February 2017 Archives
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a Wednesday morning workout, the Penn State men's soccer team shuffled out of Holuba Hall. The Nittany Lions had made it through a difficult training session, at the hands of their strength and conditioning coach, Kristina Jeffries.
Jeffries joined the Penn State staff in August of 2014 and has worked with the women's hockey, track & field, and women's lacrosse programs. Last fall, she joined the men's soccer program, and the team has learned to love her grueling workouts. Jeffries coaches the Nittany Lions through workouts almost every day during the season, and multiple times a week in the current offseason.
Additionally, she said she designs workouts to help the team and individuals on specific areas for improvement. During the season she focuses on shorter circuit workouts, which provide more strength training. Currently in the offseason she has more time to develop weeks work of programs to prolong the Nittany Lions' endurance into the summer months.
These workouts in the offseason are catered to help the Nittany Lions in the long run, especially during the second half of their season, which runs from August to early November. During that time, the Nittany Lions typically play multiple games a week, which can be draining, if not properly prepared.
"We just ended a five week offseason workout and we focused on building muscle, working on strength exercises," junior midfielder Noah Pilato said. "Things that will help us get prepared for next season."
Pilato added that Jeffries pushes the team to do its best, but she does it with such a charismatic personality that makes her practices more fun, rather than daunting.
"It's great," Pilato said of having such a positive strength coach. "She is always an upbeat person even at morning workouts when everyone comes in tired. It's so important because that positive energy helps us do our best."
Head coach Bob Warming has also praised Jeffries' dual threat of coaching ability and upbeat character.
Jeffries credited her passion for her job to working with such dedicated and motivated student-athletes. She said the athletes at Penn State she works with help make her job enjoyable by giving workouts all they have. She said no matter what, she can always count on the Nittany Lions to be ready to go, even if it's before the sun rises.
"I love it, even if it's five in the morning I'll be smiling," Jeffries said. "Penn State is the greatest school in the country and I love working with this team, it makes my job so enjoyable."
By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSPorts.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball has returned home from the road, set to close out its 2017 home slate hosting Ohio State Tuesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Tonight, the Nittany Lions are looking to snap a three-game skid, coming off of an 81-71 loss on the road at Minnesota before hitting the road again to close out the regular season at Iowa Sunday.
Despite the record though, the season's far from over for head coach Patrick Chambers, who noted the Nittany Lions will continue their relentless pursuit to get better at Penn State basketball.
"This is a vicious puzzle that I'm trying to put together for some synergy and some chemistry and to make sure we finish strong, but most importantly continue to get better," Chambers said.
Among the pieces of the puzzle, leading rebounder and shot-blocker Mike Watkins was noticeably absent for most Minnesota outing, grabbing four boards and blocking three shots in 16 minutes on the court against the Golden Gophers.
"Mike was in foul trouble," Chambers said. "According to our analytics, he was plus-9 in 16 minutes."
Watkins' presence is no doubt key to the Nittany Lion defense, changing everything on the court.
"Mike is the main point of our defense and when he's out it's clear to see that it's hard to get rebounds," Carr said. "It kind of makes you buckle down more to keep your guy in front of him just knowing that Mike is not there to save you at the end of the day," Carr said.
As Penn State looks toward its final two games of the season though, Chambers remains focused on finding just the right combination on the court, believing that the Nittany Lions will have to earn the right to a little bit of luck, especially in a few league games that narrowly slipped away.
"We have to
continue to get better and hopefully this thing, the ball starts bouncing our
way," Chamber said. "You earn the right to have those lucky bounces, you earn
the right to have a little bit of luck to come your way and right now we haven't
found that yet."
Tony Carr Being Tony Carr
Ever since Chambers entrusted Carr with a level of responsibility on par with his veteran captains, the freshman guard has continued to prove why he earned it. Noting that his confidence level is at an all time high, it's not hard see where the certainty is coming from.
Leading the team with 13.2 points per game, Carr is also atop the team standings in assists, having recently set the freshman record with 119 on the year. With at least 20 points in back-to-back games, Carr also dished out seven helpers in both outings.
"Just kind of figuring out the college game a little bit more, game by game and just finding where I can be effective at," Carr said. "Coaches helping me out and putting me in different places on the floor, at different positions at different times, I would definitely say I'm a very confident player right now."
For Carr, that confidence doesn't come with out extra preparation, as he mentioned taking time to watch film and really identify areas he can be more effective in a different way that most players might approach film study.
"It [watching film] has helped me just so I could figure out where I could get post ups on some guys who are smaller than me or where I can attack certain defenses off the pick and roll and how the big men react to certain moves and things like that," Carr said. "Just watching it and seeing where I can make the game easier for myself and where I can get easier shots."
on the Court
While Penn State won't have any seniors on the court at tipoff, the Nittany Lions will honor the contributions of their senior managers, who truly play an important role in the team's success.
"I have great relationships with those guys off the court and just being on the road with us, and begin basically everywhere with us, they're not managers, they're kind of part of the team and I'm sure it's going to a special night for them," Carr said.
More from Carr on the role the #PSUMBB managers play for the Nittany Lions.
What About WHOOP
A few weeks ago, Chambers noted that the team had incorporated WHOOP technology into training. A watch-like apparatus worn on the wrist, WHOOP tracks a variety of metrics to help athletes reach their top performance potential. For Mike Watkins, part of reaching his highest potential, means getting solid sleep.
"I dealt with it at first, just to test it out, but once you start realizing, 'oh I'm not getting enough sleep,' you see the difference in your performance from when you get enough sleep and when you don't get enough sleep," Watkins said.
That's made all the difference for Watkins, who went from a three-four-hour sleep schedule to around nine hours of sleep at night.
"I was all over the place without the WHOOP," Watkins said.
Reach Arielle at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent
By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wrestling hosted its weekly media availability Monday afternoon in preparation for its trip to the 2017 Big Ten Championships, hosted by Indiana March 4-5 in Bloomington.
Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson kicked off the media session meeting with a host of media members at the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex. For Sanderson, the focus right now is all about preparing the top-ranked Nittany Lions to be at their best this weekend, coming off an undefeated season capped off by a Big Ten regular season title as well as the 2017 NWCA dual championship crown.
Check out a few takeaways from media session.
Big Ten=Big Opportunity
Competing in the Big Ten has made all the difference in helping prepare the Nittany Lions to be at their best when March arrives. Arguably the nation's toughest conference, it's not just the ample amount of talent that's instrumental in helping Penn State pique at just the right time.
"I think it's the steel sharpens steel mentality," Sanderson said. "Especially the way we compete, we're competing on a Friday, Sunday and then we're usually traveling home Monday and then we have another match on Friday."
Due to the conference dual meet schedule rotating, Penn State completed a Big Ten slate that featured five duals on the road and four at home, with trips to ninth-ranked Minnesota, sixth-ranked Nebraska, third-ranked Iowa, third-ranked Ohio State and No. 13 Wisconsin along the way.
The Nolf Psyche
One of three Nittany Lions in the starting lineup with an undefeated record this season (19-0), Penn State's Jason Nolf has highlighted the 2017 campaign with 11 pins. With a fearless approach, Nolf's relentless pursuit to score points is what sets him apart.
"The sky's the limit if you're willing to try new things, and being fearless is very rare," Sanderson said. "You can't really shake him up. He gives up a takedown, he keeps wrestling, he gives up two takedowns, he keeps wrestling and if a guy's going to keep wrestling like that for seven minutes, it's going to be tough to beat him."
Since stepping into the starting lineup at 174 pounds on the road at Iowa, Penn State's Mark Hall has put together a 6-1 dual record, including a 5-1 mark in conference outings. For Sanderson, his progress has been evident across the board, as he highlighted just a few of the areas of growth this season.
"His conditioning is a lot better than it was when he first stepped out on the mat for us and when you believe in your conditioning you're going to be wrestling differently," Sanderson said.
Penn State hits the road Thursday in anticipation for Session I competition, which kicks off Saturday at 10 a.m. in Assembly Hall. Sanderson noted that the Nittany Lion schedule will feature a lot of running and stadium workouts in preparation, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Reach Arielle at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State hockey is back at home following a series sweep on the road at Michigan State. Looking ahead, the Nittany Lions return home to Pegula Ice Arena for a senior night weekend, welcoming Wisconsin to close out the regular season home slate.
Catch up with Nittany Lion head coach Guy Gadowsky and join Nate Sucese and David Thompson for updates on what's happening this week in Penn State hockey.
"When I think about diversity at Penn State and Penn State athletics in particular, I really think that diversity, inclusion, connection, community is really a part of the fabric of what Penn State is all about."
- Coquese Washington
By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Lady Lions closed out the regular season with a big win in front of a big crowd when they defeated No. 24/25 Michigan 76-75 in the annual Pink Zone game on Sunday.
It was an emotional game, with over 500 breast cancer survivors in attendance, all donning pink to show their support. For pregame, each starter was escorted out by a survivor, and senior Sierra Moore was even escorted out by her mom.
Sophomore Ashanti Thomas was playing in her second Pink Zone game, and credits the positive vibes the team was getting from the 8,213 fans in attendance in helping them claw back for the win.
"I loved the crowd and it was a really high energy game," said Thomas. "It was really positive and helped us keep our heads up when things got tough throughout the game. I just thought it was amazing, and the purpose of the game for the survivors, it was just great. There was a lot of support today."
Added head coach Coquese Washington: "Our crowd was fantastic today. Our kids played great off their energy. You could feel that positivity coming from the stands down into the huddle," Washington said. "You could feel the confidence that the crowd and the arena had in our team. There wasn't a moment were we were thinking of anything other than playing our best, giving our best efforts, staying focused, staying locked in and executing."
Redshirt freshman Amari Carter added that the game was the perfect way to end the regular season for the Lady Lions, who head to Indianapolis this week for the Big Ten Tournament.
"This was a great game, and not just for us and what that means for the end of the season but also, for all the survivors who were in the stands and all the family members that came and the cause that we played for," Carter said. "It was just a great way to end the season."
Thomas was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and tied her career high with 11 points. She gave Penn State's it largest lead of the game, 50-40, in the third quarter with a layup at the tail end of a 7-0 run.
"I just felt really confident, and when my teammates trust in me, it just puts me on another level," Thomas said. "The confidence and the trust that they had and they were willing to pass me the ball even when we were down some, so I just had to stay focused and stay locked in."
Penn State now looks to carry this momentum into the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 7 seed. The Lady Lions will face off No. 10 seed Minnesota at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 2 inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Senior weekend has come and gone, and the Nittany Lions find themselves in a similar position to where they were one week ago. They showed growth and improvement from the first to second game, but were ultimately unable to come away with a victory against Syracuse, dropping a 5-1 decision on Friday night and a 2-0 result Saturday.
On Friday, Penn State was never able to find an offensive rhythm, being outshot by the Orange, 29-17. The lone Penn State goal came from senior forward Amy Petersen early in the third period to cut the lead to 2-1 at that point. Laura Bowman and Bella Sutton picked up the assists.
For Bowman, the assist was her 32nd point of the season, giving her the Penn State record for points in a single season.
Ultimately, the Nittany Lions were not able to mount the comeback.
"We just needed to buckle down," interim coach Dean Jackson said. "[Our defensive zone] is something we've been very solid with in the last month or so. A couple of mishaps here and there, and they capitalized. We clean up that, we don't give up the goals that we gave up today."
Not to be forgotten Friday night was the senior ceremony postgame, as Petersen, Bowman, Kelly Seward and Sarah Nielsen were honored for all they have contributed to the Penn State program in their four years on the team.
That senior group led a strong effort Saturday, only surrendering two goals while limiting Syracuse to 23 shots. One of the two goals cannot be blamed on the defense, as it was an empty-netter late in the third period.
"Defense is something we wanted to focus on," Jackson said. "We brought it to the attention of the team postgame yesterday and then again today in the post-video session with the team. That was something we had been really strong at in the last little while and we wanted to make a point to get back to it."
Hannah Ehresmann put in a great effort in goal for Penn State as well, stopping 21 shots and only allowing one goal. She kept the Lions in the game, but in the end, they weren't able to put enough together on the offensive end to come out with a victory.
"I thought we played extremely well, it's just one unfortunate event that got us down," Jackson said. "We had some opportunities and we executed the game plan really well. Give their goaltender credit, she made some big saves when we had those opportunities."
The weekend's results, coupled with Mercyhurst's sweep at RIT, cement the Nittany Lions into the No. 4 seed in the upcoming CHA tournament. They will play No. 5 RIT on Thursday with an opportunity to face top overall seed Robert Morris if they beat the Tigers.
The arrival of the tournament means a reset of sorts, as the only thing that matters from here on out is winning hockey games. If you win, you get to keep playing.
"There are still a lot of positives. It's a reminder that we have an opportunity to play in the playoffs in this one game elimination. Anything can happen and we're in good shape," Jackson said.
The first game of the tournament will be on Thursday at the HARBORCENTER in Buffalo. The time of the game is yet to be announced.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
VILLANOVA, Pa. - No. 9 Penn State men's lacrosse showed up at Villanova Stadium Saturday afternoon motivated once again to display its offensive power from last week's victory. After a slow start, the Nittany Lions secured a 17-12 win against the Wildcats, marking the first time the Nittany Lions have opened the season with a 4-0 under head coach Jeff Tambroni.
Freshman attacker Mac O'Keefe kept the large Penn State crowd entertained, scoring eight goals for the Nittany Lions. With a team-high eight goals, O'Keefe broke his own freshman single game scoring record that he set in just the first week of the season.
"He makes it look so easy," Tambroni said. "I know how hard he works to put himself in that position, so he is reaping a lot of rewards from his work ethic."
On attack, the trio on the front lines featuring O'Keefe, sophomore Grant Ament, and senior Nick Aponte accumulated 13 of the 17 goals scored Saturday. Ament netted three goals for the second time this season, scoring all three in the third quarter.
Tambroni credited Villanova's defense with holding their own during the first half, forcing the Nittany Lions to be more creative on offense. However, it was Ament's third-quarter performance that sparked the Penn State motivation to pull away in the second half.
"Grant was just super aggressive and I thought our offense became a lot more confident and aggressive because of it," Tambroni said. "He played with a lot of enthusiasm and today out there in the third quarter. He just looked like he was having a lot of fun."
Ament's performance also gave Penn State the opportunity to relax a bit during the second half and settle into a scoring groove. The Nittany Lions scored three unanswered goals to end the third quarter, wrapping up a seven-goal frame that sent Penn State surging ahead 14-8.
At the other end of the field, freshman goaltender Colby Kneese remained steady throughout the game, making 11 saves in the first half alone. Saturday's contest marked Kneese's third start of the season.
"We knew he was going to be tested today, these guys shoot the ball from all areas and they shoot the ball very well," Tambroni said. "Colby had a great week of practice, we were very pleased with the week of practice that he had and just knowing that he was going to be the starting goalie this week without looking back, having a game under his belt really helped."
Kneese made 18 saves on Saturday afternoon, securing a .600 save percentage.
"He continues to keep getting better," Tambroni said. "We needed every save that he had today."
Off the field though, Tambroni was pleased with the large turnout of fans who made the trip to support the Nittany Lions. Both Villanova and Penn State share a similar color scheme, but the constant "We Are" chants ringing down from the bleachers, only added fuel to the team with a large support system behind them."This has always been a thrill for us heading back into the Philadelphia area whether it's Penn or Villanova, we're extremely grateful for our alumni base," Tambroni said. "You talk about Penn State in general, you talk about passion, you talk about loyalty and these lacrosse fans are no different. It was nice to see a group like this come out and support these guys."
Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- At the beginning of each meet, the Penn State women's gymnastics team does a spirited "P-S-U" cheer to get themselves energized and ready for competition.
On Saturday afternoon, seniors Nicole Medvitz, Christina Postiglione, and Emma Sibson were the three loudest gymnasts in the group huddle. This is because it was a special meet for each of them - it would be their final meet to cap off their time at historic Rec Hall.
"I thought we did great today," Medvitz said. "We came out here and it wasn't our best vaulting rotation, but we went to bars and we stuck so many dismounts. The energy was so high and we took that to each event. It was probably the most fun meet I ever had."
It was the final home meet of the season and each Nittany Lion delivered a strong and heartwarming performance in their 195.200-193.525 win against Pittsburgh.
