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Doherty Reflects On Early Season Success

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - The Penn State Nittany Lions battled back from an early deficit to beat the Duquesne Dukes on the road Wednesday Night, 16-9.

Ten players scored in the win and by doing so put the Nittany Lions back on the right track giving them a 2-1 record through the first three games for the second year in a row.

7627755.jpeg"I definitely think we just keep getting better," said head coach Missy Doherty.  "A lot of our young players are playing fairly mature and they've really taken the things that we tell them to do and try to work on them and push themselves to get better. I don't think were the same team that started the fall or started the season, and that's our push all year to just keep getting better."

The team has taken on the theme of togetherness in 2013. They win as a team and lose as a team. Doherty has been preaching togetherness to her players for the entire season, and the athletes have embraced it.

"I think our team really reflects that family atmosphere [here at Penn State]. It's really great to see, and coach, a group that embraces the fact that if we're going to win and be great, we need to do it together," Doherty said.

It's been no surprise who has been scoring for Penn State. Mackenzie Cyr, Molly Fernandez and Maggie McCormick have been generating offense at an unbelievable rate for the Nittany Lions. Between the three veterans, they have scored 17 goals and assisted on 15 others.

"I think that's one of the benefits of our offense, is that you never quite know who is going to score. I think we have a lot of different threats, and it's not just one person doing one thing, it's really, hopefully, coming at them a couple different ways with a bunch of different people," Doherty said.

The other players who have emerged as scorers are three stellar freshmen. Ally Heavens, Madison Cyr and Jenna Mosketti have been major reasons for offensive success even as freshman. Between the three of them, they have scored 14 goals.

"The three of them have done a great job. I think it's clear form stats.," Doherty said.  "It's easy to look that they're making impacts on offense, it's a little harder, from the stats, to see how solid they've come up on defense. No one has really taken Jenna [Mosketti] to goal on a one on one.  Ally Heavens sort of starts at the defense on games and then we move her to midfield just because she is just a solid defender. Not only are those guys coming up big offensively, they're coming up big all over the field, draw controls and just making really solid impacts"

Along with those three, fellow freshman Emi Smith has had a solid start to her season, and Doherty has been very pleased with her play.

"Emi has been doing great," said Doherty. "She just has a great mentality when it comes to the games and she is playing way better than we ever would have imagined for her freshman year. She's another player, like everybody else, who just keeps getting better."

Doherty, in her third season, has become a very well respected coach in the world of women's lacrosse. With her career record, and the turnaround she has implemented here at Penn State, she has her team playing at a high level game after game.

"Ever since I've got here, all the athletes I've worked with have been so hard working and so committed to bringing Penn State's program to a top level and that hasn't changed," Doherty said. "That's one of the best parts of coaching here, is the commitment of the girls every year that I've been here."

This team is different however. They have their own personality and style, and Doherty loves working with this group of girls.

"I just really like coaching them. They're a great group of girls, they work really hard, they do what you ask them to do, they push themselves and it's just so fun to coach a team that is really committed to getting better," Doherty said. "I think the things we implement, they see working and when we push them they understand why we're pushing them. Our program wants to be a consistent top ten team and to do that we need to do top ten things. They've really embraced that."

While the team has had success on the field, their camaraderie off the field has been outstanding. Doherty said she coaches with a balance and makes sure that while they play hard, they have fun doing it.

"That's a big part of my coaching is striking a balance with things," she said. "You can't be so over the top with everything or they stop responding to what you're trying to tell them to do. If I'm always being demanding, demanding, demanding, well then my effectiveness starts to lose it a little bit. So you have to keep that balance of them enjoying their experience here and enjoying each other and then when it's time to crank it up, we crank it up."

Through the first three games, Doherty has seen a lot she likes about her team. Whether it is the effective offense, or the play of her solid young goalkeeper, Doherty likes what she sees on and off the field from her team.

Penn State moves forward with a very tough schedule. They face Virginia on Sunday before welcoming James Madison on March 6.  The team will also be heading to their coach's alma mater, Maryland on March 9.

"We play a really tough schedule," Doherty said.  "We need to be ready for tough competition and hopefully, keeping our schedule tough will help us prove how good we are. Whether it's a win or a loss, playing against the top teams they give you some implication of where you rank in the country."

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