September 2017 Archives
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The tension was palpable in Rec Hall Saturday night, as Penn State found itself locked in a battle with visiting Northwestern in the first set.
The margin had never been more than three points in either direction and the Nittany Lions found themselves down 23-21 and on their heels.
Head coach Russ Rose called a timeout, ushering the team over to the bench to talk strategy and allow the Nittany Lions to regroup before the final push in the frame.
"(Northwestern) has competitive bright kids and they were in the right position," Rose said. "We just needed to get a side out and earn a real point. That's what happened."
It turned out all right for the Nittany Lions, as they turned around and won five of the final six points to ultimately take the set, 26-24.
In a set featuring 10 ties and two lead changes, the Nittany Lions came up big when they needed to in order to ensure the start they wanted.
The set ended on an unusual play, as libero Kendall White dug out a Northwestern attack and the ball floated back over the net into open court for the kill. It was her lone kill, but part of a standout first set performance.
won on kind of a fluke play," Rose said. "It's something you can appreciate but
you can't practice."
White finished with a game-high 13 digs on the night, including a couple of remarkable efforts in the third set off of rocket attacks from the Northwestern front line.
The second set was a much less heart-wrenching one for the Penn State faithful, as the Nittany Lions cruised to a 25-14 victory behind dominant performances from Simone Lee and Haleigh Washington up front. Lee and Washington paced the Nittany Lions in kills, tallying 12 and 10, respectively.
Penn State played a perfect set in terms of execution, not committing a single error for the duration of the set. The Wildcats committed six in that same span.
"I thought we played much cleaner for the remainder of the match," Rose said. "Other than the three missed serves in the last game, I thought we played well. I thought we passed well and we had good cross-court defense."
The third set was more of the same, as Penn State handled the Wildcats by an identical 25-14 margin.
The Nittany Lions kept their play clean yet again, only committing four errors.
Symone Abbott was the focal point for the Wildcats coming into the game, as she led the Big Ten in kills at 214. Penn State kept her in check for the most part, allowing 12 kills but only at a .219 hitting clip. The Nittany Lions have now held down Ali Bastianelli of Illinois and Abbott on back to back nights, two of the more elite hitters in the conference.
"(Abbott) is a terrific offensive player," Rose said. "We didn't do a great job stopping people's big slide hitters, but the goal is to win. Sometimes you are willing to give up points somewhere if you're trying to get them somewhere else."
Tori Gorrell put together a consistent performance as well on the Penn State side, converting all seven of her attacks.
"I don't really think about it," Gorrell said. "If I hit well, then I hit well. It all contributes to the team so if I play well, it helps."
The Nittany Lions appear to be back on track after last weekend's hiccups and are now back in the driver's seat in the Big Ten at 13-1 overall and 3-1 in the conference.
N. Scott, Gillikin, Cabinda
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
- Go behind the scenes with Penn State Athletics on football game day for
exclusive interviews and a closer look at what's happening in Beaver
Penn State Honors Fran Fisher
Penn State paid tribute to an iconic voice, honoring Fran Fisher, who passed away recently at the age of 91, following a 30-year career with the Nittany Lions. Fisher's son Jerry joins Beaver Stadium Extra to talk about the tribute.
THON Recognized in Beaver Stadium
Penn State Student-Athletes Honored for Academic Excellence
Penn State took time to honor the accomplishments of its student-athletes, recognizing those who earned at least a 3.0 GPA.
Neil Diamond Takes Beaver Stadium
Neil Diamond impersonator Tom Sadge takes the field during a break to sing "Sweet Caroline" to the Nittany Lion fans inside Beaver Stadium.
By Will Desautelle, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The third-ranked Nittany Lions swept the Illinois Fighting Illini on Friday night (25-19, 25-17, 26-24) to begin the third and final weekend of a current home stand.
The Illini entered the game with an 11-2 record, with their losses coming against a pair of strong Pac-12 opponents in Stanford and Colorado. The six they lost coming in were all by a two-point margin.
Penn State rebounded from a 1-1 weekend last week, erasing some uncharacteristic performances Saturday night by getting back to doing what Penn State does best.
Russ Rose's squad was much more polished in the serve and pass game on Friday night, allowing the Nittany Lions to establish their middles early and often.
