Penn State's 8-4 season.

"I think we did a really good job of playing together," O'Brien said.  "Our players did a great job buying into how offense, defense and special teams work together.  We showed that to the players on film that here's how it works when it goes well and here's how it works when it doesn't go well.  The mantra is One Team."

O'Brien, who was named the Maxwell Football Club's Collegiate Coach of the Year on Wednesday, set the tone for 2012 during his introductory press conference on Jan. 7.  From there, he then met with the team and formed an instantaneous bond with the senior class.

Without the 31-member senior class' leadership, it is hard to imagine how the 2012 season would have gone.  Michael Mauti and Michael Zordich spearheaded the effort to keep the team intact when the NCAA announcement came out on July 23.  The seniors set the standard for how the team was going to approach every day with a workmanlike attitude.

It was only fitting for the senior class to finish their Penn State careers with a dramatic victory on their final Saturday in Blue and White.  O'Brien said the victory over eventual Big Ten champion Wisconsin and the locker room scene after the game was the highlight of his first season in Happy Valley.

"To win that game against a tough Wisconsin team that was going to the Big Ten Championship Game," O'Brien said.  "I felt great for these players.  These kids are 19, 20 and 21 years old, and they had to deal with a lot of stuff you or I didn't have to deal with at that age.  I felt really good for those 31 seniors.  To finish on a high note like that, it was a great locker room scene."

The Nittany Lions return a corps of talented athletes on both sides of the ball, headlined by Big Ten Receiver of the Year Allen Robinson, first team All-Big Ten guard John Urschel, first team All-Big Ten tight end Kyle Carter and Big Ten Freshman of the Year Deion Barnes.  Additionally, 1,000-yard running back Zach Zwinak returns to the offense.  Glenn Carson, who finished with 85 tackles, will anchor the linebacker corps, while Adrian Amos, Malcolm Willis and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong all return as starters in the secondary.

O'Brien and the Nittany Lions laid the groundwork for the future of Penn State Football with a hard-working, gritty style during a superb 2012 season.  Now, it is up to the 2013 squad to establish its identity during offseason workouts.

Penn State will wrap up final exams this week before heading home for the holiday break.  Offseason conditioning and recruiting will pick back up in January.

The 2013 season begins in 255 days when the Lions take on Syracuse in MetLife Stadium on Aug. 31.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Lions Focused On Fundamentals During Finals Week Practices

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion basketball team (6-4) will take a three-game home winning streak into Sunday's clash with New Hampshire (11 a.m. on BTN).

With final exams this week on the University Park campus, the Nittany Lions have more practice days than a typical week during the upcoming Big Ten season.  As a result, head coach Patrick Chambers and the Lions have been able to spend more time focusing on fundamentals and continuing to grow on the defensive end of the floor.

Playing team defense is the theme as Penn State preps for its final two non-conference games of the season.  The Lions know that getting stops is paramount to the team's success in the Big Ten. caught up with several Nittany Lions for an update on finals week practices and some insight on the importance of continued growth on defense.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: This Week In Penn State Wrestling - Dylan Alton

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - talks with sophomore Dylan Alton in the latest version of This Week in Penn State Wrestling.  Alton is 7-2 to start the 2012-13 season, including a 3-1 mark in dual matches.  The Nittany Lions travel to the Southern Scuffle on Jan. 1. Take a look at a one-on-one interview with Alton.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Defense Carries Lady Lions in Low Scoring Win

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was an unconventional win for the No. 11/10 Lady Lions as they relied heavily on their defensive pressure to counteract an off shooting day in their 60-50 win over South Dakota State.

After a slow first half, Penn State took control in the last 20 minutes of play and never let the Jackrabbits back in the game after making critical adjustments at halftime.

Bentley-Alex (2).jpeg"I suggested that we do a better job defensively," said head coach Coquese Washington. "I thought we defended a little better and we did get going in transition a little bit (in the second half)."

In the second half alone Washington's squad tallied four blocks, six steals and forced 11 SDSU turnovers, which helped build their lead midway through the half. Guard Maggie Lucas had all four blocks in the half, which set a career high for the junior.

"Yeah, I don't know what she was doing today," said Washington. "She couldn't make a shot, but she had four blocks. She is focused on being a complete player."

Lucas tallied a season low nine points on 2-for-12 shooting from the field and connected on one three pointer, at the 7:12 mark of the second half, the only made shot from downtown for any Lady Lion.

Alex Bentley also had a down shooting day as she shot 5-for-13 from the field and hit three of four free throws for a 13 point performance. On a day where neither team's shots were falling, the senior captain reminded her teammates that off days do occur and Sunday was one of those types of games.

"Those nights are going to happen, that's what I told my teammates," said Bentley. "Nobody is going to have a perfect shooting night and it is very frustrating because a lot of us work on our shot, but it's just something that you have to learn from and move on from."

Bentley thought that the type of game that was played Sunday was a defensive test, specifically for the team's guards who had to stop the Jackrabbits from penetrating on the offensive end. The Lady Lions did exactly that as they stopped SDSU's leading scorer Megan Waytashek in the second half as she tallied 4 points while shooting just 16 percent.

Offensively for Penn State, senior center Nikki Greene provided a boost inside with 12 of her 17 points coming in the second half. Greene adjusted well in the second half by scoring six of the Lady Lions' first seven points.

"Going into halftime Coquese pretty much said that the post players had to be more involved in the offense," said Greene. "My whole focus in the second half was to just do whatever I needed to do to contribute to the team."

Getting Greene involved more offensively is something that Washington said is still a work in progress, but her performance in the second half against the Jackrabbits showed how effective she can be.

"We really like her on the floor when she's aggressive and assertive," said Washington. "She's a strong offensive player and she makes our team a lot better when she is playing the way she did in the second half."

Penn State will be off this week for finals before they play NJIT at home on Dec. 23 in their last non-conference game prior to their Big Ten opener against Northwestern on Jan. 3.



Nittany Lions Head Into Holidays with Positive Vibes

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By: Pat White Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -Penn State will take some time off for the holidays after their one-goal loss to Robert Morris (7-4-2) over the weekend, but the Nittany Lions (7-8-0) will have some encouraging things to talk about over the holiday break.

Despite the loss to Robert Morris on Saturday, a 3-2 setback, the team took a step forward. The Lions generated 40 shots and kept a steady offensive flow throughout the game. It was a physical game that maintained a fast tempo in all three periods, which allowed head coach Guy Gadowsky to take a few positives away from the defeat.

Loik-Curtis (2).jpeg"I was happy with the way we played," said Gadowsky. "[We're] not happy about the result, but we're happy with how we played. It's a matter of making sure we are learning how to put it all together."

One area that has been a struggle for the young Nittany Lion team is the power play. Penn State is just five for 60 with the man-advantage this season, but the unit continued to move in the right direction against Robert Morris.

Despite going zero-for-five against the Colonials, Penn State generated 11 shots on the power play, with eight in the third period. They moved the puck well and sustained good offensive pressure, including a couple of late scoring chances during a 4-on-3 man advantage, but could not find the back of the net.

Penn State played one of its better games in all three zones last Saturday. The offense was able to create opportunities, the defense played disciplined and tight and the neutral zone was clean, for the most part. Robert Morris scored the game-winner on a misplay in the neutral zone that led to a goal by Tyler Hinds with less than nine minutes to go in the game. Other than the one miscue, Penn State limited some of the mistakes they were making earlier in the season.

"I thought we had some flow and played better," Gadowsky said. "We also had tempo, in terms of not turning the puck over like we have three weeks previous. I think we had more flow...There was a lot that we can be optimistic about. We're a young team and we're going to get a lot better."

Penn State put forth a good effort against Robert Morris, and head into the holiday break on a positive note. The break comes at a good time, allowing the team to rest and heal some injuries before the Three Rivers Classic.

"We can use a break," Gadowsky said. "We had four pretty good forwards not playing tonight. It's very valuable for guys to go home and have a good Christmas with their families. I think they are very fortunate to get to do that and I want them to take advantage of it."

Sophomore forward Tommy Olczyk (Long Grove, Ill.) is excited for the break, but is looking forward to getting another opportunity against the Colonials at the Three River Classic.

"We get to play them right after break," Olczyk said. "We have two weeks until we get another shot at (Robert Morris). We showed that we can play at this level...and be a good team. There were times when we were outplaying them and we have to get ready to see this team again in two weeks."

One concern about the two week layoff is staying conditioned and in shape. Both Gadowsky and Olczyk agreed that player are going to have to have an accountability for maintaining their conditioning and staying in hockey form.

 "(We) have to keep ourselves accountable," Olczyk said. "We can't call and check up on (each other) and make sure everyone staying in shape. At this level of hockey, you have to be accountable to do it yourself. If you can get on the ice, that's great, but if not, you have to find a bike, a treadmill or something."

Penn State will play Robert Morris on Dec. 28 in the first game of the Three Rivers Classic, which also includes Ohio State and Miami (Ohio), at the CONSOL Energy Center.



Nittany Lions Dominate Second Half of Dual

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By Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson entered halftime of Saturday's dual meet against Lock Haven looking to light a fire under his team.

8411281.jpegWhile his top ranked Nittany Lions had opened the meet with a 16-3 lead, they had found themselves challenged by Lock Haven's lower weight wrestlers.

"They kind of pushed us around a little at first," said Sanderson. "Their guys showed a lot of fire and a lot of fight."

Whatever Sanderson told his remaining wrestlers, it certainly had a big effect on them.

The Nittany Lions came out of the break on fire, winning the final five matches, including three pins and a tech fall, on their way to a 42-3 victory.

"Our guys really came out to right the wrongs from the first half," said Sanderson. "They really competed and showed how much firepower we have at those upper weights."

Junior Ed Ruth, who notched a tech fall over Fred Garcia at 184, credited his coach's ability to get he and his teammates mentally prepared during the intermission.

"Coach Sanderson came up to us individually and put a few words of hate in our ears to get us fired up," said Ruth. "He's really a master at knowing how to push your buttons."

After junior and defending national champion David Taylor got things started with a pin over Aaron McKinney at 165, fellow junior Matt Brown kept the ball rolling with a dominant performance at 174, pinning Zach Heffner in just 1:37.

Following Ruth's victory at 184, senior Quentin Wright notched the team's fourth pin of the afternoon and the third of the second half over freshmen Phil Sprenkle at 197.

While Wright wrestled cautiously during a scoreless first period, the three time All-American turned up the heat as the match went on, before finishing Sprenkle off with a fall midway through the third.

"I just tried to stay tough and get after it out there," said Wright. "Sometimes you've got to wrestle a little longer and not be afraid to get tired out there."

For the second consecutive dual, the most exciting match of the afternoon took place at the end, during the heavyweight bout.

Redshirt sophomore Jimmy Lawson battled senior Harry Turner tough for three full periods and exhibited excellent defense on his way to a hard fought 5-1 victory.

Lawson, who transferred to Penn State from Monmouth in the offseason, took extra joy in the win, as it came in his first dual meet in Rec Hall. 

"It was really fun and exciting to be in front of that crowd," said Lawson. "I'm looking forward to doing it more often."

While Lawson may have been new to wrestling in the atmosphere of Rec Hall, he did happen to be very familiar with the opponent he was facing.

Not only had he previously battled Turner in high school, he actually defeated him for the New Jersey State Championship in 2008.

"He's a guy I've wrestled a lot and someone I consider a friend," said Lawson.  "Friends or not, both of us were out there trying to win for our teams and it was nice to come out on top."