For Medvitz, it was a meet that she will never forget. The Paramus, N.J. native opened up the meet by performing her last routine on vault in Rec Hall. She finished with a 9.575 to place tenth. But on the next event, the uneven parallel bars, she delivered a great score of 9.825 to place third.
"Nicole [Medvitz] on bars, she was lights out tonight," interim co-head coach Josh Nilson said. "That's what we see in the gym, and it was absolutely fantastic. [I'm] very proud of her."
From there, she excelled on her final event of the evening, balance beam. Medvitz performed a near flawless performance to place first with a 9.875.
"It feels great [to place with those scores]," Medvitz said. "I always love when I can help my team out in any way that I can, and just to end on a great note, it feels amazing."
Since her freshman year, Medvitz has competed in every one of Penn State's meets, minus one during her sophomore year. Normally she simply goes through each event, but Saturday evening was different.
"It was pretty crazy just thinking that it's my last time walking in [Rec Hall] and my last time competing, but I just wanted to enjoy every moment, look around and take some extra time to just be grateful for what I have here and everything that I've been given," Mevitz said.
Though Postiglione and Sibson didn't compete, they were embracing all the energy from the crowd and were supporting their teammates the entire time.
"What we told [the girls] to focus on was to just "enjoy it, absolutely enjoy it," Nilson said. "Tonight is the night for the seniors. Tonight is the night for the team. And they did that. They did a beautiful job"
By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Lady Lions will play in the annual Pink Zone game this Sunday against Michigan and honor breast cancer survivors for the eleventh straight year.
The Pink Zone game has become a staple of Penn State's season, and being a part of it means a lot to players and coaches alike. Team captains Peyton Whitted and Sarah McMurtry have both been personally affected by breast cancer, so playing in the game has added meaning.
"I've been affected by breast cancer so just being able to play a game to remember people like my grandmother and also the other survivors and people that are affected by it as well are really big," Whitted said.
Added McMurtry: "My mom survived breast cancer and just to have one of the biggest Pink Zone games in women's basketball means so much. Raising awareness, raising money, playing for something bigger than ourselves means a ton for me personally."
Playing in her fourth and final Pink Zone game, Whitted has seen the game grow and change over the years. But the one thing that stays the same is the excitement leading up to and during the game.
"For me, it's been big every year but I think it just means so much more as each year goes by and there's more people that come, I feel like I've seen new faces each year," Whitted said. "Then just on top of that, you get different feels each time it comes around and it makes it just more exciting to play in the game."
Head coach Coquese Washington has also seen the game grow in her time at Penn State, and loves that her team gets to be a part of it year after year.
"It's been really cool to see how much it's grown over the years and how it's grown from an event to truly a cause," Washington said. "The game [is] just a fantastic memory for so many people, and you see what's going to happen on Sunday and 600-plus survivors on the floor, that's going to be so cool and just to know that we're a part of it, it's a lot of fun."
The activities don't conclude at the final buzzer, with a reception happening in the team's practice gym following the game. There, survivors get to join the players for food and conversation, and the players pink jerseys are auctioned off.
"That's one of the highlights of the season, the live auction of the jerseys and then going in and having a reception with the survivors, it's amazing the stories that we hear in that room, it's really empowering," Washington said.
As game time inches closer, Washington says she doesn't have a special message for her players for this particular game. Instead, with the rich tradition of the Pink Zone game in the Lady Lion program, she lets the stories of survivors dictate the significance.
"One of the things about breast cancer it just seems like everybody has a personal connection, whether it's a family member or close friend, it seems that everybody has a story about how breast cancer has impacted their lives or their family," Washington said. "So rallying as a group and as a program behind this cause is just something that's a part of our program and it's in the fabric of what we do."
The Pink Zone game will take place on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center. It'll be the last game for the Lady Lions in the BJC this season before they head to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament.
By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Some lead in between the lines, pushing their teammates to the limit during practice and through their play on the court. Others give advice and guide their fellow student athletes through their demeanor in the classroom. For the Penn State women's basketball team, it has someone unique in senior captain Kaliyah Mitchell, whose leadership bleeds through the entire fabric of the Blue and White her team wears.
Grounded by her Georgia roots, Mitchell's character, described as full of light-heartedness and competitiveness, has left a mark on those around her as well as the women's basketball program.
"With Kaliyah Mitchell she brings leadership," assistant coach Tamika Jeter said. "She brings toughness and a competitive edge that nobody else can give us. She brings something that's intangible to this team, and I talk about her leadership quite a bit because she's the one behind the scenes, she sees things before they happen, and has really been a big part in driving Coquese's vision on this team and developing our culture into a positive culture."
Mitchell knows that as a senior and a captain she plays an important role on this team. As one of the squad's leader, others look to her to show them the way and for her to lead by example.
I know I can't let up on my teammates and I know I have to push myself really hard in order for everybody else to go harder," Mitchell said. "It's hard to be a leader if you're not doing what you're supposed to do, so I try to make sure I'm out there competing, working hard with whatever we're doing."
That type of direction she provides she understands goes beyond basketball as well, and she knows that she needs to constantly be grinding if she wants her teammates to do the same.
"Regardless of if we're at community service or we're at the gym, going over a drill or something, I try to make sure I'm the hardest person working," Mitchell said.
She has done exactly that over her four years rocking the Blue and White. On the hardwood, the forward has been one of the team's most versatile players.
As a three-year starter, Mitchell has regularly been amongst the team's best in rebounding and defense, tallying 54 blocks, 142 steals and 662 total rebounds over her career. Her numbers have improved each season, with a significant jump during her senior season as the team leader in all three of those statistical categories.
The forward has also been a staple from the free-throw line, always proving to be reliable from the line. Mitchell has etched her name into the Penn State record books as she is ranked 19th all-time in Penn State history from the charity stripe, knocking her free throws down over 77 percent of the time.
A large amount of that production this year has come off the bench, which is something you usually don't expect from a senior captain. The difference between starting on the floor or coming off the bench does not phase Mitchell, however, as she feels that she can make an impact regardless of when she makes it onto the floor.
"When you're starting, you know you have to start out strong, you kind of set the tone, but when you come off the bench, I feel like you have an advantage," she said. "You're able to see what the other team's doing, you also see what we're doing and see what could be working, what's something that you can go into the game and help the team out with."
Even with all that production, assistant coach Tamika Jeter says it all comes back to her intangibles when it comes down to where her presence is felt the most.
"I think she does so much on the court, and the fans get to see her take charges and block shots and defend and rebound and score, but she does a lot for her teammates to show that she cares, so that's what I appreciate the most about Kaliyah."
At the end of the day, Mitchell knows what she means to the team and what she needs to do to help the team grow into something bigger than the game itself. As the team sits in the wheelhouse of post-season contention, she feels confident her team can ride their momentum from the second-half of conference play and the team can potentially achieve things to make her senior season one to remember.
By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's a road warrior mentality for Penn State men's basketball this weekend as the Nittany Lions hit the road, traveling to Minnesota for a Saturday afternoon matchup against the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis.
Coming off a performance recognized by head coach Patrick Chambers as Penn State's toughest yet, the challenge now becomes taking that same mindset out of the Bryce Jordan Center and on the road.
"We competed tonight and this was the hardest that we played all year," Chambers said postgame following a tough loss to No. 14 Purdue earlier this week.
Praising the toughness and physicality of his Nittany Lions, who battled back from behind by as many as 10 to force overtime, the same level of play will be nothing short of crucial come Saturday.
"We have to have a road attitude, road warriors, we have to have a great mindset, be ready to compete and know that it's not all about making shots," Chambers said.
Two Nittany Lions who didn't exactly struggle to make their shots Tuesday night though, are freshmen Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens, who have both stepped up amidst the final stretch of the regular season. Across the last six games, Carr and Stevens are each averaging 18.2 points per game with 5.5 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Carr led the way with 21 points against the Boilermakers, dishing out seven assists to go along with five rebounds. With Chambers already passing on a leadership role on Carr, he noted that Stevens is a work in progress, with a future leadership role certainly a possibility.
Stevens finished just behind Carr with 18 points against Purdue, nearly hitting the 20-point mark for what would have been a fifth game scoring 20 or more. Rather, Stevens has registered 20-point outings in three of the last six games, including back-to-back performances against then-No. 21/22 Maryland and Illinois to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.
Among the stretch, he has come through in the clutch for the Nittany Lions, with a gritty toughness, working inside to finish, often getting to free throw line too. Both Stevens and Carr are also atop the team standings from the charity stripe, shooting 78 percent from the free throw line on the year.
"He has really stepped up in a lot of different ways," Chambers said, reflecting on Stevens' recent impact. "He's a little bit more vocal in practice, a little bit more vocal in the locker room, vocal in huddles. He is not afraid to put himself out there."
When he's not locating a lane to drive inside, Stevens has also kept fans on the edge of their seats knocking down a midrange jumper, or even the occasional 3-pointer.
"I consider myself a shooter now," Stevens joked postgame following the win against the Terps, where he scored 25 points, including his fourth triple of the season.
As Stevens and Carr both noted postgame against Purdue though, although Penn State played harder against the Boilermakers, without a win, there's still a lot of room to for improvement moving forward.
Putting the past away though, Chambers noted that in the days following he's pleased to see the Nittany Lions back into the gym with the right approach.
"They know we let one slip through our hands a little bit but that's the type of response we want," Chambers said. "We're going to learn from these tough defeats and get back on the horse so to speak, and get back in the practice gym, get some shots up work on our defense and work on our habits."
The formula for the rest of the week included an off day Wednesday and a lighter day Thursday before the Nittany Lions ramped up the intensity today to get adjusted and primed for game speed for Saturday's 3 p.m. tipoff on BTN.
A Bit About Minnesota
The Golden Gophers enter the matchup on a six-game winning streak, coming off an 89-75 win on the road at Maryland Wednesday. The Minnesota streak is tied for the longest in the conference alongside Big Ten standings leader Purdue.
In the earlier meeting of the series this year, Penn State captured a dramatic 52-50 win against then-No. 24 Minnesota, when Carr sank a pair of free throws to push the Nittany Lions ahead, drawing a foul on the final push to the basket. Penn State had also trailed by as many as 10 at the half before earning its fourth consecutive win in the series against the Golden Gophers.
Minnesota is led by leading scorer Nate Mason, who is averaging 16.7 points per game in conference play, which ranks fifth in the Big Ten standings.
The Nittany Lions limited Mason to just seven points in the mid-January outing at home, while Reggie Lynch led the way with 12 points. Lynch is currently one of the nation's best shot blockers, averaging a team-high 3.1 blocks per game, which is tops in the Big Ten standings and third nationally."They're playing for something, we're playing for something," Chambers said looking toward the matchup. "It's a big game for us, especially being on the road. so the mindset is going to be critical to everything we do and we've been talking about it."
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - A lifetime of hard work. An eternity of practice and workouts. Four years donning the blue and white uniform.
That's all that remains at Pegula Ice Arena as four seniors will say farewell this weekend to the building in which they made so many memories.
"My favorite hockey-related memory is when we swept Mercyhurst," forward Laura Bowman said. "They were ranked No. 6 and we swept them."
"Not hockey related, we got back from a road trip and we made it to the fourth quarter of the Ohio State (football) game," forward Amy Petersen said. "So that was pretty cool to be a part of since that's just a Penn State thing."
Bowman and Petersen are joined by forward Sarah Nielsen and defenseman Kelly Seward to round out the senior class, a class that has won 42 games in its time at Penn State, the most in the brief history of the Division I hockey program.
"They've been an instrumental part of building this program for the past four seasons," interim head coach Dean Jackson said. "They're definitely going to leave their mark. They made a big impact academically, athletically, and throughout their four years the program has achieved some firsts in statistical categories. They're all a big part of that."
The last few weeks of a season can always be hectic, especially for those about to move on from the program, but the players are doing their best to not focus on the senior festivities surrounding this series. They want all attention on their play.
"I haven't thought about [senior day] on my own, only when other people mention it to me," Seward said. "Especially with the last couple of weekends, the team has been playing really good and hockey has been the focus."
This series is huge in terms of momentum for the Nittany Lions, as they come off an impressive split at No. 8 Robert Morris last weekend, and have won three of the last four. Syracuse comes in comfortably in second place in the CHA, and a good showing from Penn State will certainly give them some confidence headed into the CHA tournament next weekend in Buffalo.
"Playing them right before playoffs, it just makes us want to beat them that much more when it comes to playoffs," Nielsen said. "I love it."
Penn State currently sits a point behind Mercyhurst for third place heading into the final regular season weekend.
More than anything though, the seniors want to go out on a positive note, understanding the opportunity they have at hand and how important it is to them to finish the job.
"We're excited for the whole weekend," Bowman said. "I think we're most excited for the game since last time we played them, we had a few girls out. This time, we have a lot of them back. We're excited to show them what we have."
"They're going to be a team that plays 200 feet, they work extremely hard," Jackson said. "They're a quick team and they compete. It's going to be a lot of similarities to what we saw last week in Robert Morris, and we're certainly up to the task."
Don't miss the last chance to see the Nittany Lions at Pegula until the fall. The series begins today at 4:30 p.m. and concludes tomorrow at 2 p.m. Senior recognition will be held after the conclusion of tonight's game.
By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the No. 6 team in the country, Penn State is stockpiled full of seasoned veterans that have no shortage of in-game experience under their belts. But, while the upperclassmen may do the heavy lifting, the Nittany Lions still have a healthy dose of young talent on their roster.
One such player is freshman attacker Maria Auth, who introduced herself to the Penn State faithful against Duquesne on Wednesday. In the first road game of her collegiate career, the young shooter stuffed her stat sheet with three goals en route to her first collegiate hat trick.
"I was just excited to be able to contribute in a big way to the team," Auth said as she talked about trying to make the most out of her minutes. "That was definitely a big accomplishment for me and it was exciting."
Head coach Missy Doherty also praised her abilities on the field during the game, as she led the younger players in giving Penn State some extra life with the sticks.
"She did a great job and really in Duquesne a lot of players went in and really brought up the level of our game," Doherty said. "[The underclassmen] did a great job of lifting our team up when we maybe needed a little more energy."
Auth is one of several younger players that has been able to leave their mark on the field this season. Coming off of her big game, she now sits at five points on the season off of four goals and an assist. The attacker is also doing it at an efficient clip. While her numbers may still have a small sample size this early in the season, she currently sits tied for the team's second-best shooting at a .667 clip, trailing only the team's leading point-getter in Steph Lazo (.739).
Early on, coach Doherty already sees things she likes in the freshman as a lefty attacker that adds another wrinkle to the offense.
"She's just a really skilled attacker, a great scorer and competitor, so you know getting some more goals from that left side," Doherty said. "It just adds to our arsenal there on offense."
The Maryland native is one of 13 imports on the team from the state, hailing from the rural community of Street which resides just five miles south of the Pennsylvania border. In her time in the "Old Line State," Auth had an impressive resume not just on the field but in the classroom as well.
In four years of action, she racked up accolades as a US Lacrosse First-team All-American, a two-time Crab Draw All-Star game MVP and a two-time Lacrosse Academic All-American, among many others. Coming off an 87-goal season her senior year with 68 draw controls and 20 caused turnovers, the college lacrosse scene was her oyster, and it was the big-time atmosphere of Happy Valley that caught her eye.
"I just always wanted to come to a big school. I could never really see myself at a small school and the athletic environment definitely helped," Auth said. "There's just so much tradition with athletics and academics here that it just drew me to Penn State"
Now that she has nearly a year under her belt, Auth says she has the hang of things, but it took her a while to ease into the whole process. Like many student-athletes, time management was a habit she had to pick up quick in order to stay on top of things both in practice and with the books.
The strong foundation of upperclassmen and leadership on the squad helped her find comfort instead of commotion, however, as they helped her transition as both as teammates and role models.
"The upperclassmen are amazing. They're great leaders on and off the field at both academics and athletics, so it's always great to have someone to look up to," Auth said. "I definitely couldn't have transitioned as well without their help."
Now with a few games under her belt, the first-year player is gaining confidence as she continues to contribute more and more. With more time and more reps, Auth will find her place as a member of the Blue and White while she continues to live her dream.
