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April 2016 Archives

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK. Pa - As shortstop, Reina Furuya is always busy on the diamond. She's constantly running between second and third base, trying to prevent as many hits as possible from crossing over into the outfield. 

She was especially busy in Penn State's (28-21, 13-7) three games against No. 2 Michigan, but none more so than in game one on Friday night, a close 4-2 loss to the visiting Wolverines. 

With a steady rain coming down onto Beard Field, the senior shortstop dropped a popup to shallow left field, when it fell into her glove and popped right back out.

But the Hawaii product didn't let it get to her head; the next time the ball was hit to her, she got the final out of the inning by running the ball herself to third base. 

"That's what Reina does," head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "She does a great job, she took them out of a couple innings and we had that momentum shift because of her defensive play. It was huge how she played tonight. She played like a senior tonight."

On the other end of the spectrum, Lehotak also saw some good play from the next generation of Nittany Lions: freshmen Tori Dubois and Meghan Williams.

Dubois played in all three games, as the designated player (DP) in the first two and as catcher and right fielder in the third; she also caught for a few innings in game two. Williams was put at first base in game three, replacing Kristina Brackpool. 

"It was important for them to get that game like experience and for them to get to see that kind of pitching," Lehotak said. "[They got] to kind of see what they have to work into and hopefully what they're going to be one day. We had a couple of injuries so we had to move some people around today but I was very impressed with their poise. So for our kids to have poise like that and to go after Michigan as freshmen is big."

Next up for Penn State is their final series of the season, when Illinois travels to Beard Field for a three game series next weekend. Game one is slated for Friday at 6 p.m.

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By: Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- As the rain poured down over the lacrosse field yesterday evening, the Penn State Nittany Lions took on the undefeated Maryland Terrapins in a tough battle looking to tie for the top spot in the Big Ten. Although Penn State fell to Maryland with a final score of 10-9, the girls put up a tough fight and gave the Terrapins a run for their money.

Penn State is one of only two teams to get within one goal of Maryland in the final score this season, which just goes to show that the Lions made themselves a worthy opponent last night.

At the start of the game Maryland won the draw, bringing the ball down to Penn State's goal.

The Lions were able to gain back possession for a while, as a result of some slipping and falling due to the weather, but unfortunately, Maryland got the ball back and earned themselves the first goal of the game. 

Maryland followed up with another two goals to bring the score to 3-0.

Penn State won the next draw allowing Jenna Mosketti to net a goal off an assist from Madison Cyr.

Another goal followed that at the hand of Steph Lazo as she came in from the side and beat out her defender to the net.

The team was proving that they could hold their own against the No. 1 team in the country, and they were able to maintain a close score throughout the game.

Lazo spoke about their performance against Maryland and how well they were able to keep up with the reigning Big Ten regular season champions.

"Maryland is number one and it's a great challenge to rise against, but we hung with them and I'm so proud of the team today," said Lazo. 

Throughout the rest of the first half, both Maryland and Penn State each netted three goals apiece, with Penn State getting the last two goals of the half.

Going into halftime down only one goal, the team was feeling confident for what was to come in the second half, and the girls were ready to keep fighting hard on both sides of the field to keep up with their Big Ten rivals.

A huge contributing factor to the team's performance in the first half was the efforts of their defense and goalkeeper Emi Smith, who praised her team for helping her to succeed in stopping Maryland's shots. 

"My defense did an insane job today; the shots I saw were because of them and they hustled the entire time and stopped a lot of Maryland's shooting opportunities," said Smith. 

The second half did not start off in Penn State's favor, as Maryland scored the first goal of the half, once again bringing them further into the lead.

To follow that up Penn State was forced to play with a man down after senior Ally Heavens got a yellow card.

With the ball down by Maryland's goal, the girls passed it around until Heavens was back on the field.

With the all their girls back in play, Penn State pulled it together and netted another three goals, bringing the Lions into the lead. 

A majority of those goals were with the help of Steph Lazo, who assisted both Jenna Mosketti and Kelly Daggett in pulling the team ahead.

Head coach Missy Doherty commended Lazo for her performance in the game and her ability to see her open teammates and feed them the ball, while also seeing opportunities for herself and being able to put away her own shots on goal. 

Unfortunately, the girls were not able to keep their lead and Maryland scored three consecutive goals to bring back their lead.

Penn State got off one more successful shot to bring them within one goal of tying up the game, but despite their best efforts they were unable to tie up the game and force the contest into overtime. 

Although they lost, the entire team and their coaches agreed that they played one of their best games all season last night.

"Losing isn't the greatest feeling, but to know that they are the number one team in the nation and that we can hang with them, that is great for us," said Lazo. 

Next week the team will enter into postseason play in the Big Ten Tournament, and with that the team is noting the improvements they can make based off of tonight's game to come back and try to win another tournament title. 

"I think we just really needed to put our shots away. We had some good looks on cage, but we didn't put our shots away," said Doherty. 

Lazo also spoke of the improvements that can be made on the offensive end heading into the tournament.

"We're a very diverse and powerhouse offense and we just needed to stay calm and composed because we can get those shots," said Lazo. 

The team will begin postseason play next week in their quarterfinal game of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday, May 5th at Northwestern.  The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.

Senior Day Honors Seven

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11906684.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before faceoff on Saturday against Michigan (3-9, 0-4 Big Ten), the Penn State men's lacrosse team (7-6, 1-3 Big Ten) will recognize seven graduating seniors for their dedication to the program. 

Tommy O'Neill, Ryan Guittare, James Chakey, James Burke, TJ Sanders, John Von Nessen and Connor Darcey will all be honored. Matt Sexton will be returning next campaign after spending this season, his academic senior year, as a medical redshirt. 

The class of 2016 entered Penn State with hopes and expectations for the future, as individuals and as members of the lacrosse program. None of them knew starting their journey that their class would have such an impact. 

Overcoming adversity during every campaign, the seniors have learned to be humble through the good and determined through the bad, and have set the tone this season for the underclassmen. A class that leads by example, each one of the graduating seniors used their individual personalities to bring something unique to their leadership. 

"I feel like coaching is one of the most rewarding professions," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "You have an opportunity as a pivotal age to be around young men and you grow from them and hopefully they grow from you. This particular group of young men, since they got to campus back in the fall of 2012, we have seen them grow up, but with this group I think it's been a little bit different based on the experiences they've gone through."

O'Neill, one of the captains this year, is a natural born leader who emulates maturity, head coach Jeff Tambroni explained. Alongside O'Neill, fellow captain Burke defined his role as a fierce competitor, unafraid of holding players accountable.  

Guittare has become the face of persistence on the team. Securing a starting spot his sophomore year, then having to overcome the challenges to obtain that spot once again, has displayed Guittare's dedication to the team and determination within himself.

"When things aren't going well and you aren't playing it's more challenging to be selfless in your contributions," said Tambroni. "All of these guys are great teammates but [Guittare] has been selfless and mature through the latter part of his career and it's put him in a position where I would imagine he'd want to be, back on the field contributing at a very high level."  

Von Nessen, who also had to overcome challenges of his own, has displayed his true love for the game of lacrosse since day one. Starting as a offensive midfielder, and moving to long-stick midfielder before settling in as a face off midfielder, Von Nessen has showed his versatility on the field, and willingness to step in where needed, two qualities of a player Tambroni greatly appreciates. 

Chakey is the epitome of persistence, Tambroni explained. As Chakey navigated the difficult task of being a student-athlete over the past four years, he's also had to deal with regulating his Crohn's disease. 

"I can't imagine he's ever had a day where he's felt 100 percent healthy, and you would never know it," said Tambroni. "What was going on underneath the skin was never what you saw outside and he always portrayed himself as a young man with great poise." 

Sanders, who has made a name for himself on the field, isn't someone who should be judge solely on statistics. Sanders is a quiet leader that is tremendously talented, whose compassion for others fuels his love for the game of lacrosse and his teammates. 

When asked what they'll miss most about their time with Penn State lacrosse, one moment came to mind for three seniors. Burke, O'Neill, and Chakey all agreed that what they'd miss most would be the time spent in the locker room after the team's 6 a.m. Friday morning workouts.

"Those workouts were brutal," said Burke. "That's definitely up there when it comes to memories."

Other players noted how on the field their favorite memories are between hosting the first round of the NCAA tournament their freshman year in 2013 and beating then-No. 1 Denver this past March. 

The senior class knows their time at Penn State is almost up, but their season isn't over yet and the focus must remain on their final home matchup.  

With no other games after the regular season guaranteed, the senior class knows Senior Day will be filled with emotions, but hope they can continue to set the tone for their teammates and focus on the bigger task at hand.

"It's tough knowing it's the last guaranteed game with these guys," said Chakey. "But it's awesome that it's Michigan because our first college game was against Michigan before the Big Ten even started. As a class we don't want to keep the focus on us we want to play as a team and we're really looking forward to it." 

Penn State hosts Michigan on Saturday at noon. The game will air on the Big Ten Network. 

Strong Pitching Holds Nittany Lions from a Win

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11904436.jpegBy Michele Jaroszewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State baseball was back at Medlar Field on Wednesday facing Kent State for the second time this season.

The two teams played against each other exactly one week ago at Schoonover Stadium, with the Golden Flashes coming out on top in both games. With a late scoring by the Nittany Lions in the bottom of the eighth, the home team came up short falling 6-2.


The visiting team was first on the board in the top of the third inning, with a RBI single by Mason Mamarella. The centerfielder made the last pitch on a full count matter, cranking the ball into right field. Runner on base Luke Burch made it home after advancing to second on a ball and third on a wild pitch.

Mamarella got the next tally two batters later on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Dylan Rosa.


With four innings down and two runs on the board, Penn State's Eli Nabholz stepped up to the pitcher's mound to relieve starter Nick Hedge. In the top of the fifth, Rosa swung on the second pitch for a two run RBI single passing a diving Jim Haley at shortstop. Teammates Reilly Hawkins and Burch got the tallies making the score 4-0 Kent. 

Pete Schuler was up next, hitting the same spot getting on first base after an infield error by Haley. Zalewski came off of second, picking up speed to make it home for the fifth run of the game. 

Mamarella got his second RBI with a single that resulted in a triple. The batter singled a line driver into right field, later advancing to second then third on a fielding error by James Coates.  Making this the final run for the Golden Flashes in the top of the sixth.

A change in the lineup was in favor of the home team, as relief pitcher Eli Martin started the top of the eighth inning. Haley was first on base finding the sweet spot in centerfield for a single. Tyler Kendall followed shortly after with another hit to left center, advancing Haley to third.

It wasn't until two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week Willie Burger stepped up to the plate to get a pair of runs for the Nittany Lions. The idea of a comeback shook Kent State, bringing in new pitcher Tim Faix for the last batter of the inning.

The Flashes saw three Nittany Lion pitchers in the span of three innings during the latter stages of the game. Nick Distasio came in for relief in the sixth, while Tom Mullin followed shortly after in the seventh, staying until the eighth. The game finished with Tim Scholly stepping in as the fifth and final pitcher for Penn State, holding the opponents until the end.

"We didn't do well getting on base to begin. Got to have opportunities to score runners," said Head Coach Rob Cooper about the teams' performance. "Their guy [Joey Murray] did a good job keeping us off balance."

Coach Cooper said that it was Murray's late life in his curve balls that threw off batters at the plate. Making the players chase for the balls. The winning pitcher had nine strikeouts and allowed four hits. Keeping the Lions of the boards for a sold seven innings.

"It was good, he had two different arm angles," said Tyler Kendall. "I think as a group we kind of let fast balls early and some breaking balls left. We were taking and put us in some holes. We're going to learn from it. Come back tomorrow, practice it, and be ready for the weekend."

As for the many faces at the pitcher's mound for Penn State, Cooper said that it was an initial plan to take Hedge out early in the game and have pitchers like Mullin and Scholly get more playing time.

"We wanted Hedge to get another start. Eli we knew we wanted him to touch the ball..." Cooper said. "We said all along that we got a deep bench and a lot of young guys that haven't as much playing time as they would like. Just trying to get some guys off their feet."

Both Cooper and players noted that Wednesday's game was not their best performance. With four fielding errors, the Nittany Lions are looking to reduce this number when playing Maryland in the next series.

"As a whole it was kind of a sloppy game. They're a good hitting team and they're a great pitching team, spotting them a couple of walks, errors, and some base running errors was not part of our game plan," Kendall said. "But it happens, its baseball. Everybody that made errors tonight is a good player and will come back tomorrow with confidence."

"At the end of the days it comes down to us. Come down to us taking care of ourselves, and it comes down to making sure that we do the things that we need to do," Cooper said. "Pitch well, get ahead of guys, and find a way to score. If we do that, it'll take us up against anything."

The first game of the Maryland series will start Friday at 6:30 p.m. 

Lacrosse Programs Eye Stadium Expansion

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11904386.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State lacrosse programs are looking ahead to the potential expansion of the current lacrosse field into a state-of-the-art facility for both the men's and women's teams.

The current field, which has bleacher seating on one side and a grass hill on the other, provides few amenities beyond the basics. However, Penn State is looking to enhance both player and fans' game day experiences by adding a new structure to the complex.

The expansion will include stadium style seating where the hill currently is, while keeping the integrity of the hill fans have grown to love.

Men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni knows the important role facilities play for student-athletes of all programs, and he hopes fans recognize that the design of the new facility pays homage to the tradition of Penn State lacrosse, while also allowing for future program growth.

"I think what we saw was an opportunity to match some things in the landscape here at Penn State and make it very classy, putting a first-class facility up there," said Tambroni. "But at the same time keeping the integrity of the hill and allowing some of that seating to still run out into that grassy hill and overlook some of the greatest facilities in the country with the Bryce Jordan Center to the left and Beaver Stadium as well."

In addition to new seats for fans, the expansion will also boast permanent concessions, more bathrooms, and a ticket office, amenities unavailable with the current stadium set up.

"I think if you just look at everything that fits under the umbrella of the fan experience," said Tambroni. "Coming to the game and being able to grab something to eat in a reasonable location, being able to sit comfortably perched up on the hill, being able to go to the bathroom in a convenient location, those are things you maybe take for granted that are in all stadiums that we just don't have."

Lastly, a press box will be built above the new seating, with full broadcasting capabilities for radio and television.

As both Penn State lacrosse programs continue to excel in the Big Ten, it is only fitting the teams have a top-notch stadium to match. The enhancement to the lacrosse facility, budgeted at $8.4 million, and with a fundraising goal of $5.5 million, would bring the current field into the modern age and allow student-athletes to further their successes at the University.

Both the men's and women's programs will benefit from the expansion, as the two teams will remain the sole users of the future facility. It's rare for a collegiate lacrosse team to have it's own facility that isn't shared with sports such as soccer or field hockey, but Penn State continues to stand out.

By providing all the above enhancements to a facility for two already stellar programs, Tambroni explained it would add further incentive for potential recruits to join Penn State lacrosse down the road.

"There's an enormous difference between a vision conjured up in your own mind and progress you can actually see," said Tambroni. "It's symbolic of our own program, you can communicate your vision of where you want this program, the program's culture to be, today, tomorrow, next year, but until someone actually sees it growing and developing it's just human nature for it to be tough to believe."

Tambroni explained how when talking with recruits he is realistic, knowing that they haven't broken ground just yet on the expansion.

"You can talk all you want about the expansion of phase one to phase two, but until someone actually sees the shovel going to the ground it's tough for people to believe it."

Tambroni and the rest of the coaching staff don't make any promises to recruits when talking about the stadium project because details of the groundbreaking aren't set in stone.

More information about the project can be found under the "Facilities" tab of both the men's and women's lacrosse pages on GoPSUsports.com or by clicking here - Lacrosse Stadium Project.

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By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Marlaina Laubach and Madison Seifert tossed a pair of gems Wednesday night against St. Francis (Pa.).  But was there something tropical that helped them hurl such great games? 

 

Blow up palm trees can be seen all around Beard Field during each home game, and the superstition serves as a reminder to the players to hang tough during the game.

"The palm tree represents our culture here.  Palm trees are a type of tree that weather the storm, we call it.  So when its stormy out and if it bends over, it always comes back straight up," said Seifert. 

Clearly, the plastic, 10 feet long timber brings the mojo to Beard Field.  But there is no substitution for sheer dominance in the circle.  Laubach worked quickly in throwing a complete game shutout in game one winning 6-0, and was locked in all evening; according to head coach Amanda Lehotak.

"She attacked the zone.  Laubach missed two spots all night."

While Laubach works quickly when she's on the rubber, Seifert takes a little more time in between pitches.  Not necessarily a bad thing when she only made one mistake pitch all night long en route to another complete game win.  Seifert paces around the mound and concentrates in on the catcher's mitt before letting one fly. 