Sanderson, who still has not decided on whether Lawson or sophomore Jon Gingrich will be the full time starter at the heavyweight position, was pleased that Lawson took advantage of his opportunity.

"We've been wanting to give Jimmy a chance to wrestle at home," said Sanderson. "I thought he did a nice job out there."

The Nittany Lions next dual meet will take place at home on Jan 13, when they take on Michigan State.

In Game Blog: Women's Basketball vs. South Dakota State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome back to in-game coverage of 2012-13 Lady Lions basketball season.  Insight and reaction will be provided by throughout the game, so check back often as the action unfolds.

The Lady Lions (8-2) entered the week at No. 11 in the AP poll and No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches poll and have claimed a 60-41 victory at Virginia Tech already this week. This will be the first meeting between Penn State and South Dakota State. The Lady Lions are 3-0 all-time versus the current alignment of the Summit League, last claiming a victory in overtime at Oakland on Nov. 18, 2010.

Today's Game in 140 Characters: 1 last test be4 finals week starts 4 #PennState...need 2 focus vs. #SDSU & play 40 min of tough D...limit TO vs. NCAA opponent...Nuggets please

The Starting Five
Lady Lions -
G- Bentley, G- Lucas, G- Taylor, F- Nickson, C- Greene
Jackrabbits -
G- Boever, G- Eide, F- Stroup, F- Dietel, F- Waytashek

15:41, 1st Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 7, South Dakota State 10
The Lady Lions have turned it over three times in the early going and SDSU has had a number of open looks at the basket. The Jackrabbits have been to the postseason in five of their six Division I seasons, including trips to the NCAA Tournament the past three seasons, and don't seem to be phased by the PSU pressure defense, so far.

11:45, 1st Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 11, South Dakota State 13
Penn State has started to force some turnovers, but continues to struggle on the offensive end, shooting just 38 percent and committing six turnovers of their own. Nikki Greene leads the way with five points, but only three Lady Lion players have scored. Six different players have scored for the Jackrabbits, who are scoring from the inside and the outside.

7:35, 1st Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 15, South Dakota State 19
Penn State has looked as if they've been holed up and studying for finals all morning. The Lady Lions have uncharacteristically missed layup and allowed some easy baskets to the Jackrabbits. The post players have missed a few layups, Maggie Lucas has been held scoreless. SDSU's physical style of play has also created some unease with the PSU players.

3:38, 1st Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 23, South Dakota State 22
A steal and layup by Dara Taylor tied the game at 19-19, and a Lucas jumper knotted the score at 21-21, but SDSU had an answer for each score, until converting one-of-two from the free throw stripe to make it a 22-21 edge. Mia Nickson's successful jumper with 4:06 remaining in the half gave Penn State just their second lead of game. PSU led by one with just 90 seconds into the contest, 5-4.

End of 1st Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 25, South Dakota State 25
Penn State produced their second lowest point total in the first half this season, just three points more than their 22 point output at No. 2 UConn. Alex Bentley spent the majority of the final ten minutes on the bench with two fouls, but leads the team with eight points on four-of-eight shooting. Both teams have turned the ball over 12 times in the opening period, but the Lady Lions shot the ball better down the stretch to end the first half at 40-percent shooting.

17:27, 2nd Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 32, South Dakota State 25
The Lady Lions scored the first seven points of the second half to build their biggest lead of the game and force South Dakota State to take an early timeout. Greene has a pair of baskets and Taylor converted a fast break layup to push Penn State out in front. Greene now leads all scorers with nine points and Taylor notched her third steal in the early going.

11:47, 2nd Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 36, South Dakota State 33
The Lady Lions continue to force turnovers and built an eight point lead, but they are leaving a lot of points on the floor right now as they have been unable to convert a couple of fast break opportunities. Those missed opportunities have allowed the Jackrabbits to hang around. PSU is still shooting 38 percent and are limiting SDSU to just 29 percent shooting from the floor, but the Jackrabbits have converted three of ten from three-point range and PSU is zero-for-nine from long range.

6:48, 2nd Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 47, South Dakota State 35
It continues to be a struggle for the Lady Lions and Greene has been forced to the bench, for now, with four fouls. Bentley and Lucas have picked up the slack, as Lucas drained her first three pointer of the game to move the PSU lead to double digits. Bentley leads all scorers with 12 points and PSU has forced 21 Jackrabbit turnovers. The rebounding is tied at 34 apiece, but South Dakota State has  14 of those on the offensive end.

3:51, 2nd Half - No. 11/10 Penn State 52, South Dakota State 41
The scoring pace is going to need a serious turbo-boost if the faithful has any chance at nuggets today, but the Lady Lions are shooting the ball well over the last four-plus minutes. Penn State is now nine-of-13 from the free throw line, which has helped them hold their lead, but both teams will shot the bonus for the remainder of the period.

FINAL - No. 11/10 Penn State 52, South Dakota State 41
It wasn't a work of art, but it was a win for the Lady Lions. South Dakota State came out with an intensity that Penn State barely matched and were lucky to enter the half tied at 25-25. A second half scoring spurt pushed the Lady Lions out to a 13 point lead and they traded baskets with the Jackrabbits down the stretch to hold on for their third straight victory.

Senior Nikki Green led all scorers with 15 points, while Alex Bentley narrowly missed a double-double, ending the afternoon with 13 points and nine rebounds. Maggie Lucas was held to single digits for the first time this season, tallying nine points, and Mia Nickson added nine points, as well.

As a team, Penn State committed 18 turnovers, with 12 coming in the first 20 minutes, and forced 23 missteps by the Jackrabbits. The Lady Lions shot just 39 percent for the game, but limited the SDSU offense to a 31 percent shooting night. Each team grabbed 40 rebounds, but 14 of the Jackrabbits boards came on the offensive glass.

PSU will have a week break before their next contest, with the players facing tests in the classroom during finals week. The NJIT Highlanders will travel to the Bryce Jordan Center for a 1:30 p.m. tipoff. That game will follow the men's hoops contest versus New Hampshire at 11 a.m.

Fast Break Press Conference Recap
"There just seemed to be a lid on the basket and that's basketball sometimes. I don't have a great answer. We just couldn't seem to get in a rhythm or make shots consistently. It was a struggle offensively all night"
- Head coach Coquese Washington

"When you are struggling offensively you can't focus on not being able to make shots, you have to focus on limiting their good looks and play tough defense. We know that when neither team is making shots we have to be able to get a lead and then let or defense take over. If we can do that we have a great chance to get a win."
- Head coach Coquese Washington

"When Nikki is aggressive and assertive she can be a handful...she is a strong powerful player and makes our team a lot better when she is playing like she did in the second half."
- Head coach Coquese Washington

"We did a good job of playing through the contact. We continued to work and play through it. We just focused on what we needed to do and played in a very physical game."
- Head coach Coquese Washington

"Going into halftime coach told us that (the post players) were going to need to be more involved in the offense. I just wanted to do whatever I could to help the team. I knew I had to be a presence in the lane, whether it was rebounding or scoring."
- Senior center Nikki Greene

"We have to learn from this and move on. It is about confidence and I told my teammates that. You can't hang your head and think about missing the shots, you just have to keep playing."
- Senior guard Alex Bentley

Pregame Reading:
- Penn State will look to head into finals week on a high note versus the Jackrabbits and move their winning streak to three games. The Lady Lions have won three of their four contests in December, with their only loss coming at No. 2 UConn, and are looking to rebound after their second lowest scoring output of the season on Wed., Dec. 12 at Virginia Tech in their 60-41 win.

- Just one week ago Maggie Lucas raddled off a career-high 39 points in a 97-74 win over Georgetown inside the Bryce Jordan Center. The junior set the BJC scoring record and tied the arena record with seven three pointers. Her point total was the most for a men's or women's player in the building and is the third most points ever scored by a Lady Lion player.

- Dara Taylor set a Penn State career-high with 15 points earlier this week at Virginia Tech. The junior was six-of-10 from the floor, connected on three-of-six from three-point range and grabbed three rebounds to help the Lady Lions win their second straight contest.

- Head coach Coquese Washington won her 100th game as the head coach of the Lady Lions on Thursday at Virginia Tech. She joins Rene Portland (606 wins) as the only other coach in program history to top the 100-win plateau.

In Game Blog: Men's Hockey hosts Robert Morris

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to in-game coverage for the 2012 Penn State Men's Hockey season. will provide insight from press row for selected games throughout the 2012-13 season.  Check back often for running updates as the action unfolds.

Tonight the Nittany Lions (7-7-0) host Robert Morris (6-4-2) and will look to close out the home portion of 2012 with a victory over the Colonials. Penn State defeated Fredonia State, 4-0, on Tuesday to even their record and tonight's contest will be their final home game of 2012.

1st Period: 12:43 - Penn State 0, Robert Morris 0
The Nittany Lions have come out hitting in the first seven minutes of this in-state battle with the Colonials and they have held a solid time of possession edge. Taylor Holstrom had the first good chance with a shot from the point, and Peter Sweetland's shot went into the pad of RMU goalkeeper Eric Levine. Connor Varley sent a shot into a crowd in front of the net that was blocked by a RMU defender. The Colonials best scoring chance came on a PSU turnover, but Greg Gibson's shot sailed wide of goalkeeper Matt Skoff's net.

1st Period: 8:32 - Penn State 0, Robert Morris 0
Penn State has not been shy about testing RMU's Levine in net, but the senior has been up to the task and saved all seven shots on net. A couple of neutral ice turnovers have given Penn State a pair of scoring opportunities. David Glen ripped a shot from the slot, but a RMU defender blocked the attempt. Tommy Olczyk had the best look at the net with 10:32 left in the opening frame, but Levine got his glove on the attempt to knock it wide.

1st Period: 7:53 - Penn State 0, Robert Morris 1
A rare turnover for the Lions led to the opening tally of the game for Robert Morris as Tyler Hinds grabbed a sloppy pass at the blue line and launched a shot that was wide to Skoff's stick side, Jeff Jones controlled for RMU and a touch pass from Zach Lynch found Chase Golightly who went high to Skoff's stick side for the opening marker.

1st Period: 0:32 - Penn State 0, Robert Morris 1
Baily had two shots from point blank range on the power play with four minutes to play in the half, but could get enough of his blade on the puck and Levine was able to turn away both shots. Penn State had the first two man advantages of the night, but has come away empty on both. After Baily narrowly missed evening the game on the power play, Robert Morris went on the man-advantage, but PSU's Olczyk had the best scoring chance shorthanded.

End of 1st Period - Penn State 0, Robert Morris 1
With only one game this weekend it seems like the Nittany Lions came out with a little more intensity in the opening period, but the Colonials were the ones that were able to capitalize on a PSU turnover in their own zone. Penn State ripped 12 shots, but Levine was up to the test in net and made saves on each of them. Skoff stopped six of the seven shots he faced in goal for Penn State. Time of possession is not a stat that is found on the box score but, even when playing shorthanded, the Lions seemed to control the puck for a good portion of the opening frame. 

2nd Period: 18:17 - Penn State 1, Robert Morris 1
Cue the Zombie Nation and get the student section jumping as Olczyk redirected a shot by Luke Juha past Levine. Juha took a wraparound pass off of the faceoff, controlled the puck near the blue line and let one fly. Olczyk got the redirect and snuck it into the near corner of the net to knot the game at one goal apiece.

