By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - The Nittany Lions have relied on the play of talented freshmen their first two games of 2013, and it looks like that trend will continue throughout the remainder of the season.
Head coach Missy Doherty highlighted three players, Madison Cyr, Ally Heavens and Jenna Mosketti, as key freshman on her roster. All three have stepped up and done a tremendous job thus far.
These freshmen have been a big part of one of Doherty's best recruiting classes since becoming the coach at Penn State. They will help the Nittany Lions immediately, as well as become e a major part of the future of the program.
"She wanted to turn this program around and make it a top school like Maryland or Northwestern and that's what all of us looked for," midfielder Ally Heavens said. "We didn't want to play for a school that was satisfied with where they were, that's what's great about Missy and the team."
Upperclassmen like Molly Fernandez and Mackenzie Cyr said these freshmen are impressive on the practice field and even more so during games.
"The biggest thing we get from the upperclassman is [they believe] in all of us and we can play to their ability," Heavens said. "If we didn't have that, we wouldn't play to our highest potential."
The three played a crucial role in the Lions' first two games, one win and one loss, scoring a combined 10 goals, including a hat trick from Mosketti in a win against Bucknell.
Mosketti followed up her hat trick with a two-goal performance against Loyola in a 13-11 setback last Saturday. Heavens joined Mosketti with two goals of her own and Madison Cyr had her second of the season.
"It's exciting but I don't think you really realize it's your first college goal, because I didn't really think about it until after the game was over," Madison Cyr said.
The three midfielders have started to push one another to get better and to compete. They say their practices are intense, so it is hard not to push one another to be better and work harder.
"Even though we're all middies, we compete for our spots. We're always pushing each other. We're all working for one thing, to win and to be a top team like Missy wants," Heavens said.
"[College lacrosse is] a lot faster pace, and more intense. All practice it's continuous. In high school, you play and then stop, but here, all practice it's the same intensity," Mosketti said.
Along with these three, the Nittany Lions also rely on the play of freshman goalkeeper Emi Smith, who has improved every day. The Denver native is another huge part of the future for the program.
"She doesn't really act like a freshman in goal, which is good, because she's not standing there nervous to save it. She is confident in herself. When she makes a save she cheers for herself which helps her a lot," Mosketti said.
The three freshmen have also credited their coaches for their early success saying they've been great to them and help them work harder everyday. The coaches have helped improve their confidence and allowed them to play up to their potential.
"With all of our staff and new things brought to the table, we're definitely more confident to play against Northwestern, Florida, Maryland and all them," Heavens said.
Mosketti also said the upperclassmen have been a huge part of their confidence building as a team early in the season.
"When we first came in it was like, 'Oh my god, we have to play Northwestern, Maryland all those teams,' but now that we're here were more confident," Mosketti said.
Madison Cyr has an advantage most freshmen don't have. Her older sister, Mackenzie, is a staple on this team and has helped her along the way. Her first goal came courtesy of big sister in a win over Bucknell.
"It's exciting. She is always there. If I make a good play she is one of the first people to congratulate me and if I'm having problems on or off the field she is always there, which is awesome," Madison Cyr said. "I think we know each other's style of play, she can be behind the goal and nod her head and I know to cut. We just know how each other plays."
The three have also emerged as leaders on and off the field. With a team that only has three seniors, the younger players were going to have to step up and set an example, which these three have done.
"I'm more vocal, and Jenna does more stuff in action, everyone is different. It comes with every team, people are all nervous, but now we're just like a family now and it's so much better," Heavens said.
"I never talk on the field, but I didn't have a choice, I had to. You just have to learn and be more confident," Mosketti said.
Penn State is coming off a close, 13-11, loss against Loyola last Saturday. The team has been practicing all week and feels ready to move on from the setback.
"We have to work harder each time cause it's tough to lose,' Mosketti said.
The Nittany Lions look to get back on the winning track Wednesday when they travel to Duquesne for a 7 p.m. showdown. The star freshmen all agree they need to work harder to get back to winning.
"The best advice we got is from our trainer. It's another painting on the wall, it's behind us. We have to realize it was a loss and now we have to learn from it. It's like Missy and the upperclassmen all say, it was just one loss we have to learn from it," Heavens said.
Talented Freshman Class Making an Early Impact
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
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