Haleigh Washington led the way with 11 kills on 17 attempts, hitting .647 on the night with four blocks. Heidi Thelen also continued her torrid stretch with six kills, hitting at a .625 clip, with six blocks. Tori Gorrell also chipped in four kills of her own to give Penn State's trio of middles a combined 20 kills for the match.
"[Heidi] was our leading blocker tonight and that's why she's in there," Rose said. "Last week they were scoring at will over that position and then we put her in and I think she's done a nice job there."
The Nittany Lions cruised through the first two sets, showing a defensive grit that forced the Illini into a lot of hitting errors.
Illinois leading hitter Jacqueline Quade, struggled to get into a rhythm all night against a much bigger Penn State front line. Quade led the Illini with nine kills, but she also made 11 errors on 30 attempts, hitting -.067 on the night.
Penn State served aggressively, compiling six aces in the match, an area of improvement this week for the Nittany Lions that made it difficult for the Illini to pass well and establish their middle blockers up front.
Ali Bastianelli came into Friday leading the nation in blocks per set and finished with nine blocks to make things difficult for the Nittany Lions, particularly in the third set.
"She's a phenomenal blocker and she's been a phenomenal blocker all three, four years she's been around," Washington said. "She's got great form, gets her hands over the net, so we knew that coming in we wanted to avoid her as a blocker."
Thanks to an abundance of experience, the Nittany Lions eventually figured things out and battled back from a 19-16 deficit in the third set to sweep the Illini.
On a night where Simone Lee was not as dominant as she typically is, Penn State got back to running their middles with effectiveness and allowed their efficient play to carry them to a big win at home.
"We felt that part of our problem last week was that we didn't run middle enough," Rose said. "I've identified that Haleigh didn't have a great weekend, but I also did not have a great weekend, so we moved on."
Penn State improved to 12-1 (2-1 Big Ten) on the season with the win and will take on Northwestern tomorrow night in Rec Hall before heading back out on the road next weekend.
"Northwestern is very good," Rose said. "We lost to them a couple years ago, so our players recognize that we're going have to be ready to play."
By Erin Neri, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State freshman Cole Hults has always played hockey close to his hometown in Stoughton, Wisconsin. After three years of playing for the Madison Capitols in the USHL, Hults decided on a change of scenery for his college career, and what place better than Hockey Valley.
"For me, to get away was really good for my development," Hults said. "The facilities here are the best in all of college hockey and they give you every tool to be successful."
Hults posted quite an impressive career in the USHL, a league in which Nittany Lion head coach Guy Gadowksy praised as the "best college preparation league in North America." Hults capped off his most recent season with the Capitols registering a team-high 32 points on six goals and 26 assists, finishing sixth in the USHL for defensemen scoring. Across three seasons, Hults played in 122 games, closing out his campaign with 42 points, scoring six goals to go along with 36 assists.
"A lot of my points came from just moving that puck quick and getting it to the forwards," Hults said. "I know here they like to play fast, and that's what I'm really excited about because that's what I did back in Madison."
For Gadowsky, Hults is just what the Nittany Lions were looking for when it comes to replacing Vince Pedrie, who decided to forgo his last two years of eligibility with Penn State after last season to sign with the New York Rangers.
"To have a puck moving, very intelligent, left-hand shot defenseman is essential," Gadowsky said, "We think he will be the guy who has a chance to replace Vince Pedrie."
With big shoes to fill, Hults has looked to older teammates as mentors and who better than senior defenseman, Erik Autio, who Hults could very likely play alongside this season.
"They call him the horse because he never stops," Hults said. "It's been really influential on me, and I try to take after that now."
In addition to Autio, Hults also looks up to Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, the brother of his coach back in Madison, Garrett Suter.
"My coach Garrett always told me 'you don't want to be noticed out there,' and that's Ryan," Hults said. "You don't know he's there but he's really good at what he does."
Hults also comes into his rookie season having been recently drafted in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings in the fifth round. Even though it was a cool experience, it doesn't mean much, the lefty shooter said.