2nd Period: 16:35 - Penn State 2, Robert Morris 1
Two goals in the first three-plus minutes of the second half have the student second thinking about something other than finals. Curtis Loik connected on his fourth goal of the season on an assist from Glen - his eighth of the year - and the Nittany Lions find themselves in front by a goal. There is still a lot of time let in the period and Robert Morris has been more physical at the point of attack this period. PSU still continues to control the puck, however.

2nd Period: 11:02 - Penn State 2, Robert Morris 1
Robert Morris spent a lot of time in the PSU zone over the last four minutes, but Skoff turned away a nice backhand attempts and the defense has turned away a pair of face offs in their own zone. Just after Loik gave PSU the lead, Hinds came in on Skoff's glove side and sent a backhand high, but the rookie net-minder was up to the test and snagged it. Glen nearly put the home team up by two goals as he emerged from a scrum behind the net and sent a wrist shot in that clanked off the post and bounced away. PSU has really done a nice job limiting the scoring chances for RMU, who is riding a four-game unbeaten streak.

2nd Period: 6:49 - Penn State 2, Robert Morris 2
The third power play of the night ended the same way the first two did for Penn State and Robert Morris evened the game shortly after returning to full strength. The Nittany Lions put a lot of pressure on the Colonials keeper with the man advantage, sending three shots towards goal and narrowly missing on an open ice connecting between Loik and Holstrom. Jones then took a pass from Brendan Jamison from behind the net and stuffed home his second goal of the season to knot the score.

2nd Period: 2:57 - Penn State 2, Robert Morris 2
Penn State got a little sloppy in their own zone late in the period, allowing the Jones goal to even the score and later turning the puck over twice near their own net and forcing Skoff to come up with two big saves. David Friedmann had the first look, which was turned away and Gibson ripped a shot from the slot that Skoff gloved.

End of 2nd Period - Penn State 2, Robert Morris 2
A pair of 4-on-4 skates produced a handful some fast paced, up-and-down action, but no scoring came about over the final three minutes of the second period. The Nittany Lions hold a 24-14 edge in shots, but Levine of RMU has been up to the task in net. With so much possession of the puck, Penn State has limited Robert Morris attack to near season-low totals. Oh and Santa Claus is on the Zamboni to make sure the ice is ready for the third period.

3rd Period: 14:28 - Penn State 2, Robert Morris 2
With five minutes gone in the third period, Penn State has had a flurry of scoring chances with nothing to show. Max Gardiner took a close range slap shot that was padded away by RMU's Levine and Loik knifed through the defense and forced Levine to turn away his shot under immense pressure. Shortly after Loik's chance, Bailey took a slap shot from the right faceoff circle that Levine was able to turn away with his stick, but the Nittany Lions have had their chances.

3rd Period: 11:17 - Penn State 2, Robert Morris 2
Penn State killed off their second power play of the night and, like their first one, had the best scoring chance of the two-minute penalty. Loik snagged a pass in the neutral ice and again closed in on Levine, but was turned away once again by the senior keeper. After killing off the penalty, Penn State's George Sadd had a chance in front, but missed wide to the glove side of Levine. A boarding penalty on Robert Morris has now put Penn State on the power play for the fourth time tonight.

3rd Period: 8:11 - Penn State 2, Robert Morris 3
Hinds took it coast-to-coast for the go ahead goal on a wrist shot from the left flank, beating Skoff to the upper-90 on the far post. It was his first goal of the season and gave the Colonials their first lead since early in the second period.

3rd Period: 4:15 - Penn State 2, Robert Morris 3
Penn State had a 4-on-3 advantage for 1:30 and they nearly knotted the score on three occasions, including a handful of swipes at a loose puck in front of the net with Levine sprawled out on his back. Juha took a hard wrist shot from the point that Levine saved, followed by an attempt from Bailey that was sailed just over the crossbar. Then a shot from the point by Bailey was saved by Levine and dropped in the crease. Glen had three swipes at the puck, but couldn't get enough of his blade to knock it into the open net.

FINAL - Penn State 2, Robert Morris 3
This loss is going to be a tough one for the Nittany Lions to swallow, but can send them into the holiday break knowing that when they take to the ice again, they will have another crack at Robert Morris. Penn State outshot the Colonials 40-29 and had countless more scoring opportunities, but RMU's Eric Levine made all the stops he had to make in the one-goal game. Give Robert Morris credit for making the plays when they needed to and PSU continues to show steady growth on the ice in their inaugural season. Skoff played another great game in net and should get another crack at getting a win vs. Robert Morris when the Blue and White open the Three Rivers Classic at the CONSOL Energy Season in Pittsburgh versus the Colonials.

Quick Change Press Conference Quotes

"I was happy with how we played, but not happy with the end result. We are learning how to put it all together. I think we've come a long way and Robert Morris is a good team. I think we played fairly well and we can take away some positives (from tonight). We are a young team and we are going to keep getting better."

- Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky

"You never want to get too high and you never want to get too low. We have had our ups and downs, but overall we are a confident hockey team. I think we have continued to get better throught (the season)."

- Sophomore Tommy Olczyk


"I think we should have come out with that (win). We are getting better every day, every practice and every game. We won't have a sour taste in our mouth (from the loss), but we will look forward to getting another chance to play Robert Morris after the break."

- Freshman Curtis Loik

"Our guys really showed some character tonight, but we didn't play our best and good hockey team's find a way to win without their best game. Penn State really punched us in the gut, but we were able to get a win on the road in a very tough environment. I don't know if we deserved to win, but we earned it."

- Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley


Pregame Reading:

- In its first season of Division I men's hockey, Penn State has put together an impressive resume and will look to continue to grow the program versus in-state foe Robert Morris, who has nine seasons of Division I hockey experience. The Nittany Lions and Colonials are two of just three Division I teams in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, joining Erie-based Mercyhurst at the highest collegiate level.

- The Blue and White own a 2-2 record inside Greenberg Ice Arena versus Division I opponents, splitting a series with Air Force at the beginning of Nov. after beating Buffalo State, 4-2, to start the month. The other Penn State home game was their season opening loss to in overtime to American International.

- Penn State posted their second shutout of the season on Tue., Dec. 11 at Fredonia State with a 4-0 decision behind the superb goalkeeping of freshman Matt Skoff. The rookie made 18 saves to help the Blue and White snaps their four-game losing streak.

- The freshman class has made major contributions to the team so far in the inaugural Division I campaign, with eight rookies netting goals and nine contributing at least two points on the season. Eight of the top 12 point scores on the team this season are in their first year of college hockey, including their top three goal scores and three of their top six point scores.

- Freshman David Glen and Casey Bailey are the top two scores on the team, with Glen leading the charge with eight goals, seven assists and 15 points - all team highs. Bailey has added found the back of the net six times and has five assists for a total of 11 points in 2012-13.

VIDEO: Wrestling Post-Match Interviews - Lock Haven

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Hear from head coach Cael Sanderson and several wrestlers following Penn State's dominant 42-3 victory over Lock Haven in sold out Rec Hall.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Men's Hoops Game Blog - FINAL in OT: Penn State 80, Delaware State 76

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage of the Nittany Lion basketball team.

Take a look through the running blog from Penn State's 80-76 overtime victory over Delaware State on Saturday.

Starting Lineups:
Penn State - G - Marshall, G - Newbill, F - Travis, F - Taylor, F - Borovnjak
Delaware State - G - Tate, G - Thomas, G - Walker, F - Oliver, C - Gray

15:49 1st Half - Penn State 7, Delaware State 2
The Nittany Lions started the game well on the defensive end of the floor, which fueled a 3-for-5 start on offense.  Penn State's effort plays a huge role in its success, and thus far it has been superb.  The Lions have been active on defense since the ball tipped.  Delaware State started just 1-for-6.  Freshman Brandon Taylor scored five of Penn State's first seven points to help the Lions jet out to a 7-2 lead.

11:53 1st Half - Penn State 21, Delaware State 3
The Nittany Lions have put together a complete effort on both ends of the floor during the first 8:07 of action in the Bryce Jordan Center.  In addition to holding Delaware State to just 1-for-10 shooting, the Lions are red-hot on offense.  Five different players have contributed to an 8-for-10 shooting start, led by six points from Jermaine Marshall.

6:32 1st Half - Penn State 23, Delaware State 13

Since the 12-minute timeout, the Hornets have mounted a 10-2 scoring run to slice the Penn State lead down to 10.  Casey Walker has eight tallies off the bench, all of which coming during the scoring spurt.  Penn State's offensive ball movement has slowed down, but the Lions still lead by 10 with 6:32 to play in the first half.

Halftime - Penn State 37, Delaware State 29
The Nittany Lions led from start to finish in the opening half.  Penn State led by as much as 18 (21-3), but the Hornets mounted a charge mid-way through the opening 20 minutes to close within striking distance.  Delaware State went on a 19-7 charge to trim the Lion lead down to just six (28-22) at the 3:34 mark.  A 3-pointer from Nick Colella in the final minute put the Lions up by 10 before two late Delaware State free throws set the halftime margin at eight.  The Lions played well on defense early, but Hornet guard Casey Walker tallied 17 points in a span of 8:31 to single-handedly keep Delaware State in the ballgame.  The Nittany Lions shot 59 percent from the field, led by 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting from Newbill.  Marshall added six points and a career-high five assists in the first half.

15:31 2nd Half - Penn State 49, Delaware State 35
The Nittany Lions have been aggressive early in the second half.  A hard drive from Marshall resulted in a layup and a16-point lead for Penn State before a basket from Delaware State set the score at 49-35.  After the late rally from the Hornets to end the first half, Penn State needed a strong start out of the locker room, and it got one.  The Lions are still shooting 57 percent from the field for the game.  Penn State has visited the foul line six times already this half, which speaks to how aggressive the Lions have been early.

10:50 2nd Half - Penn State 57, Delaware State 43
Coach Chambers talked this week about the freshmen beginning to see more minutes in the rotation for the Nittany Lions.  Donovan Jack has taken full advantage of that in the second half.  The Reading native accounted for six-straight points for the Nittany Lions.  Jack's three baskets handed the Lions a 55-39, marking its largest lead since mid-way through the first half.  Sasa Borovnjak is quietly having a solid game with 10 points and five rebounds on 3-for-4 from the field and 4-for-4 from the foul line.

7:37 2nd Half - Penn State 59, Delaware State 49
The Nittany Lions have played another strong half of basketball on the offensive end of the floor, but they are letting Delaware State hang around after back-to-back 3-pointers from Walker and Tahj Tate.  Jack's fourth basket of the half put the Lions up 59-43, but the two-straight triples brought the margin back to 10.  Jack received a well-deserved ovation as he ran off the floor.  He has eight points, all which coming in a span of 4:17, and a block this half.

3:05 2nd Half - Penn State 65, Delaware State 55
The Nittany Lions weathered a 4:36 scoring drought before Marshall tallied two free throws to make it a 61-49 game.  Each time the Lions extended their lead to 12, Delaware State answered to keep the margin at 10.  With 3:05 to play, the Hornets will be at the foul line looking to trim the lead down to single digits.  Penn State has played well, but the Lions have let the Hornets hang around in the second half.

FINAL in OT - Penn State 80, Delaware State 76
The final three minutes and overtime had a little bit of everything for the Nittany Lions.  Penn State led by 11 (67-58) with 2:58 to play, but then went scoreless until the final 20 seconds.  During that span, Delaware State chipped away at the lead until a Tyshawn Bell drained a 3-pointer with 12 seconds to play, tying the game at 69-69.  In overtime, the Lions scored first with a free throw from Borovnjak, but then missed their next three attempts at the charity stripe.  Delaware State scored to make it 71-70, marking their first lead of the game at the 3:06 mark in overtime.  A basket from Tate made it 73-70 before Newbill answered with a hard dribble drive to the basket.  Borovnjak tied the game with a free throw, but Bell answered with a huge corner three to make it 76-73, Delaware State.  Nonetheless, Marshall came right back with a tying 3-pointer on the left wing.  The Hornets had two free throw attempts rim out before Newbill glided in for a layup to put the Lions on top 78-76.  Two Brandon Taylor free throws and a pair of stops on the defensive end of the floor set the final at 80-76.