"Everyone dreams of coming to a D-1 school for sports, and to have it be everything I imagined it would be, it's an awesome feeling to be a part of something so big," Auth said.
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - It was quite a weekend for Penn State men's gymnastics, as the Nittany Lions put together a very strong performance at the Winter Cup in Las Vegas. Five gymnasts, including former Penn Stater and volunteer assistant coach Trevor Howard competed, and they all represented the university well.
The gymnasts totaled nine top-20 finishes between them, including Howard's seventh-place finish on still rings and Leroy Clarke's identical placing on pommel horse. Some of the best gymnasts from all over the United States competed, and the Nittany Lions were right there with the elite.
"All of the guys did well," head coach Randy Jepson said. "We had a couple high points and for the most part it was a great showing for Penn State."
Back east, the remaining members of the team brought home no shortage of hardware themselves, taking the top spot in the athlete dance competition at THON on Saturday night. They beat out the women's volleyball and football teams, helping energize a crowd of students and families that raised over $10 million for pediatric cancer research.
"We were anxious to see how the guys would do, they put a lot of time and effort into that," Jepson said. "Wednesday is our light day and they took some time then to really work on their dance."
The team reunited early this week to put some solid practice sessions in before one of the critical stretches of the season. Only four regular season meets remain on the schedule, including back-to-back road meets this weekend and next.
There will be a change in format to watch out for the rest of the season in the way meets are scored. To this point, each team would send six competitors to participate in each event, taking the top five scores. From now on, only five gymnasts will be allowed to participate in each event and every score will count towards the team's overall total.
While this puts more pressure on individual performance, it's certainly nothing the Nittany Lions haven't experienced before, as most gymnastics events leading up to the college level are scored individually, placing all the emphasis on every performance counting. This is simply par for the course and an exciting opportunity for Penn State to show off the consistency and depth on their roster during this final Big Ten push.
"We prepare that way all season," Jepson said. "We're always looking at hit ratio as the team but also as individuals and we're constantly looking at who are the most dependable guys."
The Nittany Lions head to Navy this weekend to take on the Midshipmen. It will be their second time seeing the Midshipmen as they met earlier in the season at the West Point Open. The road trip continues next weekend at Nebraska before closing the regular season at home against Michigan and Iowa.
Saturday's meet will begin at 2 p.m. in Annapolis.
By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This weekend marks the end of the Nittany Lions conference indoor track season as they head to Geneva, OH to compete in the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Senior sprinter, Alex Shisler knows his past experiences allow him to be ready to take on his last indoor Big Tens.
"I know what to expect. It's something I've been through, this is going to be my eighth Big Tens, so I know exactly what to expect," said Shisler. "I know what to expect when it comes to competition, I know how to run on that track, and I think all those things are going to benefit me greatly in terms of my competition."
This last shot at indoor Big Tens is leaving Shisler hopeful that the team comes out on top.
"Winning. I'm so excited to at least have that shot," he said. "This meet is the one that we all look forward to. It's something we haven't done yet, so it's always fun to go in there, compete to the best of our ability and see if we can come out with a trophy."
Returning to the meet this year is sophomore mid-distance runner, Isaiah Harris, who captured the 800-meter first place last year, running a Big Ten all-time indoor record time of 1:46.24.
Harris is more secure going into the championships after taking the gold in it last year.
"I feel like going into this weekend I'm more confident based off what I did last year, so it's just a confidence thing. I'm not going to be nervous going into it."
"I'm excited about the DMR really because we've won it the past five years, but this year we aren't as strong as we have been in the past," said Harris. "Gondak just told me that I'm anchoring it now, so we're going to try I guess to pull an upset and try to keep the streak alive. I'm looking forward to that."
Head coach John Gondak feels confident in Harris and his team after the Penn State Tune-Up last weekend.
"Everybody is where you want them to be. A lot of the men that competed last weekend were using it as a workout meet so to speak, doing multiple events to kind of simulate what the conference championships is going to be like," said Gondak. "The women, we wanted to accomplish a few things and they are just very driven and focused right now on going and trying to make a run at winning the Big Ten title. They showed that with what they did in the DMR and with what a handful of other athletes did last weekend so they've got excellent energy right now."
Gondak feels that all areas of the team are strong enough to contribute to a successful championship meet this weekend.
"The nice part about our program is that I think all areas are going to be the strength of our team. We work to really have a well-balanced program," said Gondak. "In most events, we have an opportunity to score. Obviously, in some events we have a little bit more of an opportunity than others based on our entries, but it's going to take everybody to be on their A game this weekend to have the results we want to have."
"I'm feeling really excited. I've asked the team week in and week out to just keep working to get better, and I think they've done that. I think they're really confident as we head on into the championships this weekend," he added. "They've been competing really well and we've stressed to them that this is just like any competition to them in terms of putting any undue pressure or stress on yourself and go have fun and compete and we'll hopefully have a good result."
This Big Ten meet will serve as the last opportunity for qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Going into this weekend, the Nittany Lions have had seven NCAA-qualifying performances. The top 16 individuals and top 12 relays at the meet will qualify for the NCAA Championships that will be held in College Station, TX.
The Big Ten Indoor Championships is set to start at 10 a.m. on Friday and continuing into Saturday at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, OH.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior day for the Penn State men's hockey program is next week, but before beginning to take a look back at their contributions, there are a few Nittany Lions who also play a part in making the program run smoothly.
From Player to Coach and Beyond
Mike Williamson gave up playing hockey at Penn State in January of 2016 due to injuries, but he didn't leave the program all together. Williamson has spent the final year of his undergraduate career as a student assistant coach for the Nittany Lions, helping design goalie practices and giving special attention to skill development for younger members of the team.
"Pretty much any extra time or optional skate the guys would want to do, they could just ask," Williamson. "I'm able to help them."
During games, Williamson tracks statistics to make sure the team is performing to its full abilities on the ice.
After graduating in May, Williamson is looking to attend dental school, but fully intends to continue his involvement with hockey if he can. He is excited for the next step in his career and credits Penn State hockey with helping him build the foundation to be successful at the next level.
"It has meant everything to me," Williamson said of being a part of the Penn State hockey program. "I'm really thankful to have been a part of starting from the ground up."
What he'll miss most though, is the relationships he has formed every year with each of the four teams he has been a part of, especially the Nittany Lions who are members of the current senior class with whom he started his college career with.
"Every year I've been here the teammates have been exceptional," Williamson said. "I've got strong relationships with everyone who has been here. That'd definitely something I'll remember the most."
Video Manager Gains Support System
Since his freshman year, video manager Will Bensur has been a vital behind
the scenes member for the Nittany Lions. Bensur, who was recruited to play for the club hockey team, was offered an opportunity to interview for the position his freshman year by former director of operations Bill Downey. Despite having to give up playing hockey, Bensur has never regretted his decision to make the transition.
Bensur started out by simply making sure all the video equipment was ready for practices and games, but since then has taken on added responsibility. Now, he prescouts opponents, breaks down game film, and acts as another set of eyes for head coach Guy Gadowsky and director of operations Alex Dawes.
"You can see how we've all really matured as a hockey program and as students," Bensur said. "You can tell that the guys who are here, you can feel something special about the teams so far that helped build this program."
Bensur has become close with the coaches, players, and staff over the years and has developed friendships outside of Pegula Ice Arena because of his connection with the program. Last weekend Bensur also danced in THON, and had his hockey peers there to cheer him on.
"It was awesome," Bensur said. "Gadowsky came Saturday afternoon, which was a huge confidence booster. Seeing some familiar faces was nice. Sometime after the second game I remember seeing some of them again."
Bensur said freshman Nikita Pavlychev, senior Ricky DeRosa and junior Erik Autio made it onto the floor after their game Saturday to surprise him.
"I was so delusional at that point that when I saw Ricky I had to do a double take," Bensur said. "I didn't quite recognize him at first but to sum it all up, any time you see someone who is that close to you, it really keeps you going. The support that I got from the program was really tremendous all weekend long."
Bensur said after graduation, what he'll miss most is simply the energy surrounding the program.
something new and it's something different than everything else I've done at
Penn State," Bensur said. "I've watched this place become a hockey school over
the last few years and you can tell the culture around this team is continuing
Equipment Managers Create Memories
Roommates Kevin Seifert and Collin Kearns both interviewed to be equipment managers for the hockey program at the end of their freshman year, but knew only one spot was available. Since both were interested in the position, they bargained with head equipment manager Adam Sheehan, convincing him to hire both of them.
As equipment managers, Seifert and Kearns arrive on gameday for morning skate. Usually one of them takes the morning shift to assist with any away team needs and help with any last minute projects. For games, the two help set up the locker room, make equipment adjustments, provide in-game assistance and close down shop at the end of the night.
It's a lot of work, but Seifert and Kearns agree that it has been worth it to have an up close and personal view of the Penn State hockey program.
Both Seifert and Kearns have jobs lined up after graduation, but neither career path is related to their experience as equipment managers. Kearns said that if the opportunity arises to get back into the hockey business, he'd be open to the opportunity.
"I think being a part of something new and watching it grow and being around so many different personalities are experiences I can with me to a different job," Seifert added.
Some of their favorite memories with the program have come on the road. The opportunity to travel alongside the team is something both will miss about their time at Penn State.
"You get to know the team better, you get to know the staff better," Seifert said. "A lot of my favorite memories were made on the road."
Seifert said his favorite road game was when the team has played at the Wells Fargo Center. Over the years, having grown up a Philadelphia Flyers fan, being in their arena and locker room has made a lasting impression.
"I got to go to Madison Square Garden last year which was really awesome," Kearns said. "It's such a famous arena. It all adds to having those experiences you can talk about and share with people years down the road."
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State will have to rely on some fresh faces in 2017 to pick up for the bats lost from last season. Tyler Kendall, Jim Haley and Greg Guers were the top three hitters for the Nittany Lions in 2016, and none of them return this year.
The only other Nittany Lion batting higher .300 last season was left fielder Nick Riotto. Riotto, a senior, will be expected to take over the leadership role in a lineup that features very few upperclassmen.
Riotto, an extremely patient hitter, has already been setting a solid example for the younger Nittany Lions, and a few have already said he's taking them under his wing.
Last season, he led the team in walks (24) and led the main starters in on-base percentage (.405). He gets on base often and rarely strikes out, too. He was fanned only 14 times last year, meaning he struck out about once every 13 trips to the plate.
Riotto could potentially be the leadoff man in head coach Rob Cooper's lineup all season. He was out of the final two games in the opening series against TCU, but Cooper said the injury isn't serious enough to keep him out long.
Aside from Riotto, five freshmen, seven sophomores and three seniors comprise the Penn State offensive roster in 2017.
One of the most consistent returning sophomores, Conlin Hughes, played in all but three games last season and figures to be a main cog at the top of the lineup.
Hughes leads the team early with a .300 batting average through three games. He smacked three hits and scored two runs on opening weekend against a stellar pitching staff from TCU.
"It's a real confidence booster, especially for our young lineup, so being able to face those arms during the year is definitely a plus moving on into conference play," Hughes said.
He was moved around in the lineup a bit in the first three games, but he says he feels comfortable anywhere. Cooper noted Hughes' potential to have an integral role in the top portion of the lineup moving forward.
"I think he can do a lot of damage up there," Cooper said. "He's a guy that gives us quality at bats and I want those kind of guys to get more at bats throughout the year. The first three guys in the order are going to get up a lot during the year."
Another sophomore already doing major damage to opposing pitchers is Willie Burger. Burger hit two homeruns in the third game of the opening series. He hit just one last year in 39 games played.
Burger also cracked a double in the second game of the series and led the team with five RBIs over the weekend.
"Willie's always been a kid that's just never been afraid. He loves to play he loves competition he has a lot of pride," Cooper said. "He wants to win so bad that he wants to hit a six-run homer. When he slows his internal clock down and just plays, he's a really good player, so that's the challenge for him this year."
Several freshman already got their first game jitters out of the way, and some will be expected to take on important roles this season up and down the lineup.
Joe Weisenseel started all three games at shortstop and was one of two freshmen to notch their first hits of their careers last weekend. Braxton Giavedoni was the other.
Weisenseel was even thrown in the lead-off spot with Riotto out of the lineup, and he fared just fine. He said that the biggest difference jumping from high school to college competition is the quality of the pitching.
"They're coming a lot harder, coming with a lot better stuff than high school and summer ball," Weisenseel said. "That's something to adjust to. I know I have to get my confidence at the plate, and that's just something that's going to be big for me moving forward."
Cooper said the freshmen's play overall was encouraging, but he did mention he'd like to see the strikeout numbers improve over the next few weeks.
Penn State struck out 26 times in the opening series. Freshmen were responsible for 10.
"We got to find a way to cut down on our strikeouts and put the ball in play a lot more, and then when we do have runners in scoring position we got to figure out a way to get them in," Cooper said.
Another freshman who turned the coaching staff's collective head was Mason Nadeau. Nadeau wasn't able to get his first collegiate hit, but he did catch Cooper's attention with a nine-pitch walk.
Cooper said he was impressed with Nadeau's confidence and patience in
such a tough atmosphere. He said that's exactly why he recruited Nadeau.
By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Last season, the softball program boasted a talented and experienced outfield, featuring seniors Lexi Knief, Erin Pond and Macy Jones. This season, redshirt sophomore Rebecca Ziegler, in the midst of a four-game hitting streak, is picking up some of the slack.
Having sat out her freshman season due to injury, and backing up centerfielder Lexi Knief a year ago, head coach Amanda Lehotak knew Ziegler would be ready to go this year.
"She's been outstanding for us. I thought opening weekend, it didn't really show in the stat line, but she had a lot of quality at-bats. So this weekend, to see them kind of finally fall for her, I was really pleased...Having that spark in the leadoff spot is exactly what we needed from her," said Lehotak.
When you first meet Ziegler, you can see her passion for the game. Lehotak sees it too.
"Ziegler just loves the game. When you talk to her, she's just passionate about softball, baseball," Lehotak said. "She can tell you baseball stats of who's doing what, so I think its just a perfect storm in the fact that she's finally physically healthy, and I think she's just having a really good time playing the game right now."
Where did Ziegler develop her love of the game of softball? Part of that has to do with her family. Her older brother, C.J., was a first baseman at the University of Arizona before playing professionally in the minor leagues. Seeing him perform well on the diamond was where Ziegler got her fire.
"Growing up around a baseball field, seeing him dominate on the field, really drove me to want to be as good as him," she said. "He made me love this game, so watching him be such a force at the plate and on the field, that's who I aspired to be."
Now, playing for a Nittany Lion team heating up early on in the season, Ziegler can leave it all on the field manning the starting center field position. Her effort can be seen during the week in practice behind the scenes and in the cage.
"As long as I swing as hard as I can in the cages, it translates onto the field...I just try to improve every single at bat and try and make it better than the last time," said Ziegler.
Ziegler also has bought into the team philosophy this season.
"This year's theme is staying within the tribe, being a tribe, so as long as we do that, we'll be ok," she said.
Ziegler and her teammates will be traveling to Conway, South Carolina to take part in the Chanticleer Showdown this weekend. The squad will face off with Coastal Carolina, Campbell, Cleveland State and Morehead State, and Lehotak knows what needs to be done to continue the team's four-game win streak.
"Our defense needs to sustain and we need to keep doing a good job... Pitchers, were looking for them to attack," she said. "There were a couple of situational areas this past weekend where we kind of got lucky, so making sure we fix that, and, offensively we have to do a better job of making adjustments earlier."
With that in mind, Ziegler and the Lions are trending upwards in the early stages of the season, especially in the eyes of Lehotak.
"The mixture of having our youth be really mature and our seniors having the 'been there, done that' mentality, I think it's been the perfect blend."
By Jack Milewski, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Adversity strikes all teams at certain times in the season. It can take different forms, be around for a long time or a short time and either minimally or prominently alter the course of a season.
In the case of Penn State men's volleyball, they have faced adversity the last couple weeks in the form of multiple injuries. Still, that has not stopped the team from forging forward and continuing their balanced play that they have exhibited for most of the season. The latest injury bug has placed standout outside Chris Nugent on the sidelines, but in his absence, Nittany Lions have continued to step up again and again.
Lee Smith has been one of those contributors has made an immediate impact, stepping in seamlessly for Nugent. Smith was in a rotation of role players last season, behind the likes of Nugent and Spencer Sauter in the lineup. However, this season Smith has been one of the go to hitters for Penn State and that role has magnified with Nugent out of the lineup.