"I like to wipe the slate clean.  I like to think of each pitch as the next pitch and really dial in.  You can't really control the pitch before [or] the pitch next.  You just have to think each pitch," said Seifert.

The strategy worked.  The Blue & White took game two by a score of 4-2. 

Team camaraderie was in full effect Wednesday night as well.  The dugout was loud, supportive, and constantly chattering, while the fans were really into both games even as the temperature dropped steadily.  The pre-inning huddle at the pitcher's circle puts on display the team buying into each other, and Seifert explained exactly what is said during those mound visits composed of the entire infield.

"If we just scored, we want to shut them down.  If we're kind of dead, we're trying to get each other pumped back up and then if it's towards the end of the game, we call it a countdown.  It's like the countdown to the end, the end of the game is the most important part.  We've got to be the most focused then, so that's what we talk about."

Good situational hitting was the key to putting runs on the board for the Nittany Lions.  Sac-flies that turned into RBIs, and grounders to the opposite side of the infield moved runners over that eventually came in to score. 

"To me, the last 15 games, we've really tightened that up and we've done a good job.  The kids have been staying calm and have not tried to be the hero.  To me, they're really having selfless at-bats right now," praised Lehotak.

At this point in the season a year ago, Penn State was 24-24 (6-11), but now they smell the NCAA tournament with a 28-18 record, 13-4 in conference play. 

"We should not lose [at home]," Lehotak added.  "We should have that attitude."

The squad must carry that mindset into the weekend, where a potential season-deciding series with second-ranked Michigan will go a long way to determining the Lions' NCAA tournament hopes.  For now, dominant pitching and selfless at-bats should do the trick moving forward. 

 

 

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By: Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- With the last game of their regular season against a Big Ten rival, the Nittany Lions women's lacrosse team is pumped up and ready to take on the Terrapins on their home field. This is a big game for Penn State, and if they clinch themselves a win they will tie with Maryland for the top spot in the Big Ten.

For team co-captain Abby Smucker, who is a Maryland native, this is an exciting game as the end of the season nears. 

The team plans to go into the game as if it is any other team and play the best that they can, but Smucker admits that there is a different feeling going into this last game of the season.

"As a player, personally it brings more of an emotional and motivational factor knowing that it is a chance to play for the Big Ten regular season championship," said Smucker.

She has come a long way from her first season on the team and she cannot believe how quickly the time has gone by.

With the seniors graduating in a little over a week, it is only a matter of time before the reins are turned over to the rising seniors.

"I think just yesterday I was a freshman and the years have just flown by. Next year we are still going to have a great group of upperclassmen that are willing to lead the way and show the underclassmen the ropes," said Smucker.

Playing Maryland is a big deal to the team, they are excited to end their season against such a good team and believe that they are more than prepared to take on the Terripans.

"I love playing Maryland last. It's an awesome way to end our season and I think we are ready to take them on," said Smucker.

"We've had our ups and downs this season, but I think we've played that out. We've grown a lot as a team and we're peaking at the best point in our season against Maryland."

The girls have a lot to take on, as Maryland is a very fast and talented team, but Smucker is confident that with all of the practice the team has put in, that they are ready to take on a top rival. 

"Maryland is very fast in transition and they are going to have all seven attackers that can come at us hard," said Smucker.

"We are looking to play good, hard defense and really have each other's back to make those 1 v. 1 stops."

Smucker said the team is also going to continue to focus on communication and keeping up quick ball movement in their last game in an effort to outplay Maryland.

Although it is the beginning of the end for the seniors, they are going to push their hardest against Maryland and through the postseason to make the most of their time left with the team.

Smucker said she was going to miss the upperclassmen that have led the team for the past year, and thanks them for their dedication to the program over the past four years. 

"The seniors have done an amazing job of inspiring all of the underclassmen and showing us the way and I wish them all the best in their future endeavors," said Smucker. 

The Nittany Lions are so close to snagging that number one spot in the Big Ten alongside Maryland, and the team is highly motivated to get that spot.

The two teams will face off in University Park on Thursday, April 27 starting at 7 p.m.

Powell Settling Into New Position with Lady Lions

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the Lady Lions in the midst of the offseason, there is a new, yet familiar, face walking the halls of the Bryce Jordan Center.

Miriam Powell, the former executive director of Pink Zone, has increased her role with the program and is now the Director of Community Outreach, a position she stepped into in January.

In her new objective with the program, Powell's main focus is creating powerful and impactful relationships within the Penn State and surrounding communities, through service and volunteerism

"My biggest goal is more visibility for Lady Lion basketball outside of the Bryce Jordan Center," Powell said.

Powell has worked closely with the women's basketball team ever since she first became the Pink Zone executive director five years ago. The decision to join Pink Zone was all about timing for Powell, who had moved to the area with one young child and another on the way.

"I was just looking to keep my sanity as a new young mom, and was doing volunteer work in community for the American Cancer Society," Powell said. "One of the other volunteers told me about the Pink Zone opening and thought that based on what I had done for ACS that I would be a good fit."

The position proved to be a really good fit at that time, allowing Powell to work from home and still be around her kids. It also allowed her to build relationships with the community and the Lady Lion program.

Now that her kids are a little bit older, Powell was ready to get back into an office setting. Having always felt that volunteering and community service are important to building character, Powell jumped at the opportunity to apply for the position with the Lady Lions.

"The one thing that I loved most about my years with Pink Zone was getting to know the community better," Powell said. "I just really loved getting to know the people in the other communities so when this job became available and the focus was on community outreach and community service, it was a good fit."

As she settles into her new job, Powell's been busy wrapping her head around all parts of Penn State athletics in what she describes as a "fun and busy" first couple of months. She's excited for what the future holds for the Lady Lion program, both on the court and in the office.

"It's been really fun getting to work more closely with the Lady Lion players, I've loved that part of it," she said. "I love coming to work every day. Every day is different and the people who work in this office specifically are awesome."

As the Director of Community Outreach, Powell plans to use her strength of connecting with people to focus on connecting Lady Lion basketball even more to the community.

"My goal is creating more visibility, and getting the players and the coaches out engaging with the fans that are supporting them now, or lining them up with new fans because of the community service that they do," Powell said.


Nittany Lions Eyeing Future

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11900173.jpegBy Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It didn't go as planned for the Nittany Lions as they closed out the 2016 postseason earlier than many expected.

Penn State dropped a tough four set match to Saint Francis in the EIVA semifinals at Rec Hall. Arguably the second best team in the EIVA, Saint Francis was ranked fourth in the conference, but alongside the Nittany Lions, were one of two ranked teams in the EIVA at 15 in the nation.

"We were still in it, we had chances, we needed one point in game to go up 2-0 and maybe that changes the timber of the match. We never got that side out, and we were in a dogfight from there on," head coach Mark Pavlik said.

The match ended in four sets, but every set could have gone either way as the teams could not find separation until the later stages of each set. The disappointment for the Nittany Lions was palpable in the postgame press conference but there was still time for reflection from some of the seniors.

"The past five years this program is kind of all I have ever known," senior Matt Seifert said. "I thank Pav for all that he has given me and I will take a lot of the things I learned here with me. I think he cares about his players more than any other coach I've had."

Sometimes you work extremely hard and the results don't turn out in your favor. That was the sentiment shared from many of the Nittany Lions as they team scratched and clawed all season, but in the end couldn't fine the results they desired.

Despite the exit that many didn't see coming, the positives are still there for this season, as they always are. They just usually don't show themselves until a few days after a tough loss. Three Nittany Lions received first team All-EIVA honors in Chris Nugent, Matt Seifert and Taylor Hammond. Nugent was co-EIVA player of the year. Royce Clemens also garnered EIVA honors as the newcomer of the year.

"We have a very strong group of guys here and all of them help the team in some way," Seifert said. "It's nice for the team and a few guys to get recognized like that."

The positives don't just stop with the accolades that the Nittany Lions received this season, in fact they don't just stop with this season. Many of the main contributors and starters this season for Penn State were either juniors or sophomores. The core is young for this team as Pavlik has eluded too many times and this means the future is bright.

"We have gotten contributions up and down the lineup all season long," Pavlik said. "This one hurts, but for the guys coming back next season it should also serve as a motivator, that will be interesting to see how it works out in that way."

For Penn State, the returnees include Nugent, Aidan Albrecht, Jalen Penrose, Matt Callaway, Kevin Gear and Clemens. All these players were main factors in victories at one point or another for Penn State this season.

"Obviously we aren't happy with the way this season ended," Albrecht said. "But we know we have a group of guys who have experience and can help us build a very good team next season as well. We just have to work hard and make sure were ready."

Though the loss may sting for a few more days, the new season has already started for Pavlik and Penn State.

"This is a feeling we haven't felt in a while, now the job is to take this disappointment and make sure the program benefits from it," Pavlik said. 

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a fruitful four years with Penn State women's lacrosse (11-4, 3-1 Big Ten), which included winning the inaugural Big Ten tournament championship in 2015, the class of 2016 left their mark during Senior Day in Happy Valley. No. 14 Penn State defeated No. 12 Northwestern (7-8, 2-2 Big Ten) 17-13 on Saturday.

"The senior class has helped us turn a corner for our program and you could really see that physically out on the field today," said head coach Missy Doherty. "So those guys coming up big was certainly not a surprise to me because they've done it for four years."

Senior midfielder Madison Cyr led the Nittany Lions by scoring four goals against the Wildcats. Known for her domination in the offensive zone, Cyr also contributed three assists and six shots on Saturday.

At the other end of the field, senior goalkeeper Emi Smith kept the Wildcats at bay as she made nine saves during Saturday's contest.

After a close first half, the Nittany Lions were tied with the Wildcats at seven apiece. During the second half, the Nittany Lions once again found themselves with a tied game at 11 apiece with 18 minutes left to play. With constant lead changes, this was the sixth tie of the game.

With 17:27 left a timeout was called by the Wildcats and Penn State set up in its defensive zone. A turnover caused by senior midfielder Ally Heavens gave the Nittany Lions possession of the ball, and they immediately took it into the Wildcats' zone. 

Junior attacker Steph Lazo's shot on net was saved and again the Nittany Lions found themselves on defense. Despite their relentless efforts, the Wildcats were unable to find the back of the net as junior midfielder Abby Smucker caused a turnover.

Once again on offense, the Nittany Lions weaved their way through traffic and down the field. Still tied, Cyr made every effort to bring the ball into the zone. Passing to Lazo, Cyr and her fellow teammates set up their play. A few passes later and it was freshman attacker Madison Carter who gave the Nittany Lions the go-ahead goal, assisted by Cyr.

The Nittany Lions took the lead, 12-11 with 11:16 left to play.

Another lead change forced Penn State to buckle down just a minute later. With the Wildcats up 13-12 and less than ten minutes left in the game, the Nittany Lions surged forward on offense.

Five unanswered goals at the end of the second half gave the Nittany Lions the edge they needed, and beat out Northwestern 17-13. Seniors scored two of the final five goals, one from attacker Jenna Mosketti, her second goal of the game, and one from Cyr, a fitting end to a day celebrating the class of 2016.

"I think we buried our shots and we had some momentum," said Doherty. "We hadn't necessarily gotten momentum in some of our games, we didn't have bad momentum but we just didn't get it but today we go it from Emi [Smith] making some big saves and then we got it from putting our shots away toward the end of the game. It was good to see us capture that kind of momentum and make some big plays when it counted." 

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By Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- With only two games left in the regular season, the senior women's lacrosse players are reflecting back on their time with the team and making the best of the time they have left.

Seniors Madison Cyr, Heather Herman, Ally Heavens, Jenna Mosketti and Emi Smith all agree that they are not ready to be done with the team that has brought that so many memories over their careers.

They have devoted so much of their time at Penn State to practices, games, watching film, and traveling together, and that is something each and every senior does not want to end.

The girls are upset to have only two games left in their regular season, but they are excited that their last ever regular season games are on their home field.

"It's sad to be ending, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Having Northwestern and Maryland be our last two games and be at home is awesome and we are going to go out with a bang," said Smith.

Smith also thinks that the team plays better at home and truly does have that home-field advantage. With the vibes from the crowd and from the team as a whole, she believes that it helps them to play their best.

Heavens also agreed that being at home for the end of their season is the best thing for the team. 

"It'll be to our advantage being at home. We will have a good crowd cheering for us and that makes it so much better," said Heavens.

The game takes up a lot of the players' time, which has helped them to keep their minds off of graduation and the culmination of their time with the team.

"I have been so consumed with lacrosse and it's nice to have the game to distract myself with, so it hasn't really hit me yet," said Heavens.

Cyr agreed and said that with so much time being devoted to the game and her schoolwork she hasn't had enough time to sit down and think about the end of her career as a player and as a student.

Smith took a slightly different stance, in the fact that their playing time continues through graduation, which makes the transition more manageable.

"We keep playing when school is done, so it's not like when we're done, we're done. We still have some time to keep playing after we graduate, so I haven't really thought too much about it yet," said Smith.

The girls also reflected back on their season so far and the success they have had as a team up to this point.

"We have had an incredible season. Our team has never had a record like we do right now and we are still having a great season," said Smith. 

The one criticism the girls had of their season, was how hard they were on themselves after a loss.

"We focus way too much on our losses even though we've had a great season. But I guess that's a good part of our team because we expect so much from ourselves," said Heavens. 

The girls are looking forward to the rest of the season ahead, and hope that they can look back after it is all over and be proud of the work they have done this year.

Penn State has been their home for the past four years and has given the girls an incredible opportunity to become a part of the community, build relationships, and integrate themselves into the amazing Penn State culture.

Although graduation is quickly coming upon them, the players are excited to be a part of the alumni base and to experience a different part of the school's culture.

"There is no place like Penn State and being on a team that has brought us all together from so many different places is awesome," said Heavens.

Smith also talked about how big the alumni base is and that she loves that no matter where she ends up she will always have someone yelling "We Are" at her whens she's wearing Penn State. 

These past four years also mean that the girls have had lots of time to bond and get to know each other. They spend all of their time together and they have become like their own little family.

"We are not just teammates, we are sisters and Missy (Head coach Missy Doherty) is like our mom," said Cyr.

These close bonds make it hard for the underclassmen to see the seniors go, but they are making sure to celebrate and honor the work they have put into the team with a Senior Day celebration this upcoming weekend prior to their game.

Before the game, the seniors will receive gifts and videos from their underclassmen teammates and will be walked onto the field by friends and family.

This will be a great way to honor the seniors who have put so much time, energy, and love into the team. 

The Nittany Lions will take the field this Saturday, April 23 at 12 p.m. against Northwestern.

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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Dannielle Gibson has broken through this year with remarkable performances, but it's her competitive moxie that drives her for nothing short of greatness.

 

The junior jumper from the Bahamas has picked up right where she left off during the indoor season. Gibson earned triple jump victories in the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Invitational and the Pepsi Invitational so far this outdoor season. She has used the indoor season as motivation to improve.

 

To wrap up the indoor season, Gibson finished a not too shabby tenth in the triple jump in this March's NCAA Indoor Championship with a leap of 42' 3.25" (12.88m). She displayed vast improvement from her sophomore to junior year. Gibson, a fiery competitor, still wasn't satisfied with her indoor finish and she has made it known that she wants to be one of the best collegiate triple jumpers in the country. Ultimately, Gibson wants to stand at the top of the podium when it's all said and done.

 

"Coming into the outdoor season, I had the goal of wanting to go undefeated," said Gibson.

 

Gibson doesn't settle for anything short of excellence on the jumping runway as she practices her craft with jumping coach Fritz Spence. Coach Spence and Gibson continuously work on technique and jumping phases to get winning results.

 

"It's all about competing, I have the physical skills but right now we're just working on my mental approach," said Gibson.

 

Gibson stands at eighth in the country and second among East athletes in the outdoor women's triple jump with a high mark of 42' 11" (13.08m). In the Nittany Lion record books, Gibson finds herself fourth all-time in the triple jump.  A list she looks forward to sometime sitting at the top of some day soon.

 

Among other factors that positively influence her performance on the jumping runway is her pride for Penn State. The balance of elite academics and athletics impacted her coming to Penn State. Her father Dwight thought Penn State was a perfect fit.

 

"I love it here, especially the family atmosphere and community and I've never been a part of anything like this before coming here," said Gibson.

 

Gibson and the Penn State track and field squad will compete this weekend when the team splits up for the Stanford Twilight in Stanford, California on Friday and the Bucknell Team Classic in Lewisburg, Pa. on Saturday.

 

The men's team comes into this weekend No. 12 in the country and No. 1 in the Mid-Atlantic region. They look to be hitting their stride after sharing co-champion honors with No. 2 Oregon in the Pepsi Invitational at the University of Oregon on April 9th.