Newbill led the way with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists.  Marshall added 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists.  Borovnjak was the third Lion in double figures, finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds.  The Lions shot 49 percent from the field for the game, marking the second-straight game at 49 percent or better from the field.  The Lions will gladly accept their third-straight victory, but they need to do a better job closing out the game.  Penn State led throughout the contest before yielding the late run.  Penn State will learn from Saturday's experience, but any win is great for this team's confidence moving forward.

Coach Chambers said the Nittany Lions were fortunate to find a way to win against a talented Delaware State team, but he was pleased with the way Penn State battled throughout the contest.  He said that making free throws is the biggest thing he will take away from Saturday's win, but Chambers is proud of the team for finding a way to win.

The Lions will break for finals week before returning to action next Sunday at 11 a.m. against New Hampshire.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Lady Lions Learn From Tough Road Tests

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It all started in Europe with a preseason trip overseas and included a plane ride to the west coast for a tournament in Northridge, Ca. and a flight to Miami, Fla.

On top of that, the No. 11 Lady Lions played No. 2 Connecticut and No. 13 Texas A&M, both on the road, in a three week span. Through all of that, head coach Coquese Washington and her team have benefited greatly from a tough road non-conference slate that was completed after a 60-41 win over Virginia Tech.

Lucas-Maggie (3).jpeg"It is going to help us tremendously," said Washington. "We have had to get better quickly and focus on the fundamentals of our game. It has shown us the areas that we are not quite as tight in and we have to (improve) before conference play."

Granted any team has a multitude of areas they can always improve on, but Washington highlighted offensive execution and defensive consistency as the areas the road tests have shown room for improvement in.

The Lady Lions went 3-2 in their non-conference road games and 8-2 overall with two games remaining before their Big Ten opener against Northwestern Jan. 3. 

"Our schedule was tough," said assistant coach Fred Chimel. "It wasn't easy. We played a lot of NCAA (tournament) caliber teams and that's one thing we can take and expand with."

Games against a team like Connecticut, that is a favorite to make another Final Four appearance, or an opponent like Miami (Fla.), that is climbing its way through the Top 25, allows Penn State to learn from two tough road losses and apply them to the hostile environments they will play in as the season progresses. 

"It will be a good thing for us later in the season," said guard Maggie Lucas. "You could end up anywhere in the NCAA tournament and we will be prepared for that."

The variety of styles the Lady Lions have faced on the gives them a unique opportunity to have competed under a wide number of scenarios before the dog days of February and March begin. 

"All of the teams we have seen gave us something different," said guard Dara Taylor. "We have seen a lot of different defenses and offenses and I think it's really going to help us in conference play and in the tournament."

For Washington, she wants her team to get better as the season progresses, but would like her team to reach a consistency level that they can establish and set as a standard for the type of basketball they need to play to win game in and game out.

"In a nutshell, what it comes down to is getting better as a team," said Washington. "When we are playing good basketball we have to condition ourselves to make those stretches longer so that we are controlling and dominating the game for the majority of the game."

The Lady Lions will host South Dakota State on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center and NJIT on Dec. 23 before the Big Ten opener on Jan. 3 against Northwestern.



VIDEO: NCAA Semifinal Post-Match Press Conference

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Hear from head coach Russ Rose, Dominique Gonzalez and Ariel Scott following Thursday's 3-1 setback to Oregon inside the KFC Yum! Center on Thursday night.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

NCAA Semifinal Match Blog - FINAL: No. 5 Oregon 3, No. 1 Penn State 1

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NCAA Semifinal Practice Day Coverage

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Welcome to live match coverage of the top-seeded Nittany Lion women's volleyball team in the NCAA National Semifinals.

Take a look through the running blog from Penn State's 3-1 setback to Oregon in the NCAA semifinals inside the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.

Semifinal One - No. 3 Texas 3, Michigan 2
The third-seeded Texas Longhorns rallied from 2-1 down against unseeded Michigan for a thrilling five-set victory in the first semifinal on Thursday night.  Michigan played a tremendous match against the talented Longhorns, but Texas built an early lead in the fifth and never looked back.  Texas punched its ticket to the national championship for the first time since 2009 when the Longhorns fell to Penn State in Tampa.

Set One: Penn State 25, Oregon 21
The Nittany Lions started fast en route to a 7-3 lead before Oregon used its first timeout, but the Ducks battled back to square the match at 10-10.  From there, neither team led by more than one tally until a crucial solo block from freshman Megan Courtney put the Lions up 22-20 late in the set.  The Nittany Lions tallied three-straight blocks to make it 24-20 before Oregon answered.  Nonetheless, Katie Slay buried a kill to make it a 5-1 run to hand the Lions a 25-21 set victory.  The blocking was the difference in the first set, as Penn State out-blocked the Ducks 6-0.  Middle hitter Nia Grant led the way with four kills on .429 hitting.  As a team, the Lions hit .220 in the opening set.

Set Two: Oregon 30, Penn State 28
After a strong finish in the first set from the Nittany Lions, Oregon wasted little time grabbing a lead in the second.  The Ducks jumped out to a 3-0 advantage out of the gate before building a 9-4 edge.  On the Katherine Fischer kill that set the score at 9-4, Nittany Lion setter Micha Hancock came down on Katie Slay's foot.  Hancock had to leave the floor for 12 points, but returned.  While she was out senior Kristin Carpenter, who was the setter on the 2012 national title team, stepped in and did a nice job running the offense under the circumstances.  Oregon led by as much as 10 in the second before a four-point scoring burst from the Lions trimmed the lead down to six.  The Nittany Lion rally continued, and Penn State squared the match at 24-24 on a combined block from Scott and Grant.  In all, the Nittany Lions out-scored Oregon, 14-4 to tie the match.  Penn State had two set point chances, one at 25-24 and one at 26-25, but the Ducks held on en route to a 30-28 set victory.  Credit the Lions for a tremendous comeback in a set where they played a large chunk without first team All-American Micha Hancock on the floor.  Nevertheless, Oregon made big plays when it needed to and the score is tied at 1-1 heading into the intermission.

Set Three: Oregon 25, Penn State 22
The third set opened much like the second set ended with a tight margin on the scoreboard.  Oregon stretched the lead to three points (9-6) on a block.  Oregon led by as much as four, but the Lions did a nice job keeping the margin within striking distance.  In doing so, the Lions used four-straight tallies to claim a 20-19 edge late in the set.  However, two huge kills from Oregon outside hitter Katherine Fischer put the Ducks back on top, 21-20, before the Lions had an answer.  A passing error made it 22-20 Oregon, and Fischer followed with another clutch kill to set the margin at 23-20.  Penn State closed within one, but the Ducks were too much down the stretch.  Leading the match 2-1, Penn State heads into the fourth set needing to find a way to slow down Fischer and Brenner.  The Oregon duo has combined for 30 kills in the first three sets.  

Set Four: Oregon 25, Penn State 19
The Ducks saved their best set for what ended up being the last set of night.  Oregon came out firing on all cylinders in the fourth, grabbing a 9-3 lead on 1.000 hitting and three aces.  From there, the Ducks never looked back.  The set was tied at 1-1, but that would be as close as the Nittany Lions would get.  Oregon led by as much as 10 during the final frame.  Penn State closed to within five late, but Oregon's offensive attack was too much.  Looking at the final stats, Penn State out-blocked Oregon 19.5-10.0.  However, Oregon's quick-tempo offense led by 17 kills from Liz Brenner fueled the Ducks to their first NCAA championship match in program history.

Final Thoughts
The momentum turned in the second set on Thursday night in Louisville.  The Lions had chances to close out the set for a 2-0 lead, but Oregon made a series of big plays for the 30-28 victory.  Additionally, Hancock's left leg injury prevented her from getting off the floor like she normally does from the moment she returned mid-way through the second set until the end of the match.  Oregon took advantage of the Penn State's rotation when Hancock was across the front line and not able to block in her normal fashion.  Nonetheless, all the credit goes to the Ducks.  They played a superb match, making big play after big play when they needed to.  Oregon setter Lauren Plum was terrific running the offense.  Scott led the Lions with 18 kills.  Hometown hero Deja McClendon added 14 kills.  The Nittany Lions graduate two seniors who brought outstanding leadership to the program - Kristin Carpenter and Marika Racibarskas.  The Lions return their entire starting lineup from the 2012 team, including all four All-Americans.  Penn State finished the season 33-3 with a Big Ten title and its 10th appearance in the NCAA National Semifinals.  Coach Rose said after the match that the team will head into the offseason and learn from Thursday night's match and look to grow from it.  Congratulations to the Lions on a terrific season.  The future is very bright for the program moving forward.


NCAA Semifinal Preview VIDEO:

Statistical Comparison:


Penn State








Team Hitting Percentage



Opponent Hitting Percentage



Blocks Per Set

3.00 per set

1.80 per set

Top Attacker

Scott - 3.73 kills/set

Bergsma - 4.93 kills/set

Top Blocker

Slay - 1.32 blocks/set

Finley - 0.76 blocks/set

Top Defensive Specialist

Gonzalez - 3.60 digs/set

Jacob - 4.46 digs/set

Stay tuned for live coverage from the KFC Yum! Center as the action transpires on match day in Louisville, including live updates after each set during the match.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Pearsall Strives to Continue Impressive Stretch

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By Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - When Bryan Pearsall is asked about how far he has come during his time with the Penn State wrestling team, the senior can't help but smile.

For someone who has worked his way from a 3-23 freshman season to now being among the team's top lower weight wrestlers, the journey has been a long but rewarding one.

8404079.jpeg"It's hard to look back to when I was wondering if I'd ever get mat time and then to look at where I am now," said Pearsall. "I definitely took some bumps but I'm thankful that I stayed here."

After finishing his junior campaign on an impressive run that included a seventh place finish at the Big Ten Championships, Pearsall has carried that momentum into this season.

Not only has he brought stability to the 141 weight, he has also been a force on the mat, opening the season with an 8-2 record, while going 3-0 in dual meets.

For Pearsall, the hot start has been a welcome change from his previous seasons.

"I generally have a slow start to the season and it takes me until about Christmas to get warmed up," said Pearsall. "I came in this year with my weight lower and more focused on wrestling strong right off the bat."

Along with keeping his weight down and working on his technique, Pearsall has credited his early success to the motivation he gained after his season last year ended just short of a birth in the NCAA Championships.

While he was obviously disappointed, Pearsall believes the experience gave him the desire necessary to reach his full potential this season.

"I really felt that if I had qualified for nationals last year that I would have improved even more," said Pearsall.  "It was really that disappointment that motivated me in the offseason since I knew I only had one year left."

Pearsall also has been able to find motivation and inspiration from the teammates he practices with every day.

With five returning All-Americans joining him in the lineup, he doesn't have to look far to see what it takes to wrestle at the highest level.

"I look at those guys and I know they're at the place where I want to be," said Pearsall. "I always try to pick on the things that they do so I can improve myself and get to where they're at."

While Pearsall has often tried to learn from his teammates, it is certainly not a one-way street.