With aspirations to play at the next level, Hults isn't the only member of his family with eyes set on the NHL. Hults' older brother Mitch, who also played for the Madison Capitols, decided to forgo his last two years of eligibility at Lake Superior State University to sign a two-year entry-level deal with the Anaheim Ducks in late March of 2017."To see how far he's come and how much we pushed each other in the summer, he deserves it for sure," Hults said. "It's good to see things work out for him."
RELATED LINKS: Gameday Central I Game Notes I Depth Chart I Tuesday Presser Roundup I Wednesday Practice Report I J. Moorhead Q&A I Monday Notebook I Behind the Scenes: Generations of Greatness I Nittany Lions in the NFL - Week 3 I Gameday Promotions and Reminders
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 4 Penn State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) is set to return to Beaver Stadium Saturday, hosting Indiana (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten) for its "Generations of Greatness" game.
Out to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2014 and the second time under the direction of head coach James Franklin, the Nittany Lions will look to extend their 10-game home winning streak, which is tied for the third-longest active streak in FBS.
Penn State brought fans to the edge of their seats last week, in a dramatic 21-19 road win at Iowa, on the strength of a spectacular game-winning final drive ending with a 7-yard touchdown grab from quarterback Trace McSorley to wide receiver Juwan Johnson to clinch the victory.
Once again, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley was simply sensational in the win, racking up a school-record 358 all-purpose yards at Iowa, including a career-high 211 rushing yards.
Alongside Barkley, McSorley's touchdown pass to Johnson as time expired marked his 19th consecutive outing with a touchdown pass. On the year, McSorley's 10 touchdown passes are second in the Big Ten, helping to pace an offense that's averaging 40.5 points per game.
The Nittany Lions have hardly had time to exhale though, with Franklin targeting a variety of different areas where improvement is needed for the Nittany Lions to continue emerging from each passing week at 1-0.
Turning the focus toward Indiana, the Hoosiers travel to Happy Valley for their first Big Ten road outing of the year, with Nittany Lions owning an unblemished 9-0 mark against IU at home in Beaver Stadium.
"Obviously, Tom Allen is doing a great job there," Franklin said.0 Have a lot of respect for him and the Indiana program. Last year we battled with them and found a way to get a W."
What To Watch For -
1. Saquon Barkley doing
Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead called Barkley's performance at Iowa a microcosm of his unique skillset, from both running and catching the ball to pass protection. Outside of the career-high rushing performance, Barkley also totaled 94 receiving yards and 53 return yards. On the year, Barkley is ranked fourth in the Big Ten in both receptions per game (5.8) and receiving yards per game (83.8), with two receiving touchdowns on the year. All together, Barkley is still atop the FBS standings this week averaging 253.3 all-purpose yards per game.
"The kid has just done a fantastic job in his role, he has been a great teammate, a great leader and obviously when you have arguably the best player in the country on your team, you look to find ways to scheme to get him the ball because he's a game changer," Moorhead said.
2. O-Line Improvements
For Franklin, one of his takeaways headed into this week centered around the offensive line improving its ability to hold blocks, sustaining in the run game and of course, protecting McSorley. With a few different combinations to the starting lineup in the last two games, Franklin is confident that the Nittany Lions will continue to get better.
"I'd say probably about where we thought they were going to be, but I did think there's still a lot of room for growth and improvement there up front, and I think that's what we're going to need to happen in every area for us to continue playing and finding a way to get W's on Saturdays," Franklin said.
3. Dangerous Wideouts
Penn State's talented group of wide receivers will no doubt be an exciting matchup when it comes to the Indiana secondary. With a variety of options, it's hard to tell who might be stepping forward, even in a game-winning situation. Four different wide receivers have caught at least one touchdown pass on the year, and that's not even counting tight end Mike Gesicki's four touchdown grabs.
Although he didn't have a touchdown catch in the win against Iowa, Franklin was particularly pleased with Saeed Blacknall's 6-yard grab during the game-winning drive.
"You know, what a huge play in the game," Franklin said. "[Blacknall] Had not had a whole lot of action this year. You go to a veteran player at a critical time, makes the play. So that's a big one."
What To Watch For - Indiana
1. Hoosier Defense
Early this week, Franklin pointed to Allen's defensive mind, noting that among things IU prides itself, defense is atop the list.