"Obviously you never want to see a player like Chris get taken out of the lineup," Smith said. "But because of that we have had to have other players step up and fill his role. Myself and Aiden Albrecht have tried to do our best stepping up and I think that Aiden has done a really good job. I think for myself if I just play smart that is the best way that I can help the team."
Smith has stepped up big, leading the Nittany Lions this past weekend with 26 kills across two matches. On the season, Smith ranks third on the team in total kills with 105, but has played four less matches than Nugent who is the leading spiker. The production that Smith has shown this season highlights the growth he has exhibited throughout his Penn State career.
"He has really continued his upward trajectory throughout his time here," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "We have seen great growth from him and he is a very smart player so that growth is quick as well."
With that growth, Smith has moved from being a player who comes off the bench to provide a spark or a different look, to a player who is a consistent and effective starter. Smith says he has embraced the role, not only on the court, but off the court as well.
"I think I have matured as a player and as a leader on the team," Smith said. "Now that I am usually getting a lot of swings in the games, I can see myself improving every game. I also feel much more comfortable being able to speak up and say something if I need to."
Smith is known for being a jokester and having a light-hearted personality when it comes to his off the court actions. On the court he is fiery but also brings a calming sense to the team.
"I feel like I know what to say and when it's needed," Smith said. "When I'm on the court I like to try and calm everyone down if need be and just keep an even head all the time. I think as a player I never try to do too much and just keep it simple as best I can."
Smith is certainly providing a much needed spark and positive energy for the Nittany Lions at this juncture in the season. Despite the injuries they have sustained, Penn State is still in a solid position in the EIVA, sitting just one match behind the conference leaders.
"Our goal is the same as it has been all season," Smith said. "Win the EIVA regular season so that we can host the EIVA championships and then we go from there."
Penn State is back in action returning to the road for a pair of weekend matches Friday and Saturday, taking on preseason EIVA favorite George Mason and Charleston (West Va.). Both matches are slated for 7 p.m. starts."There is even more added importance to these games this weekend," Pavlik said. "We are expecting a hostile environment on Friday and even on Saturday, though Charleston doesn't have a win in the EIVA yet they are much improved from last year."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 10 Penn State men's lacrosse has talent and depth between the pipes this season, thanks to a capable quartet of goalies and targeted instruction from the coaching staff.
Junior Will Schreiner, sophomore Trevor Scollins, and a duo of freshmen in Colby Kneese and Jack Rusbuldt, make up the Lions' skilled group of goalies. Each Nittany Lion has their own unique playing style that they've molded to their individual strengths, bringing something different to help strengthen the unit as whole
The two goalies that have seen the most playing time this season, Kneese and Schreiner, have almost opposite styles between the pipes. Schreiner likes to draw the opposing team's offense to get them to shoot the ball in a way he knows he can save.
"For example, if I'm on the left side of the net it's easier at that point to make a stick-side save," Schreiner said. "So I might hug the pipe a little bit longer."
Schreiner said his style of goaltending is more common from Philadelphia-area players and that he has played that way his whole life. Former Penn State men's lacrosse standout and decorated goalie, Austin Kaut, is a notable baiter in net also.
Schreiner earned the first start of the 2017 season against Robert Morris, helping the Nittany Lions to a 15-11 victory.
Kneese, on the other hand, tends to wait for a shot before reacting. Head coach Jeff Tambroni praised Kneese's quick hands and said his natural instinct in net is a great sign of things to come for the young player.
"I hope his preparation includes confidence," Tambroni said. "It's been a long preseason for him since he walked on campus, just trying to fit in here at Penn State. Then to try and find his way on the team and put himself in a position to realize a position of playing time, and then to earn the starting spot and to have some struggles in his first start only to back it up with a much stronger performance."
Kneese earned his first start February 11 in a 21-15 win against Hobart. He also started between the pipes last Saturday against Cornell, helping the Nittany Lions secure a 20-10 win.
Despite strong performances from both goalies so far, Tambroni said he is still likely to use the two-headed monster of Schreiner and Kneese in net, opting to wait a few more games before making a final choice of a starter.
For the goaltending unit, preparing for games is how victories are secured. Assistant coach Chris Doctor broke down the preparations the goalies make during the week.
"They usually have an individual session during the week," Doctor said. "Sometimes guys will come in before practice starts or in the morning and they'll get half an hour of extra work. All four of them do that."
Doctor said during practices, all the goalies have time to warm up in net, and then break up into stations where they're needed. Some of them will work with Tambroni with the offense shooting on them while another goalie might work with associate head coach Peter Toner focusing on defensive game plans. To finish out practice, the whole team works on live drills, such as man-down scenarios, half-field exercise and riding and clearing segments.
Doctor said that when he's not working with his faceoff players he tries to give the goalies extra attention and help with any developmental exercises. He also praised the veteran defense in aiding whichever goalie is in net at the time, especially Kneese as a freshman.
"We've communicated to Colby that he is the goalie, obviously, but he's just another member of our defense," Doctor said. "Knowing that he doesn't have to take on the burden of being the best part of our defense, his role is to just be one of seven guys that communicates and talks through things and help keep the ball out of our net."
Doctor said that as a freshman seeing a lot of playing time between the pipes, it's important for Kneese to know he's not alone, adding that all four of the goalies encourage one another to play their best."Some of them are classmates, some of them are older," Doctor said. "Will is the oldest guy we have so he's kind of the teacher, Jack and Colby are the younger ones, and Scollins is a little bit of both. It's a unique situation to have four guys who are not only close in age, but also as a group. It's fun to have a competition knowing that guys are pushing each other every day."
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Purdue head coach Matt Painter said it best following Penn State's 74-70 overtime loss to the Boilermakers Tuesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
"It was one of those games, and it rarely happens, where a team outplays another one, plays harder and they lose the game especially on their home court," Painter said. "I think the only category we won tonight was the only one that's important and that's the final score."
Penn State led the game for 32:32, while Purdue was ahead for only 9:16. The Nittany Lions also outshot the Boilermakers 43 to 40 percent. Purdue entered Tuesday's matchup having been outrebounded just five times on the year as the Nittany Lions also won the battle on the boards, outrebounding the Boilermakers 40-38.
Still it was No. 14 Purdue heading home to West Lafayette, Indiana with the win/
The Nittany Lions were extremely effective on the defensive end, tipping passes, diving on loose balls, and contesting shots all night, demonstrating the "attitude plays" that Chambers has stressed all year long.
Penn State held the Big Ten's second-leading scorer, Caleb Swanigan, to just 10 points and nine rebounds in the game. Swanigan was averaging 18.9 points per game and a conference-best 13 rebounds before the contest.
"I like to think that our guys left Swanigan and [Isaac] Haas leaving here bumped and bruised too, which is good," Chambers said. "
With Swanigan and Haas both effective at patrolling the paint for Purdue, not many opponents are able to dominate the Boilermakers inside, but that's exactly what the Nittany Lions were able to accomplish.
Penn State outscored Purdue 46-12 in the paint, while also blocking 10 shots, including three from Mike Watkins. Among the Nittany Lion advantage on the glass, Penn State also owned a 14-10 margin in offensive boards, scoring 14 second chance points.
Watkins set the tone for the Nittany Lions on the boards in the first half, registering 12 of his 13 boards in the first half. With just under eight minutes left in the first half, Watkins battled Swanigan inside and won three straight offensive rebounds, eventually getting fouled and going to the line after the third.
The Lions also tallied 12 steals, the most a team has recorded against Purdue this season. Sophomore Josh Reaves, the Big Ten leader in steals per game, had five steals himself for the third time this year.
Ultimately, Purdue looking toward its perimeter shooters to come through, as the Boilermakers finished with 12 triples, shooting 46 percent from behind the arc.
The defensive surge though, is exactly what Chambers noted his Nittany Lions had been working on leading up to Tuesday's matchup, specifically pleased with the performances of Watkins, Julian Moore and Lamar Stevens.
"Friday we worked on it," Chambers said. "Sunday and Monday we worked on stances, communicating, not giving them an inch and really pressuring the ball. I would like to think for the most part we did a really good job."
That type of physicality and toughness is exactly what Chambers was looking for as the result, noting it's the hardest his Nittany Lions have played all year.
As hard as Penn State played Tuesday night though, the resounding feeling with the team after the loss is that there is simply no room for moral victories.
"If we don't win, effort doesn't mean anything to me," Tony Carr said. "All that matters is winning. It's everything. I'm proud of my team, we fought back hard, but we just have to come out with the 'W' at the end of the game."
Carr stuffed the stat sheet for the Lions with 21 points, seven assists, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He came through in the clutch late, scoring 14 of Penn State's last 18 points down the stretch, including six consecutive points in the final two minutes of the game to bring the Nittany Lions back from a six-point deficit to tie the score and force overtime.
The Boilermakers tried a plethora of defensive experiments on Carr in the final minutes, but he confidently took any defender off the dribble and finished in traffic with ease.
Stevens finished closed behind Carr with 18 points, while also grabbing seven rebounds.
Including the Purdue matchup, Carr and Stevens are each averaging 18.2 points per game across the last six games. Combined with the defensive efforts of Reaves and Watkins, there's nothing but optimism as Chambers and the staff look toward the future.
In just a brief moment of reflection, Chambers quickly pointed out how far this young team has already come.
"If you go back to the first time that we played them we weren't even in the game," Chambers said. "That shows so much growth, maturity and where this program and this particular team is headed."
By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Returning from nearly a week off from competition, Penn State men's basketball is back in action, hosting No. 14 Purdue in a 6 p.m. matchup Tuesday at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers and sophomore Josh Reaves both met with members of the media Monday to recap the break, while also previewing the Tuesday outing.
Consistency is the key for Chambers as both he and Reaves noted that the younger Nittany Lions are giving full effort despite a bit of an up and down stretch.
Among the streak, Penn State captured a win against then-No. 21/22 Maryland before an 83-70 road win at Illinois. On the other side, Penn State has also lost three of its last five, falling just short in a 110-102 triple overtime loss at Indiana before most recently dropping an 82-66 decision on the road at Nebraska.
"You can't speed up the process, there's that word again," Chambers said. "You can't speed it up, but we're trying, these kids are trying."
For Reaves, the opportunity to settle into consistency has come at just the right time, as he noted the time off gave the team some time to collect themselves and identify areas to improve to build on the flashes of stellar performances.
As experience among a young roster packed full of potential continues to grow though, Chambers notes that regardless of outcome, Penn State will need to be at its best heading into the final four regular season home games, specifically as it relates to holding teams under 70. Penn State is 10-0 when limiting its opponents to fewer than 70 points with each of its six Big Ten victories coming when foes are limited to 70 or less.
"We need to be the best team that we can be by the end of the year, which we're getting closer, and then we need to be as consistent as possible from juniors on down," Chambers said. "Consistency and give us a chance to win a couple of these games."
Check out a few more takeaways from the Monday media session.
The Benefit of Time Off
For Chambers, the time off came at just the right time for the Nittany Lions, noting the second half of the Nebraska game revealed some fatigue among the youth on the team.
For Reaves, time off also presented an opportunity to mentally recharge, especially throughout the ups and downs of the schedule with the the Nittany Lions on the road for three of the last five games.
"We had a couple of rough games, some good games here and there but now we had a couple of days off and everybody had to get their school work out of the way," Reaves said. "We have four really big games for us and now that we have everybody back and practicing again, we just tried to clear our heads while we were away, both physically and mentally."
Rested and recharged, Penn State mixed up its location and format with THON in the building.
"We had a really good schedule this week, we gave them a couple of days off, short practice Friday and then I let them run practice Saturday," Chambers said. "You're always trying to work on your culture, your leadership. I still want these guys to emerge as even better leaders, so you're always working on that culture-leadership aspect of things."
Speaking of THON
With THON occupying the Bryce Jordan Center, Penn State men's basketball wasn't completely out of the building. Chambers headlined the pep rally co-hosting the opening act with marketing manager PJ Mullen.
"I haven't done it in a while and I was really fortunate that we did get this week off and had our bye week so I could be a part of it and it was awesome," Chambers said, having taken the stage fresh off of an appearance at a daddy-daughter dance earlier that evening. "Just to see 16,000 strong out there dancing, just amazing, the energy, the enthusiasm."
With the bye week, the Nittany Lions also got the opportunity to participate in the dance competition.Captains Practice
As Chambers noted, he gave the Nittany Lions the opportunity to run their own practice Saturday, with captains making the practice plans before taking to the court. Without the presence of the coaching staff around, that didn't mean the Nittany Lions were taking the day off.
"We had a lot of live stuff," Reaves said. "We were going a lot of convert stuff, it definitely got a little edgy, a little chippy."
Taped up and competing for the entire practice, Reaves noted that it was one of the better team practices Penn State has executed without the coaches.
Looking at Purdue
No. 14 Purdue enters Tuesday's matchup with an 11-3 mark in conference play and a 22-5 overall record. The Boilermakers defeated Penn State 77-52 in the earlier meeting this year in West Lafayette, Indiana, highlighted by a 56.6 shooting clip. On the year, the Boilermakers are shooting 48.4 percent from the field, which is tops in the conference rankings.
Among the Purdue roster, Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas are atop the team standings. Swanigan is averaging 18.9 points per game and 13.0 rebounds per game. Haas is close behind with 13.4 points per game on the year and a team-high 24 blocks.
"We have to focus on the 40 minutes of what we can do, what we can control and how we can try to speed them up or make them uncomfortable, get them out of rhythm, get them out of their comfort zone, move them a little outside," Chambers said. "Swanigan is having a year I haven't seen since my time here and Haas is huge, he is a big human being, he's playing really well, he's doing the little things."
Outside of what the Boilermakers bring to the Bryce Jordan Center, Penn State has put together a 4-0 streak against its last four top 25 teams at home, most recently taking down the No. 21/22 Terps in early February.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a challenging weekend at home in Pegula Ice Arena, Penn State men's hockey is looking to get back on track before hitting the road for a weekend series in East Lansing, Michigan against the Spartans.
Looking to recharge and reset from a 6-3 loss on Friday, Penn State nearly cut off a late Minnesota rally to upset the fifth-ranked Golden Gophers to earn the upset in overtime Saturday. Falling 4-3 in overtime, the Nittany Lions will now get back to work, focusing on closing out the regular season strong despite the result of the weekend series.
"When you get negative results, that's when things take," Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "That's really when you get to learn. If you have positive results and you talk about, well this is what we can change, it doesn't really take as much."
For Gadowsky and Nittany Lion senior Ricky DeRosa, takeaways from the weekend will all provide an opportunity for continued focus and growth following the learning opportunity.
Check in with Gadowsky and DeRosa as they recap the weekend at home while looking ahead to the upcoming Michigan State series.Gadowsky
PARK - With the majority of the team's pitchers returning for the 2017 season,
the Nittany Lions look to improve on last year's 28-17 record and 3.71 combined
Last season, Penn State relied heavily on its bullpen to come in early in games and pitch a lot of innings. This past weekend, the Nittany Lions kicked off the 2017 season against the No. 1 team in the country making it challenging for the starters to last deeper into games than what they did last season. However, as the team gets later into its season, the Nittany Lions hope to have their starters pitch more innings.
"They need to be more consistent," Penn State head coach Rob Cooper said. "This is something we have talked about. We have to be more consistent. We've got to win early counts. We've got to get ahead and get outs and be more efficient with it. The longer our guys can pitch into the game efficiently, the stronger our bullpen. That is something we really do need. If we can take that jump, then I think you will see us really have success on the mound."
Having a strong bullpen is something the Nittany Lions were used to last season with senior closer Jack Anderson's 55 innings pitched, 43 strikeouts, 13 saves and a 2.14 ERA. Although the team lost its go-to reliever, Cooper thinks the different options of relief pitchers this year will be able to fill Anderson's role.
"I don't know if we have a guy that we can rely on as heavily as we did Jack," Cooper said. "Part of the reason we could do that with Jack was because he was a sidearm pitcher and he was able to bounce back quickly. We have Dakota Forsyth, Nick Distasio or Tommy Mullin, you know I like the different options we have. Yeah, we are sad to lose Jack, but it's an opportunity for someone else to go in there and get that role."