 

Currently, Isaiah Harris (800m), Brannon Kidder (800m), and Brian Leap (triple jump) all have top-four marks in the country in their events. Leap earned Big Ten Men's Field Athlete of the Week last week with a personal best triple jump of 53' 4.5" (16.27m) in last weekend's Texas Invitational victory.


For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.

Canadian Lacrosse Players Contribute Unique Skillset

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Most people know Canada as the home to ice hockey. However, Canada is also home to the arguably equally as intense sport of box lacrosse. With four Penn State men's lacrosse (7-5, 1-2 Big Ten) players hailing from Canada, their experience with box lacrosse has helped them build a different skillset than their American teammates.

Senior attacker TJ Sanders, junior midfielder Dan Craig, sophomore midfielder Chris Young, and freshman midfielder Dylan Foulds all have experience playing the physical sport of box lacrosse.

"I started playing field lacrosse when I was 14 but have played box since I was about five," said Foulds. "But really growing up I only played field lacrosse about once or twice a week."

Box lacrosse varies greatly from field lacrosse, as players in box must all use the same length stick, there are only six players from each team on the field at a time (including the goalie), and the more prevalent use of a shot clock.

Equipment is a big differentiator between the styles also, because in box instead of elbow pads players have slash guards to protect the forearm to mid-bicep. Players in box also have bicep and rib protection, which players in field don't have. In box lacrosse there is also off-ball contact, which means players without the ball can be hit, which is against the rules in field lacrosse.

The smaller playing surface of box lacrosse also requires players to be more physical, but also forces them to develop high-quality stick skills. While field lacrosse requires a combination of skill and speed, box lacrosse players can sometimes separate themselves from average players with superior stick skills alone.

"Box is a lot more physical and up-close," said Young. "You've got to be able to handle pressure and it's a lot more compact so you've got to adapt to the game better. On the field you have more open space so you have to adjust your speed and use your size differently."

The need for such skills in box lacrosse, Craig explained, is the reason behind why he believes Canadian players have the innate ability to be more creative on the field. Craig credits his background with box lacrosse for some of the more intricate shots he's taken on net this season, such as those behind the head.    

Having played box lacrosse most of his life, Craig's transition to college lacrosse was unique. He had little experience with field lacrosse, the least of all the current Canadian players on the team. Increasing Craig's confidence was key head coach Jeff Tambroni explained, and noted how the midfielder seems to get more confident the more years he's played on the field.

"I've been playing box lacrosse for over 10 years, close to 13 years," said Craig. "I didn't even know general rules of field, I had to work on spacing, and learning how to shoot on American goalies was something I had to work on also. American goalies play like a player with their stick up in the air whereas they have their stick on the ground in box."

In his earlier years on the team Craig was more hesitant on the field in his movements, but throughout his sophomore and junior years he has developed more fluidity. The hard work Craig has put in has paid off, and today he is an effective and dominant presence at midfield.

Tambroni noted how important the Canadian players are to his program. Having seen a good amount of Canadian players come through Penn State, Tambroni highlighted a few areas that Canadian players excel in.

"There's two distinct skillsets that they bring down," said Tambroni of Canadian players. "One is just their stick stills in general they just seem to be a little bit further ahead than most of our American players because of the confines of the arena that they play in. The other one would just be toughness. The rules are much looses in the indoor game, certainly in the box game, it's an extremely physical game and there's not much complaining up there. Those guys expect that when they put that equipment on and they have the ball on their stick that they're going to take a pounding. That's the mentality they carry and more often than not they carry that down to the States. I admire it."

As the game of lacrosse grows in the United States, the Canadian members of Penn State men's lacrosse hope to see more Canadian players come to American colleges to play.

"I think in the past ten years there's been a lot more Canadian players," said Craig. "I think that's just going to keep increasing."

Penn State plays at Rutgers on Friday at 8 p.m. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.



Senior Leadership to Help Lions in Postseason

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11886641.jpegBy Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Experience is a key factor on any team, especially when the postseason begins.

The Penn State men's volleyball team is loaded with experience. Though the team is only graduating five seniors, the underclassmen on the team have also seen more than enough game experience to be considered seasoned veterans. Everything is magnified come playoff time, including the importance of leadership. This fact is something that head coach Mark Pavlik is well aware of.

"I think that this is the time of year where the seniors step up and lead by example on and off the court," Pavlik said. "They have done that a lot for us and you certainly hope they continue to do so."

Penn State lost its last match of the season, an uncharacteristically sloppy performance at George Mason. Though it was the Nittany Lion's final match, Pavlik says he isn't too concerned by that match and says it shouldn't be too indicative of how the team will come out in their EIVA semifinal match.

"Our mindset after the match was okay," Pavlik said. "We had the luxury of playing in a playoff environment when it didn't matter, so now when we get home on Thursday and then maybe Saturday, we will be prepared for that and I think that is the best thing about playing Mason when we did is it gave us a big time game to prepare us for the playoffs."

Penn State's captains are always the ones to step up and calm the team down after matches, or encourage them after wins on the bus rides back. One of those captains, Matt Seifert said that this team is unselfish and will always be ready to play despite the result.

"We have a group of guys that play very hard so I don't think that effort is ever the issue, we just have to remind ourselves to play clean volleyball and stayed focused," Seifert said.  

As the season has gone on for the Nittany Lions, the leadership of the seniors and other captains has shown not just in their vocal encouragement, but also in their willingness to do what is best for the team. Every senior has been sat at points in the season or pulled from a match, but it never seems to affect the overall team psyche or that individual as well.

"We know what we are going to get from everyone on this roster," Pavlik said. "There are no secrets when it comes to our team and I think that is a big benefit for us come this time of the year because we know that one through 13, everyone on that bench needs to and will be ready to jump into the game. I always tell the guys that because more often than not there is a time in a game where they are going to need to step up off the bench cold and come deliver a play for us."

No senior epitomizes the leadership off the bench role better than Andrew Roberts. The service specialist has seen time at right side during the season but primarily journeys behind the service line one to three times a match to try and provide his team a spark.

"Andrew really helps us out a lot and he is one of those guys who is so reliable off the bench," Aiden Albrecht said. "It's tough to come in and make a good serve while you're cold, but Andrew does it really well."

Leadership and experience are not the only key components to a long playoff run, but they certainly are cornerstones and a good foundation to have. The Nittany Lions will rely on their experienced roster as a whole as they start the EIVA tournament this Thursday in Rec Hall at 7:30 p.m. against Saint Francis. The winner of Saint Francis-Penn State will face the Harvard-George Mason winner on Saturday night at 7 p.m. for the championship. 

By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It isn't enough to have a 4.0 GPA since freshman year of high school.  It isn't enough to have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors twice.  It isn't enough to be a heck of a designated player, hitting a game-winning shot against Maryland last weekend.  Softball senior Shannon Good wants to make a difference. 

 

"I actually went on a mission trip to Guatemala last fall and really loved the reconstructive surgery they did there, so right now, that's what my interest is," she said.

Good will be attending SUNY Upstate Medical University in the fall as a graduate student after completing her pre-med program at Penn State.  She is interested in all aspects of surgery, but has a special interest for helping out and doing reconstructive surgery in less developed countries.  Her head coach, Amanda Lehotak, knows she is incredibly driven. 

"She's just very 'this is what I'm going to do, this is how I'm going to do it' and nothing really seems to phase her.  I know they all get stressed, but Shannon's one of those kids that, to me, it's hard to tell when she's stressed or overwhelmed," Lehotak said.  

Good was originally a chemical engineering major, like her sister Courtney, until she realized she wanted to be more hands-on with her patients.  She did know from a young age she wanted to be a medical professional.  Since then, she has received near-perfect grades, and was considering Cornell before she chose Penn State and its chemical engineering program. 

With the softball team heating up, she has proven she can be a key contributor to the team.  In game three of last weekend's series against Maryland, Good pinch-hit with the bases juiced in the bottom of the sixth.  She proceeded to rope a single up the middle, scoring two runs and securing the victory for her team. 

So yes, she is a good softball player.  But everyone around her realizes she is more than that.

"Shannon Good is just the highest integrity individual player that you could find.  For someone to do what she did undergrad to go to being accepted to med school, it's pretty amazing," said Lehotak. 

Intensity is a buzzword when talking about Good.  She is intense academically and on the field, and accomplishes goals. 

"I do like the word intensity for her.  Her time management is excellent, that's just who she is," added Lehotak.

Good is looking to help propel her team to an NCAA tournament berth in her final season at Penn State, and after winning seven of the last eight games, the team is looking to keep that momentum going.  As for Good, just like the team on the field, she is in great position to succeed in medicine going forward.  

Lions Plate Five Runs in First, Complete Season Sweep of Bucknell

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11883917.jpegBy Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (23-14) defeated Bucknell (16-24) by a score of 9-5 Tuesday night for its sixth straight victory and second over the Bison in a week.

The Nittany Lions handed Bucknell a loss just six days earlier, 8-1.

Penn State wasted no time getting ahead on the offensive end. In the first inning, the Nittany Lions scored five runs on three hits and three walks and ousted Bison starter P.J. Strahm before he could record even two outs.

"Even though we scored five, you still got to play the rest of the game," said head coach Rob Cooper. "I do think it helped kind of take a little bit of energy and kind of put them down a little bit emotionally, but you got to keep playing and you got to respect the game. Otherwise this game is going to jump up and bite you."

Starter Eli Nabholz held Bucknell hitless for the first three innings and ended up with the win to improve his 2016 record to 2-0. Nabholz lasted five innings, giving up just two hits and one run while striking out five.

"I felt good," Nabholz said. "I was just working with [coach Brian Anderson] during the week trying to get a little more confidence in hitting spots. That was the game plan today. Just to go out and see results kind of reflect on some of the work you've been doing is good."

Nick Distasio relieved Nabholz in the sixth inning and gave up four runs in two innings, three of which came on an inside-the-park homerun by Joe Ogren in the seventh inning.

Jack Anderson came in to close out the game and notched his ninth save of the season. He's tied for ninth in the country for most saves in 2016 and he leads the Big Ten in saves and ERA (0.72).

Greg Guers continued his onslaught of opposing pitchers by smacking two hits and adding an RBI on the night. Guers is 15-21 in his last five games with nine RBIs, and his batting average has risen from .189 in early April to .320 currently.

"It seems like every time I swing the bat it's finding a hole somewhere so that's always good," said Guers. "You just stick to the same approach you've been having, and it's been working so I'm not adjusting it too much right now."

For his spectacular efforts in the past week, Guers earned Big Ten Player of the Week and NCBWA National Hitter of the Week honors.

"It's awesome to see," Cooper said. "Even when he was struggling, we still trusted him in the middle of that lineup. His success right now started back a month and a half ago when he kept with that process and he kept with that approach. If he had just kind of scrapped everything then I don't know if he's where he is so I'm extremely happy for him."

Also logging a strong night at the plate was freshman catcher Ryan Sloniger. Sloniger went 2-4 and tied a season high with four RBIs to lead the Blue and White in that category.

"I've been working with [coach Ross Oeder] a lot in the last few weeks, and I've felt a lot better in every game," Sloniger said. "Leading up to the night, I just wanted to barrel the ball and stay in the middle of the field."

Seniors James Coates and Tyler Kendall recorded multi-hit games in the win as well. The top four batters in the lineup (Coates, Jim Haley, Guers, and Kendall) reached base a combined 13 times and accounted for six of Penn State's nine runs.

The Nittany Lions have now won 11 straight games against Pennsylvania foes dating back to 2014. Penn State still has games scheduled against Pitt and Villanova later this season.

Penn State will travel south to face Kent State in another non-conference matchup Wednesday night. This weekend, the Nittany Lions will visit Piscataway, N.J. for a three game series against conference foe Rutgers. The Lions currently sit at fourth in the B1G with an 8-4 conference record, while Rutgers occupies the 11th spot with a 3-6 conference mark. 

Aponte a Standout Against Johns Hopkins

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11879797.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 14 Penn State men's lacrosse team (7-5, 1-2 Big Ten) may have lost an overtime game to No. 17 Johns Hopkins (7-4, 2-1 Big Ten) on Sunday evening, but the game was anything but dull. The Nittany Lions were able to keep the Blue Jays to less than a two-goal lead after the first quarter of play.

Johns Hopkins got on the board first in what seemed like a barrage of goals early on in the first quarter. Hopkins dominated possession time in the first half of the quarter, putting the Nittany Lions on defense early.

Despite allowing four early goals, the Nittany Lions were just getting warmed up. Quickly, the intensity of the game picked up and Penn State notched two goals to end the first quarter down by two.

Both goals, scored by junior attacker Nick Aponte, made the crowd of more than 2,700 go wild.

On Aponte's first goal, the attacker forced a turnover, gained possession of the ball, and scored unassisted. His second goal, with one second left on the clock in the first quarter, was a wrap around shot from the right side of the net.

Aponte, a seasoned dodger, used his speed to his advantage when it came to beating defenders around the net. Aponte has developed his skills over the last two years and has become one of the more stable players on attack.  

As the sun set over the field, the game of cat and mouse started.

To kick off the second quarter, Penn State notched a third goal as senior TJ Sanders netted his 22nd goal of the season. By the end of the second quarter the Blue Jays were still leading 6-5, but the Nittany Lions were far from giving up.

The crowd went wild once again as freshman attacker Nick Spillane gave the Nittany Lions their first tying goal of the night with 10 seconds to go in the third quarter. The score was even at seven apiece as Penn State's come-from-behind spirit propelled them into the fourth quarter.

The constant back-and-forth was exhausting for both teams who were determined to crank out a conference win. The Nittany Lions, fresh off an overtime loss to Maryland the Sunday prior, wanted to keep the Blue Jays guessing by changing up their defensive game between zone and man-to-man defense. Penn State's defense contributed to keeping Johns Hopkins' offense to no more than a two-point lead throughout three quarters of play.

Aponte again found the back of the net halfway through the fourth quarter, to bring the Nittany Lions within one goal of the 9-8 lead the Blue Jays had created. Junior midfielder Dan Craig made his way through traffic in front of the net to give the Nittany Lions their second tie of the night.

Aponte's fourth and final goal of the night, with 3:47 left in the fourth quarter, would once again bring the Nittany Lions within one point of the lead, this time with the Blue Jays leading 11-10.

Down by one late in the fourth quarter, the Nittany Lions had time for one last play. The crowd rose to its feet and fans clapped as the Nittany Lions set up in the offensive zone. Redshirt junior attacker Matt Florence got the ball and cradled it on his left side. Switching to the right side, Florence worked his way around the defender and threw the ball to the goalie's left side.

With 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Florence gave Penn State the momentum it had been looking for, and tied the game. Under the bright lights of the Penn State lacrosse field, the Nittany Lions had come from behind and forced overtime.

"When we went into overtime, I just thought having been there before is important," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "Whether you win or lose there is a sense of calming that goes into that. I felt like these guys were prepared to win and Hopkins made a nice play defensively and then made the play they needed to offensively. So, sometimes it just comes down to that."

Penn State fell to Johns Hopkins, 12-11.

Despite last week's overtime loss to Maryland, Aponte explained that this game against Johns Hopkins was completely different.

"This one we had to fight back to get back in it," said Aponte.

Aponte noted how the team's determination allowed Penn State to stay close to Johns Hopkins on the scoreboard, but ultimately wasn't able to make the necessary play on offense in overtime.

"They're hurting for sure," said Tambroni. "We're going to have to get back after this immediately and make sure that our focus is where it needs to be headed into Rutgers."

Penn State plays at Rutgers on Friday at 8 p.m. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network. 

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a gorgeous Blue & White Weekend in Happy Valley, and despite being a weekend typically known for its football and tailgating, James Franklin's squad wasn't the only Penn State team putting on a clinic.

Across the street from Beaver Stadium, the Penn State softball team earned their third Big Ten series sweep of the season as they beat the Maryland Terrapins 9-6, 4-0 and 5-3 en route to earning their spot in the history books. 

The win on Saturday was Penn State's tenth conference win of the season, making them just the eighth team in school history to reach that milestone. They reached the mark in the fewest amount of games (13), too, besting the record set by the 2002 team that did it in 15 games.

Senior Macy Jones started the weekend off strong for the Nittany Lions (24-17, 11-3 Big Ten), going 4-for-4 on Friday night, including two RBIs off her ninth homerun of the season. 

"Macy, like I've said all year, has been Steady Eddy for us," head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "She's having some power numbers that she's never had before but really that's just because she's so confident and relaxed at the plate right now. She's seeing the ball really well, she's being aggressive [and] as a leadoff that's exactly what you want."

Jones credits her success to the four years that she's been on the team that have prepared her for this moment. 

"It's just that it's my senior year and I feel like I've been in this situation before and I know what to do so I'm more confident than I have been in the past," Jones said. "I'm really just trying not to think about it too much and am just envisioning myself having good at bats and swinging at good pitches and the results [have been] great but even if they weren't, you just got to keep going."