Talented in a variety of areas, the Hoosiers return All-American linebacker Tegray Scales, who highlighted the season-opener with a game-high 12 tackles against No. 2 Ohio State. One of IU's team captains, Scales is atop the team standings averaging 8.7 tackles per game, including 5.7 solo stops, which is second in the Big Ten.
"I think his greatest strength is in the box, you know, getting the defensive line lined up, making adjustments and being a physical, downhill player from tackle-to-tackle," Franklin said. "I think probably the area that he's improved over the last couple years is outside of the box, you know, being able to make plays on the perimeter running from sideline-to-sideline."
2. Another Special Teams
On the year, Penn State has proved effective in neutralizing potential special teams threats, limiting the likes of Quadree Henderson, just to name a single example. For IU, J-Shun Harris II took a punt return back 70 yards for a touchdown against Georgia Southern. Marking his second consecutive with a punt return for a touchdown he become as one of just two in IU history to return a punt for a touchdown in back-to-back games.
"I think he is No. 1 in the Big Ten and maybe No. 2 in the country in punt returns," Franklin said. "So once again, we've got a special teams guy that's going to be a major factor that we have to deal with."
3. Leader of the
Indiana also returns veteran quarterback Richard Lagow, who the Nittany Lions have identified as a top priority in executing the Hoosier offense.
Leading an up-tempo offense that currently ranks fourth in the Big Ten in passing offense (267.3) and fifth in scoring (35.7), Lagow completed 40 passes in the season opener against Ohio State, finishing with 410 yards for his second career 400-yard game.
"Offensively, comes down to their quarterback, [Richard] Lagow, No. 21. Big, strong, can really throw the ball into tight windows, very accurate," Franklin said.
A top target for Lagow, is wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. A preseason All-Big Ten selection, he highlighted the IU season-opener against Ohio State with 11 catches for 149 yards and one touchdown, marking his fifth-career 100-yard game. Atop the team standings, Cobbs is ranked second in the Big Ten in receptions per game (6.0) and seventh in receiving yards per game (76.0).
"I think Simmie Cobbs is the difference-maker for them that they missed last year," Franklin said. "The plays they made against Ohio State were just fantastic, the two of them. The back-shoulder fades, the over-the-shoulder fade balls, making the catch on the sideline, contested catches, guys hanging all over him and coming down with circus catch after circus catch."
The Final Word -
Saturday marks Penn State's "Generations of Greatness" game, set to honor the pride and tradition of the rich Nittany Lion football history. With custom throwback uniforms as the centerpiece of the game, the new threads feature elements spanning generations of Nittany Lion history. Fans can also expect throwback changes to the Beaver Stadium end zones as well as game day elements from music to scoreboard design.
By Erin Neri, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Thursday afternoon, Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky and his Nittany Lions were eager to preview the 2017-18 campaign, meeting with members of the media on media day.
For the first season in program's history, Penn State will open the season ranked, slotted No. 10 in the USCHO.com preseason poll. Picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten poll, the Nittany Lions are also coming off a Big Ten Championship season that saw Penn State finish with a 25-12-2 overall record.
With just two hours a week on the ice at this point, Gadowsky noted that there's still much to figure out when it comes to this year's squad.
"I think the chemistry that we had last year hasn't been lost," Gadowsky said. "I think they're really good guys and I think they are working really well together so far. To really find out what has changed with chemistry on the ice, you have to play."
Come Sunday, Oct. 1, the Nittany Lions will host Ottawa in an international exhibition set for 3 p.m. in Pegula Ice Arena.
"Moving into Sunday, we just want to do the
right things, work on some things that we've worked on since we got here in August
and try to put us out on the right foot headed into Clarkson and St. Lawrence,"
sophomore forward Nate Sucese said. "I think obviously every team is a
preseason game for a reason and I think it will really tell us where we are at
headed into Clarkson."
Catch up on four things you need to know before heading to Pegula Ice Arena Sunday afternoon.
Senior forward James Robinson was voted as one of three team captains by his fellow teammates in the weeks leading up to this season. "Jimmy Pucks," as he's known, is accompanied by senior defenseman Erik Autio and junior center Chase Berger as the team's alternates
"It's just a huge honor and I'm extremely humbled," Robinson said. "You look at that dressing room and we have so many guys who could be wearing not only the 'C' but any kind of letter."