As far as the starting rotation, the Nittany Lions have all of their main starter pitchers returning from last season. Entering the series against TCU last weekend, Cooper named Sal Biasi, Taylor Lehman and Justin Hagenman the top three starters. Cooper said the pitching rotation could change at any point in the year. He just wants who is pitching best at the time to be on the mound.
Biasi, who pitched Friday evening, is coming off of a 66 strike out season in just 67 innings pitched. Although he only pitched three and two-thirds innings on Friday, Biasi struck out seven batters in his first outing of the 2017 season.
Hagenman, who pitched on Sunday, is coming off of his 6-3 freshman season pitching 82 innings which was the most on the team. Hagenman struck out four batters through three innings on Sunday.
"I expect to build on what I did last year," Hagenman said. "I went out there and started every game and that was good, but this year I want to be more consistent and get stronger throughout the year. I hope to be one of the go-to starting pitchers. We have a lot of guys we can go to, but I think getting the balls on Sundays is a good spot. It's a good place for me to be able to make some noise."
Now a sophomore, Hagenman is able to approach this season with a lot more comfort and confidence than a year ago as a freshman.
"It's a lot different as a sophomore," Hagenman said. "You know what you're expecting from day one, from the fall until now. You can kind of lead more. You can help the guys that need it like I needed last year. It's a little different with having experience."
In the past few seasons, the Nittany Lions have put a lot of freshmen on the mound to help make a difference for their team. Biasi, Lehman and Hagenman all pitched as true freshmen. After looking at this year's freshmen, Cooper is open to pitching anyone who is willing to make an impact for his team.
"One thing that we try to do is open up every job every year," Cooper said. "I don't care if you are a freshman or a senior or a walk on or on high scholarship, if you are going to help us win, we are going to put you out there. If you look at last year, we had a lot of freshmen pitch. We have freshmen that will pitch this year and get some time."
This weekend redshirt freshmen Blake Hodgens and Eric Mock, along with true freshmen Cole Bartels and Myles Gayman all got time on the mound against the top team in the country.
Cooper is also really focused on keeping his team healthy. The head coach said that everyone always feels great to start the season, but around two weeks in the players start feeling some aches and pains. To keep his pitchers healthy, Cooper will be monitoring their pitch count carefully to make sure their arms will last the entire season.
"Their arms are ready to go for this point of the season," Cooper said. "Their pitch count today is going to be different than what it will be later on in the year. For some guys, it may even be lower as the year goes on just depending on how we use them. Right now they are at about 75-80 pitches. We are going to make sure we take care of our guys. When you are able to use more than one guy, you give more guys opportunities and more experience."
Although the team has the majority of its pitchers returning, this year's mindset is slightly different. The team wants to keep the pitcher's pitch counts low and allow the starters to run deep into games. In order to do this, the pitchers must attack.
By Jack Milewski, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's volleyball saw solid contributions from a pair of Nittany Lions who have been relatively quiet in this weekend's split against Harvard and Sacred Heart at Rec Hall.
The Nittany Lions took care of business against Harvard Friday night, sweeping the Crimson in straight sets behind an impressive team hitting percentage of .373. On Saturday, Penn State faced an EIVA setback against Sacred Heart, falling to the EIVA leading squad in four sets.
Despite the sour ending to the weekend, the one constant bright spot was the consistency from Aidan Albrecht and Lee Smith, who both had double digit kills each match in the absence of Chris Nugent.
"With Chris out, Aidan has stepped into the roll now and I think it's huge for him and the team," Smith said. "It can really help our bench and the rest of us grow as a team and Aidan has done a great job."
Over the weekend, Smith led all Nittany Lions with 26 kills and a hitting clip close to .300. Albrecht was not far behind as he totaled 24 kills with a similar hitting efficiency. With Nugent sidelined, both Smith and Albrecht are now the go-to forces on the outside for the Nittany Lions, having been given their opportunity this weekend.
"I think both of them played very well," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "We talk a lot on this team about how you always have to be ready to contribute and you see that with Chris out now."
On Friday, the Nittany Lions swept past Harvard, but it wasn't completely void of a few close call. Most notably, Penn State claimed a close 35-33 win the second set to claim a crucial two-set lead heading into the intermission. In a set featuring 15 times and six lead changes, the Nittany Lions came out on top in one of their craziest sets so far this season.
"It was a lot of back and forth and both teams sided out really well," Albrecht said. "I think we got in to a little bit better of a rhythm at the end of the set."
The win against Harvard was a big one for Penn State, creating a good separation between them and the Crimson in the standings. Saturday presented a tougher challenge and a bit of adversity for Penn State as the Nittany Lions matched up against one of the top libero's in the country in Sacred Heart's Joshua Ayzenberg. Ayzenberg had 22 digs in just four sets and was the catalyst for the Pioneers.
Despite the loss, once again, Smith and Albrecht were both tremendous and the Nittany Lions will have plenty to build off of heading into a very important road trip to George Mason and Charleston (West Va.).
"We have to focus on playing as a team and not playing for ourselves," setter Luke Braswell said after Saturday's contest. "Our focus should be Penn State and how we can be better as a team. If we bring our own energy, we can hang with anyone."Penn State will travel to George Mason and Charleston this weekend for a pair of Friday-Saturday matchups. First serve for both matches is set for 7 p.m.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 11 Penn State (3-0) men's lacrosse dominated on both ends of the field in a 20-10 win against Cornell (0-1) Saturday afternoon. The Nittany Lions held the Big Red scoreless the first 17 minutes of play, while the offense found its stride in the second quarter.
Head coach Jeff Tambroni praised associate head coach Peter Toner's command of the defense as the stepping stone that sparked the productive first quarter for the Nittany Lions.
"I thought we got off to a sluggish start offensively, but I thought our defense really played well," Tambroni said. "They were just sound and a lot of stuff that coach Toner talked about coming out of the Hobart game really reflected the way we practiced this week."
On defense, Tambroni complimented freshman goaltender Colby Kneese's confidence between the pipes. Kneese made nine saves in 52 minutes of play.
Starting in the faceoff circle, freshman Gerard Arceri continued to showcase his talent at the 'x.' Arceri, who last week was named the Big Ten Specialist of the Week, won 15-of-21 faceoffs. Once command of the faceoffs was established, the Nittany Lions gained control of possession time.
From there, Tambroni looked toward the midfielders and attackers to set up smart plays and find their way into the box. Key for the Nittany Lions was another strong performance from freshman Mac O'Keefe, who netted five goals on 10 shots. However, it was the depth at attack that pushed the Lions past the Big Red.
Sophomore attacker Grant Ament had a standout third quarter, netting three of his career-high six goals in those 15 minutes. During the fourth quarter it was all about freshman attacker Conor Smith, who came off the bench and scored three goals.
"It's awesome to see a guy like Conor Smith, who's getting the same amount of reps as all of us in practice, but doesn't always get the game exposure that he necessarily should," Ament said. "He's a great player and to see that pay off is awesome for him."
Also entering the game for the Nittany Lions making an immediate impact was sophomore midfielder Robby Black. Black had the assist on senior midfielder Matt Sexton's lone goal of the game, which came in the fourth quarter.
After a steady performance from the defense and an outstanding performance from the offense, the Nittany Lions are excited to build off a strong win against a program that has made the NCAA tournament five times in the last seven years. It's also the second season in a row the Nittany Lions have started out 3-0 on the year.
"I think the one thing I take away from today, from top to bottom just about everybody had a chance to go in there and compete today," Tambroni said. "I thought when their number was called, it may not necessarily show up on the score board, but a lot of stuff that they did put us in a position to finish the game the way they did. I was proud of the way guys came off the bench."
Tambroni concluded that Saturday's win was really the product of his team coming together and acting as a unit.
"At the end of the day we can feel good that it was a team effort and a team win," Tambroni said.
By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind the lead of some quality individual play, Penn State was able to capture a solid team win over Lehigh, 18-9.
The Nittany Lions were able to hold the Mountain Hawks to under double-digit goals, but it was a strong offensive outburst to start the game that got the ball rolling for the Blue and White.
Both teams traded goals in the first two minutes, with Lehigh scoring the latter of the two, but it would be the visitors' last goal for over 20 minutes as the Penn State offense took over by dominating possession. The team went two big runs; one that saw three more goals in the first ten minutes of action, and another that had the Nittany Lions four goals in a three-minute span that started with 10:44 left in the half. The seven unanswered goals would give them an 8-1 lead heading into the final 7:30 of the first half.
Sophomore attacker Madison Carter was the main cog in the Nittany Lion offense, as she scored a team-high five goals and added an assist on the day. Along with the likes of Katie O'Donnell, who found the back of the net four times, and Steph Lazo, who played more of a facilitator role with two goals and two assists, the offense found a lot of chemistry out of the gate and was able to find a lot of open lanes.
"We're really working well as a team. We're really working all of our options hard, so it opens a lot of things up," Carter said. "We're really understanding each other, reading each other, so it looked really good today."
After a late run in the half by Lehigh, the teams would enter the break with a 9-5 Penn State lead.
Senior Steph Lazo opened up the scoring in the second half with her first goal of the game to get Penn State into double digits. This started the chain of events that saw the Nittany Lions add three more to the scoreboard in under a minute, making it 12-5.
Following another Carter goal, the Mountain Hawks answered back with four goals of their own to tighten things up. First-time starter at goalie Madison Cunningham showed promise early on, but coach Doherty felt like it was the right time to make a move to give her team back some momentum and brought in senior Cat Rainone with just over 15 minutes remaining in the contest.
"We needed a momentum changer there and I was happy to be that person," Rainone said.
She came in and did just that, becoming a stalwart for her team as she denied every opportunity by the opposing team. In her brief time in between the pipes, she recorded five saves and did not allow a single goal the rest of the game.
With a reliable defense and more chances with possession, Penn State's offense was able to close the game out strong, scoring the game's final five goals in order to double Lehigh, 18-9.
Rainone said postgame her strong performance gave her a lot of confidence for herself and her team, and believes this game can give the unit some fuel moving forward.
"I feel really good with my team, feel good how everyone's playing and things like that," Rainone said. "I'm excited to see the rest of the season,".
The Nittany Lions now move to 3-0 on the year and coach Doherty said she has been very proud with what her team has been able to accomplish so far after all their hard work.
"They've worked super hard this whole year," Doherty said. "They've
consistently worked hard in practice and I think it showed in the first three
games. Regardless of their runs the other team went on, we still competed hard
and finished the game pretty well."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A highly anticipated of the year for Penn State Football, the Nittany Lions welcomed nearly 50 THON families for a fun-filled afternoon at the Lasch Building.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky is hopeful after Friday night's 6-3 loss to No. 5 Minnesota (19-8-2, 10-3-0 Big Ten). The No. 9 Nittany Lions (18-7-2, 7-5-1 Big Ten) were unable to skate away with a win, but are eager to get back in the action tomorrow night in game two of the series.
"After the game we just told them to get ready for tomorrow," Gadowsky said. "We'll digest some of it by watching the tape, but for them the outcome of this game doesn't change the opportunity for tomorrow."
Despite keeping up with the Gophers' relentless offensive effort through the first two periods, Minnesota pulled away, and scored three goals in the final 20 minutes of play.
Freshman forward Nate Sucese, who last week was named the Big Ten's Second Star of the Week, netted the second goal of the night for the Nittany Lions. Last week's Big Ten First Star of the Week, freshman forward Denis Smirnov, had the assist, along with freshman forward Liam Folkes.
Sucese credited Smirnov's quick thinking with helping to set up the play. Smirnov maneuvered the puck behind him to Sucese, who was yelling for the pass.
"That's the kind of player he is," Sucese said. "He heard my voice and he can tell where you are on the ice at all times."
Smirnov had an assist on each of the three goals the Lions scored Friday night. Sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz and freshman defenseman Kris Myllari scored the two other goals for the Nittany Lions.
Myllari said he felt the Nittany Lions' defense played well, but had a few costly breakdowns. The Kanata, Ontario native is keen to make some adjustments and get back on track tomorrow night against the Gophers.
"We're going to readjust and come back and we're just going to work hard," Myllari said. "Hopefully we'll have a better outcome tomorrow."
The Nittany Lions are ready to recharge for tomorrow's rematch and are willing to adjust in order to fix the mistakes that cost them some opportunities on Friday night.
"I think for the most part all four lines played pretty well," Sucese said. "We got unfortunate bounces and we've got to clean up some things obviously, but I think for the most part we put in a good effort."Penn State is back on the ice tonight, closing out the series against the Golden Gophers at 8 p.m. in Pegula Ice Arena.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Quarterback Trace McSorley and linebacker Jason Cabinda took to the stage at THON for a lip sync battle around 8 p.m. Friday night with a few THON family members. Prior to the Nittany Lion football team's performance, the Lionettes debuted a lip sync dance to open competition.
The lip sync battle quickly turned to from competition to fun
as DNCE, led by lead singer Joe Jonas surprised the crowd with an upbeat an energetic
performance. Check out some highlights from the event below.
PARK, Pa. - All weekend long, Penn State Athletics will be heavily involved in
THON 2017 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
THON's 700+ dancers, including four student-athletes and members of the cheerleading and dance teams all come together in support of the 46-hour IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.
Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer. To date, more than $136 million has been raised by THON, including $9.7 million in 2015-16, and at least 95 percent of the funds raised at THON are donated directly to Four Diamonds.
Each year, more than 400 Penn State student organizations and 16,000 student volunteers dedicate their time to THON, making it the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Catch up with all things THON and Penn State Athletics all weekend long with extensive coverage below.
Friday, 6 p.m - Dancers Are You
More than 700 dancers went from sitting to standing Friday night at 6 p.m., embarking on the 46-hour no sleeping, no sitting challenge to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. All dancers will remain on their feet until the event closes at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
We caught up with SAAB representatives Carly Celkos, Megan Shafer, Charlie Shuman and Jess O'Neill-Lyublinsky as they took their feet at the Bryce Jordan Center, sticking around for the first few minutes of dancing.
8 p.m. - Lip Sync Battle with Special Guest DNCE
Quarterback Trace McSorley and linebacker Jason Cabinda took to the stage at THON for a lip sync battle with a few THON family members. Prior to the Nittany Lion football team's performance, the Lionettes debuted a lip sync dance to open competition.
The lip sync battle quickly turned to from competition to fun
as DNCE, led by lead singer Joe Jonas surprised the crowd with an upbeat an energetic
performance. Check out some highlights from the event below.
Saturday, 10 a.m. - Checking in with Nittany Lion Dancers
THON Explorers Photo Gallery
Saturday, 1 p.m. - Football THON Explorers
And the total is... pic.twitter.com/0Ia21gtxka-- Four Diamonds (@fourdiamonds) February 19, 2017
By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the Indoor Big Ten Championships right around the corner, the Penn State Nittany Lion track team is tuning up this weekend as they host their final indoor meet of season.
The Penn State Tune-Up will be held this Saturday, Feb. 18th at the Horace Ashenfelter Indoor track. This will give the Nittany Lions one last shot to qualify for the Big Ten Championships that are held in Geneva, OH on Feb. 24th and 25th.
"The tune-up meet is going to help our team reach the best of its abilities to enter the Big Ten meet with has much strength and momentum as possible," said junior hurdler Rachael DeCecco. "This meet will give those who still need a qualifying mark one last chance to get it and it will give others the opportunity to improve their marks to make them the most competitive at Big Tens. Good marks this weekend will give our team strong momentum going into the Big Ten meet to get after a team championship."
"The tune-up meet is crucial for several reasons," said senior multi Rob Cardina. "The first is that it's the last meet to sharpen and fine tune our skills before we compete at the big ten championships. Secondly, it's a smaller meet so the energy at the track will be lacking from the crowd. It's a great chance for us as a team to bring the energy ourselves and support one another. It's exemplifies the Spire Institute we compete in next week. We're excited."
For some of the team, this smaller meet will feel more normal to them, taking the pressure off of competing at a higher energy meet with a lot of other schools.
"Danae (Rivers) and Rachel Banks are running the 600 with me too, so I just think that it will be a great opportunity to chase her and be able to have a good team atmosphere," said sophomore hurdler Elyse Skerpon. "It will also feel just like practice because there won't be a ton of people there, allowing me to race more relaxed."