Jones' homerun was the first of three long balls hit in the fourth inning of Friday night's game, with Shelby Miller and Alyssa VanDerveer also each smacking a solo shot in the frame. VanDerveer also tacked on another home run in the first inning of game two to give Penn State the quick lead.

It looked like the Nittany Lions were going to cruise to the sweep early on in game three thanks to a three-run first inning. But the Terps battled back, much like Lehotak knew they would, and were able to tie it up in the fifth inning. 

"Once they scored, we believe in answer innings and we just had to answer so that was our focus," Lehotak said.

Penn State wasn't able to answer until the bottom of the sixth, when Lehotak made a decision that would play out pretty 'good'.

With the bases loaded and one out, Lehotak put senior Shannon Good in to pinch hit for Erin Pond, hoping she could score one of the runs on base. Good did more than that, and smacked a line drive up the middle, scoring two before advancing to second on the throw.

"Shannon's our best pinch hitter, I think she's the best pinch hitter I've ever had in my entire career and she's usually money in that situation," Lehotak said. "It was a good matchup for her and she's done that for the past few years for us so that's exactly why I put her in there and she did great."

The weekend marked the first time that a sellout crowd watched a game at Beard Field, as over 1,100 fans took in the game on Saturday. The fans were back in full force again on Sunday, making it the first back-to-back sellouts in Beard Field history. 

"Oh my god, it's amazing. If I could write a personal letter of the thanks to the fans I would," Lehotak said. "It means a lot, our kids work really hard, most of their games are away from here so for the fans that come out and support them and celebrate what they do, it was pretty special. I know the kids are very honored by it and hopefully the fans are proud of how we played."

Nittany Lions Wrap Up Spring with Eye on Regular Season

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VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame Interview | VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews

Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Ideal weather conditions and 65,000 fans greeted the Nittany Lions inside Beaver Stadium during the final day of spring practice for the 2016 season on Saturday afternoon.

After a practice period marked by superb progress and installation, the Nittany Lions will head into the final few weeks of the spring academic semester and summer with a confidence. The Blue topped the White, 37-0, during a productive gameday for the Lions.

"I thought we had 15 really good practices," said head coach James Franklin. "I thought we really improved dramatically from the start of the spring to the end. Today, having 65,000 fans here was unbelievable. Overall, we had a great spring."

Penn State practiced 15 times between March 18 and April 16 before the spring season culminated with the four quarters of action inside Beaver Stadium on a sun-splashed day with a terrific crowd.

The fan support Penn State Football receives throughout a year sets it apart, and Saturday was no different. From the new-look autograph session held at stadium gates during the morning to the spring game festivities, the Nittany Lions truly embraced the opportunity to spend a day with so many loyal supporters of the program.

"Blue-White Weekend is an awesome time every year to spend time with your family and see so many fans supporting us," said offensive tackle Andrew Nelson. "We couldn't be anymore thankful for our fans and how they came out to be in Beaver Stadium for the spring game."

Offensively, the Nittany Lions took a big leap forward from the start of spring ball. Installing a new offensive scheme in a span of 15 spring practices is no small task, but the Lions worked through the paces of the process with great efficiency. Tempo was the key throughout spring drills, and the Lions are primed to pick up right where they left off on Saturday when training camp begins in August.

"I think the offense did a really good job picking up the offense this spring," said quarterback Trace McSorley. "We kept getting better every day. We came out and had a really good day in front of the fans. I thought we moved the ball well most of the day. We have some things to clean up, but we are really happy with how the day and spring went."

McSorley and Tommy Stevens steered the offense with great efficiency during spring practice. The young Nittany Lions will continue to grow with work during the summer months, but Coach Franklin is pleased with the progress made during the past month on the field and how they performed on Saturday afternoon.

"I thought the two quarterbacks did a really good job of running the offense," said Franklin. "Tommy Stevens, even though he was working with the white team against the blue defense, he really did some nice things and then late in the game we were able to get him with the blue offense and he really did a nice job. I thought Trace (McSorley) looked poised, looked confident, looked under control."

On defense, the Lions gained valuable experience at a number of spots during the first spring under coordinator Brent Pry. The Nittany Lions are replacing two big pieces at defensive tackle, but the unit made a lot of big plays this spring and got its hands on a number of balls.

"I really like the way the defense has grown," said Franklin. "We made a bunch of plays and we didn't have Nyeem Wartman-White and Brandon Bell, two of our better players. We lost some great players on the defensive line that we are going to have to replace. I'm really pleased at defensive end and our secondary. We've got some very nice depth."

Penn State will look to finish the semester strong in the classroom before the summer conditioning program begins. With a spring marked by positive growth, the Nittany Lions have a lot to build upon before fall camp begins in early August.

Saturday's spring game was the final time the fans will see the team before action commences in Beaver Stadium against Kent State on Sept. 3. The window of opportunity for growth between now and the opener is a big one for the Nittany Lions. With the foundation laid this spring, the Lions are well on their way to a strong start for 2016.

"We improved on offense, defense and special teams this spring, but where we really took a step forward is that team camaraderie," said Nelson. "We are looking forward to growing more over the summer after a very good spring."



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony



VIDEO: 2016 Blue-White James Franklin Postgame Interview

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin talks with GoPSUsports.com following the Blue-White Game to wrap up a productive spring practice period.








Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: 2016 Blue-White Postgame Player Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Blue team topped the White squad, 37-0, before 65,000 fans inside Beaver Stadium on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon. Hear from several Nittany Lions following the culmination of spring drills for 2016.





Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2016 Blue-White Gameday Snapshots

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Take a look inside the 2016 Blue-White Gameday with snapshots from a sun-splashed day in Beaver Stadium.


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By: Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- When you ask a student why they chose Penn State, you can get a countless number of answers. For freshman midfielder, Delaney Muldoon, she said it was a feeling that made her choose to become a Nittany Lion.

"I visited a bunch of schools, but once I visited Penn State's campus I just got this feeling and I knew it was the place for me," said Muldoon.

She was especially sure of her decision to come to Penn State and play lacrosse once she met her future teammates, who she said were very welcoming and supportive.

"After meeting the girls, who are all so down to earth, I just knew I wanted to be a part of the team," said Muldoon. 

When she finally got to Penn State, Muldoon said that her teammates immediately took in all of the new freshmen, making them feel as welcome as possible in their transition into college.

"The seniors were really awesome when we all got here. During our first week, they texted us to come over and they made us all dinner, which was so nice to be welcomed onto the team and to Penn State like that," said Muldoon. 

There is a huge transition players have to make coming from playing in high school to playing on a Division I team in college. Balancing school, practices, traveling, and games takes a lot of organization, which Muldoon says is something she has been working hard on.

"You have to plan ahead and stay on top of things, which was something I really had to get used to," said Muldoon.

"It was a hard change for me, but they do a lot to help us. We have eight mandatory study hours a week to make sure that we are always staying on top of our work."

Head coach Missy Doherty does an incredible job of ensuring that her girls do just as well as students as they do as athletes, and she has high expectations for each and every one of her players. 

Muldoon can attest to those expectations, especially coming onto a team that won the Big Ten tournament title last year.

"There are definitely some huge expectations this year, but it gives everyone the motivation to be a powerhouse team all of the time," said Muldoon

Every single player is fighting their hardest to win every game and they do their best to support each other and give the motivation that is needed to win.

Muldoon can be seen giving that motivation each game as she runs up and down the sidelines giving every player and coach a high five after any Penn State goal.

She shows such enthusiasm for her team during every game and it makes a huge difference to her teammates.

"The players always thank everyone for keeping high energy on the bench and I enjoy being one of those people to keep the players on the field pepped up," said Muldoon.

"It keeps the players in the game and hearing your teammates constantly cheering from the sides makes a huge difference."

The team is all about bonding and Muldoon said they are all very tight-knit, which is important as they spend almost all of their time together.

It is so vital for the players to create those incredible bonds in order to make a strong team and Penn State has done that with the help of their strong leaders and enthusiasm all throughout.

The one thing Muldoon said she is looking forward to in the rest of the season is that moment when everything clicks perfectly and the team is playing as one flawless unit. 

"We're really waiting for the team to click completely. It'll be kind of an a-ha moment and we'll just know that the team has clicked and that's what we are waiting for the most," she said. 

With only three games left in the regular season, we can hope that the team will find that a-ha moment that they are looking for.

Penn State has already had a good run so far this season with a current winning record of 9-4.  They hope to continue with that success and go far in the post-season play.

The Nittany Lions will continue their season this Sunday, April 17 where they will faceoff with the Wolverines at the University of Michigan, starting at 1 p.m.

2016 Blue-White Gameday Preview

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Blue-White Gameday Central | Parking Map | Parking Pass | 
Blue Roster | White Roster

Spring Practice Central 



UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions will wrap up spring drills on Saturday afternoon at the annual Blue-White Game inside Beaver Stadium, marking the culmination of a very productive spring practice season. The game will kick at 2 p.m. with tape-delayed television coverage from BTN (Saturday at 7 p.m.).

11868108.jpegPenn State has made significant progress on both sides of the ball and on special teams during the allotted practice period for spring drills. Saturday's game marks the final opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate the team before the start of training camp in early August.

"The Blue-White Weekend is such a huge weekend here all around the University," said head coach James Franklin. "I think the spring game is a good opportunity to see how guys are going to be in that type of environment. It's important to see how guys are going to react in that stadium before the first game this year."


On the offensive side of the ball, the Nittany Lions have worked diligently to install a new scheme under the direction of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Joe Moorhead. The transition to a new no-huddle, up-tempo offense has been smooth and resulted in a great deal of big plays. Defensively, the Lions took a step forward under coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry. Both sides of the ball are excited about how the spring has transpired.

"I've been really pleased with the energy," said Franklin. "This week has been very good. It's easy to lose focus as you get closer to the spring game (and the end of practice), but the guys have been focused and locked in."

The Blue-White Game is a great opportunity to mimic a typical gameday environment for the Nittany Lions. While Saturday's game will be a fun way for the team to put on a show for the fans, it's a chance to work through typical game-like conditions.

"We always want to execute. The spring game is a lot of our base stuff, so we want to execute at a very high level as a team. It's a good opportunity for us," said sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley. "It's going to be fun to get out in front of the fans for the first time this spring."

The work is just beginning for the 2016 Nittany Lions, but the spring period set the tone for the rest of the academic semester and summer conditioning program. The team is optimistic about the direction the team is headed in, and the group is looking forward to getting in front of the Beaver Stadium crowd.

"We look at the Spring Game as an opportunity to show our growth," said junior wide receiver Saeed Blacknall. "We always want to continue taking steps forward, and this is the opportunity to do that at the end of the spring."

Take a look through some Blue-White items to watch as the Nittany Lions wrap up spring practice for 2016.

Autograph Session Returns
11868065.jpegThe popular pre-game autograph session returns for the third-straight year. Parking lots around Beaver Stadium will open at 8 a.m. The team will arrive at the South Tunnel at approximately 10:30 a.m. The autograph session will take place from 11:15 a.m. and 12:05 p.m., and new for this year, the Nittany Lions will be signing autographs at various Beaver Stadium gates.

The Nittany Lions will be spread out at five stadium gates by position. The breakdown is as follows:

 

Gate A -- Running Backs/Tight Ends

Gate B -- Quarterbacks/Defensive Backs

Gate C -- Defensive Line/Linebackers

Gate E -- Wide Receivers/Specialists

Gate F -- Offensive Line

 

A team poster will be available at the stadium gates, while supplies last, for the players to sign during the autograph session and for other fans attending the game. An autograph page is also included in the Blue-White Game programs that are sold in the tailgating lots.

 

The players will be permitted to sign one item per person to give as many fans as possible an opportunity to meet the squad members. The players will not be available for photographs during the autograph session.

Gates A and B will open at 12:30 p.m. in advance of the 2:06 p.m. kickoff.

Game Format
The Blue-White Game will feature regular scoring. The squad has been split into a Blue team and a White team. Quarterbacks will wear the opposite jersey color of their team (Blue team QBs will wear White jerseys; White team QBs will wear Blue jerseys). The game will have four quarters, each 12 minutes in length. All four quarters will feature a running clock. The clock will stop at each possession change and during a called penalty. There will be a media timeout in each quarter at the first change of possession after the 6:00 mark. The final two minutes of each half will have normal timing. Each team will be awarded three timeouts. There will be 20-minute halftime intermission.

Blue-White Game Rosters
Take a look through the breakdown of the roster for Saturday's game. Note that the coaching staff has been split into two groups.

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2005 Team Set to be Honored
Approximately 25 members from the 2005 Big Ten championship team will be honored on the field between the third and fourth quarters of Saturday's Blue-White Game. The 2006 Orange Bowl champion squad capped an 11-1 season with a dramatic 26-23 triple overtime victory over Florida State. The Nittany Lions marched to a Big Ten title with a 7-1 mark in conference games, which included a thrilling 17-10 victory over No. 6 Ohio State in primetime at Beaver Stadium. A last-second touchdown in Ann Arbor was all that stood between the conference champions and an undefeated season.

Levi Brown, Chris Harrell, Matt Hahn, Ethan Kilmer, Michael Robinson, Anwar Phillips, Derrick Williams and Alan Zemaitis are among the Nittany Lion greats scheduled to be back on Saturday.

Uplifting Athletes Connection
For the third-straight year, the Blue-White Game will help raise funds for Uplifting Athletes. This year, the helmets in the spring game will include an Uplifting Athletes logo on the back. Additionally, the game balls used in the Blue-White Game will feature the Uplifting Athletes logo. Five game balls will then be signed (James Franklin, 
Joe Moorhead and Brent Pry) before being auctioned off in the coming weeks with the net proceeds going to Uplifting Athletes.


Last July, the 13th Annual Penn State Uplifting Athletes Lift For Life raised more than $120,000. Last year's fundraising efforts brought the cumulative total of funds raised to more than $1.1 million to benefit kidney cancer research and the rare disease community. The 14th Annual Lift For Life will take place in July.

BTN Television Coverage
The Big Ten Network will again provide coverage of the Blue-White Game, with former Penn State standout and four-time Super Bowl Champion Matt Millen serving as the analyst for the broadcast. The game will be tape-delayed on BTN, but fans can watch it live on BTN2Go.

 

Millen is paired with play-by-play announcer Scott Graham and sideline reporter Brian Tripp. The game will air on a tape-delayed basis on BTN at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 16 and be replayed Sunday, April 17 at midnight and 10 p.m., Monday, April 18 at 11:30 p.m. and Tuesday, April 19 at 4 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

 

A defensive tackle out of Hokendauqua, Pennsylvania, Millen was an All-America selection in 1978 by Walter Camp and United Press International.

 

The game is also airing on more than 30 Penn State Sports Network radio stations across the state and in metropolitan New York City, with Steve Jones and Jack Ham on the call. ESPN Radio (1450 AM) and WBUS (93.7 FM) are the State College outlets. The radio broadcast is also available on GoPSUsports.com.



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Hagenman Bursting Onto the Scene Earlier than Expected

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The jump from high school ball to collegiate level competition can be daunting to most young pitchers.

The hitters in college are bigger, stronger, smarter, and flat out better than anyone a rising freshman pitcher has had to face in their lives. Most, if not all, freshman pitchers take a year to work on their game in practice and, if they're lucky, occupy a bullpen slot to warm up to the college game.  

But Justin Hagenman is not most freshman pitchers.

Hagenman has come to Happy Valley and immediately asserted himself as the ace of the Nittany Lion staff in year one. The quick leap and a sharp increase in talent hasn't fazed the 19-year-old from Voorhees, N.J., one bit.

"I don't think you should ever expect a true freshman to come in and be an ace because I don't think that's fair to that kid, but you don't ever put a limit on a guy," said head coach Rob Cooper. "If you come in with the mindset 'hey I just want to be [a part of] the roster or just want to get a few innings' well then you're slowing down your growth as a player, and it's something he hasn't done. He's a guy that wants to win and wants to compete and is doing a heck of a job of it."

Cooper and his coaching staff weren't exactly going after Hagenman hard when he was in high school at Bishop Eustace. They were looking more seriously at other players on his summer team and in the area when both his high school coach and summer coach approached Cooper and urged him to take a closer look at Hagenman.

Cooper did, and it sure has paid off.

In his first year in Blue and White Hagenman has started in eight games and boasts a 4-1 record, which is tops among Penn State's starting core. Hagenman has thrown a team high 52 innings to the tune of a 2.25 ERA, and he is third on the team with 27 strikeouts in 2016.

His 52 innings pitched is the fifth highest total in the Big Ten and his 2.25 ERA ranks ninth in the conference.

"He's just a silent assassin," Cooper said. "He's a competitor that just kind of goes about his business, and you look up at the end of the game and you've got a chance to win it. He's a lot of fun to coach because he takes a lot of responsibility to make himself better, he doesn't make excuses and he wants to help Penn State win."