Robinson brings plenty of strong leadership experience to the role, wearing the 'A' last season as well as during his junior hockey career. Along with the rest of the team, Gadowsky and the staff are very excited to see the direction Robinson will take the team.
"He has the ultimate respect from everybody on the team," Gadowsky said. "He's perfect in that role."
Within the Big Ten
The Big Ten Conference has grown to become one of the most competitive conferences in college hockey, considering new additions in Notre Dame last season and Penn State's rapid rise in the national ranks. Combined with the high level of play Minnesota brings year in and year out, the Gophers are frequently among the top programs in the country, along with Wisconsin and Ohio State.
"This is by far the toughest head-to-toe league that Big Ten hockey has had," Gadowsky said. "The teams that come out of this league into the tournament are going to be extremely battle-tested."
The Nittany Lions worked toward improving many aspects of their game during the offseason, but above all, Gadowsky noted that the focus of those improvements were defensive.
"We have to be better defensively but also be much more consistent, and that sounds easy, but it's really hard," Gadowsky said. "If we are to have success, we can't always depend on Peyton Jones playing out of his mind for three games, we have to be much more consistent defensively."
With that absence of defenseman Vince Pedrie, following his departure signing with the New York Rangers in the offseason, Gadowsky noted that freshmen Cole Hults and Alex Stevens could be potentially prime options to step into a big roles.
"I've tried to teach the freshman this year that blocking shots goes a long way for the team," senior defenseman Trevor Hamilton said. "I think they've all bought into it and are committed to playing defense first."
Past but Not Forgotten
Last year's historic season ended in a heartbreaking 6-3 loss to top-ranked, Denver in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The eye-opening experience put a lot in perspective for the team, but now serves as a valuable experience in terms of what it takes to get back to playing March hockey.
"It was unbelievable to play the best team in the country (Denver) and know what level we need to be at in order to get there," junior forward Chase Berger said. "Playing Big Ten teams is great, but it was an unbelievable experience to see the highest level."
Looking closer at that experience, for junior forward Andrew Sturtz, this year is all about building on the success."I think what we did last year, it was very special and now we have a lot of guys back who have been there," Sturtz said. "We've seen the NCAA Tournament, we've seen the Big Ten final. Now to get back there, we just have to remember what actually got us there. We weren't trying to be pretty, it wasn't cute plays, we were playing Penn State hockey and I think with the skill we have this year, if we play Penn State hockey we should be alright."
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The college soccer season is a grind, and players rely on their coaching staff more than ever to keep their minds and bodies in tip top shape throughout the year.
The head coach and assistants surely aid players by pushing them when they can handle it and dialing it back when they've clearly had enough, but coaches have far too much on their plates to be worried about each and every player's bodies on a daily basis.
That's where the duo of Andra Thomas and Rhian Davis come in for Penn State women's soccer.
Thomas and Davis keep track of the team's physical and mental fitness day in and day out so that head coach Erica Dambach and company can focus on scouting and game planning.
"There's a lot of years that that support staff can make or break you," Dambach said. "You look at the dynamic of this staff and first and foremost you love coming to work every day, so from a personal standpoint they make my day much better."
Thomas is the Associate Director of Athletic Training Services for the team and has been at Penn State since 1992. She has worked with the women's basketball, men's and women's golf, softball, and men's and women's soccer teams during her tenure.
Her duties span from conducting yoga sessions with the team to working rehab with injured players.
Thomas spent four years with the women's soccer team from 2008-2012 and returned for a second stint at the start of last season. She said coming back to the team was one of the best decisions she's made in her professional career.
"That was the absolute best year that I've ever had with a team," Thomas said. "They were the most enthusiastic to do anything and everything that I asked, and they completely bought in. They're the easiest group I have ever had to work with. I love working with them."
Thomas said her favorite part of the job is rehabbing players who deal with injuries. She prides herself in bringing players from a sense of hopelessness to becoming a stronger and more skilled version of themselves before the injury.
Over 25 years, Thomas has been through a plethora of changes in regards to the way training staffs track player fitness. She said the various technology the team is able to use today helps her immensely with her job.
"The amount of data that we can get on kids right then and there to be able to assess injuries and better see how we can get them ready--it's a night and day as compared to 25 years ago," Thomas said.