Other members of the team are taking this meet off to help them rest up for the championships.
"I'm really excited for this weekend, particularly because I'm taking the week off. After competing five weekends in a row, I think that this is going to be really good for me in preparation for the Big Ten meet. Mentally and physically, it'll just give me a chance to relax and get myself in the Big Ten mode. It will also just give my body a break and let me rest for one weekend before we head out to Spire, so I can be really fresh there," said junior pole vaulter Hannah Mulhern.
"There are a few people that are competing this weekend, and I'm really excited to see how it goes for them. It's called the tune-up meet so it's going to be good for a lot of people to fine tune in their event areas and just do whatever they need to do to be best prepared for the Big Ten meet."
"For the rest of the indoor season, a goal for our team is to win the Big Ten Championships. We have a lot of talent in all event groups so a team championship is within reach," said DeCecco."I think individually, everyone hopes to perform at the Big Ten meet better than they ever have. If everyone brings they're A-game, I think our women's team could be top contenders for a team championship."
"As a team, both men and women are in a great spot to score high at Big Tens. We have all the key components from high scorers to point grabbers. Every point counts and we've been stressing that all year. I want nothing more than to bring home 2 trophies from that meet," said Cardina. "Personally, I want to score as many team points as possible for the men's squad. The ultimate goal is to win the very competitive men's heptathlon. It's been great working with Coach Kelly and all the guys and girls in his jump crew. It would be special to go out on top."
By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One of the most admired things about sports is its ability to take one's minds off of things. It's one of sports' best qualities, and sometimes for those who follow and play sports it can be easy to get carried away, passing around terms like 'hero' and 'sacrifice' as normal descriptions of the incredible things that can happen between the lines.
Every year in the Penn State community, however, something
happens that breaks beyond those barriers of thinking just between the lines,
branching out into something greater.
Friday marks the start of the 44th annual Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, also known as THON. THON is a 46-hour event where Penn State students raise money for the fight against pediatric cancer. Over the year it has been a staple of the Happy Valley community and has raised upwards to 137 million dollars for the cause.
The yearly event brings a level of excitement to University Park, and the women's lacrosse team is one of the marathons biggest supporters.
"We love THON," head coach Missy Doherty. "It's such an amazing experience and kind of a life-changing event when you go in and you see all the passion that Penn State and the students have for kids suffering from pediatric cancer. It kind of takes your breath away."
The dance marathon brings a lot of traffic, alumni, and others onto the University's campus each year, and with that creates not only a larger mass of support for those dancing, but also for the rest of the Penn State community like with the athletics programs that still have home games on THON weekend.
During the festivities, the women's lacrosse team will be taking on Lehigh Saturday afternoon in the Blue and White's first outdoor game of the season. With the field right next door to the Bryce Jordan Center, Doherty thinks it can provide an essential boost in support for her squad.
"We'll see all the people walking by in their tutus and their high rainbow socks, giving us a couple shutouts as they walk up to THON, so the energy level is greater and just to feel that school spirit during our game is awesome."
Saturday night, following the game, the team will join many of the other sports programs here at Penn State for the highly celebrated Athlete Hour. During the designated hour of THON, athletes from all across campus will compete with each other not on a field, but on the event's stage in a dance battle to try and prove their team has the best moves on campus.
The hour is one of the marathons most anticipated each year, and the women's lacrosse team will be throwing its hat into the ring as one of the teams competing. It's something the team is putting a lot of effort into, but coach Doherty says their talents might be best suited for the turf.
"The girls are practicing diligently their dance act for athlete hour and I'd have to say they're way more talented thankfully on the field than they are on the dance floor," Doherty said. "But the energy they bring and the excitement is really fun and you know they're really excited to contribute to that event."
Coach was unable to be able to provide any details on the dance number the team plans to do, saying "music nowadays is not my thing," but she did say that the team was working hard on their moves.
But even with the event is all about having fun and providing moments of joy to those in need, the team understands the deeper meaning the annual marathon represents and takes that message to heart when approaching their duties on the field.
"It gives you a life perspective, especially heading into these games where you think ground balls are a big deal and then you get a hit in the gut with what life's all about. It's good to have those reminders and be supportive of such a great cause," Doherty said.
The Nittany Lions will take on the Lehigh Mountain Hawks outside at The Penn State Lacrosse Field this Saturday at 3 p.m.
Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - We hear it all the time in sports. It's not how you start; it's how you finish. While it may be an old saying, it certainly applies to this year's Penn State women's hockey team.
The Nittany Lions' regular season concludes with series at No. 8 Robert Morris and home against Syracuse, currently the top two teams in the CHA.
Coming off a sweep at Lindenwood last week, these series give the Lions a chance to see how they match up with the competition.
"It gives us a lot more confidence," sophomore defenseman Kelsey Crow said. "Going into these next two weekends, we're going to come out much harder and we're going to stick to our game plans and stick to what we're doing best."
With the CHA tournament less than three weeks away, the next couple weeks will be telling of how the Nittany Lions will fare in Buffalo.
They are currently slotted as the No. 3 seed and, pending a win over one of the bottom teams in the conference, they would face either Robert Morris or Syracuse in the second round and presumably the other in the championship game if they advance.
"You want to play these teams at the end of the season," interim coach Dean Jackson said. "It gets you really prepared for that playoff, that one-game elimination. To play No. 1 and 2 really sets the tone and gets our team in the mindset of that playoff format right now."
"It really gets us in the mindset that this is playoff hockey and this is what it's going to be like," freshman forward Brooke Madsen said. "We need to come out hard every shift."
As far as this weekend against Robert Morris is concerned, the Nittany Lions are continuing to trust the process and hope to ride that momentum from the aforementioned sweep.
"It's a pretty consistent theme for us, just be disciplined within our systems," Jackson said. "We just want to continue to keep it simple but with pace that's going to be difficult to play against. We believe that what we have in place is difficult for our opponent to counter. When you have confidence in that as well, it makes a big difference."
Penn State also has to be smart on the offensive end, considering Robert Morris goalie Jessica Dodds is one of the best in the CHA, sporting a .922 save percentage.
"With her or anyone else, I don't think it's any mystery," Jackson said. "You want to play percentages. You have to shoot the puck to score goals. We want to get pucks on net, force her to make a save, and control some rebounds under pressure."
The Nittany Lions are looking for a bit of redemption as well, letting the two games earlier in the season against Robert Morris slip away from them at Pegula thanks to strong performances from forwards Brittany Howard and Jaycee Gebhard.
"They're a well-coached team, every player is a threat," Crow said. "It's not like we can take a shift off. Even though we probably want to focus on them, we're not going to change what we do because of them."
"We just have to come out faster and stronger than them and limit their time with the puck in the offensive zone," Madsen said.
The series at Robert Morris begins tonight at 7 p.m. and concludes tomorrow at 3 p.m. The Nittany Lions are currently one point ahead of fourth-place Mercyhurst in the standings.
Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - During the school year, sophomore Mason Hosek, freshman Tess McCracken, and senior Emma Sibson are normally over 1,300 miles away from their hometowns in Texas. This Sunday, however, these three Nittany Lions will be returning back to their Texas home as the Penn State women's gymnastics team takes on Sacramento State, Texas Woman's University and Western Michigan in the team's second quad-meet of the season.
"It's going to be really cool [competing in Texas]." Sibson said. "There's going to be a lot of people there that Tess, Mason and I, have all grown up with, not just competing but watching their meets. A lot of little girls that go to the gyms that we went to will be there too, so that will be a lot of fun...I know a few girls from my gym are coming, a few family friends and my mom. I've been getting Facebook messages from a whole bunch of people back home who are excited to come to the meet."
For other Penn State gymnasts, it might be new for them to compete at the Kitty Magee Arena at Texas Woman's University, but for these three gymnasts, they're just taking a trip back to a familiar gym.
"I've competed in that arena year after year after year," Hosek said. "We had State there almost every year, so it's kind of going back home for me, which is nice, but at the same time, I'm really excited to do it as a college gymnast and for everybody who hasn't gone to Texas to come with us."
Sibson has also competed in the Kitty Magee Arena multiple times, so she is using that to her advantage.
"We know the equipment pretty well and the layout of the gym," Sibson said. "It's a little bit different where the bars are kind of on a diagonal a little bit. It's also an advantage of letting our team know how the gym is setup and how it runs."
The gym is also a familiar one for McCracken, and although she isn't competing, she is excited for the atmosphere.
"It will be the same but different because same arena, but different atmosphere and competition style," McCracken said. "I feel like it's going to be really great. I know there are a lot of alumni that are coming to it and that will be a lot of fun. I feel like we're really going to be able to get in there, win and really pull it together by making the small adjustments to do a really good job out there in Texas."
Even with the distance, there will be plenty of Penn State women's gymnastics fans watching the meet to support Hosek, McCracken, Sibson, and the rest of the Nittany Lions.
"I have about 20 people coming to the meet, so it will be a good amount of people and I think it will be really great because it's a pretty small arena, so hopefully, it will be pretty packed," Hosek said. "I'm really excited to go home for a little, have a great time and win."
Every meet, head coach Jeff Thompson knows how prepared and talented these gymnasts are, but by being back in Texas on Sunday, he's putting a little more faith into them.
"Tess won't be competing, but I think it will be exciting for Mason and Emma," coach Thompson said. "They both should be in three events each. Mason has competed at Texas Woman's University, she said like 45 times growing up, so she knows the arena and equipment setup well. I think it will be fun for them to be back in their home state and to have their teammates there. We look for them to do a great job leading us this weekend."
By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Since arriving on Penn State's campus four years ago, senior Peyton Whitted has been on a team that has seen it's share of ups and downs. From Big Ten champions her freshman year to a rebuilding process, Whitted has seen it all.
Now with just two games left in her regular season career with the Lady Lions, the Suwanee, Georgia native is trying to keep her emotions in check heading into this final stretch.
"My emotions are kind of all over the place but I'm just excited about these next two games because we're on a four-game win streak and we've been playing really good basketball," Whitted said. "So my focus right now is just finishing strong and the team finishing strong. Focusing on those things helps to take away from those other emotions so I try just to focus on what this team is doing and how good we're playing."
The Lady Lions will finish this season with a winning record after two straight years finishing below .500. Prior to that, the Lady Lions won three straight conference titles, the final one being in Whitted's freshman year.
"I definitely learned a lot being on a great team and then being on a team that struggled and then also bringing us back to the success that we had my freshman year," Whitted said. "I've learned a lot about adversity and success, and it's just a great life lesson because not everything is going to go perfect in your life so it's just about how you respond. I'm very appreciative for everything that's happened and I don't regret any of it because I've learned a lot from it."
And learn from it she has. In her four years, Whitted has put in a lot of hard work and dedicated herself to the program, and this season she was rewarded for that when coach Coquese Washington called her name as one of three team captains.
"Peyton is a kid that lives in the gym," Washington said. "She's usually the first one in the gym before practice and she's always staying after, working on her free throws, working on her shot, working on different things and that work ethic certainly stands out with her teammates."
Teammate and fellow senior Sierra Moore echoed that sentiment, adding that Whitted is able to communicate with her teammates and help the team off the bench.
"This year she is a team captain and she worked really hard to get to that point. You could tell that she's really matured and she knows how to talk to people," Moore said. "And just her aggressiveness off the bench, she's done a tremendous job."
Added sophomore guard Teniya Page: "She gives us experience off the bench. She's been in different types of positions throughout her career here, so on the court she gives us composure. She doesn't panic and she knows what to expect because she brings that experience off the bench."
On top of seeing changes within the team, Whitted has seen a lot of change in her game as well. But Washington said that the biggest change she's noticed is in how Whitted carries herself on and off the court.
"She's playing with probably the most confidence that I've seen this latter half of conference play," Washington said. "When she's out on the court, she's playing with a lot of confidence, so that growth in her confidence in herself and the confidence in her teammates has been really big."
With graduation nearing, Whitted still has some bucket list items to complete before she heads home from Happy Valley. Her big items are climbing Mount Nittany once the season is over and trying to get to a sporting event for all 31 Penn State programs. And, with the team being on a bye week this weekend, Whitted is excited to finally experience THON for the first time.
"We're performing at the pep rally and this is our first year doing it since I've been here, so I'm definitely excited for that," Whitted said. "And I'm just looking forward to participating in Athlete Hour and going and spending a lot of time there this weekend."
Once the season is over, Whitted won't be ready to hang up her basketball shoes just yet. She hopes to continue playing professionally, no matter where in the world that may be. When her basketball career does conclude, she'll be ready to put her broadcast journalism degree to good use.
" still want to play, so I'm looking to play overseas or honestly anywhere where I can play, so that's my first thing," Whitted said. "After that, I definitely want to pursue something with my major, so producing sports stories or doing sports commentary or something in that field."
Whitted and the rest of the Lady Lions will have some time at home before they travel to East Lansing next week to take on Michigan State on Wednesday. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The start of the 2017 baseball season is inching closer and closer for the Nittany Lions, and the anticipation surrounding the team is growing with each passing day.
The anticipation, however, will need to soon be channeled into focus. Penn State faces a daunting challenge in its first action back on the diamond since last season, as the Blue and White will be traveling to Fort Worth, Texas this weekend for a three-game series against No. 1 ranked TCU.
"To me there's no better opportunity than opening weekend going and playing the consensus number one-ranked team in the country in all the polls because you're going to find out right away what you need to work on, what you need to get better at and that's what I think we're going to be able to do," head coach Rob Cooper said.
TCU was voted as the consensus No. 1 team in the NCAA by all six major college baseball polls, so there's little doubt around the country that the Horned Frogs are the team to beat this season. The Horned Frogs have reached the College World Series three straight years and have the talent to win it all in 2017.
"We can't really worry about any of that," Cooper said. "For us, it's about playing a faceless opponent and about trying to get better every single day. If we do that, it doesn't really matter who we play."
The Lions did get a taste of TCU last season, but they were swept in a home three-game series at Medlar Field. The series was much closer than a sweep usually expresses, though. Penn State was able to score on TCU all weekend and lost the second game by just one run.
The Lions are confident a second chance will produce more favorable results.
"We're going to expect a pretty good series," senior outfielder Nick Riotto said. "I think that everybody here will tell you we expect to win no matter what they're ranked or who they are really."
Confidence is exuding from the Nittany Lions even before the season has begun. Riotto sure shows it, and so does sophomore pitcher Justin Hagenman.
Hagenman will toe the rubber to start the finale of the series on Sunday. He said the Horned Frogs offense must be respected, but it doesn't scare him.
"They do a lot of little things right," Hagenman said. "They're really good at running the bases and stuff like that. They really don't give away at-bats, but I think if we pitch our game and we all play our game I think they're just another team. That's the way we have to look at it."
Barring any changes, Hagenman looks to be the regular Sunday starter for Penn State like he was last year. For this weekend, Sal Biasi will start Friday's game and Taylor Lehman will get the ball on Saturday, Cooper said.
Everything the Lions have said leading up to opening weekend gives the impression that they're fully prepared and excited for the test. Maybe the biggest reason for this is the emphasis coaches place on intersquad scrimmages during recent practices.
Penn State tried to implement live action in at least a few practices each week during the preseason. Getting players used to seeing hard fastballs and adjusting to off-speed pitches as opposed to just soft toss is crucial to full preparedness when there's a real opponent in the other dugout.
"It's a huge deal," Cooper said. "Honestly it's one of the reasons why I really wanted to take the job here at Penn State because I knew in January and February we can actually play intersquads and get our guys to face hitters, to have to hold guys on, to cover first. So our guys have actually played baseball games rather than just hit in a cage or throw bullpens."
Riotto echoed Cooper, noting that he thinks it's one of the most crucial aspects of preseason practices. He said the team started off a little slow, but now the energy is better and he thinks they're right where they need to be.
Riotto said Hagenman is a tough pitcher to face during inter-squads because of his changeup, but he thinks Biasi is the hardest to hit off of.
The Lions are getting used to their own teammates' tendencies, so facing other pitchers and hitters should be a refreshing challenge. Cooper hopes the focus on intersquad play for the past few weeks will have the team ready to jump right in and compete with the best team in the country.
First pitch of the 2017 season is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday. Saturday's game will start at 3 p.m. and Sunday's at 1 p.m.