"My goal was to come in here and be able to start games for Penn State," said Hagenman. "Not a numbers goal but being able to keep my team in games and give them a chance to win all the games that I started."

Hagenman has done just that and more for the Nittany Lions this season. Penn State has won six of his eight starts, and his only loss was to South Carolina, which ranks third in the country at 28-6. In that game, Hagenman held the Gamecocks to just two earned runs in 5.2 innings of work.

Hagenman was heavily influenced by his father, Dan, growing up. He learned everything about the game from his dad and gives all the credit to him.

"From the youngest age he was the one that got me into baseball," said Hagenman. "He coached me throughout and he's probably my best coach to this day. He's done everything on the baseball side of it."

No matter the situation, Hagenman has competed and put his team in a position to win every game he's started. There are no nerves. This kid is simply outperforming the expectations at his age.

"I think that's one of the best things that I can do. It's the controllables," said Hagenman. "Stuff like your emotions on the mound and attacking hitters, that stuff is all something that I can control. I can't really control whether they hit it, but I can trust my stuff and being able to go right at them is something that I can do."

Go right at them he has, and hit him they haven't.

Hagenman imprinted his name as a force to be reckoned with even before the season started. During Penn State's trip to Cuba in the fall, Hagenman became the first U.S. pitcher to earn a win over a Cuban National Series team in a matchup against Mayabeque. Hagenman allowed just one run and struck out three in his historical debut for the Nittany Lions.

He hasn't taken any steps back since that day. In fact, he's only improved. Of the 198 batters he's faced so far this season, Hagenman has walked only nine. There are seven pitchers on Penn State's roster who have surrendered more walks than Hagenman, and none of them have pitched more than 44 innings.

"It's an unbelievable stat," Cooper said. "It just shows that he goes after guys and he competes. He led off an inning with a walk and you could tell he wasn't happy with it, and that's because you're not used to it. The biggest thing is he just goes out and competes, and he believes in his team behind him and he believes in his ability."

"I just try to throw strikes and get ahead in the count," said Hagenman. "I'm inviting contact, so if they want to swing that's what we're going for."

That confidence is what has brought so much success to Hagenman so early on in his career. In turn, it has brought Penn State the success it hasn't produced in a while.

Penn State (19-14) is off to its best start since 2011. The Lions' 3.31 team ERA is approximately 1.82 runs lower than last season's and ranks 32nd nationally and third in the Big Ten.

Hagenman is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons for this resurgence, and he'll be around for quite a while longer.

"Just being myself, that's the first thing [my coaches] told me when they were recruiting me and then when I got here. They don't want me to be anything that I'm not, and that's what I've done."



Spring Football Position Breakdown - Quarterbacks

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Spring Practice Central


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions practiced for the 13th time during spring drills on Wednesday afternoon. Throughout spring practice, GoPSUsports.com has provided a break down each position on the depth chart. Today, we wrap up with the quarterbacks.



The Quarterbacks

Players Returning-Newcomers/Lost:
4/2

Who's Back:
Billy Fessler (Jr./So.), Trace McSorley (Jr./So.), Tommy Stevens (So./Fr.), Jake Zembiec (Fr./Fr.)

The Breakdown:
11865176.jpegNo unit on the depth chart faced a bigger learning curve during spring practice than the quarterbacks. Under the direction of new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Joe Moorhead, the Nittany Lions worked diligently to install a new offensive scheme that will debut in the fall.

Meetings and efforts to go about the installation process began in the winter, but the unit did not get to take things onto the field until March 18 when spring practice began. Largely, it has been a spring marked by great progress for the Nittany Lion quarterbacks. The unit has adapted to the quick pace and new scheme with great focus and work ethic.

In addition to learning the intricacies of a new offense, the quarterbacks entered the spring period replacing the shoes of the program's all-time leading passer. Christian Hackenberg will be part of the NFL Draft at the end of the month, and the quarterback position will have a new starter for the first time since the start of 2013.

Sophomore Trace McSorley returns as the most experienced player at quarterback. The Virginia native redshirted as a true freshman in 2014. The 6-foot, 199-pound signal caller appeared in seven games as a redshirt freshman in 2015. That list of games included significant time at the TaxSlayer Bowl. McSorley completed 14-of-27 passes for 142 yards and tossed two touchdown passes.

He made very good progress during the 2015 season and during winter conditioning drills. McSorley can hurt a defense with his elusive abilities with the ball in his hands. He helped lead Briar Woods High School to four state championship games, winning three titles.

Redshirt freshman Tommy Stevens has split reps with McSorley during spring practice. The Indianapolis product was instrumental on the scout team offense during the 2015 season. Now, Stevens is firmly in the mix to contend for the starting assignment following a strong offseason.

The 6-foot-4, 219-pound athlete added eight pounds of muscle to his frame during the winter conditioning period. Stevens enrolled early during the winter of 2015 and is participating in spring practice for the second time in his career. Like McSorley, Stevens has adapted to learning the new offense very well and has put together a strong spring practice period.

Billy Fessler returns for his third season in the program. A redshirt sophomore, Fessler redshirted in 2014 and did not see any game action during the 2015 campaign. The Erie, Pa., native has been instrumental in helping the Nittany Lions prepare each week and plays a critical role as a sideline signal caller for the new no huddle offense.

New to the quarterback group is early enrollee Jake Zembiec. The Rochester, N.Y., product graduated from Aquinas Institute in December and started classes at Penn State in January. After going through winter conditioning, Zembiec's experience in learning the new offense has been invaluable for his development and adjustment to the college game.

All four quarterbacks are relishing in the opportunity to steer the new no huddle attack. The tempo of the offense rests on the shoulders of the quarterbacks, and the Lions have done a superb job growing with each passing day of spring practice.


Quoting Coach Moorhead:
"I think they have been very diligent in their approach to learning the offense and applying it on the field. I think they all have a great work ethic. I think at times during spring ball they have shown flashes of what we need from the position to be successful in the fall. So, I'm very excited about the potential. I think they've made the biggest strides mentally. Going form zero understanding of the offense to getting it entirely installed in about six days, they've done a great job really understanding the material and understanding the things it takes to be successful from a mental standpoint."

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By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State men's gymnastic team heads back to Columbus, Ohio this weekend for the 2016 NCAA Championships.

 

Being no strangers to the national stage, the Nittany Lions have won the championships 12 times already, the last one being in 2007.

 

"I've seen it all in my career," said head coach Randy Jepson. "I've had teams that dominate in regular season but then loss it in the championships, and I've had teams that battle their way to the championships and take it from behind."

 

The Lions recently came in fourth place at the Big Ten championships and bring back valuable lessons with them as they prepare for the NCAA championships.

 

"We have some things to work out still but I think we're standing at a good spot right now," said Jepson. "This is the healthiest we've been all season which is good, we're not a 100% but I'm glad we're better than where we were earlier in the season."

 

The championship breaks down into two sessions on Friday, April 15th, with the top three teams of both session I and session II competing for the team event finals on Saturday, April 16th.

 

"We've been really solid all around this year," said coach Jepson. "We've been really solid on rings and parallel bars, which is the event we've really been able to make the most gain on people in competition."

 

"High bars we've also been very solid on this year," he continued.

 

Although the team's been solid in the competition, they still aim to improve.

 

"If anything I would say we want to hit pommel horse," Jepson said.  "Not that we're bad on that event, but it's not as strong as the rest of our routines and I think if we iron that out we'll be in great shape for the competition."

 

With the Blue and White just recently competing in the St. John Arena at Ohio State University, they're well-prepared for the setting of the NCAA competition.

 

"This is our third postseason in this arena, I think the guys will be very comfortable entering the arena," said Jepson. "It plays to our benefit we've seen the setting before and know what the teams we're competing against are."

 

"We're entering the weekend expecting no surprises, but also prepared for anything."

 

With a squad full of veterans such as Trevor Howard, Alexis Torres, and Leroy Clarke Jr. leading the team the Lions are keeping their spirits high.

 

The Nittany Lions have worked hard the entire season and they'll end their 2015-2016 campaign this weekend with hopes to finish on a high note.

 

"I always tell my guys anything can happen," said Jepson. "As long as we go out and do the job we're trained to do and have fun doing it we'll be fine, we just need to stay focused on the big picture and see what happens."

 

The competition will start at 1 p.m. on Friday, April 15th and extend into Saturday with the first event starting at 7 p.m.

Lions Enter Final Weekend with Eye on Postseason

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11867240.jpegBy Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Many consider the playoffs in any sport to be the start of a new season.

The same rings true for the Penn State Nittany Lion men's volleyball team as they begin their pursuit for their 18th consecutive EIVA postseason crown. Although the team has two games remaining on the regular season schedule, the group's mentality has somewhat shifted to the upcoming season, the postseason.

"We will try out a few guys and keep them fresh," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "But if we have a group of guys playing well, we want to keep it that way and give them as much playing time before the tournament as possible."

Senior captain Matt Seifert was quoted after the teams win against Sacred Heart saying that, "This is just one step for us, we have a lot more to go to accomplish what we want." That mentality from Penn State, that the regular season is just the beginning, is an idea of how poised and ready the team is entering postseason play. Although the Nittany Lion's are expected to win the EIVA, the conference is not an easy weekend by any means, and Pavlik was quick to reiterate that point.

"We know that this conference is tough and it's getting better so we took care of the first step, but there are teams in the EIVA that can beat us and we have to be ready during the tournament as well," Pavlik said.

The regular season has been up and down for the Nittany Lions, though the needle certainly seems to be pointing up for the Penn State team who has won six of its last eight contests. Though Penn State is playing some of its best volleyball of the season, Pavlik believes that it doesn't always matter how a team is heading in to the postseason, just so long as they play well when the time comes.

"I've seen it both ways," Pavlik said. "At the end of the day I don't know if it matters one way or another because when you watch enough volleyball you have seen it happen both ways. We just have to take care of our team and make sure we are playing as well as we can."

With the win, the EIVA playoffs will be hosted here at Rec Hall. After a final month that has had Penn State traveling all over the east coast to face EIVA, the Nittany Lions will be home for as long as their season will continue. The national finals will also be held in Happy Valley. If all goes well for Penn State, the furthest the Nittany Lions will have to travel is the 20 feet from their locker room to the main court at Rec Hall. For Penn State, the lack of travel is a commodity that they don't take for granted.

"It's huge for us," Pavlik said. "The fact that we don't have to travel just takes that part of the equation right out of the picture. It is a lot to worry about travel plans on top of actually game planning so the fact that we can stay at home and rest well and play in front of our fans is a big difference."

That difference will be present for as long as the season persists for Penn State. With two more games on the road against Charelston (WV) and George Mason, the Nittany Lions have a chance to close out the season on a high note and enter Happy Valley for what they hope is a playoff run. 

Television Exposure Helps Nittany Lion Lacrosse Grow

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Between the 2011 and 2015 seasons, the No. 14 Penn State men's lacrosse team (7-3, 1-1 Big Ten) has appeared on television 11 times. By the end of the 2016 regular season, alone, the Nittany Lions will have appeared on national television seven times.

The importance of media coverage for the program has grown during head coach Jeff Tambroni's time at the helm of the Nittany Lions. With the introduction of the Big Ten conference for men's and women's lacrosse last season, it has become more important for Penn State's program to put its best foot forward when games appear on television.


During Tambroni's first season with Penn State in 2011, the Nittany Lions didn't have any regular season games aired on television. Again in 2012, Penn State didn't see television coverage.

However, in 2013 the Nittany Lions had four games broadcasted into fans' living rooms. The program's 15-12 win over Denver was the first game of the season to be broadcasted, followed by games against Lehigh and Towson. The Nittany Lions, who received an NCAA Tournament bid that year, had their first-round game against Yale aired on ESPNU.


Despite a successful season in 2013, the Nittany Lions had just one of their 2014 season games covered on live TV, a 9-7 loss to Villanova.

Last season Penn State reached a record-high level of coverage, having six games covered by live broadcasts. All of the Nittany Lions' Big Ten matchups were aired on TV.

With the introduction of the Big Ten conference for lacrosse during the 2015 season, coverage of the sport has expanded both within the conference and nationally.

"Through the course of the last number of years, with the addition of the Big Ten and some smaller successes, that's put us in the position to be here," said Tambroni. "We understand we have a long way to go but we definitely credit the Big Ten conference and the Big Ten Network for putting Penn State lacrosse probably in a position well before our time to have nationwide exposure, and the benefit of that is just astronomical."

Television exposure is key for coaches during recruiting, and for Penn State it's not any different. For high school prospects it can sometimes be difficult to make trips to colleges to watch prospective teams play in person, let alone be able to travel to State College.

"You try to connect with [recruits] over the summer and you hope they connect back with you other ways other than just coming to see games which is a little unrealistic for most people," said Tambroni. "But through sports information and television coverage you just have a huge advantage and also through your alumni base, which Penn State has a great one, and a recruiting base which we were trying to build when we first got here."

The advantages of being recognized by television coverage are overwhelmingly positive but coverage can sometimes present some challenges. Still regarded as a sport on the rise, collegiate lacrosse teams often have to decide between playing at unusual times or turning down coverage.

This season, on Saturday March 12, Penn State hosted the Harvard Crimson. The Nittany Lions won in a dramatic fashion in overtime against the Crimson, 13-12, however, the game started at 10 a.m. The unusually early start time was to allow for ESPNU coverage, but sacrificing start times is worth the exposure a team will receive.

Tambroni explained that as the program gathers more wins, and becomes a more successful brand in collegiate lacrosse, coverage is sure to increase, whether it is television or just media. Although teams don't have direct control over television coverage, Tambroni said teams do have control over the team's performance.

"It goes hand in hand with our own success," said Tambroni. "If you're not a very successful program or not a worldwide brand you're probably not going to be on television all that much and I think that makes a lot of sense, you just kind of have to live with that. I think the brand of Penn State put us at the forefront because we are such a popular brand, not Penn State lacrosse, but Penn State University."

Tambroni expanded on that comment to explain how if a team is doing well, networks will want to cover its games. It all comes down to a team's ability to win games and make audiences want to watch a competitive team play, whether they are Penn State fans or not.

In general, the coverage collegiate teams are seeing now is unprecedented and can only keep receiving more exposure as the sport continues to grow. For current collegiate players like Penn State's senior midfielder James Burke, being able to see the growth of lacrosse over the last four years has been something they are proud not only to witness, but also be a part of.

Hopeful that the growth of lacrosse will increase at youth, collegiate, and the professional levels, Burke has credited the Penn State community for embracing its local team. Burke explained that television coverage is great to help people learn the sport, but it's essential that players do their part to build relationships with members of the community.

"We've seen a larger incorporation of the youth programs," said Burke of lacrosse in State College. "We started working with them last fall to kind of get things going and then just around campus, the special promotions, stuff life that, we've started to expose people to the excitement of lacrosse."

Both Penn State and Johns Hopkins remain tied at No. 14 in the polls. Penn State hosts Johns Hopkins Sunday at 7 p.m. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.



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By: Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Penn State women's lacrosse team fell in their first loss at home against Cornell Wednesday afternoon, by a score of 10-7. The Nittany Lions fought hard, but the Big Red used their aggressive defense and dynamic offense to clinch a victory.

Penn State started off strong with sophomore Katie O'Donnell earning the first goal of the game, just three minutes into the first half.

After that, Cornell was able to gain possession off of the draw and brought the ball down to Penn State's goal, where they earned themselves the second goal of the game off a free position.

Junior Steph Lazo put in the next goal of the game to take the lead again, assisted by freshman Madison Carter, after beating out the defense and getting off a successful shot on an open goal.

Penn State continued their streak with senior Madison Cyr scoring another goal after gaining possession off of the draw.

Cyr followed that up with another yet another successful shot on the net, after she picked up a ground ball and was able to get an immediate shot off on goal around the 12-minute mark to give PSU a 4-1 lead.

At this point Cornell started to gain back momentum, netting five goals in the latter part of the first half, compared to Penn State's one goal, scored by senior Jenna Mosketti.

At the conclusion of the first half, Cornell held a lead of 6-5. This early lead was a result of Cornell's strong defense and long offensive possessions.

Head coach Missy Doherty discussed the team's play during the first half and how it affected the outcome of the game. 

"We needed to be aggressive and we were playing on our heels too much waiting to see what the other team was going to do," said Doherty.

She also talked about the game as a whole and what she would have liked to see from her team to earn themselves a win. 

"Cornell did a really good job of being aggressive and we just couldn't get into a rhythm. We weren't getting the draw and it's hard to get into a rhythm when you aren't getting those possessions," said Doherty.

Doherty also believes that it is essential for their offense to get shots off at crucial times to keep up the team's momentum, and that was just something that did not happen this game.