One of the most prominent ways the team is tracking fitness this year is a cell phone app called Fit for 90.
Fit for 90 tracks how players are feeling on different scales--mentally and physically. It can tell players if they're sore, fatigued or sleep deprived based on the info they input to the app.
For Thomas and Davis, the team's strength and conditioning coach, the app helps them diagnose a hurt body part as a serious injury or simply soreness from training. It can tell them when to hold certain players out of practice by giving them a readiness score for each player.
"First and foremost we always make sure that our program has injury prevention in it," Davis said. "That's the most important for me. Strength in terms of muscle weight is important, but it's not everything."
Davis has been with Penn State since 2013 and oversees both the women's soccer and softball teams. She also worked as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Rice University and Jacksonville University.
She said seeing scrawny and somewhat out-of-shape freshman turn into to mentally and physically strong players on and off the field is what keeps her going. She said she loves seeing the team's work in the weight room translate to the field.
"My favorite thing is when we're not the biggest kid out there, but the big kids bounce off of us," Davis said. "I think that has a lot to do with the culture that spread to this program through Erica and the rest of the staff in that our kids hit the ground running as hard as they can, and they're not going to fall down. If you're going to hit them it better be a really hard hit and even if they do fall down they're going to get right back up."
Both Thomas and Davis may not be in the spotlight like players and head coaches are every week, but their work never goes unappreciated, especially by the players.
"They're so important to the team, especially with all the prevention stuff and flexibility things that we do I think it's made a world wind of change, not just with soccer but in everyday life," Salina Williford said.
"The players believe in them," Dambach said. "They trust them. They want to go seek out their help and guidance and there's no healthier environment you could create than the one they have created."
By Tom Shively,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Oftentimes, the non-conference portion of a team's schedule allows some room for growth. It's early in the season, and most teams are still trying to figure out their lines and rotations before they get into the meat of their schedule.
That is not the case for the Penn State women's hockey team, who opens up on the road at No. 5 Minnesota Duluth this weekend. The Nittany Lions have never been a team to shy away from a challenge, and the opening weekend test will serve as a benchmark to see just how far this team has come entering its sixth year as an NCAA Division I program.
"It's one of those things that we have to come out fast and hard and strong," junior defenseman Kelsey Crow said. "We have a lot of new freshmen, so if we can come out of that weekend executing what we want to execute, that's a strong start."
The Nittany Lions have seven new freshmen on campus this year, to go along with 17 returning players from last season. They have big shoes to fill, as the team must replace its top two goal scorers from last year in Amy Petersen and Laura Bowman.
In goal, Penn State returns both Hannah Ehresmann and Daniela Paniccia from a season ago, as well as adding new faces in Cam Leonard and Chantal Burke.
Perhaps the most notable addition has been head coach Jeff Kampersal, who spent 21 years as the head coach at Princeton. Kampersal is the second head coach in Penn State history after helping the Tigers to two NCAA Tournaments and two Ivy League championships (2006, 2016) during his tenure there.
One of Kampersal's main points has been to get the team to bond together this offseason, and, while they haven't necessarily had a lot of time to do so, they are certainly taking advantage of the opportunities they have.
"There's a ping pong table in the locker room, and people are always over there playing ping pong," Kampersal said. "Even though it's more of a fun nature, they're competing hard. Hopefully that competition level carries over to the ice."
Kampersal has noticed his team's excitement as the first game approaches, and he's hoping that energy is something they can sustain throughout the entire season on and off the ice.
"In the locker room now, there's a lot of heart and soul and a lot of kids that just love to play hockey. That's what we're hoping to bring out, hopefully that joy for them to come to the rink every day."
A program like Penn State has its perks, with the success of the athletic department allowing for top facilities like Pegula Ice Arena, a high-quality venue not seen very often elsewhere in college hockey.
"The resources here are crazy, and we're trying to teach them to be grateful for everything they have," Kampersal said.
Kampersal also wants to reinvent the culture at Penn State, bringing his own blue collar mindset over from his experience at Princeton.
The Nittany Lions have set their goals high, shooting for a CHA championship this season, and they all know that starts with a strong showing in the opening weeks against this tricky non-conference slate.