Many of his most accomplished teammates not only look up to him but also find motivation from the improvements he has made over the course of his career.

"Seeing how much Bryan has progressed through the years is really inspirational to me," said junior and returning national champion Ed Ruth. "The guy works so hard and is such a grinder."

Pearsall's style of grinding has taken notice with both his teammates and his coaches, who love the way he has been able to wear down his opponents and score points late in matches.

"You like to try and score early but sometimes you have to adapt and keep wrestling hard the whole time," said Pearsall. "I usually find that if I fall behind early I can come back and score late in the third."

Although he acknowledges the vast improvements he has already made, Pearsall doesn't believe he has stopped progressing.

In fact, he doesn't believe his career as a Nittany Lion will be complete until he too can say that he is an All-American.

"Anything less than being an All-American will be a major disappointment," said Pearsall. "If I keep working hard and keep improving I feel that it's a goal I can definitely attain."

Recruiting's Vital to Program's Future Success

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By Pat White Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- Coach Guy Gadowsky and his coaching staff have set the foundation for men's hockey at Penn State with the excitement surrounding the new program, but the process took another step forward last week after the announcement of the 2013-14 recruiting class.

Gadowsky said that hockey recruiting is different from other sports because recruiting is a year-round process. Recruiting is especially important for a fledgling program like Penn State that needs the right pieces in place if they want to be competitive in the Big Ten next season.

Gadowsky-Guy.jpeg"As we get further down the road, [we'll] find that [we're] missing pieces of a puzzle," Gadowsky said, "and then we'll go and get a certain type of player. We're still in the infancy stages of the program, so we just want to get the smartest hockey players we can who are the best students and best fit for Penn State University."

Gadowsky scouts potential recruits with assistant coaches Keith Fisher and Matt Lindsay. The primary leagues they scout are the Alberta Junior Hockey League, British Columbia Hockey League, Central Canada Hockey League, Eastern Junior Hockey League, North American Hockey League, Ontario Junior Hockey League and United States Hockey League, as well as New England prep schools.

"We have specific areas that we start to cover and then we have some crossover once the season gets going, as well," Fisher said. "You try to get four or five games a trip because it's a long trip and you want to maximize your opportunities to see kids while you're out there. You have to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time."

Fisher said that the USHL is the best junior league to scout because the players transfer well over to college hockey. In the future, however, the coaching staff aims to focus on recruiting closer to home. They want to a good job scouting the Pennsylvania area from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.

"Hopefully in a decade, we're going to have more and more excellent hockey players from Pennsylvania and this region that we'll be able to choose from," Gadowsky said.

NCAA hockey programs are allotted only two scouts to go on recruiting trips at the same time. That seems like a low number, but it makes it easier for the coaches to evaluate players.

"For the amount of players you have to cover its difficult," said Fisher, "but the more people you have seeing players the more things can get mixed up a little bit. [Coach Lindsay and I] work very well together and we can get into friendly arguments about players. Sometimes the more people you get involved it kind of muddies the water."

Penn State hockey is on the upswing as a desirable destination to play college hockey. With the building of the Pegula Ice Arena, players will have an opportunity to play in one of the most state-of-the-art facilities in college hockey. The new arena is one of the many great selling points that the coaching staff presents to recruits.

"The selling points are the same things that attracted me to Penn State," Gadowsky said. "I loved the student body, the passion and the pride that the student body and the alumni have for this university. It is tremendous and important."

The opportunity for players to play in the Big Ten against some of the top programs in the country is another factor in the recruiting process.

"The Big Ten [forming a] hockey conference is a huge selling point," said Gadowsky. "They're going to be playing against some of the most successful hockey programs, traditionally, in college hockey. They all have great buildings...and the Big Ten Network is going to carry hockey games live across North America."

As a young program, there can never be an overabundance of leadership in the locker room. There are already many former junior hockey captains and alternate captains on the current roster and that trend will continue with the next class. All four position players recruited for next year are either captains or alternate captains for their respective team. Gadowsky said that captaincy isn't a mandatory attribute, but it furthers along the foundation process.

"Right now, we like the fact that we are getting guys who are captains from good programs and you will see that with some of the guys coming in next year," Gadowsky said. "We don't have guys who have been here for four years in our program with Division I experience and success. Everybody is sort of a freshman so we want to bring in as much leadership as we can."

The coaching staff is also looking for players with good character. In collegiate hockey, redshirting a player is not a common occurrence like it is in some other sports, so getting players to make an impact right away is crucial.

"We want guys that want to work hard on the ice as well as in the classroom," Fisher said. "We also look for hockey sense, skating ability and play makers on the ice. We're looking for guys that can step in and help us right away."

Gadowsky said that being a young program makes it hard for the staff to get selective about recruits. A few things on their holiday wish list included another goaltender, added size on defense, and bringing in players with high hockey IQ.

Fisher said that it is tough to predict if all of them will turn out to become great college hockey players until they arrive at Penn State, but, nonetheless, he thinks the coaching staff addressed all the areas they looked to improve.

"Eamon McAdam is the highest goaltending prospects in USA hockey, so he has great credentials coming in," Fisher said. "David Thompson is a great leader and a captain on the best team in the British Columbia Hockey League. Eric Scheid, David Goodwin and Zach Saar are all going to be able to come in and help us score some goals and play in all situations."

The upcoming freshmen are coming at a great time for Penn State hockey. Competition for playing spots is difficult amongst the top programs in the country, and at Penn State there are multiple opportunities for playing time.

"One thing about coming to Penn State is you have a very good opportunity as a freshmen to play Division I hockey," said Gadowsky. "There is going to be more and more competition as the program builds."



VIDEO: Men's Hoops Update with Asst. Coach Keith Urgo

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion basketball team played nine games in 30 days to open the 2012-13 season.  Standing at 5-4 heading into Saturday's clash with Delaware State inside the Bryce Jordan Center (2 p.m.), sat down with assistant coach Keith Urgo earlier this week for an update on the season and development of the Nittany Lions.  Take a look.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

A Champion in the Making: Nico Megaludis

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It all started with a big yellow mat in his basement.

Nico Megaludis grew up in Murrysville, Pa., with a father who loved the sport of wrestling and shared it with him at a young age.

8398443.jpeg"My dad, believe it or not, after college when he was older he decided to do some old man's tournaments," said Megaludis. "We had a yellow mat and I was always playing on it when I was young and he would take me to tournaments and I guess that was how I got started."

Megaludis said that the first time he wrestled competitively was at the age of five as a part of the Franklin Regional elementary team. His father, Dan Megaludis, wrestled in high school and helped him keep at it day in and day out.

"He was pretty much my coach," said Megaludis. "He coached our elementary, then junior high and then high school teams a little bit, but he knows my style of wrestling. To be honest, he knows it more than anyone because he's been around me so long."

Megaludis ended his high school wrestling career with a 170-1 overall record and three Pennsylvania State championships. His success on the mats continued in his first year as a Nittany Lion as he finished as the 2012 National Runner-Up at 125 and earned All-American status.

The Lion said that as he's grown in the sport and as he continues to compete, much of his wrestling mentality comes from the ideas instilled in him by his father.

"He always just told me to never just focus on winning but focus on dominating your opponent and wrestling as hard as you can for the seven minutes and that definitely contributes a lot to my style," said Megaludis.

After just a season of collegiate wrestling Megaludis said that while State College is no Murrysville, he feels right at home in the Penn State community.

"Everyone was so welcoming," said Megaludis looking back to his freshman debut. "They knew everything about me and they probably knew more about me than I knew about me so, I guess that kind of made me feel at home."

Coming out of high school, Megaludis said that he was excited to become a Nittany Lion but didn't know exactly what to expect of the Division I level. After a strong finish in 2012 the 125-pounder said that he's worlds more confident in himself heading into his sophomore campaign.

"I have a lot more experience now," said Megaludis. "Last year, before the season and everything, I knew I could be up there but I actually didn't have a test yet and wasn't tested yet. Now I've already been tested, I know what to expect and I just feel like there's no reason why I shouldn't go out there and try and just dominate everyone."

The lightweight said that he's looking to set a high standard for himself this year with the help of his standout teammates, who have already won quite a few titles of their own. Megaludis said that the diversity of athletes on his squad make wrestling for the Penn State program a unique experience.

"It's so cool because we have so many different personalities on our team," said Megaludis. "It's not just that everyone is just one personality. [Ed Ruth], he's Ed. He's just always in such a calm mood. [David Taylor]'s always making jokes and there are just a lot of things going on so that keeps you fresh. We're never down on ourselves."

But the sophomore said that if you asked one of his teammates what his personality was like or how they would describe him, they probably wouldn't have a very definite answer.

"I think they would just say, "That's Nico," because a lot of things I do are different," said Megaludis. "I'm one of my own."

With the support of his family, teammates, coaches and community, Megaludis said that he's never thought twice about continuing to be the best wrestler that he can be. He said that getting excited for a big match or competing in a big dual is a habit that he can't seem to shake, and that he likes it that way.

And when it comes down to the Penn State tradition and the team that he represents, Megaludis said that one word can describe what he and his teammates value most.


"Honestly, the attitude's the most important part of wrestling," said Megaludis. "How you view things, if you view things positive or negative, I think we look at the positive side and we're always keeping it cool and whenever it's go time, it's go time."

VIDEO: This Week In Penn State Wrestling - Bryan Pearsall

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - talks with senior Bryan Pearsall in the latest version of This Week in Penn State Wrestling.  Pearsall is off to strong start to his senior campaign, building an 8-2 overall mark and a 3-0 record in dual matches at 141 pounds so far this season.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

NCAA National Semifinals: Practice Day in Louisville

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Photo Gallery - NCAA Semifinal Practice Day

NCAA Semifinal Practice Day Quotes  

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The top-seeded Nittany Lion women's volleyball team practiced inside the KFC Yum! Center on Wednesday in preparation for Thursday night's NCAA National Semifinal tilt against fifth-seeded Oregon (9 p.m. on ESPN2).

Penn State practiced for 90 minutes on Wednesday following a preview press conference.  Take a look through Wednesday coverage from Louisville as the Lion prep for their 10th NCAA semifinal appearance.

VIDEO: Wednesday Practice & Press Conference Highlights
Take a look through some video highlights of Wednesday's practice and pre-NCAA semifinal press conference with head coach Russ Rose, Deja McClendon, Micha Hancock and Katie Slay.

Photo Blog:

Feature Story Corner:
NCAA Volleyball Tournament: No. 1 Lions Head to National Semifinals
By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the 10th time in the 36 years that the Penn State women's volleyball program has been in existence, its team is headed to the NCAA National Semifinal.

The top-seeded Lions are up against No. 5 Oregon on Thursday at 9 p.m. in the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.

They will be playing on the tournament Sport Court in an arena that has more than 22,000 available seats. They will be fighting for survival in what could be the final match of their season, or the match that advances them to the national final two nights later.

And as pressing and intimidating as all of that sounds, Penn State junior Maddie Martin said that from here on out there isn't much to be scared of.  

"I think the hardest part about the NCAA Tournament is just getting to the Final Four," said Martin. "I think once we're there, the key for us is to just be calm and relaxed. We don't need to do anything different than what we've been doing."

This is now the fifth time that the Lions have advanced to the culminating semifinal match in just six years. And in the four other years that they made it that far, they went on to win four national championships.