Going into the second half of the game, Penn State was only down by one point, giving them a good chance of earning a comeback.

Unfortunately, Cornell continued their four-goal streak from the first half and nabbed the next two goals in the second, bringing the score up to 8-5.

Cyr broke up this streak by faking it past multiple defenders and netting Penn State's sixth goal of the game, earning herself a hat-trick.

The momentum did not last long for the Nittany Lions, as Cornell came back and scored another two goals.

Senior Erika Spilker said that Cornell's frequent cuts on offense were a huge contributing factor to their success during the game, although she did say she thought the defense worked well together against their ivy league counterparts.

"Their offense does a lot of cuts and they had some good players, which made it a tough game, but we really worked as one defense today as opposed to individuals and that was good for us," said Spilker.

With the defense working hard to stop Cornell's strong offensive efforts, Penn State really needed to see some success from their own offense to try and even up the score.

The team was able to net one more goal in the game, thanks to Lazo, but it was not enough to earn a Penn State victory.

Lazo contributed much of Cornell's victory to their long possessions on offense, which took away many of the opportunities that she and the rest of the Penn State offense had to get off shots on net and score.

After a two-game losing streak, the Nittany Lions are looking to redeem themselves and earn another win in their season.  Their next opportunity to earn that win is this Sunday, April 17 against Michigan State starting at 1 p.m.

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By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The shadows were just starting to cover a portion of the infield, as it appeared, at least briefly, that game one of the doubleheader vs. Bucknell Wednesday, would belong to the Bison.  Penn State's Shelby Miller had other ideas. 

 

The junior from Sugar Land, Texas launched a game-tying bomb over the right field wall halfway to Pegula Ice Arena in the bottom half of the sixth inning.  Miller shuffled towards the pitcher, Ichiro style, and unleashed a forceful swing, hitting her eighth home run of the 2016 campaign.

 

Miller wasn't the only Nittany Lion batting at the top of the order that produced.  Second baseman Mollie Sorenson, batting second in game one of the doubleheader, singled home the winning run in the bottom of the seventh, taking an incredibly important game from Bucknell in the process.  Penn State would not waste a dominating performance in the circle by Marleina Laubach, who tossed a complete game while giving up just one run.

Head coach Amanda Lehotak believes one of the keys to her team's success Wednesday was the timely hitting of the top of the order.

"One, two, three, they're usually the most consistent hitters.  So for them to keep coming through like they have been all year is a big part of our offensive plan," said Lehotak.

Lehotak was also thrilled with Miller's display of power.

"We don't talk a lot about power, but to have that power, we can tie it up like Shelby Miller did," she added.

Game one went well for the top of the order, but could they do it again in the second?  Yes, and it wouldn't take long.  In the first inning, leadoff hitter Macy Jones lined a single to open the game.  Sorenson would sacrifice her over after laying one down and Shelby Miller, who else, drove her in with a one-out double. 

Jones would later homer in the third, and Miller would score in the same frame, pushing the Blue & White's lead to 4-0.  Miller was happy to be able to start things off right for her team.

"It's very important in every game, to have [the top of the order] set the tone.  We're the first ones to go up there every first inning of the game and we really like to set the tone," said Miller.

When asked about the pressure of batting late in games, Miller showed off why she is someone the Lions can rely on in clutch moments down the stretch.

"We're in those situations all the time, the game is all about pressure," she said.  "It's different for me when I lead off, I don't put as much pressure on myself."

The key for Penn State down the stretch is to continue to get production from the top of the order, as the pitching and defense have held up well of late.  With two important victories against Bucknell, the Nittany Lions are one step closer to playing in the NCAA tournament.  The road continues over the weekend.  Penn State will face Maryland at home for a three-game series beginning Friday night. 

 

Spring Football: Post-Practice Press Conference (4/13/16)

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Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin updated the media following Penn State's 13th spring practice on Wednesday evening. A spring marked by good progress on both sides, the Nittany Lions will return to Beaver Stadium on Saturday to wrap up spring drills.

Hear from Coach Franklin and quarterbacks Trace McSorley and Tommy Stevens following Wednesday's practice.





Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Spring Football: McSorley, Stevens Growing Inside New Offense

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11863056.jpegSpring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The reps have been invaluable. The progress has been significant. And the process has been a pleasure.

That's how quarterbacks Trace McSorley and Tommy Stevens would best sum up the last four weeks of spring practice at the helm of the Nittany Lion offense.

Splitting reps throughout spring drills, McSorley and Stevens are just grazing the surface in their time commanding the new offense, but both are very optimistic with how things have gone and where the offensive unit can go from here.

"It's been a very good spring," said McSorley. "I think the offense has done a really good job picking things up. I think we are ahead of where we thought we would have been through (12) practices. We have been able to move the ball against our defense, which has been among the best in the nation during the past couple years. It's going to be exciting in the fall."

The offense began laying the groundwork of installing a new scheme immediately after the TaxSlayer Bowl. It was new for everyone in the offensive meeting room, which benefitted the young duo of returning quarterbacks. The entire group spent the spring learning together as one collective unit, and the on-field results have improved with each passing practice.

"Things have really become more efficient for the offense since the start of spring practice," said Stevens. "The pace at which we are getting in and out of plays has been very effective and at a high standard has been a big area of improvement."

Tempo has been the theme of the spring for the offensive players. McSorley, a redshirt sophomore, and Stevens, a redshirt freshman, are the men who set the pace at which the offense operates. When a play is over, the unit gets to the line of scrimmage as quickly as possible before looking to the sideline for the next signal. There is no huddle for the quarterbacks to lead, and it's something both returning quarterbacks can't help but smile about.

"The no-huddle is awesome," Stevens said. "It puts the power in our hands."

"It falls on each guy to get where they need to be at a fast tempo and then look for the signal," said McSorley. "In a way, it almost takes a little bit off of the quarterback because each guy gets where they need to be and then looks at the signal to get ready for the snap. The tempo really gives you some momentum."

The swift pace at which the offense is operating lets the Lions dictate things when they have the ball. Penn State can be the aggressor, put a defense on its heels and make the opponent play faster than it may want to. McSorley and Stevens said that conditioning was a factor in the first three or four practices this spring, but the unit has taken a big step forward with the effectiveness of the tempo.

Additionally, the offense puts a premium on getting the skill players in space. The quarterbacks have plenty of options to find talent across the offense, and they are enjoying how many chances it gives the Lion athletes to make plays in the open field.

"I really like how the offense lets our athletes get in space and go one-on-one with a defender," said McSorley. "We have a lot of really good athletes on the outside and in the backfield, so letting those guys get out in space and make someone have to tackle, like Saquon (Barkley) one-on-one, more times than not a guy like him is going to make people miss."

McSorley and Stevens both lit up when asked about the weapons Penn State's offense will have at wide receiver in 2016. The wide receiver group is an impressive unit to watch on the practice field. It's a diverse group with size, speed, experience and some youth.

"I really like the variety of the group. We don't have one guy who you can lock in on," said McSorley. "Saeed (Blacknall) is really good down the field. Chris (Godwin) can do so many different things. DaeSean (Hamilton) is so precise with his routes and diagnosing the defense. Then you have the speed of (Brandon) Polk and DeAndre (Thompkins). We have Juwan (Johnson) and Irvin (Charles) coming in and making plays. We have so much size and speed that I think it's going to create problems for defenses."

McSorley spent 2015 as the primary backup behind Christian Hackenberg. He played in seven contests, including significant reps at the TaxSlayer Bowl. Stevens played a paramount role on the scout team during his redshirt season last fall. The move into the primary rotation on the offense has been an adjustment for the Indianapolis native, but it's one that he has relished.

"Getting the experience on the scout team was really important, but the number of meaningful reps I've had this spring has been great. Being able to compete and make the team better has been a lot of fun this spring," said Stevens.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Joe Moorhead sets the tone for the unit every day. The Lions faced a steep learning curve this spring, but Coach Moorhead has put the group in a great spot to be successful on the field.

"Coach Moorhead brings a ton of energy and juice to practices and the meeting room," said Stevens. "He pushes us to get better every single day. He's always expecting a championship standard, and it's really challenging us to be at our best."

The Lions will have a couple more opportunities to grow before showcasing the new offense in front of the fans on Saturday in Beaver Stadium.

"I look for the group to continue to get better each day," McSorley said. "We need to clean some things up that we aren't 100 percent certain on and just continue to grow. As an offense, we have a good grasp on the base playbook. At the spring game, we hope to give people a little taste of what is to come next year."

The quarterbacks are pleased with the progress, but the unit knows this is just the beginning of the process leading up to 2016. The first chapter will draw to a close on Saturday when spring drills commence.

"Ultimately, we are prepared and want to be confident in what we are doing. We are excited to finally get out there and compete in front of the fans on Saturday," said Stevens.



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Spring Football Position Breakdown - Cornerbacks

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Spring Practice Central


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions practiced for the 12th during spring drills on Monday afternoon. Throughout spring practice, GoPSUsports.com will break down each position on the depth chart. Today, we focus on the cornerbacks.



The Cornerbacks

Players Returning-Newcomers/Lost:
9/2

Who's Back:
Kyle Alston (Jr./Jr.), Christian Campbell (Jr./Jr.), Desi Davis (Jr./So.), Grant Haley (Jr./Jr.), Amani Oruwariye (Jr./So.), John Reid (So./So.), Troy Shorts (So./Fr.), Jordan Smith (Sr./Sr.), Garrett Taylor (So./Fr.)

The Breakdown:
11861635.jpegCoach Terry Smith and the Nittany Lion cornerbacks entered the spring with the mindset that they can do their part in helping the team by challenging more balls and forcing more turnovers in the back end of the defense. A group mixed with experience and youthful talent, the Lion corners have put together a very productive spring and will head into the summer with confidence.

The unquestioned leader of the cornerback room is junior Grant Haley. The 5-foot-9, 184-pound Georgia native played the best football of his career in the latter stages of 2015. Now, Haley is eager to lead the unit into 2016. He started in 11 games (missed first two due to injury) in 2015 and appeared in all 13 contests in 2014. Haley finished with 42 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, tied for the team-high in interceptions (2) and led the team with nine passes defended last fall. The junior has taken another step forward and will be among the top returnees on the defense.

Like Haley, John Reid played the best football of his season in the final few weeks of 2015. One of just four true freshmen to start a game, Reid appeared in all 13 contests during his first season on campus and started two games at corner. Named to ESPN.com's Big Ten All-Freshman team, Reid made 29 tackles and tied Haley for the team lead in interceptions with two. A student of the game, Reid made good strides in his first winter conditioning period and will play a key role on the defense and challenge for the starting spot alongside Haley.

Jordan Smith is one of just six seniors on the defensive side of the ball. The Washington, D.C., product is primed to play a role in the Nittany Lion secondary when the season kicks off in September. With 27 game appearances under his belt, Smith has made good progress this spring.

Junior Christian Campbell, sophomore Amani Oruwariye and redshirt freshman Garrett Taylor will all be among the group competing for a much bigger role on the defensive backfield in 2016. Campbell has played in 18 games during the last two seasons (missed five due to injury last fall). He made 16 tackles and broke up two passes in 2015. The Alabama native will be among the Lions competing for a starting assignment.

Oruwariye played in all 13 games last fall and was one of 17 redshirt freshman to see action in 2015. The Tampa, Fla., native made five tackles and defended a pass last season. Taylor made good progress on the scout team defense and is eager for an increased role when camp commences in August.

Sophomore Nick Scott, who transitioned into the secondary following the TaxSlayer Bowl will give the Lions another player with game experience in the defensive backfield. Scott has made a smooth transition into a new role for the Nittany Lions this spring.

Junior Kyle Alston, sophomore Desi Davis and redshirt freshman Troy Shorts will provide the cornerback group with increased depth for the 2016 season.

Collectively, the Lion cornerbacks are a talented group looking to have a bigger impact at the line of scrimmage in press coverage and get their hands on more balls. Coach Smith enjoys the group's attention to detail, and the corners are poised to be one of the team's strengths in 2016.


Quoting Coach Smith:
"The corners have a business-like approach to everything. These guys understand where our deficiencies were in the fall and where we need to improve this spring to be a better football team on the back end of the defense. These guys are studying a lot more film. They are working on technique more. Grant Haley is the leader of the room. He is a junior, and he is the elder spokesman of the group. He's the guy that holds it all together. The young guys look to him."

Tsang Set to Represent Nittany Lions at NCAA Championships

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNVIERSITY PARK, Pa. - Briannah Tsang stood in front of a crowd of 4,000 people on April 2 performing one of the hardest floor routines in the country.

She took off for her first tumbling pass, sprung into the air, flipped backwards, completed a half-turn in the air and finished by flipping forward twice, also known as an Arabian Double Front.

Because Tsang goes into her landing while flipping forward, she is unable to see the floor. She must solely rely on the "feel" of her routine to stick her landing.


"It was like any other meet. I was a little more nervous than what I usually am, but I just took a breath and calmed myself down," Tsang said. "My first pass is definitely a blind landing, but I've just been doing it so much and for so long that I just know where I am in the air."

The sophomore knew exactly where she was in the air at the NCAA Regional Championships last weekend where she posted a 9.900 that secured her spot at the NCAA Championships to represent the Nittany Lions on the floor exercise.

"She's kind of like a cat. She has very good air sense," Penn State head coach Jeff Thompson said. "She nailed her opening pass which was incredible. Everything in her floor routine, her second and third pass, was the best they've been all year. She gave very little away in terms of deductions in her routine. The overall performance was outstanding."

Tsang was the only Nittany Lion to advance to the NCAA Championships, which makes the practice gym a very quiet environment.

"Practicing is different because my team is now in the off-season and I am not. Not all of them come into the gym, but some do come and it's nice," Tsang said. "It doesn't make it more difficult without them there. I know what I have to do. I guess I just have the drive. That's just me."

Preparing for Nationals is not much different from what Tsang has done all season. She does her conditioning workout at the end of practice, just like the regular season. Her focus is primarily around the floor exercise, however being the alternate for the all-around has made Tsang make sure she is prepared for all four events.

Tsang will take off for Texas on Wednesday and has a practice day on Thursday. She will be accompanied by Thompson and teammate Nicole Medvitz, who is making a separate trip down to support Tsang.

After her practice round on Thursday, Tsang will spend the night before her big meet enjoying a bowl of ice cream. She began this ritual at the start of her freshman year with Penn State when she had a bowl of ice cream the night before her first meet and performed well. This ritual has stuck with her and has now gotten her to the NCAA Championships.

"For some kids they might just spend all their time thinking about their one event, over-analyzing and trying too hard. I don't think that's Bri," Thompson said. "I think she's going down there to do her best, but she's also going down there to soak up the experience."

Although Tsang is usually associated with the vault because of her 2014 Canadian National Championship vault crown and other vault success, she has won five floor titles this season including her most recent victory at the NCAA Regional Championships. She has posted three 9.900s and two 9.925s.

"People would recognize her as her best event being vault, but she's such a dynamic floor worker that it didn't surprise me that she won floor," Thompson said. "I'm happy for her and keeping my fingers crossed that she does a really good job."

After being named the 2015 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and winning at least one event title in each of her first seven career meets as a freshman, Tsang's stellar 2016 season consisted of one all-around title, three vault victories, five floor titles and All-Big Ten First Team honors.

"As a gymnast, she's very talented, but she also works very hard. She's not afraid to work through pain," Thompson said. "Sometimes if you have sore muscles or there's been a few times where she had a hard landing and maybe jarred her back, we've had girls in the past where they would be out for a week because of that. She just kind of rubs some dirt on it, gets back in there and gets after that. She doesn't just love competing, she loves the sport. I think she would miss it if she wasn't out there every single day. That's what I love about her."

Tsang will compete in the NCAA Championships at 2 p.m. on Friday.

"I'm going in with no expectations," Tsang said. "I'm just trying to do my best, hit my routine like I do in practice and just have fun."

Lions Come Up Just Short in OT Thriller Against Maryland

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 14 Penn State men's lacrosse team (7-3, 1-1 Big Ten), despite a strong performance from the offense, was unable to upend No. 5 Maryland (8-2, 2-0 Big Ten) Sunday night.

The Nittany Lions came out fighting during Sunday's matchup, and although the Terrapins got on the board first, it was the Nittany Lions who created the most offensive chances in the first half.

Possession time has been a focus of the team as of late, and Sunday night's performance showed promising improvement in that area.


"From the start of the week we talked about possessing," said junior midfielder Mike Sutton. "The biggest thing was long, sustained possessions, we needed to execute. [Maryland] is one of the best defenses in the country, and we needed to execute and that's what I think we did. We came up short in the end but we're looking at next week already."

Sutton had an outstanding game, as the Sewell, N.J. native recorded three goals in total, one in the first quarter and two in the second.