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - One of the unique aspects of NCAA gymnastics is the team component, something most gymnasts aren't used to when they first arrive on campus. While they eventually learn to adapt to a more team-first approach, individual performance nonetheless finds itself at the forefront of several athletes' minds.
For one weekend, four Penn State gymnasts will have a chance to relive their junior days of old competition. The Winter Cup in Las Vegas, Nevada gives these gymnasts an opportunity to take a step back and approach their meet from a more personal angle, something they may not be able to do during team competition. Some of the gymnasts view this as a blessing, as they can go back and make some tweaks to their usually consistent routines.
"This competition is unattached to the team," senior Leroy Clarke said. "I can get a chance to try new things, maybe add a new skill here or there. It's not something that would affect the team, more so just me. I can also try different psychological things. I'm always thinking about different ways in which I can personally improve my performance, and this is a perfect competition where I can go ahead and experiment."
Clarke and sophomore Michael Burns will both be making their second appearance at Winter Cup, and things are sure to be more familiar this time around.
"I'm more excited now that I know what's to be expected of me out there," Clarke said. "I know the environment is very different. It kind of brings me back to the days back in high school where everything was more individualized. I have a sense of how the travel and accommodations are going to be and I'm probably going to be jet-lagged for some time, but I'm excited because I have a better sense of how to prepare myself."
Clarke competed in three events at the Winter Cup last year, while Burns competed on five.
For Dominic DiFulvio and Favian Valdez, this year will mark their first appearance in blue and white at the Winter Cup. Valdez was invited last year as a Junior Olympian while he was still in high school, but wasn't able to compete due to a hand injury.
Winter Cup also gives these guys a chance to be around some of the best in the business, as this event brings U.S. Olympians, top college performers, as well as the top juniors all to the same stage.
There can certainly be pressure in that sort of situation, but it's also an opportunity for these gymnasts to showcase themselves around the highest level of competition.
"It's great to see them in person and compete with them," Valdez said. "They're at a really high level, and I'm not there yet, but they encourage me to get better and get to that level. It's definitely a chance to get my name out there and show that I can do well with big guys."
"I've gone to two competitions like this, and to be alongside them feels truly amazing," Clarke said. "It also keeps me grounded in a way and it really empowers me to keep pushing forward. It's definitely a great experience having them there and getting to know them too."
By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As members of the Penn State community gear up to take part in THON's 46-hour dance marathon benefitting The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey, not many of more than 700 dancers also have to worry about trying to qualify for a Division I NCAA championship.
Jessica O'Neill-Lyublinsky is in the middle of a strong season as a fifth-year senior on the fencing team, also living out one of her dreams to be dancing on the floor at the Bryce Jordan Center and standing up against childhood cancer this weekend.
"I found out [I'd be dancing] January 20th and all of my emotions came out," O'Neill- Lyublinsky said. "I wanted to scream, cry, do everything because I was so excited. Now it's only a day away and it's becoming so real."
O'Neill- Lyublinsky has served as the family relations co-chair for the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) for the past two years. Part of her role includes working directly, along with other Penn State student-athletes, with the Messina and Buckley families, who are the SAAB's THON families. However, it was a year ago she realized she needed to be out on the floor during THON weekend.
"I just kept looking at the floor and I thought, I want to be down there with all the families, all the kids," O'Neill- Lyublinsky said. "They look like they're having such a great time and I just wanted to be a part of it."
Luckily, the fencing team's competition schedule this year allows her to get plenty of rest both before and after the dance marathon. O'Neill- Lyublinsky's coaches have also been very supportive.
"Coach said it's great conditioning," O'Neill- Lyublinsky said with a laugh.
The team usually competes in a tournament at Temple University during THON weekend, but this season the tournament has been pushed to the weekend after the event.
Free from competition, the schedule fits perfectly with THON, but O'Neill- Lyublinsky is now working on balancing her workouts, making sure she isn't too sore to dance, but still in proper shape to win bouts.
As for the mental part of not being able to rest for 46 consecutive hours, O'Neill- Lyublinsky doesn't think that will be an issue.
"Mentally, I just have been getting ready," O'Neill-Lyublinsky said. "I think all of the adrenaline is really going to come into play because I'm just ready to get out there and just do it."
A native of Westchester, New York, O'Neill- Lyublinsky wasn't truly familiar with THON until she came to campus and got involved. For most, THON is an event that really has to be seen in person to be fully understood.
"They talked about THON on my recruiting trip, but other than that, I was never here for THON because we were always traveling," O'Neill-Lyublinsky said. "The moment I decided to dance was when I finally went to THON last year and left the Bryce Jordan Center. You just can't describe the feeling and I wanted to be a part of this as much as I can be."
As Penn State students and student-athletes from all over the country and the world fill Happy Valley, the THON cause comes to life in a tangible sense throughout the year, culminating in the energetic dance marathon.
"The whole point of THON is to show what cancer cannot do," O'Neill-Lyublinsky said.Beginning Friday, O'Neill-Lyublinsky and three other SAAB representatives will take the floor in the Bryce Jordan Center for THON 2017.
By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State is back on the road this weekend, this time in Atlanta where they'll take on Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in the second annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Teams are picked for the tournament based on the final standings from two seasons ago. The top eight teams in each conference are invited to compete, so after missing out on the tournament last year, Penn State is excited to use this as an opportunity to prove themselves in the Big Ten.
"It's the first step to be relevant in the Big Ten," said head coach Amanda Lehotak. "The qualifications go on RPI and in my first year, when they scheduled two years out, we did not qualify. But to know we're in the tournament for next year and even be a higher seed in the tournament based on last year, it's very exciting and it does show that we are now relevant."
On top of proving themselves in the conference, Lehotak is excited for the opportunity for her team to represent the Big Ten. And with postseason implications on the line, she's looking forward to the matchups going on around the conference.
"This is the first time we've qualified for it so that's really exciting for us. And it's a big weekend, it's a weekend that can separate the Big Ten from the ACC on Selection Show Sunday so really we just want to represent well and play good softball," Lehotak said.
Senior Shelby Miller, playing in this tournament for her first and only time, added to that sentiment, and has high hopes for Penn State.
"It's an honor to compete in this tournament because we get to go out and represent the Big Ten," Miller said. "I'm hoping, and I know, that we will do a good job representing the conference."
In last year's inaugural Challenge, the Big Ten finished with a 20-12 record. And for Penn State, after topping then-No. 4 LSU during opening weekend, Miller knows that in order to keep that momentum heading into the Challenge the team has to make sure their game is on point.
"In the LSU game, everything was on," Miller said. "The pitching was on, the hitting was on and our defense was on. It's just a matter of, in every game, having at least two of the three being on, because we can't just have defense or we can't just have pitching. We need to have at least two of the three to win."
Despite having a young team, Lehotak feels that her players have shown maturity so far, and that's helping them to fix mistakes from week one as they move forward.
"We really want to continue with the process. We had our ups and downs, and we know where we're weak," Lehotak said. "The team has high maturity in the sense that we don't have to convince them where we're strong and where we're weak, which is nice, we haven't had that. So for them to come back this week and really prepare for the ACC schools, I like our preparation and I like our mindset."
Penn State's first game of the tournament is on Friday versus Georgia Tech. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.
By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Separated by a mere 3,450 miles, two teams from two different countries and two different continents came together to compete and represent some of the best their nations have to offer on the lacrosse field.
That's what happened Wednesday afternoon, when the Wales Women's Lacrosse National Team came to Holuba Hall to partake in an exhibition with the Nittany Lions, edging Penn State 13-12 with a goal in the closing seconds. It consisted of two 30-minute halves of action with a continuous clock and featured a mixture of international and collegiate rules.
Penn State, coming off a 2-0 start to the season, was able to use the scrimmage as both a chance to regroup and to get a look at some of the younger and less-experienced players on the team. Coach Missy Doherty utilized a lot of her less-seasoned players and was pleased with how they handled their time on the field.
"Tonight we were really able to see a lot from the players that are up-and-coming players. So it was an interesting game to see who emerged as maybe our next leaders of the future," Doherty said. "It was just good to see that the people you think are the possible next leaders were the ones that did really stand out."
Among the young standouts mentioned were freshman attacker Maria Auth, freshman midfielder Shannon Moore and sophomore midfielder Reilly Masterson, all underclassmen who made major contributions throughout the duration of the exhibition.
On the other hand, Wales was in the midst of its trip through America's lacrosse capitals for its annual USA tour. Penn State marked the fifth of nine stops in Wales visit to the States that lasts from the 12th to the 18th, spanning three states. Wales already had finished its tour of several Virginia schools and now is working through Pennsylvania and Maryland in matchups against some of each state's top lacrosse schools.
The tour acts as an opportunity for the national team to get better as well, as they are in a World Cup year. Wales is one of just six national teams to play in every single Women's Lacrosse World Cup since its inception in 1982. This year's July tournament will feature 28 teams, including Wales, as they compete to be called the world's best.
Being a national squad, the team boasts players from all different backgrounds and styles of play, making them a special task for the Nittany Lions.
"The players were telling me the ages vary from 17 to 32 on their team, so it's just a wide variety of different styles and what they're bringing," Doherty said. "They were just so gritty that you don't know quite what to expect."
The match was competitive all throughout as the teams traded runs and were equally matched across the board. But even at the end of an hour of battling, pushing one another to the limit, both teams met at midfield to congratulate one another and share a moment as friends, taking a group photo together to encapsulate it all.
After traveling to Amsterdam and Greece last summer to play international competition and now expanding that to an in-season exhibition, the Blue and White continue to play teams from across the border, something the team hopes they can continue in the future.
"Being able to play someone new, especially from a different country, is always kind of a cool thing," senior Steph Lazo said. "I'm pretty honored we get to do that."
Penn State will continue its regular season schedule this Saturday at 3 p.m. when the team hosts Lehigh.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Over the weekend, No. 9 Penn State men's hockey bounced back from two tough losses at No. 5 Minnesota, this time against No. 20 Wisconsin. For head coach Guy Gadowsky, Penn State's dominant performance comes from a collective effort, with a few Nittany Lions also skating to standout weekends.
Freshman forward Denis Smirnov scored three goals against the Badgers, stepping up after a few games without an appearance on the score sheet. Having Smirnov back performing at the level he was earlier in the season has provided a big boost for the Nittany Lions.
"With Denis, he's gone through a few bumps and bruises and is getting healthy, and I think it showed this weekend," Gadowsky said. "He was able to move a lot better."
Gadowsky also noted that the contributions from freshman forward Nate Sucese over the course of the season has also impressed him. Sucese has put up 10 goals, tallying 11 assists so far this season, currently sitting at a plus-10 rating.
Outside of the individual performances though, it was the whole team effort that also impressed Gadowsky and the staff.
"That win on Saturday was really a tremendous team win," Gadowsky said, adding that the third period is where he really saw the team come together.
Looking ahead to the Golden Gophers this weekend, Penn State does have an advantage, having played Minnesota just two weeks ago, despite losing both contests.
For Gadowsky, he's realistic when reflecting on the previous Minnesota series, noting the Nittany Lions played well, but still emphasizing there's always room for improvement.
"It is fresh in our minds and I think there's a feeling that we believe we can play well against Minnesota because we have," Gadowsky said.
Historically, the Nittany Lions are 3-11-0 against the Gophers, but the Nittany Lions have pulled out a few tremendous wins in the series, including a thrilling 3-2 overtime win last season.
Gadowsky is still expecting Minnesota to come out fighting though, even with the home ice advantage playing at Pegula Ice Arena this weekend. He is also determined to have the Nittany Lions come out strong from the puck drop, skating all 60 minutes confidently.
Gadowsky will also be looking toward veteran leadership to motivate Penn State both nights. He spoke highly of senior forward David Goodwin and how he has evolved as a leader during his final campaign. For Gadowsky, he has seen Goodwin keep Penn State focused on the here and now rather than getting caught up in the possibility of a bye the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
"Yes, it's something we very much would like," Gadowsky said of the possibility of a first round bye. "But I don't think that will change any preparation or strategy until possibly the very last weekend. It's nothing we're looking at now."
The Nittany Lions are remaining focused on the next game ahead, looking for redemption against Minnesota. Gadowsky is sure the Nittany Lions will be able to forge ahead and use the momentum from last weekend's wins to propel them to success this weekend.
"I thought we got confidence that we played a very good game," Gadowsky reflecting on the last Minnesota outing. "But we would love to prove to ourselves that we can finish it."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse is off to a strong start, opening the season with wins in both games this season. A few changes in practice and conditioning though has helped the Nittany Lions build endurance and strength, all while pacing them to handle the next few months of the season.
"We've been pleased with the effort in these first few games," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "I think the energy was solid against Robert Morris, but I think the energy against Hobart was very good."
For Tambroni, the early success stems from putting in hours of effort in fall preseason workouts, led by performance enhancement coach Matt Dorn, who is in his first season with the Nittany Lions. Dorn also works with men's and women's swimming and diving in addition to men's lacrosse.
During preseason, the Nittany Lions focused on maintaining their skills, but also improving as a team.
With the season underway, the coaching staff has weekly meetings with Dorn, along with assistant athletic director for applied health and performance science, David Hamilton. Additionally, the coaching staff meets twice a week with training staff to go over the schedule and plan for the team.
"Every day they're keeping us tuned in to how our guys are," Tambroni said.
Penn State keeps its practices ideally less than 90 minutes, whereas in preseason, practices spanned a few hours. During the season it's more important for the Nittany Lions to be fresh and focused on games, rather than spending hours practicing or attempting to add new workouts, especially for younger players who are still getting used to the routine.
"We're trying to do a good job right now of making sure we're maintaining the level of energy and enthusiasm," Tambroni said. "I think it's important to have a little bit of shorter durations of practice to keep their attention span high and keep their bodies in great shape."
With school and practice both ramping up, the season can get busy and it's important to use the team's time wisely, giving the Nittany Lions enough time to rest between games and practices.
There are many factors that determine practices, including weather and field availability. Since the men's and women's teams share the same facilities, often the two teams will switch off between who has the early practice time and who has the night practice slot, in addition to being inside or outside based on climate. Student-athlete academic schedules also affect the agenda, and sometimes tests or classes conflict with practice times.
"We're flexible based on a very inflexible schedule," Tambroni said.
Based on evaluations of the practice schedule from previous seasons, the coaching staff also made a few more adjustments this year. Previously, the team took Mondays slow, ramping up the energy on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That pace has changed this season.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are full gear practice days for the team, focused on drill work or intra-squad scrimmages. Thursdays have changed, having been scaled back this season to allow the team more recovery time two days before games. Friday workouts are more high-energy practices and include walk-throughs if the team is traveling that day.
Even with just two weeks of games the Nittany Lions have already started to notice a different in how much the schedule adjustment has helped them.
"We kind of take a day off of running on the field," senior attacker Nick Aponte said of the new Thursday schedule. "We go through a workout with Coach Dorn and we stretch. We usually do 45 minutes of just stretching and then guys can use the ice tubs if they want."
Aponte said that changing the recovery day to two days before games rather than one day has allowed for better body recovery time.
If early season success is an indicator, the new Nittany Lion practice schedule is showing immediate benefits. Penn State hopes these changes continue the positive trend for the remaining 12 games of the regular season.
By Jack Milewski, GoPSUSports.com student staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Depth is one of the biggest weapons a team can have. It often separates out the true contenders when the season nears its stretch run.
Penn State men's volleyball has already had its depth tested this season with starting setter Luke Braswell out of the lineup with an injury. Braswell has been tremendous this season for the Nittany Lions, but in his wake, true freshman Nathan Smith has been just as promising.
Smith led the Nittany Lions to back-to-back wins on the road in Penn State first conference road test this past weekend. The five-set victories at NJIT and Princeton showcased setter talents as well as the team's resiliency.
"Nathan is very talented and he wasn't fazed by anything on the court," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "I think our team as a whole is at the point where we believe in ourselves no matter where the match is."
That belief was at the forefront of comeback victories in both five setters as Penn State proved to be road warriors in New Jersey.
Despite a minor setback on the road at Saint Francis Tuesday, the Nittany Lions are still positioned at number two in the EIVA standings and sporting lots of confidence.
"I don't think we need much mental reset with this team, they take things one set at a time and don't get too carried away," Pavlik said.