Penn State head coach Russ Rose is very familiar with everything that goes into the final weekend of postseason Division I volleyball, as this will be his 10
th trip to the NCAA Semifinal match in the 34 seasons he's been at the helm. But as familiar as the experience is to him, Rose said that winning the NCAA Regional match and advancing never fails to satisfy.

"Certainly when you qualify for the Final Four, there's a sigh of relief when you get that last point and you know you get to participate in that," said Rose. "There are some players on the roster that have been there before and it's exciting for the new players that haven't been there."

But Rose said that just because he and his team know the ropes of the event doesn't mean that they can coast into a national final. 

"We're not going to win unless everybody plays really well," said Rose. "This is a team that everybody needs to play really well together and they have to play hard and all four teams that are there are teams that have earned the right to be there."

For freshman Megan Courtney, the postseason journey is a first in her collegiate career. But Courtney has played on the same stage before. 

"I was lucky enough to be an All-American out of high-school and we took a trip down to the tournament last year," said Courtney. "They let us see how things ran with the NCAA and the next night, the night before the finals, we got to play an All-American match on the court."

Courtney said that the experience was surreal at the time, but now she's more anxious to compete for a trophy than to play in a big arena.

"It's something that you only dream of," said Courtney. "The end goal is still in sight but we've got to focus and hopefully we'll get that victory."  

Match Day
With the Wednesday festivities over, it is now time to focus on match day in Louisville.  The Nittany Lions will practice mid-day on Thursday before the 9 p.m. first serve against Oregon.  Stay tuned for much more coverage from the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship.


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Women's Soccer Review: A Season for the History Books

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By Scott Traweek, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State entered the 2012 soccer season with one goal in mind:  play for a College Cup.  The standard was set and the result was a team that ventured further than any in program history, reaching the National Championship game in San Diego.

8400700.jpegIt was a historic season and, in summary, head coach Erica Walsh described it simply as the pure satisfaction of achieving a goal after an entire year of relentless hard work and dedication.

"To put it all in perspective, I would say imagine a year, one year from now, you set a goal for yourself and you work towards it every day to the best of your ability and then you actually achieve that goal," said coach Walsh.  "You realize as its going on that you control the things that you can control, but there's so much in your sport that's outside of your control that when it does come together, you got to cherish it.  You got to live it and love it."

Let's take a look back at a memorable 2012 soccer season.

It Began With a Mentality
In 2011, Penn State fell to Wake Forest in the third round of the NCAA tournament.  The Nittany Lions had broken through a second round barrier in the tournament that had plagued the team in the previous two seasons.  It was then when the 2012 squad, led by a remarkable senior class, made the decision to train in the offseason harder than they ever had before.

"The entire tone of the season was set in the summer when they [the players] got fit and they played," said coach Walsh.  "Their dedication made us [the coaches] so pleased and put us in such a good place that I wanted to work harder for them and the staff wanted to work harder for them.  They inspired us."

The players returned in August fit and focused and they set the overarching goal of reaching the College Cup as motivation to overcome any adversity they would face.

"The most important day of this season was August 31st when I realized that our players came back fit," said coach Walsh.  "When they came back fit and healthy, we could take on anything."

Challenges From Out of Conference
Penn State opened the season with seven out-of-conference opponents.  Five of those teams would be selected to play in the NCAA tournament including Stanford, BYU, Virginia, West Virginia, and Central Michigan.  Stanford and BYU would earn one-seeds alongside Penn State and Virginia would earn a No. 2 seed.  All three of those opponents finished the year ranked in the top 10.

In addition, the Nittany Lions were without their top two goal scorers in junior forwards Maya Hayes and Taylor Schram, who were competing with the U.S. National Team in the U-20 Women's World Cup.

Injuries on defense plagued Penn State early on as the Nittany Lions lost senior defenders Jackie Molinda and Lexi Marton for the season along with temporary injuries to senior midfielder Bri Garcia and junior defender Bri Hovington.

Though Penn State fell in a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to top-ranked Stanford at home and later dropped a 3-1 decision at BYU, the Nittany Lions persevered with a 5-2-0 record and saw a record-breaking crowd of 5,117 fans against Stanford as well as the return of Hayes following BYU.

In the seven-game span, a group of talented young players emerged and gained valuable experience playing some of the top teams in the nation.  Freshman forward Mallory Weber and Freshmen Midfielder Raquel Rodriguez earned starting positions and were a vital part of the top-rated offense in the country.

When Hayes and Schram returned from a U-20 Women's World Cup Championship to an already dynamic offense, the stage was set for another successful Big Ten conquest.

A 15th Year of Big Ten Dominance
8367672.jpegThe Big Ten featured five teams in the NCAA tournament, including Penn State, and the Nittany Lions cruised to an undefeated conference record (10-0-1) and a 15th consecutive Big Ten title.

The defense became a formidable force for opposing offenses as sophomore Whitney Church led the backline alongside sophomore Kori Chapic and Hovington.  Though the attention was on the nation's leading offense, the defense notched four shutouts and allowed just 11 goals in 12 games.

A number of freshmen made an impact off the bench including Corey Persson, who appeared in all 27 matches and started in 14.  Penn State's depth became crucial as the season wore on and fatigue set in.

The Nittany Lions clinched the title in dramatic fashion against a staunch Michigan defense in the second to last game of the regular season.  Down 1-0, senior midfielder Christine Nairn scored the game-tying goal on a penalty kick with five minutes left in regulation.  The game ended in a draw, but the contest would be settled in a memorable NCAA tournament.

Road to the College Cup
For Penn State, the 2012 season was separated into a series of smaller goals that ultimately would lead to achieving the team's premier goal of reaching the College Cup.  As the Nittany Lions checked objectives off the list, the players set a new standard for themselves that would push them to a higher level and allow them to compete with the best.

"I think it's one thing to set goals, it's another thing to read back through them and to figure out where you are, where you went wrong and how to work towards them the next time," said coach Walsh.  "We were doing that on a weekly/game basis this year."

Penn State suffered a setback in the Big Ten tournament, but had proven it was an elite team and earned the number one seed in the NCAA tournament, another goal checked off the list.

The Nittany Lions virtually swept the conference awards as coach Walsh earned Big Ten Coach of the Year, Hayes earned Forward of the Year, Nairn earned Midfielder of the Year, Church earned Defender of the Year, and Rodriguez earned Rookie of the Year.  The talent was there and Penn State knew it was time for a deep run in the tournament.

After cruising through the first two rounds, the Nittany Lions ran into their first challenge in a rematch against Michigan.  It was another defensive struggle, but this one couldn't end in a tie and was bound for penalty kicks.

Penn State had been 0-5 in games that went to penalty kicks prior to Michigan.  Senior goalkeeper Erin McNulty had never played in a game that went to penalty kicks in her career.  Four penalty kicks later and the Nittany Lions were down 0-2 and facing elimination.

McNulty's response: not today.  The veteran keeper proceeded to make three consecutive saves, which were followed by three consecutive goals and Penn State was on to the next round.

Duke presented a completely new challenge, the likes of which the Nittany Lions hadn't faced since Stanford and BYU.  The Blue Devils pressured Penn State the entire game, finishing with a 19-7 shot advantage.  However, a lone goal off of a penalty kick by the senior, Nairn, in the 13th minute proved to be the decider as the defense united and held.  Penn State was headed to the College Cup in San Diego.

8400696.jpeg"It was very obvious to me that they wanted to be there, which makes you want to be there," said coach Walsh.  "You're driven by each other's energy and the energy was incredible at that point."

The schedule wouldn't get easier as the Nittany Lions faced fellow one-seed Florida State, who had defeated Duke earlier in the season and emerged as champions of the stacked ACC conference.  Penn State led 1-0 and had virtually dominated play heading into the final minute, when Florida State scored to send the game into overtime.

With the momentum heavily in the Seminoles' favor, the Nittany Lions rallied as they had all season and scored just over one minute into overtime.  The golden goal was scored Nairn, who is currently a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy Award, the highest honor in women's college soccer.  Another objective off the list and Penn State was off to the program's first ever College Cup Final.

Though the Nittany Lions fell to North Carolina in the championship, they were just the second Big Ten school to reach the final (Wisconsin, 1991).  This team's success will never be forgotten, as the players that follow will continue to play for those who came before them.

Looking Ahead to a Bright Future
Penn State graduates a phenomenal senior class; a group that experienced and battled through extraordinary adversity.  The seniors established a standard on day one and set the tone for incoming freshmen, who, in turn, have made their impact.

"This is all our freshmen know now," said coach Walsh on the influence of the seniors.  "The only thing they know is what the seniors showed them this year.  They think that this is their standard and now they're looking at setting a new standard and if this is their baseline, then I am thrilled to think about what it's going to look like three years from now."

Though the Nittany Lions will lose the likes of Nairn, senior captain Maddie Evans, McNulty, Marton, Molinda, Garcia, Amanda Dotten and Kristin Hartmann, who are all leaders both on and off the field, the seniors passed their knowledge on to a capable and gifted junior class.  These players, like Hayes, Schram, Hovington and Tani Costa are prepared to pick up where the departing leaders left off.

Coach Walsh is thrilled about what the future may bring.  She believes success in any sport requires hard work and if her players are willing to put in the time and effort to succeed, then they can accomplish anything.

"I am excited to see how much harder we can work because I do think that we have another level," said coach Walsh.  "We can get even better if we take that mentality and I think right now these players are looking for 'what next? How do we get better?"

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - They've traveled over the hills and through the woods, but the Lady Lions have one more stop on the non-conference road schedule. Penn State will venture another 736 miles to Blacksburg, Va. to square off with the Hookies of Virginia Tech on Wednesday evening inside Cassell Coliseum.

Bentley-Alex.jpegThe Lions enter the meeting with a 7-2 overall mark and are coming off of a 97-74 victory over Georgetown last Sunday at home. The Hokies are 4-3 on the season, and enter the matchup after dropping a 65-51 decision at Richmond last Wednesday. The all-time series between the two schools stands at 2-0 in favor of the Lady Lions. Penn State claimed a 66-28 win last season at the BJC and claimed a 61-48 decision in Blacksburg in 2004. 

A Physical Challenge
It was a question that Marc Summers of Double Dare uttered many times from 1986-1993, but was one way that head coach Coquese Washington summed up the way that Penn State had to handle their non-conference schedule. Summers would famously ask contestants if they wanted to take a physical challenge on the popular game show and the Lady Lions challenge this season has been one that tested their physical and mental strengths.

Penn State has played in venues all over the United States, traveling over 12,000 miles in just the first five weeks of this college basketball season. They have made stops in the Lone Star State, the Golden State, South Beach, Storrs, Conn. and will close out their non-conference road schedule in Blacksburg, Va. The Lady Lions haven't run into any goop or gak in their travels like the contestants on Double Dare, but the opponents have presented some sticky situations that Washington thinks has helped them develop their style of play.

"You're not always going to get a win," Washington said, "but (our schedule) has taught us a lot. I think our non-conference schedule has prepared for what we are going to face in Big Ten play."

I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide
Maggie Lucas wasn't born when ZZ Top's hit reached its peak at No. 20 on the Billboard charts, but last week she might as well have been rollin' down the court on some cool blue Nikes. The junior arrived on the national scene as a rookie, but she is making national headlines again after averaging 27 points per game last week.

The junior guard added 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 3.5 steals in a pair of games, while setting the Bryce Jordan Center scoring record with 39 points versus the Hoyas. Her 39 points vs. the Hoyas are tied for the third-most points in a game by a Lady Lion player overall (Angie Potthoff vs. Indiana, 1/10/97), as she connected on 11-for-21 shots from the field and converted on 7-of-13 three-point attempts en route to her third career game with 30 or more points.