The Nittany Lions drew jetted out to an 8-4 lead midway through the second quarter thanks to additional goals from Nick Aponte, Grant Ament, Kevin Hill, and TJ Sanders. At halftime, the Nittany Lions went into the locker room leading, 8-7.

During the lower scoring second half, the Lions and Terps battled to a 10-10 tie as the clock ticked to zero in the fourth quarter.

The mood going into overtime was positive, explained head coach Jeff Tambroni, who noted the team needed to play with the spirit and effort they had in the first half if the Nittany Lions wanted to come away with a victory.

Several nail-biting possessions later, the Nittany Lions finally got the ball down the stretch and seemed poised to make one last play in front of Maryland's net. Despite their best efforts, the Nittany Lions were unable to find the back of the net and seconds later were back on defense. Penn State fell to Maryland 11-10 in overtime.

Tambroni was positive at the end of the game, noting how this Penn State team was able to hold its own against another top-tier team, similar to others the Nittany Lions have played this season. He explained how important it is to keep moving forward, and highlighted that even during a loss there can always be positives a team should focus on. 

Tambroni said one standout performance of the night came from sophomore defenseman Mike Aronow, as Aronow was tasked with guarding Maryland's talented attacker Matt Rambo. Rambo didn't score for the Terrapins Sunday night, the first time in 21 games the attacker failed to do so.

Next weekend Penn State hosts No. 16 Johns Hopkins and is looking to bounce back from such a close and effortful loss. Key for the Nittany Lions will be a continued focus on possession time as well as making sure not to let up offensively in the second half.


"I think we've got to hit the rest button immediately," said Tambroni. " These guys are hurting, they've put a lot of time and effort into this one and walking off the field last year against Maryland losing by eight or nine goals and then coming back a year later to be in this position says a lot about the work that these guys have put in throughout the off season."



Spring Football - Scott Relishing Opportunity at New Home

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Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Like the thousands of Penn State fans across the country, Nick Scott marveled at the dazzling performances Saquon Barkley manufactured as a true freshman.


Working out alongside Barkley in the backfield, Scott debuted as a redshirt freshman in 2015, impacting the team on offense and serving as an ace on special teams.

One of 17 redshirt freshmen to see playing time last fall, Scott appeared in all 13 games and tallied 133 rushing yards on 30 carries and scored one touchdown. The Fairfax, Va., native also had four receptions for 43 yards. He averaged 23.8 yards on 13 kickoff returns and made eight tackles on the team's coverage units.

For his prowess, Scott was named the recipient of the John Bruno Memorial Award, which is handed out to the team's most outstanding special teams player.

Clearly, Scott illustrated his athletic ability on the field when given the opportunity to play. Head coach James Franklin frequently talked about how Scott's attitude on special teams set the tone for the Nittany Lions.

Like any student-athlete, though, Scott wanted to impact the team in the best way possible. Scott was recruited as a running back out of Fairfax High School and rushed for 1,582 yards en route to all-state honors as a senior. He served as a key member of the offensive scout team in 2014 before taking the game field for the first time last fall.

That said, it could not have been easy for Scott to initiate a conversation with Coach Franklin after the TaxSlayer Bowl about switching positions. It was something that Scott and some of the coaches had talked about briefly during his first two seasons on campus, but the redshirt sophomore was serious about a change to the defensive backfield leading up to 2016.

"Watching Saquon Barkley and seeing just how special of a player he was, and knowing that I am a competitor and do what is best for the team, I wanted to go to Coach Franklin to help any way I could," Scott said.

Immediately after the decision finalized, Scott knew he had plenty of work to do. He called several of his teammates from the secondary.

"I said, 'Listen, I've got to make up some ground,'" said Scott. "I hadn't played defense since high school. And even then, I was more of an offensive guy. But I knew that I could play."

Junior safety Marcus Allen was among the first teammates Scott talked to on the phone.

"The first day I let Marcus (Allen) know, I think it was the day after I made the switch, he took me under his wing," said Scott. "He said, 'Ok, you switched. We are going to Holuba tomorrow. Bring your cleats.'"

Scott worked out with Allen and redshirt freshman Jarvis Miller on day one to learn some of the basics and acquire background information on the defensive scheme. Scott said Allen's leadership was a big boost to helping him get started with the transition.

"I always felt that I was athletic enough to play defense, but the thing I really wanted to emphasize during winter conditioning was my footwork," said Scott. "That's something that feels completely different when you move to defense. You have to make a lot of cuts and get your hips in the right spot. I understood that I had some work to do."

Knowing it would be a big adjustment, Scott approached the change like he does everything - with a positive attitude. You won't find a guy who has a smile on his face more than Scott. He has an infectious personality, and he loves being around his teammates and truly enjoys every facet of being a student-athlete.

"I love playing defense," said Scott. "I'm a guy who has never been shy on special teams, and I love being on the defense. The coaches were great during the process because they just told me to fly around and have fun. Once you understand the scheme, you can go out and play and have fun. Their advice was to work hard and do my best to perfect the tasks I'm given."

When it came time to head onto the field for the first time on March 18 to begin spring practice, Scott donned a dark blue jersey with his fellow defenders for the first time in his career. It was a different feel for a guy who had been accustomed to the offense's white.

"It was a little weird putting that blue jersey on during the first day of spring practice," said Scott. "I think I almost ran with the offense (laughter)."

With each passing day, the Virginia product looks more and more like a guy who is a natural in the secondary. And Scott knows things will continue to grow from here.

"I think I'm definitely getting more comfortable every single day as I learn more about the system and understanding what my role is on the defense," said Scott. "I'm having a lot of fun. I think the last (week) of practices have been the most fun I've had because I'm getting comfortable. I was able to play at a good speed."

The evolution in the defensive backfield will continue long after the Blue-White Game on April 16, but Scott is committed to the process.

"I just want to show my teammates and the coaches that no matter where I'm at, I'm going to play hard and give 100 percent. Obviously, I want to have a lot of fun and just compete," said Scott.

To best serve the team, Scott gave up an opportunity to be a running back at Penn State. But if he had the chance to make the decision again, he wouldn't hesitate to do what's best for the team.

"I think the guys on the team would agree with me when I say that I always want to put the team first," said Scott. "I'm at the place I want to be - Penn State. So to me, it didn't matter what I was doing as long as I'm part of the program I love."


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Bowersox's Walk-Off Seals Comeback Win in Second Frame of Doubleheader

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11860965.jpeg By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (18-14, 5-4) split a doubleheader with Big Ten-leading Michigan State (21-6, 5-1) on Sunday to get back to a winning record in conference play.

After dropping the first game of the day the Nittany Lions rallied from one run down in the ninth to win the series finale in walk-off fashion, 7-6. Jordan Bowersox was the hero of the day, knocking in Jim Haley for the game-winning run thanks to an error by the MSU second baseman.

With two outs and runners on first and second, Tyler Kendall laced a single to right field on the first pitch he saw that drove in Nick Riotto to tie the game at six.

"I was sitting on off-speed. They had been starting me off low and outside, but I took good at-bats all day with nothing to show for it," said Kendall. "I was just happy to get the next guy up. That's all I was trying to do."

That next guy up happened to be Bowersox, who ended the game with one swing.

"He threw me a fastball up and I just chopped in on the ground," Bowersox said. "I actually tripped coming out of the box. Luckily he threw it a little high and I was safe."

Riotto extended his hitting streak to nine games with a three-hit performance in game two. He also scored three runs and recorded two RBIs to lead the Blue and White.

Haley also smacked three hits in the game and scored the winning run. Riotto (.330) and Haley (.349) lead the team in batting average in 2016 and continue to produce at the plate.

Jack Anderson picked up the win in game two to improve his record to 3-1 on the year. He threw three innings in relief of Justin Hagenman, who struck out four and allowed three earned runs in six innings on the hill.

"He always battles," Anderson said of Hagenman. "He's learning more and more every start he takes. He's always battling out there. He's always shooting knees and mixing velocities. He's a stud and we all have a ton of confidence in him."

The Nittany Lions committed a season high five errors in the contest, including two in each of the sixth and eighth innings.

"We got to take care of the ball better," said head coach Rob Cooper. "We didn't value the baseball at all. We got to move our feet. We got to know when to not throw a baseball. No excuses, we got to play better defensively."

Penn State out-hit the Spartans 9-6 in the first game, but MSU capitalized on its few opportunities to pull out a 5-2 win.

Sal Biasi started on the mound for Penn State and lasted five innings, surrendering only one hit but allowing three runs. Biasi struck out six but suffered the loss to drop his record on the season to 3-4.

Nick Distasio and Marko Boricich each added two innings of relief and gave up a combined five hits and two runs.

James Coates and Ryan Sloniger each tallied two hits in game one. Seven different Nittany Lions recorded a hit in a balanced effort.

Freshman Connor Klemann, in just his third start of the season, singled in the second inning to score Jordan Bowersox for his third RBI on the year. MSU bounced back with an unearned run in the fourth inning to tie the game at one.

In the fifth, Haley knocked in Ryan Sloniger with a sacrifice fly for his team leading 21st RBI on the season. Michigan State scored two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings and held on to win the second game in the three game series.

The Nittany Lions return to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park Wednesday to face Bucknell at 6:30 p.m. Penn State will then head to Evanston, Ill. for a three game series over the weekend against conference foe Northwestern.    


With Eyes On The Bigger Goal, Nittany Lions Honor Seniors and Lock Up EIVA

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The domination of the EIVA continues for the Penn State Nittany Lions.

For the 18th-straight regular season, Penn State is on top of the EIVA after closing out Harvard and Sacred Heart for a weekend sweep and clinching blow at the top of the standings.

As he has so much this season, Chris Nugent was once again the leader for Penn State on the court, tallying 31 total kills over the weekend, including 21 on .645 hitting in and impressive performance against Sacred Heart. With the wins, the Nittany Lions did exactly what they said they wanted to do and locked up the EIVA title at home.

"I really liked all aspect of our game," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "No matter who we threw out there I think we played really well. We were in a good point scoring rhythm and a good side out rhythm."

The match, according to senior Matt Seifert, is just one part of the overall goal for the Nittany Lions. Coming in to the season, the Nittany Lions were a top 15-ranked team. Now towards the end of the season, they still are and they are playing exceptional volleyball. All season long, their eyes have been on the overall prize of a national title.

"It's one step towards the big goal," Seifert said. "We know we can't achieve that goal and win a national championship if we don't win this conference. It's just the first step towards what we want to do."

Though Nugent led the Nittany Lions over the weekend, Friday and Saturday, were all about the Penn State senior class. Spencer Sauter, Taylor Hammond, Zack Parik, Andrew Roberts and Seifert were all honored before the match on Saturday evening. Emotions were undoubtedly running high as the seniors took the court for their final regular season match at Rec Hall.

"Historically this is a tough match for us," Pavlik said. "We have to switch gears early, going from the emotions of senior night and honoring the guys who have meant so much to this program for the last four or five years, to getting into a competitive mindset to win a match."

Every senior that was honored contributed to the overall result on Saturday. Matt Seifert was second on the team with eight kills and led the defense at the net with three blocks. Andrew Roberts finished off the match with the game winning kill from the outside. Taylor Hammond was consistent as always and dished out 49 assists. Parik had four assists and Sauter added a kill as every senior found their way on to the scoring sheet.

Despite all the festivities and the label of Senior Night, the Nittany Lion seniors still said that they don't feel like this match was actually their senior night.

"I think myself and the other guys don't really consider this our senior night," Seifert said. "We know that were going to get another match here and it felt a little different at the start, but when I was walking through the line and talking to the guys I was just saying lets get ready to go."

The Nittany Lions have two regular season matches left before the postseason and they seem to be rounding into the form that helped them rattle off 11 straight wins earlier in the season. Though the regular season may be winding down, for Penn State, the season is just starting.


Lion Winning Streak Comes to a Close

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By Michele Jaroszewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State baseball's winning streak came to a halt Friday night as Michigan State defeated the home team, 7-0, in the opener of the third conference series of the season.

The Spartans got on the board early in the top of the first with a RBI single from designated hitter Brandon Hughes. Teammate Jordan Zimmerman advanced to home from second base off the hit, getting the first tally.

The runs continued for the opposing team with a two-run RBI single in the top of the third by Taylor Grace and another RBI single in the top of the fourth by second baseman Dan Durkin, giving Michigan a four run lead.

The next three runs were driven in by two sacrifice flies into the outfield in the top of the seventh and eighth by Zimmerman and Justin Hovis. Hovis had the final run in the ninth inning after hitting a triple on the right field line, scoring off of a wild pitch.

Winning pitcher Cam Vieaux held the Nittany Lions from getting on the board, allowing only five hits and one walk. Nick Riotto led the home team with two hits into left center field, raising his batting average to .321.

"I don't really think about the batting average at all. I don't look at the board; I don't look at the stats. I would trade two hits for a win tonight," Riotto said.

Speaking for the team, Riotto said when facing Michigan he noticed a lot of aggressive hitters that like to hit and run, getting defense out of their positions. As for going into Sunday's doubleheader the team is staying optimistic, looking to comeback and get the series win.

"They're a good offensive team, but I think we can comeback, control that and be better," Riotto said. "We lost tonight, but that doesn't mean that we can't win a series. That's the ultimate goal right now."

Vieux pitched for seven innings and had six strikeouts. Relief pitchers Dakota Mekkes and Joe Mockbee came in for an inning each. Mockbee allowed the Nittany Lions last hit of the night with Jordan Bowersox's double into left field in the bottom of the ninth.

"The guy really commands both sides of the plate," said head coach Rob Cooper on Vieux. "He can throw a fast ball in or out. He has a real good breaking ball that is tough on righty's but really hard on lefty's."

A few adjustments that the team is looking to make before Sunday's games are figuring out how to manufacture runs. Coach Cooper said that pitching is also a focus, working hard to keep lead off hitters of every inning off the bag.

"I like the way that our kids have been playing and competing, but tonight [Michigan] out played us, in all facets," Cooper said. "We made two errors, we had a chance to turn some double plays and we didn't, that's big. Because that adds more pitches to a pitching count...we got to get our guys off the field when we have the opportunity to."

First game is set to start at 11 a.m. Sunday at Medlar Field with the second to begin 30 minutes after the last out.  

Spring Football: Offensive Line Growing in New Scheme

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11849801.jpegSpring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - You won't find a group more motivated to be successful than the Nittany Lion offensive line.


The past is ancient history, and the unit is looking ahead with great confidence following a strong start to 2016 that began in the weight room over the winter.

"The winter conditioning period was very productive for our group," senior Brian Gaia said. "Each guy had a specific goal, whether it was getting bigger, maintaining weight or getting more flexible. And I think we all grew significantly both physically and mentally."

It has been a period of change for the men in the trenches. In addition to learning a new offensive scheme, the Lions are working through their first spring practice period under the direction of coach Matt Limegrover. The first taste of things this spring has left the unit wanting more.

"Across the board, this offense just fits our offensive line very well, and I've seen a lot of guys take a big step forward this spring," said junior Andrew Nelson. "I love this offense in general. I think you can talk to anyone and they will tell you that they are enjoying it. We've had good success this spring."

It has been a period marked by installation on the field. The Nittany Lions have taken the new scheme in stride, and it has resulted in a high number of explosive plays this spring. Sure, there is an adjustment to learning new terminology, but the Lions have been locked in on the task at hand.

"There are a lot of new wrinkles going in, so obviously there is going to be an adjustment," said Nelson. "But offensively, I think guys are doing a really good job being focused and locked in with all of the new stuff going in."

Gaia and Nelson are two of the offensive line's biggest leaders. Gaia has more game experience than anyone on the roster (37 appearances), and Nelson has evolved into a consistent voice for the unit.

Gaia is in the process of adapting to a new home on the line. The Pasadena, Md., product started his career as a defensive tackle. He moved to guard before the 2014 season, and now he is meshing with the rest of the unit at the center position. Being the voice during pre-snap situations, Gaia knows the importance of leadership for the unit.

"At my position now, I feel that way," said Gaia. "I dictate when we get set and when the play starts. Being a senior and in the spot that I'm playing, I feel like leadership is something that is on my shoulders."

The most striking difference for the offense this spring is the tempo at which the group practices. The Lions are moving to the line at a swift pace and without going into a huddle. The speed lets the offensive players set the tone.

"I think the tempo of how the offense is operating really helps us," said Gaia. "We will be used to working at that pace, and the defense will face a challenge. We can dictate how quickly things move."

The players love operating at a faster pace. It can put a defense on its heels, and the strength and conditioning gains from the winter period are paying huge dividends for the line already this spring. With five practices left in spring drills, intensity is high as the unit continues to learn the intricacies of a new offense and grow as a collective group.

"The competition between the group makes everyone better," said Gaia. "We've had a number of different combinations on the offensive line, so all of us have played together at some point. That helps with the chemistry building."