By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Ever since high school, Penn State's Charlie Shuman knew he would eventually dance at THON. Come Friday, he will join three other Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) representatives on floor at the Bryce Jordan Center for a 46-hour challenge unlike any other.
As a football's SAAB representative, Shuman saw an email from head chair Angela Widlacki (women's soccer) in the fall asking if anyone had interest in dancing in THON 2017. All he needed to do was reply and Widlacki would respond with instructions for interested candidates.
"There were five of us in total who emailed in that we wanted to dance," Shuman said. "The thing with our organization is, since we're so busy as athletes, the big thing is that the top four people who raise the most amount of money will pretty much be selected."
With a minimum fundraising goal set at $2,800, Shuman got work. He participated in the 100 Days 'til THON merchandise sale as well as a few other events that he could credit toward his total, even reaching out to family members and friends, all for the cause. In his hometown of Pittsford, New York, he set up donation boxes in each of the 22 physical therapy clinics owned by his parents.
When the time came to submit numbers, Shuman's donations boxes totaled around $1,000, with his initial fundraising total coming in at about $3,500. He made it.
"It all added up," Shuman said.
As registration deadlines for dancers drew closer, Widlacki gathered the group of four SAAB dancer candidates who met the fundraising goal for a meeting at 9 p.m. in East Area Locker Room.
"She sat us down and said, 'I already talked to Megan [Schafer] earlier and you guys are all so close with your money that you're going to have to write an essay,'" Shuman said.
Immediately disappointed, Shuman and the other three dancers slowly opened their laptops to get busy on the essay before Widlacki quickly exclaimed she was just kidding, they were all selected as dancers for THON 2017.
This weekend won't be Shuman's first trip to THON though, an energetic event widely regarded as the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
His freshman year he went for two hours and stayed in the stands at the Bryce Jordan Center. Last year that changed.
"Last year, my friend actually danced so I went down and saw her on the floor," Shuman said. "The floor is completely different from just sitting in the stands. I waited for like 13 hours just to get down on the floor."
Overcome with the electric energy on the floor, the experience only furthered his decision this fall.
It wasn't exactly THON as an entire event that sparked his initial interest though, as his passion for helping families in need goes back to high school.
Shuman started "Big Helping Little" with the support of his family in high school as a project to organize fundraising efforts to benefit a local family from his hometown with a daughter suffering from a rare genetic mutation.
It's his roots in the success of the project that give him something to look forward to the most.
"Dealing with that and seeing how everything effected the family I helped initially, and now being able to dance and see all of the families down there dancing, interacting and taking themselves out of what they struggle with every single day is awesome," Shuman said.
Along with three other SAAB representatives and a host of morale captains and other THON volunteers surrounding him, Shuman's family will also be up for the entire weekend to show their support.
"They are my two dancer support tickets so I'm guaranteed to see them at least twice during the weekend," Shuman said. "I don't know how long or when because they aren't supposed to tell us the time."
With winter workouts underway, juggling everything from classes and lift sessions can present a bit of a challenge, but Shuman's not backing down from his usual schedule.
Come Thursday, Shuman will lift with the team as usual following a morning workout and then take only Friday off before THON begins. He'll be back at it by Monday.
With just a few days remaining, all that's left to do now is pack.
"They have a bunch of lockers in one room for us to put our stuff into, but it's really small. I think they are three feet by one foot," Shuman said.
As a six-foot-eight offensive lineman, that could make things a little interesting for Shuman when it comes to packing.
On the list so far, he has three pairs of shoes, flip flops, recovery pants and a Go Pro camera.
"I'm still trying to figure it out, especially all of the little things," Shuman said with a laugh.
A typical THON packing list suggests dancers bring a few extra shirts.
"Obviously it's going to be hot and I'm not a small person," Shuman said. "I'm going to pack like eight shirts. They say like two or three, but that is not going to get me through the week."Shuman and the rest of the SAAB representatives take floor at the Bryce Jordan Center to begin their dance for the cure at 6 p.m. Friday.
By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com
LINCOLN, Neb. - Early in the week, Penn State head coach Patrick Chamber expressed some concern as the Nittany Lions prepped for their Tuesday evening trip to Lincoln. Inside of a hostile Pinnacle Bank Arena, Chambers' concerns turned to reality as the Nittany Lions fell in an 82-66 decision to snap a two-game conference winning streak.
"Nebraska played terrific," Chambers said. "They did a great job. It seemed like everything was going right for them."
Nebraska jumped out to an early seven-point lead nearly five minutes into the opening half. Freshmen Lamar Stevens and Tony Carr quickly combined for a 9-2 run, sparked by a Stevens 3-pointer, which brought Penn State within two, 15-13.
Returning to the court from an illness, Julian Moore and Stevens pushed Penn State back within two twice more with a pair of jumpers in between a Nebraska dunk. The Huskers responded with a trio of free throws to widen the gap to five, before freshman Mike Watkins added a pair of buckets to keep Penn State within two twice more.
With Nebraska leading 24-22 at the 10:09 mark, the Huskers went surging ahead, stretching the advantage to double figures with a 10-2 streak.
The Penn State freshman group continued to answer back though, narrowing the deficit to as few as five off of a Josh Reaves layup from a Watkins steal with four seconds remaining.
Nebraska wasn't going away though, extinguishing yet another Nittany Lion spark with a near-half court shot to enter the locker room with an eight-point lead, 37-45.
"We did a decent job hanging in there," Chambers said. "They [Nebraska] hit a half-court shot, if they didn't hit that you'd only be down by five."
In just their first appearance on the road in Lincoln, Carr and Stevens paced the Nittany Lions offensively in the first half, adding spark after spark to give Penn State the opportunity. Carr entered the half with 13 points, shooting 6-8 from the field with three rebounds and an assist. Stevens added nine points, grabbing two boards before the break.
Penn State couldn't settle into a rhythm out of the break though, as the Huskers only continued to dial up the defense, shutting the Nittany Lions out of the paint. Hindered by an uncharacteristically off night from behind the arc for Penn State, Nebraska only capitalized on the opportunity.
"Obviously in the second half, they did a nice job guarding us," Chambers said. "I knew we had to make eight 3s to stay in this game because of their defensive style."
A bright spot on the stat sheet, both Carr and Stevens finished with double figures. Carr led the team with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Stevens came in just behind with 13 points and seven rebounds.
"I thought they did a nice job in the first half, but we need consistency and we need them to play defense" Chambers said.
Without much more to say, Chambers noted that there will be no yelling and no screaming. Rather, Penn State will take the same approach it's taken all season, get back in the gym and get back to work on the little things, habits and toughness in a hostile environment.
As Chambers also noted though, although young and dealing with a unique set of added responsibility, the Nittany Lions are getting there.
"They are working so hard and to put that much pressure and stress on them to be leaders, to score, to rebound, to defend and do everything for you, as 18-year-olds, it's only going to make them that much better," Chambers.
Although excited about the future of the young talent though, it's back to work, as the Nittany Lions prepare to host Purdue Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center.
"It's definitely going to be a learning lesson for us tonight," Chambers said. "Hopefully we can carry that with us on our seven days off approaching, and we can be that much better down the stretch."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the second of a three-part video series, Penn State women's volleyball student-athlete Simone Lee sits down with men's gymnastics student-athlete Leroy Clarke to talk Black History Month and diversity throughout the entire Penn State Athletics community.
Throughout the entire month of February, Penn State Athletics is proudly sharing the stories of its African American student-athletes and coaches who have helped shape Nittany Lion history. View more here.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's brand new Morgan Academic Center received a few more updates Monday evening as the Nittany Lions unveiled a reflection of its most recent success in the classroom. Hosting its first academic center celebration, Penn State flipped a trio of academic totals, revealing its honors through the fall semester.
In a unique ceremony, Penn State director of athletics Sandy Barbour, NCAA faculty representative Linda Caldwell and CoSIDA Academic All-Americans Haleigh Washington (women's volleyball) and Tyler Yazujian (football) all participated in the total changing event.
A central piece of the Morgan Academic Center, the far north wall includes a large set of numbers fixed near the ceiling, reflecting Penn State's NCAA graduation rate, all-time CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and all-time Academic All-Big Ten honorees.
While maybe just numbers to an average visitor off the street, the totals serve as a visual reminder to all Penn State student-athletes, coaches, staff and guests, displaying a total commitment to academic success.
"It's part of Penn State's DNA," Barbour said. "It's part of our success with honor, it's who we are, its always been a part of our culture, its always been a part of the standard here and I certainly as the athletic director today, want to make sure I do my part to uphold that. So it's going to be a huge priority for us every day."
Together, Washington, Yazujian and Caldwell all boarded a mechanical lift to take two trips to the top of the wall to peel off the old set of numbers, proudly revealing a new set of numbers each of which showing a positive increase.
In November, the NCAA released its annual national graduation rates study, which revealed that Penn State student-athletes earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 89 percent compared to the 84 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2006-07 through the 2009-10 academic year. The 89 percent graduation figure was just one point off Penn State's 90 percent all-time graduation record mark and one point higher than last year's figure.
Both Washington and Yazujian earned Academic All-America honors this fall, marking the second time each has received the prestigious honor. Penn State's 195 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans ranks 5th among NCAA institutions from all divisions and 4th among all Division I schools.
Penn State also saw a total of 78 Academic All-Big Ten honorees among seven fall sports this past semester, brining the Nittany Lion total to 5,654 selections since joining the conference in 1991-92. The mark also leads all Big Ten institutions.
The Nittany Lion commitment to academic achievement isn't something that yields success by one single individual, but rather as Barbour noted, a group of people who all believe in the same rich tradition.
"It's not like you have a really good academic year and it's like 'okay we're done, we're there,' it's an every day thing and I'm really proud of the effort of student-athletes, our coaches, our faculty, our staff, our Morgan Center advisors, it's definitely a team effort," Barbour said.
For Washington, the support not just in terms of athletic performance, is what makes all the difference.
"It's so cool that we have such a strong University that supports everything that we do," Washington said. It's really amazing that they don't just push us to be really good on the court or on the field, or wherever we're playing, they push us to be good in the classroom and it's amazing to have a support system like what we have at Penn State."
Check out a few more notes on Penn State's academic achievement.
- Twenty-eight Penn State student-athletes from 11 sports earned their degrees in December 2016, bringing the total number of graduates to 153 since last May.
- The NCAA also released in November the federal graduation rates for students and student-athletes as it has for the past 26 years. The four-year federal graduation rate average for Penn State student-athletes was 78 percent, No. 3 among Big Ten institutions, and significantly above the 66 percent Division I average.- The NCAA data revealed student-athletes from seven Penn State squads earned a Graduation Success Rate of 100 percent, an increase of two from last year's five teams. The seven Nittany Lion squads posting perfect graduation scores were: men's basketball, field hockey, women's golf, women's gymnastics, men's soccer, softball and women's tennis.
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Megan Schafer knows all too well the horrible effects cancer brings to families across the globe.
When she was in high school Schafer was informed that her younger cousin, Mary, was diagnosed with the petrifying disease. Since that day, Schafer vowed to do all she could to help Mary and all other individuals and families who have had to hear that chilling news about a loved one.
Ever since stepping on the Penn State campus three years ago, Schafer has made it her personal goal to dance for the cure, and for Mary, at THON by the time she graduated.
In just a few days that goal will come to fruition.
Schafer will be one of four student-athletes representing the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) in this year's dance marathon beginning February 17. She will be on her feet dancing for 46 hours straight, joining in the fight to one day defeat pediatric cancer.
"To be able to come to Penn State and do this and know how a school can come together like this, it's just such a cool thing to experience," Schafer said.
Her cousin Mary battled her way past the disease and is now in remission. There are many families, however, that aren't as lucky.
According to CureSearch.org, almost 16,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. Twelve percent of all children diagnosed do not survive.
That's what will keep Schafer on her feet all weekend.
Schafer's teammates, Angela Widlacki and Liisi Vink-Lainas, participated as dancers last year and they've been a few of Schafer's biggest supporters. Schafer said being on the floor with them and experiencing THON from that perspective was the defining moment when she knew she wanted to dance herself.
She was on the floor more than half of the time last year, so taking on the full 46 hours seems more than doable in her mind.
Schafer believes she has an advantage over many of the dancers because of the physical shape she's in. Most dancers spend the week leading up to THON preparing their bodies for the toughest physical test they'll face.
As for Schafer, she doesn't think any pre-THON training is necessary. She said Penn State head coach Erica Dambach has aptly prepared her for this challenge with her conditioning programs. For Schafer, running sprints after practice will actually prove to be beneficial when it matters most.
Schafer said she knows fatigue is inevitable, but quitting isn't an option. She has to keep those children, like Mary, who have battled and defeated cancer without complaining about being tired throughout the entire process.
If they can fight the pain, she will be able to as well. She hopes her participation as a dancer will be the start of making sure every child diagnosed with cancer isn't beaten. She has seen up close a family member beat an unbelievable challenge, and Schafer believes it's possible for everyone with help from events like THON.
"If I'm ever feeling down or tired, I just have to think of why I'm
doing this," Schafer said. "It doesn't matter how many hours, I'm going to be
able to do it because it's for such a good cause.
By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - To honor and celebrate Black History Month, Penn State Athletics is proud to share the stories of its African American student-athletes and coaches who have shaped Nittany Lion history through their success and challenges, even long after Penn State.
Penn State's first female African American student-athlete to play on the field hockey team (1969), as well the Lady Lion basketball team (1970) and the women's lacrosse team (1970), Lorraine (Hutchings) Oliver made Nittany Lion athletics history in the pre-Title IX era.
With Penn State introducing women's intercollegiate athletic programs in 1964-65, the Nittany Lion women's programs were not referred to as "Varsity" programs until 1967, just a year before Barbara June Rose became Penn State's first African American student-athlete (women's gymnastics) in 1968. Just a year later though, it was Oliver, who continued to pave the way, as Penn State's first African American multi-sport athlete.
Born in Huntington, Pennsylvania, a small town 30 miles from Happy Valley, Oliver grew up in a big family, all of whom were active in athletics. Long before cell phones, computers and video games, for Oliver, sports were an outlet.
"In high school, I would use athletics as my entertainment," Oliver said. "My family is an athletic family so we always played sports. I started playing field hockey and I loved it; it was just a part of our lives."
A standout athlete at Huntington High School, Oliver lettered in three sports across four consecutive seasons as a starter on the field hockey, basketball and track and field teams, also earning a letter in her one season as a catcher on the softball team.
In high school, Oliver also participated in the Upward Bound program at Penn State, a nationwide initiative targeted at preparing students from low income families for success in college. Growing up nearby, though, it wasn't experience as much as opportunity that drew Oliver to Penn State.
"We knew about Penn State and cheered for Penn State, but were from a small town and didn't get across the mountain that much," Oliver said.
Enrolled at Penn State, Oliver also continue to pursue her passion for competition, trying out for both the field hockey and basketball teams. Oliver also found success trying out for a new Nittany Lion team as well, which turned out be he her favorite.
"They did not have lacrosse at my high school but, when I got to college, I took a lacrosse course and at that point I fell in love with lacrosse and joined the team," Oliver said.
Outside of athletics, Oliver enrolled at Penn State during a tumultuous time in United States history. Her experience as a student-athlete, though, didn't involve having to confront the national challenges of racism, which had been met head on by the Civil Rights Movement and striving for racial equality in the 1950's and '60's.
For Oliver, she can recall enrolling at a time when the student body was predominantly white, feeling that maybe three to five percent of the student body was represented by African American students.
"It wasn't ever overt racism," Oliver said. "Kind of subtle in the background, but it wasn't at the forefront.
Along with her love for athletics, though, Oliver was committed to her drive to succeed, a motivation instilled by her mother.
"I grew up in a white town so it wasn't hard to adjust, but for some it was hard," Oliver said.
Fueled by an unwavering drive to succeed, it's that exactly quality that she continues to exude to this day, long after graduating from Penn State.
"That's something that I always have people say to me, 'you make it happen', and that's because I do whatever I need to do to make it happen," Oliver said. "I'm one of those people."
Oliver earned a bachelor's degree in health and physical education in 1973 before continuing on to earn her master's degree in health education.
It's the life lessons from athletics, though, that have helped her shape a model for family.
"Pick a goal and work for it, it's my model that I have given to my family and to my son (George), who