She added 15 points at UConn to begin the week and for her efforts Lucas was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week and earned the Ann Myers Drysdale National Player of the Week from the United State Basketball Writers Association.

The Non-Con Experience
It's not every season that a head coach will beef up their non-conference schedule to feature road tests against an annual national championship contender, a perennial top-15 squad and a include a pair of games at ACC contenders. However, Coquese Washington is not most head coaches.

The sixth year sideline boss commented to members of the media on Tuesday that she feels the tough non-conference road schedule has shown her team a thing or two about themselves. The Lady Lions have been in a position to win nearly all of their non-conference games and the hostel atmospheres and quality opponents can only help them down the stretch in Big Ten Play.

Now, only one final non-conference road opponent awaits in Virginia Tech. The Hokies have already defeated a Big Ten opponent this season, beating Wisconsin at home as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but fell to Michigan State in East Lansing early in the season.

Follow's Greg Campbell on Twitter @SID_Greg



NCAA Volleyball Tournament Central: Lions in NCAA Semifinals

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the 10th time in program history, the top-seeded and Big Ten champion Nittany Lion women's volleyball team (32-2) will play in the NCAA National Semifinals.  Penn State is set to face off with fifth-seeded Oregon (29-4) inside Louisville's KFC Yum! Center on Thursday at approximately 9 p.m. (ESPN2).

8398883.jpegThe winner of the Penn State-Oregon match will move on to face either third-seeded Texas (27-4) or Michigan (23-10) in the national title match.  The Nittany Lions defeated Texas, 3-0, on Sept. 1.  Penn State defeated Michigan, 3-2, in Ann Arbor during the lone meeting in Big Ten play this season.

Penn State enters the weekend after a hard-fought 3-1 win over Minnesota in the regional final.  With the match tied at 1-1, the Lions rallied from 23-21 down in the third set for a victory en route to claiming the match. Penn State enters the weekend attacking at a .307 clip, led by Big Ten Player of the Year Ariel Scott (3.73 kills/set) and Deja McClendon (3.24 kills/set).

Oregon's road to the national semifinals was not an easy one.  The Ducks swept Northern Colorado and Dayton before knocking off 12th-seeded BYU by a score of 3-1.  That set up a clash with fourth-seeded Nebraska in what was essentially a home match for the Huskers in the Omaha Regional Final.  Oregon lost the first set to Nebraska, 25-15, before winning the next three sets to punch its ticket to the national semifinals.

The Ducks, along with Michigan, will be making their first appearance in the NCAA National Semifinals on Thursday night in Louisville.  Penn State and Texas have been among the final four teams on the draw a combined 18 times.

The NCAA field has been trimmed to four teams.  Penn State's quest for a return to the national championship continues on Thursday with a bout against a talented Oregon team.

VIDEO: NCAA National Semifinal Preview Interviews
Hear from the Nittany Lions before departing for Louisville.

National Semifinals Statistical Rundown


Penn State








Team Hitting Percentage



Opponent Hitting Percentage



Blocks Per Set

3.00 per set

1.80 per set

Top Attacker

Scott - 3.73 kills/set

Bergsma - 4.93 kills/set

Top Blocker

Slay - 1.32 blocks/set

Finley - 0.76 blocks/set

Top Defensive Specialist

Gonzalez - 3.60 digs/set

Jacob - 4.46 digs/set










Hitting Percentage



Opponent Hitting Percentage



Blocks Per Set



Top Attacker

Eckerman - 4.45 kills/set

Erwin - 4.20 kills/set

Top Blocker

Bell - 1.36 blocks/set

Cross - 1.25 blocks/set

Top Defensive Specialist

Palmer - 3.44 digs/set

Morales - 3.91 digs/set


NCAA Semifinals Coverage will hit the road with the Nittany Lions at the NCAA National Semifinals.  Look for plenty of written and video coverage beginning on Wednesday at media day in Louisville before the Lions meet Oregon on Thursday night on ESPN2.

NCAA WVB_Final Four.jpg

Follow Media Specialist Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Lucas' Career Day Power Lions Past Georgetown

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Maggie Lucas has already put together some impressive career numbers in just over two years in a Lady Lion uniform. Her performance Sunday against Georgetown (7-3) may hold the top spot on that list as she shattered the Bryce Jordan Center scoring record with a career-high 39-point performance leading Penn State (7-2) to a 97-74 win over the Hoyas.

Lucas-Maggie (2).jpegPenn State was able to open the game up at the 15:49 mark when a Lucas three pointer put them ahead of Georgetown 11-9. On Georgetown's next possession Lucas stripped Sydney Wilson, which lead to an easy transition layup. Just 21 seconds later, Talia East knocked the ball away from Sugar Rodgers of Georgetown and hit Lucas in transition to cap off a personal 7-0 run for the junior.

The Lady Lions' constant defensive pressure led to a fast start offensively not only for Lucas, but for the team as a whole.

"I just tried to get out in the passing lanes," said Lucas. "I think all our guards did and we denied the ball a lot. Ariel (Edwards) and Dara (Taylor) did a great job on Sugar Rodgers, which will always lead to offense for us."

Lucas started the game by scoring 17 of Penn State's first 24 points, knocking down four three pointers just eight minutes into the first half. Not only did Lucas have good looks at the basket early, but they were open looks, something that came as a surprise to the junior guard.

"We said the corners were going to be open," said Lucas. "We said we would move the ball fast and there would be a lot of openings, but it was shocking to get that many (open shots)."

With 12:18 remaining in the first half, Lucas was beginning to catch fire and point guard Alex Bentley knew what she had to do when she had the ball.

"Just keep getting her that rock," said Bentley. "I am always looking for her, especially when she's hot. That girl can shoot."

Lucas finished the half with 26 points, shooting 50 percent from the field, including 5-for-10 from beyond the arc. Georgetown as a team tallied 25 points of their own shooting 3-for-11 from three point land.

Georgetown head coach Keith Brown knew that Penn State featured two prolific scoring guards, Bentley and Lucas, and knew it would be tough to contain both of them. Brown was able to see what Lucas did her in AAU days when he was an AAU coach, but the performance she put out today showed her consistent growth since arriving at Penn State.

"She's always been a good shooter," said Brown. "The staff here at Penn State has shown her how to get open without the ball. When she's open, she's in the shot and I think that's what makes her so special."

Lucas ended up with 39 points, five rebounds and a career-high six steals in 33 minutes of play against the Hoyas. Her seven three pointers made tied the Bryce Jordan Center record that she already shared with Penn Staters Adrienne Squire and Kelly Mazzante.

The 39 point performance was the third time Lucas eclipsed the 30-point plateau in her career, becoming the first Lady Lion to score more than 35 since Mazzante did in March of 2003. However, Lucas deflected all of the praise for her record-breaking day.

"It feels good, but it is about the team," said Lucas. "It is a team thing."

Her team played a big part as to why there were so many open looks in the first half, especially after they were able to adjust to the zone Georgetown presented at the beginning of the half. Once the adjustment was made, Lucas began to get open and her teammates put the ball in their leading scorer's hands.

"When we moved the ball and made the zone shift, Maggie was on the backside a lot of the time and she got wide open," said Penn State head coach Coquese Washington. "She's just such a good shooter that if she gets that wide open she's going to make a lot of them."

Penn State will head to Virginia Tech on Wednesday before returning home to the Bryce Jordan Center on Dec. 16 against South Dakota State.



Lions Bid Farewell to Senior Leaders

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By Jackson Thibodeau, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "I didn't want the clock to run out. I didn't want to leave the field knowing that we could have gone all the way," said redshirt senior Hannah Allison, regarding the Nittany Lions' loss to Syracuse in the NCAA Quarterfinals a month ago.

8396506.jpegThe 5-2 setback to the Orange in Happy Valley served as the final collegiate field hockey game for Penn State's trio of seniors (Allison, Kelsey Amy and Ayla Halus) and for Lauren Alwine, a graduate student who played soccer at Virginia until using her final year of eligibility to suit up in blue and white.

"It didn't end the way we wanted it to," said Amy. "But I certainly don't have any regrets about the season or about how we played all year."

Amy led the offensive charge all season for the Nittany Lions, accumulating 60 points (24 goals and 12 assists) in 22 games.

Her explosive style of play earned her Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Big Ten Tournament MVP and NFHCA First Team All-American Honors.

The dominant senior season added to the already storied career for the forward, and Amy now sits at third all-time in goals (76) and points (176) in Penn State field hockey history.

Amy wasn't alone in saving her best season for last--Allison registered 18 points on the season (6 goals and 6 assists) and was a dominant force in the midfield throughout the entire 2012 campaign. Her contributions extended beyond offense, as she helped slow down opponents' attack and helped transition defensive stops into an offensive push for Penn State.

"Individually, I just had a lot more confidence this season," said Allison. "It helped being in a leadership position the previous season so I knew what to expect."

Serving as the last line of defense for the Nittany Lions was redshirt senior goalkeeper Ayla Halus, who posted yet another statistically-sound season in 2012.

The cage-minder registered 95 saves, allowing 33 goals and accumulated a 1.61 goals against average. She totaled 321 career saves in a Penn State uniform.

Each of the seniors posted impressive statistics throughout the season, but they brought far more to the field than just goals, assists and saves.

"This group of seniors led with such maturity," said head coach Charlene Morett.

"They really understood the talent on this team and they gave a great sense of confidence to the younger players."

Although these three veterans will be leaving campus, Morett feels as if their leadership qualities have been instilled in the program, and the mark they left on Penn State field hockey will remain for years to come.

When the 2013 season rolls around, the new senior class will be ready to lead the team just as this year's did.

"They are going to lead as a class," said Morett. "It may not just be one or two individuals that we are going to ask to fill those shoes. I see these juniors as a close-knit group and they will lead as a group next season."

Although these seniors must bid farewell to their playing days in blue and white, they insist that they will always exhibit the lessons they have learned at Penn State--on and off the turf.

"Penn State is unlike anything I've ever been a part of," said Amy.

"I will always be proud to say that I am a Penn Stater."

Men's Swimming and Diving Fall Recap

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By Chelsea Howard, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The men's swimming and diving team continues to build momentum after exceptional dual meet performances that led up to the Georgia Invitational in early December.

Head Coach John Hargis said that he is pleased with how the year has gone so far. 

7401123.jpeg"I think we've done really well. We've shown good progress through the year," Hargis said. "We've shown a good adaptation to the training this year. I think there are still some areas to improve that were glowing when we were down in Georgia racing against the very best."

The swimmers and divers came out with a win against West Virginia for their first dual meet. Then the Nittany Lions stayed home to host Villanova with another easy victory. After that, they traveled to Indiana to take on a top ACC team and another Big Ten contender at the tri meet against Virginia and Indiana. They came up just short of wins against these two schools.

The swimmers and divers did not let that stop them from performing well most recently at the Georgia Invitational in Athens, Ga. The men had one of the best opportunities they have ever seen to race several top ranked teams in the country. They came in fifth against Auburn, Georgia, Harvard, California, Virginia Tech, and Virginia.  

"We've been doing really well for both the guys and the girls," Andrew Sideras said. "It's good to be ranked so high because we've been working so hard. We have a lot of new kids that are already making an impact."

The results of the Georgia Invite led to a jump in their ranking in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll (20th).

Hargis said that he tries not to pay too much attention to the rankings but knows what they do during championship season is what really matters.