With the groundwork being laid for 2016, confidence is a huge factor in the offensive line's evolution. There are four starters from the TaxSlayer Bowl back and a host of groomed, young talent ready to take the next step into the rotation. Optimism is very high for a group that is ready to take a step forward.

"The offense has come out this spring with a different mindset," said Nelson. "We have an extremely positive attitude of what we can accomplish, and I think that starts with Coach (Joe) Moorhead."



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Spring Football Position Breakdown - Offensive Line

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Spring Practice Central


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions practiced for the 10th during spring drills on Wednesday afternoon. Throughout spring practice, GoPSUsports.com will break down each position on the depth chart. Today, we focus on the offensive line.



The Offensive Line

Players Returning-Newcomers/Lost:
20/4

Who's Back:
Ryan Bates (So./Fr.), Noah Beh (Jr./So.), Brendan Brosnan (Jr./So.), Adam De Boef (Jr./So.), Tom Devenney (Sr./Jr.), Derek Dowrey (Gr./Sr.), Brian Gaia (Gr./Sr.), Evan Galimberti (Sr./Jr.), Alex Gellerstedt (Fr./Fr.), Steven Gonzalez (So./Fr.), Sterling Jenkins (So./Fr.), Wendy Laurent (Gr./Sr.), Brendan Mahon (Sr./Jr.), Connor McGovern (Fr./Fr.), Andrew Nelson (Sr./Jr.), Paris Palmer (Sr./Jr.), Zach Simpson (So./Fr.), Chance Sorrell (Jr./So.), Charlie Shuman (Jr./So.), Chasz Wright (Jr./So.)

The Breakdown:
11846704.jpegOne group that entered spring practice eager grow is the Nittany Lion offensive line. The Nittany Lions return four starters from the TaxSlayer Bowl and are now under the direction of coach Matt Limegrover. Experience is a big piece to an offensive line's success, and the Lions are much more seasoned up front than they were at this point last season.

Headlining the list of returnees is the most experienced player on the field for the Nittany Lions. Graduate senior Brian Gaia has appeared in 37 career games for the Blue and White, including 25 starts during the past two seasons. The Maryland native started his Nittany Lion career on the defensive line before shifting to guard prior to 2014. He was the only offensive lineman to start every game in 2015, and now Gaia is the leader of the unit after shifting to center during the offseason.

Redshirt junior Andrew Nelson is another guy who has been an anchor for the offensive line during the past two seasons. The Hershey product started eight games last fall (missed four due to injury) and all 13 games of his redshirt freshman campaign in 2014. Nelson had a superb offseason and is a consistent performer at tackle. An All-Freshman Team selection two seasons ago, Nelson has started games at both tackle positions and will again be a staple in the starting lineup when the season begins in August.

Fellow redshirt junior Brendan Mahon is another Nittany Lion with significant game experience on the o-line heading into 2016. The Randolph, N.J., native has started 20 times and appeared in 25 contests during the past two seasons. Mahon has spent the vast majority of his time on the game field at the left guard position.

Senior Derek Dowrey is alongside Gaia as one of the most experience players on the roster. Dowrey has played in 33 career games, including six starts. The Virginia product moved from defensive line to the offensive trenches before spring practice began in 2014. After graduating with a degree in journalism in December, Dowrey is again positioned to be a contributor on the line in 2016.

The fourth returning starter from the bowl game back for 2016 is one of the team's most improved players from the end of the season. Paris Palmer transformed his body during winter conditioning and added significant size to his frame and increased his overall core strength. After transferring from Lackawanna College, the 6-foot-7, 302-pound tackle appeared in 13 games and started 11 contests last season.

Senior Wendy Laurent is another very experienced piece on the offensive line for the Lions. The Hamilton, N.J., native has played in 22 games and started eight games. Laurent has experience at all three interior positions along the offensive line.

In addition to the corps of players with significant game experience, the unit has a host of talent looking to break into the rotation once camp commences in August. The battles for playing time along the offensive line will be very competitive. The list of names at the interior positions includes the likes of Ryan Bates, Steven Gonzalez, Chasz Wright, Adam De Boef, Tom Devenney, Evan Galimberti and Zach Simpson. At the tackle positions, keep an eye on Noah Beh, Brendan Brosnan, Sterling Jenkins, Chance Sorrell and Charlie Shuman as they compete for playing time.

Additionally, the offensive line includes two early enrollees who are on campus going through the paces of their first spring practice period. Connor McGovern and Alex Gellerstedt joined the roster in January after decorated scholastic careers.

With more depth and experience, coinciding with a new offensive scheme, the Nittany Lions and Coach Limegrover know that the group can take a significant step forward in 2016. The Lions have approached spring ball with a great attitude and will carry some confidence into the final weeks of spring practice and into the start of fall camp.


Quoting Coach Limegrover:
"One thing that has really impressed me since I've been here is that there is a real hunger amongst my group. There is a nice mix of younger guys and older guys, but they share the same passion for improving. It showed during our offseason workouts, and it's transferring onto the field here this spring. When you have a group of guys who are willing to work and put it all on the line, they are pretty easy to coach. With being a new offense and a lot of new installation, my hope is that come April 16 my guys have a good idea of fundamentally what we are trying to accomplish as an offense and a foundation of what needs to continue to be built upon when we get back together in August."

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By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Randy Jepson of the Penn State men's gymnastics team is celebrating his 25th anniversary of coaching the Nittany Lions this season.

 

In addition to being part of the coaching staff, Jepson graduated from Penn State in 1982, where he was a member of the squad and earned the position of team captain, winning All-American honors on rings.

 

"I've been with this university for so many years now and I couldn't image myself anywhere else," said Jepson. "It's funny I've been here so long, yet it feels like I haven't worked a day in my life-I think that's the key, if you do something you love you'll never get sick of your job."

 

Jepson has been able to earn National Coach of the Year in 2000, 2004 and 2007, and lead the men's gymnastic team to three national championships and three Big Ten titles.

 

Many boosters that have been with the program recognize Jepson for the way he preserves the honorable heritage of Penn State's gymnastics, while always finding ways to improve the program.

 

Jepson started his Penn State affair after transferring from the University of Oregon after the school dropped the gymnastics program.

 

"Ever since my first visit at this university I was overwhelmed with the positive feel and sense of community Penn State provides," said Jepson.

 

"When I think of Penn State, I think of family. This school provides people with such pride regardless of when you went to school here. I think it's a very powerful and unique aspect that Penn State has."

 

After graduation, Jepson officially joined the coaching staff in 1983, then in July 1992 he was appointed head coach.

 

"I'm a little seasoned now, but it's always hard to see the seniors go," said Jepson. "The best thing about coaching is watching these guys grow and mature into great gymnast but that just make's it harder to see them leave."

 

Jepson has groomed Olympians, Big Ten honorees, and national champions.

 

"As a mentor, it's great to see the guys blossom into not only great gymnast but great people outside the gym," said Jepson.

 

"I always like to keep track of the guys whether they end up pursuing professional gymnastics or something else.  I think this sport teaches the guys a lot about hard work and dedication, even if they don't recognize it until after the program."

 

Jepson recognizes that although coaching is rewarding, it does come with challenges.

 

"Gymnastics isn't for the weak. I tell the guys all the time this sport constantly tells you that you're not good enough, it's always demanding improvement," he said.  "That also plays a role in being a gymnastics coach, I'm always trying to improve and help the guys find ways to better their routines."

 

Through the ups and downs, Jepson enjoys the challenges of being a gymnastics coach and strives to continue to grow the program.

 

 Up next the Nittany Lions will be heading the NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio. The competition will start on Friday, April 15th and end on the following day.  

Schreiner's Passion Fuels Success in Starting Season

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11849139.jpeg By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Since his freshman season, goaltender Will Schreiner has displayed a dedicated work ethic both on the field and off, which has been the driving factor behind the growth the young player has seen in such a short period of time.

Now a sophomore, Schreiner, who has started in net every game for the Nittany Lions this season, has helped Penn State (7-3, 1-0 Big Ten) accumulate seven wins in 10 games and averages a .468 save percentage.

Last weekend, when Penn State rallied past Ohio State 6-5, head coach Jeff Tambroni was quick to praise Schreiner in what he observed as the young player's best game to date as a Nittany Lion.

"Sometimes as a goalie I would imagine, and probably in any position but goalie in particular, you see this first couple shots and you make saves and you start to build on your confidence and you could just see Will's confidence grow throughout the course of the game," said Tambroni. "I thought Will, what separated that performance from his last number of performances was the consistency."

Schreiner made 15 saves, a career-high, for the Kemblesville, Pa., native. Many of the shots came from all over the field, including crease shots and shots in transition, and Tambroni explained being able to make all types of saves added to Schreiner's performance and confidence. 

Schreiner's performance so far this season has surpassed expectations and has been a testament to the work he put in during the 2014-15 campaign.

As the reserve goaltender behind Connor Darcey and Hunter Pearl, Schreiner didn't see any playing time in his freshman season. Players who weren't expected to see much game time participated in additional weight room or weight training sessions, called developmental lifts.

"Will just came into those lifts, and you can look at those things as one of two things, one as something extra to do throughout the course of the week or two, an opportunity to develop yourself physically and to develop yourself mentally to put yourself in a position so that when your number is called you're prepared," said Tambroni. "I always felt Will was the latter and I felt like the respect that he earned and gained in those types of moments can probably best describe his personality."

In those lift sessions, Tambroni, along with the rest of the coaching staff, saw Schreiner's true character: a young man, thrust into the demanding student-athlete life who, even during extra workouts, always had a smile on his face and determination in his eyes.

It was his attitude and positivity that made Schreiner stand out in a room of otherwise loud and outgoing individuals. Schreiner, who can communicate well on the field during a game, is not usually the most vocal in the locker room. Rather, Schreiner is a lead-by-example type, who allows his hard work to speak for itself.

Last fall, when the starting goaltender position was still unfilled, Schreiner pushed himself further for a chance to start between the pipes.

His determination paid off and at the start of the season against Robert Morris, Schreiner helped the Nittany Lions to a triumphant 20-7 win.

Schreiner carries himself as an easygoing individual, focused on athletics and academics alike. Off the field, the Community, Environmental and Development major, explained his passion for lacrosse is the same passion that fuels his desire to one day aid the movement toward sustainable energy.

"I've always wanted to work with our environment and with businesses, becoming more sustainable," said Schreiner. "I think that's part of a need for the future so I saw that need and also it matched my interests."

Schreiner described a project he and fellow teammate, sophomore Mike Aronow, are currently working on for an earth science class on natural disasters. The project has to do with volcanoes, but the pair won't be building one out of papier-mâché, Schreiner joked.

For now, the project is in the brainstorming phases, but Schreiner knows whatever the pair comes up with has got to be good, just like the team's performance this weekend against No. 5 Maryland (7-2, 1-0 Big Ten).

"We just need to keep our defense in line and if we play well together it'll make me play better," said Schreiner. "If they're giving me shots I can save and see it's extremely good for me. But we'll need to keep up communication defensively and in the goal, I just need to keep my confidence up and don't peak to high and don't get too low and just keep it steady throughout the game."

No. 14 Penn State hosts No. 5 Maryland on Sunday at 7 p.m. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network. 


Lions Focused on Rest Heading Into Stretch Run

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11849114.jpegBy Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State has dominated the EIVA conference for the last 17 years, winning titles in each of those seasons.

The Nittany Lions have a chance to make that 18 straight this coming weekend, depending on how things shake out, Penn State could sit atop the EIVA on Friday or Saturday. If NJIT wins its matchup against George Mason on Thursday and Penn State beats Harvard Saturday, the Nittany Lions claim the regular season crown. If Mason wins, Penn State would need a weekend sweep over Harvard and Sacred Heart to claim the title.

There are many scenarios, but the scenario right now for Penn State is simple, keep winning and stay consistent. The Nittany Lions have gotten back to the level of play they were exhibiting during their 11-game win streak early on in the season. For Penn State, though, its fate may somewhat lie in the hands of other people, the focus remains on what they can do.

"We may watch a little of the game on Thursday," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "I'm sure we will be paying attention to the game in some capacity, we definitely won't ignore it but we have to win Friday regardless."

Last week, Pavlik was quoted saying that the NJIT match that weekend was Penn State's biggest of the season. Now, it very well may be that this Harvard matchup on Friday is the biggest match. If the Nittany Lion's can't clinch Friday, the importance shifts to the match Saturday against Sacred Heart.

"Sacred Heart caught us by surprise the first time," said Pavlik. "I think we took them a little lightly and they took it to us early on in that match. They are one of the more physical teams in the EIVA and they certainly can play so we can't take them lightly to begin with this time."

Penn State is fresh off a loss to Ohio State, but Pavlik made it clear to the team that the EIVA matches remaining are the ones that are critically important for the Nittany Lions.

"We want to win every match," Jalen Penrose said. "Still, Coach has said that the EIVA is what matters and we are focused on this weekend."

Penn State not only faces a few tough conference opponents this coming weekend, they also face an adversary in fatigue. Penn State is currently in a stretch that consists of five matches in nine days and if you look even further back, 10 matches in 21 days. It is uncommon for a team to face games this closely together meaning rest and relaxation and even more important for Penn State in the coming days.

"We are definitely putting a big emphasis on it," Pavlik said. "Especially in the end of the season it is even more important. I've said we are playing the equivalent of an NHL playoff schedule in these past weeks so we have to be mentally and physically prepared for matches."

Aidan Albrecht shares the sentiments of his coach, saying that the players certainly know how important it is to be healthy and fresh during the season.

"We've taken a lot of swings so at this point in the season the rest is even more important for us as a team so we can be ready for our matches," said Albrecht.

Penn State will take on Harvard and Sacred Heart this upcoming weekend. First serve against Harvard is set for 7 p.m. on Friday and Sacred Heart and Penn State will square off at 7 p.m. Saturday. 

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By: Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- This upcoming weekend is a big one for the Penn State women's lacrosse team. Not only because they will be playing one of their biggest competitors, Ohio State, but also because it marks the team's first televised game of the season on the Big Ten Network.

This is a huge deal for the team because it allows more fans to watch them in action and more importantly, it allows prospective players to check out what the Nittany Lions have to offer. 

Sophomore midfielder Katie O'Donnell talked about her experience before coming to Penn State, and how watching games on television had a role in her decision to commit to the Nittany Lions.

"I followed Penn State before and after I committed. I made an effort to watch them play and it was cool to watch and think that you'd love to be a part of that team," said O'Donnell.

These televised games give prospective recruits more opportunities to see how the team plays together, which is especially helpful for recruits who are not close by.

When thinking about committing it is important for these players to see the team playing in a game setting as many times as possible, and for those high school players who live further away from University Park, that is not always feasible. 

Penn State has many players who came from farther states, like seniors Emi Smith and Heather Harman who are from Colorado and Georgia respectively. 

"TV coverage helps for the game in general and it helps with recruits too, especially with recruiting from farther and farther away," said O'Donnell.

The coaches and players alike are excited to see more and more televised games during the season, as it raises awareness for Penn State's team and the sport in general.

Lacrosse is growing in popularity season by season, especially with Penn State moving up in the ranks in the Big Ten. Penn State wants the best players in the country on their team, and the publicity helps to get their name out there to players across the country.

O'Donnell's first televised game experience was last season as a freshman. She talked about how, although it is exciting at first to be on TV, the players do not see too much of a difference during televised games and that it thankfully does not have an impact on gameplay.

"You don't really think about it during the game; the game doesn't change too much, minus a few extra timeouts for TV," said O'Donnell.

"The first time as a freshman last year it was definitely like 'oh my gosh, I'm going to be on TV,' but after that first game it all becomes just the same."

The players do a good job of forgetting about the TV side of things, which is good because they can't afford to lose focus, especially during their Big Ten games and leading up to the postseason. 

Last year marked the first Big Ten tournament for women's lacrosse, and for players like O'Donnell it was an incredible experience to make a tournament run in her first year with the team. 

"It was a great experience coming in as a freshman and getting into the postseason play. It was new and exciting and it was fun to have that kind of win, especially with that group of girls," said O'Donnell

"It was the first Big Ten tournament in women's lacrosse and for Penn State to get that win was a really awesome experience," she added.  

O'Donnell said the team is even more motivated to get to the tournament again after knowing what they can achieve as a unit.

"When you accomplish something like that you only want to keep getting better and it's definitely a goal to get back to the postseason by improving every game," said O'Donnell. 

"It's not something spoken, but it's something we are always working for." 

With a 9-2 record so far in their season, Penn State is fighting hard to get back into postseason play and repeat as Big Ten tournament champions.   

The No. 9 Nittany Lions will continue their season on Saturday, April 9 against the No. 12 Buckeyes at Ohio State starting at 4 p.m.