"I did see them and I think it's a compliment to the program and the kids and the hard work they've put in by being identified by outside people for their hard work," Hargis said. "Ultimately no matter where you're ranked we've got to be ready to swim fast in February and March and I think the kids understand that."

The men finished the Georgia Invite with 15 NCAA B cut performances. The NCAA comes up with two sets of time standards at the beginning of each season called A cuts and B cuts. An A cut guarantees the person a chance to swim at the NCAA Championships in March. The time standards for A cuts are much faster and very few swimmers across the nation reach this standard. At that point, swimmers with B cuts will be selected based on their times from fastest to slowest until the designated number of spots are filled.

Sophomore Nick Ankosko was among those who raced past the NCAA B time standards in the 500 free and 1,650 free.

"These B cuts mean a lot to me," Ankosko said. "It's a relief to have gotten two cuts out of the way at this point in the season. Now I can focus more on moving closer to getting my A cuts at the end of the season."

Ankosko has also faced changes in his training this year, but is excited to see these changes pay off in his racing.

"I have been really happy with how this season has gone for me so far," Ankosko said. "The coaches have me trying a type of training that is different than what I'm used to and I feel it has been working great for me in meets."

Hargis has enjoyed watching the swimmers succeed and working together as a team, but is also eager to continue working on the weaknesses to end the rest of the season strong.

"Seeing them really relate to their teammates and get behind them and really bond as a team has been fun to watch," Hargis said. "Seeing the rewards of their work each time we race was exciting. We will continue to make the proper adjustments that we have to make and continue to train at a level that is in relation to the goals that the kids have in front of them."

With a successful start to their season, the men will continue to put in the work that they've been putting in all year. The swimmers will have the opportunity to do this at their annual training trip in Naples, Fla. starting Dec. 28 and ending Jan. 5.  While they are there, they will take on the North Carolina on Jan. 3 in a dual meet. The divers will compete in Knoxville, Tenn. Jan. 3-5 for the Tennessee Collegiate Diving Invitational.  

Women's Swimming and Diving Recap of Fall

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By Chelsea Howard, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's swimming and diving team is off to a strong start its season. With a rigorous preseason, several meets and then an invitational against some of the best teams in the country, there is no stopping the Nittany Lions from working extremely hard at reaching their goals. 

8396389.jpegHead coach John Hargis said the athletes have done very well up until this point, but there is still some room for improvement.

"I think we've shown good progress through the year," Hargis said. "We've shown a good adaptation to the training this year. I think there are still some areas to improve that were glowing when we were down in Georgia racing against the very best."

The women started the season off with a win against West Virginia in October, then hosted Villanova at home, also ending with a win. The swimmers and divers continued to gain in season racing experience as they went to Indiana to race Indiana and Virginia. With each meet, the times continued to come down and their confidence levels continued to go up leading into the Georgia Invitational.

Their most recent competition featured teams from all across the country, including Auburn, Georgia, Harvard, California, Virginia Tech, and Virginia. The Nittany Lions took advantage of the opportunity to race against some of the top ranked teams in the country.

"The best part so far has been being able to race and keep up with some of the top teams in the nation at the Georgia Invite," Caitlyn Karr said.

For Hargis, the highlight of the season has been seeing the success and rewards of their hard work pay off after each race.

"I've enjoyed watching the kids succeed," Hargis said. "The hard work the kids go through on a daily basis, seeing them swim well, seeing them smile, and seeing them enjoy the process has been exciting."

Since the swimming and diving teams are well into the season, the freshman are starting to get used to this style of racing and training. Megan Siverling has noticed this especially in Alyson Ackman.

"Aly Ackman has been a huge contributor to the team so far," Siverling said. "She's ranked first in the Big Ten in the 100 free, 200 free, and 500 free and posted several NCAA B cuts."

The NCAA comes up with two sets of time standards at the beginning of each season called A cuts and B cuts. An A cut guarantees the person a chance to swim at the NCAA Championships in March. The time standards for A cuts are much faster and very few swimmers across the nation reach this standard. At that point, swimmers with B cuts will be selected based on their times from fastest to slowest until the designated number of spots are filled.

Ackman swam to three individual NCAA B times in the 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle, and 500-yard freestyle. She was also part of the 800-yard freestyle relay (along with Kaitlin Jones, Caitlyn Karr, and Gabi Shishkoff) and 400-yard freestyle relay (along with Carolyn Fittin, Kaitlin Jones, and Paige Whitmire) that posted times under the NCAA B time standards.

"This season has been really fun for me but also hard," Ackman said. "I've loved the support of the team. I was the captain of the last team I was on and there were problems with negativity and I saw the difference being positive makes. I've been trying to bring that experience to make a difference on this team."

Looking ahead for what's to come later in February, Ackman is already excited for Big Tens.

"I can't wait to see where we place against the other Big Ten teams," Ackman said. "After seeing what I went in season at Georgia, I can't wait to see what will happen when I'm rested and fully tapered."

The College Swim Coaches Association of America has released the latest NCAA Women's Division I rankings, and the Penn State women have moved up to the 12th spot.

Hargis said he tries not to pay too much attention to the rankings that came out this past week, although he has seen them.

"I think it's a compliment to the program and the kids and the hard work they put in," Hargis said. "Ultimately no matter where you're ranked, we've got to be ready to swim fast in February and March and I think the kids understand that."

Up next for the swimmers is a trip to Naples, Fla. for their annual training trip. After several days of hard work, the Nittany Lions will take on the North Carolina on Jan. 5 while still in Florida. The divers will spend a few days in Knoxville, Tenn. for the Tennessee Collegiate Diving Invitational. 

Nittany Lions Blank Indiana

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By Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The top-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team made a statement in its first conference dual of the 2012 campaign.

8396342.jpegFacing Indiana in the Big Ten opener, the Nittany Lions came out in overwhelmingly dominant fashion, opening the match with four consecutive pins on their way to a 52-0 shutout victory, their largest ever against a Big Ten opponent.

By the end of the afternoon, the Nittany Lions had racked up six pins in a performance that left head coach Cael Sanderson impressed.

"Anytime you jump out 24-0 on a team to start a match it's certainly a good day for you," said Sanderson.  "Our guys took advantage of some things and did a great job."

After sophomore Nico Megaludis set the tone at 125 with a pin over Indiana sophomore Joe Ducha, redshirt freshmen Jordan Conaway and senior Bryan Pearsall kept the ball rolling with pins at 133 and 141 respectively.

Conaway, who was making his Big Ten debut, drove the crowd into a frenzy after he notched the first dual meet pin of his career over freshmen Quin Murphy.

"It was crazy to hear the crowd like that," said Conaway. "I'm not sure if you could get that kind of reaction anywhere but here."

One thing that Sanderson enjoyed seeing out of his three lightest wrestlers was their ability to continuously score points over the course of the match before finishing off their opponents with pins.

"Nico, Jordan and Bryan just kept pursuing and continued to score and get falls," said Sanderson. "They did a real nice job out there."

One wrestler who preferred to finish things off a little quicker was redshirt sophomore Andrew Alton, who notched the team's fourth straight pin at 149.

Alton, who was competing in his first dual meet of the season after returning from injury, needed only 52 seconds to finish off senior Geno Capezio.

"He kind of put himself in that position so I just went with the flow and finished it," said Alton. "It was exciting to be back out there with the crowd again."

Redshirt Sophomore Matt Brown and Junior Ed Ruth also gave the Nittany Lions pins at 174 and 184, respectively.

The most exciting bout of the afternoon, however, was the heavyweight match when redshirt sophomore Jon Gingrich narrowly defeated eighth ranked Adam Chalfant 6-5 to preserve the shutout for the Nittany Lions.

Gingrich, who has been battling with Jimmy Lawson for the starting heavyweight position, fell behind after the first two periods but rallied with two impressive takedowns in the third to claim the victory.

"I think my conditioning really played to my advantage," said Gingrich. "I came in with the game plan to try and tire him out and make him take sloppy shots and that's how it worked out."

Sanderson stated afterwards that he was impressed with how Gingrich handled himself against a ranked opponent.

"That's a big win for him," said Sanderson.  "He faced a big, tough kid and he matched him all the way."

The fact that every Nittany Lion had won their match up to that point gave Gingrich plenty of motivation to keep the Hoosiers off the scoreboard.

"The thought definitely went through my mind that it was going to come down to me for the shutout," said Gingrich. "I just told myself that the score didn't matter and tried to focus on winning."

The fans, who stayed in full force for the entire match, gave Gingrich arguably the loudest cheer after he pulled out the victory.

"To hear the crowd like that is certainly something I've never felt before," said Gingrich. "They made me feel like I could run through a brick wall."

The Nittany Lions will wrestle again next Saturday at home against Lock Haven.

Sharing the Wealth, Lions Outlast Black Knights

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions made it two-straight wins in the Bryce Jordan Center after defeating Army, 78-70, on Saturday night.

Behind two halves of hard-fought basketball, Penn State out-shot, out-rebounded and out-hustled the Black Knights. And even when Army pulled within two to make it 52-50 with less than 12 minutes to play, the Lions persevered and went on a 10-0 run to extend their lead.

8396311.jpegIn the first half of the contest, Penn State shot 56 percent from the floor as a team and pulled down 22 rebounds to Army's seven. The Lions were able to spread the offense against a tough full-court press, and got six players on the board in the opening 20 minutes.

At the end of the evening, Army head coach Zach Spiker tipped his hat to Lions' head coach Patrick Chambers and the fight his players brought from tip-off on.

"Penn State plays hard," said Spiker. "They're a direct reflection of their head coach and they play hard. In the first half, they shoot 56 - it doesn't matter if you're at home, on the road, non-league or league, we cannot win when a team shoots 56 and you shoot 37."

After putting up 40 in the first, Penn State continued to charge and added another 38 before the night ended. But none of those came uncontested.

Leading by just five with 10 minutes left to play, sophomores D.J. Newbill and Ross Travis and freshman Brandon Taylor combined for a 10-0 run in less than five minutes. Taylor tallied five, Newbill added four and Travis added one behind the foul line.

The Lions' ability to surge on offense and play 40 solid minutes of gritty defense kept them on top. Four players ended the game in double-figures. Travis, who had nabbed 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, said that his team's constant work ethic is what made the difference.

"I think it just starts at practice when we're playing five-on-no one or five-on-five just going hard all of the time," said Travis. "We don't lose any conditioning or anything like that so it just transfers over to the game. Our training coach always says that if you go hard in practice you're going to go hard in game so that's what we're doing."

Penn State ended the day shooting 50.9 percent from the floor, 36.8 percent beyond the arc and 13-of-20 at the line. As the team continues to bear a few growing pains together, Newbill said that it was important for multiple people to have their hands on the ball from start to finish.

"It's big," said Newbill. "That's one thing that we try to do is share the ball and play with confidence. I think guys are finding their flow."

With the win, the Lions improve to 5-4 overall and have just three games left until the start of their Big Ten season. And according to Coach Chambers, Penn State is going to have to keep the positive juices flowing and find some consistency in order to succeed down the road.

"You've got to do the little things that make great programs great teams," said Chambers. "When you play hard you get a little bit lucky and success finds you. It goes back to attitude."

VIDEO: Wrestling Post-Match Interviews - Indiana

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Hear from head coach Cael Sanderson and several wrestlers following Penn State's dominant 52-0 victory over Indiana in sold out Rec Hall.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Wrestling Match Blog - FINAL: #1 Penn State 52, Indiana 0

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live coverage of the two-time defending NCAA champion Penn State wrestling team's Big Ten-opening dual match against Indiana.