Turning the corner for a program starts in practice, where Penn State has been working hard in a couple areas to make sure its firing on all cylinders this weekend.
"It starts with work ethic, we've been skating hard in practice all offseason," senior forward Aly Hardy said.
"Our passing game has definitely improved for sure. If someone makes a mistake, we're not going to make it again," Crow said. "We see it, we understand it, we fix it."
Puck drop on Friday is scheduled at 8 p.m. in Duluth. Saturday's game will begin at 4 p.m. The home slate begins next weekend with a visit from Union.
By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This cross country season marks year four for senior Jillian Hunsberger's Penn State journey, and she is ready to go out with a bang.
While most runners start their career young, Hunsberger hasn't always been this involved in running. She actually didn't have much interest in the sport until her high school years.
"I started doing road races in middle school, but just really sporadically. I wouldn't train for them; my mom would just sign me up and I would go off and do it," said Hunsberger. "I didn't really start taking running seriously until about my sophomore year of high school, and I really only started running because my brother had done it in high school."
Her love for the sport started to develop throughout the rest of her high school years, and then she made the decision to continue her running in college. For many athletes, looking to further their athletic career in colleg and picking the right place to attend is tough. For Hunsberger, the academic factor played a critical role in this decision.
"I like the mix of athletics with academics. I didn't want to go somewhere where they just focused on athletics, but I also didn't want to go somewhere where the academics were the main point and there'd be no chance to further my career as a runner," she said. "I thought that Penn State would provide an opportunity for me to excel in both areas."
While a lot of people find running an easy few miles relaxing and fun, Hunsberger loves the aspect behind how running is very straightforward when analyzing competition and who excels more.
"My favorite part of running is the fact that you can't argue who's faster or who's better. There's times, there's places, it's very cut and dry," said Hunsberger. "I feel like with sports like soccer and football, you can argue who has better stats, who plays better. With running, you're all on the same course, you're all on the same track, and it's whoever is better that day."
Penn State has brought Hunsberger with this aspect of running and an amazing team surrounding her. She knows that her accomplishments couldn't have been done without them.
"A lot of the decisions I make with winning has to do with the team especially in cross country where you really want to focus on getting a solid core group of scores where everybody's coming along together. I definitely wouldn't run if I had to run by myself every day," said Hunsberger. "Running's about scoring and achieving goals and competing and the end results. Being a part of a team, that all is part of it. It's getting the team to that spot."
Penn State has also brought her memories that will stay with her for long after her running career.
"My favorite memory would definitely be winning Big Tens both times in cross and then in indoor. The whole purpose of the sport is to win, you always want to win. Both times, I feel like we were the underdogs and we weren't necessarily supposed to win, but we did. It's an amazing atmosphere to be around."
Head Coach John Gondak has always known Hunsberger would be a great asset to team from beginning. He knows her leadership will lead the team to do great things during her last cross country season here at Penn State.
"Jill has had an amazing impact with Penn State cross country from when she first came into the program as a freshman. She is very passionate about her running. She's very knowledgeable about her own personal training and what her limits are. She's battled through some injuries early on in her career that has made her a better and stronger athlete through her junior and senior season. She's somebody we've been incredibly thrilled to have in the program the last four years," said Gondak. "She was All-Big Ten and All-American last year, that's kind of being the best of the best. So, hopefully she'll just continue to improve and work to place higher at the Big Ten and NCAA Championships than last year, just want her to continue to be the best that she can be."
To end her final cross country season, Hunsberger wants the team to continue doing well at the conference level, but more importantly, wants to see a step up at the national level.
"I would really like us to win Big Tens, that's always the goal. To me, that's a lesser goal than nationals, I've always personally wanted to focus more on nationals. It's a bigger stage and better place to gauge where the program is. We're still pretty early in the season, but I think we can definitely do better than what we did last year. I would like to see us top ten," said Hunsberger.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Joe Moorhead took time for this week's assistant coaches conference call to talk Nittany Lion football during Indiana week.
Catch up on the Q&A session with a few highlights.
The Best is Still Ahead
When asked how close the Nittany Lion offense is to reaching its full potential, Moorhead noted that although Penn State's offensive may be putting up impressive numbers, the best is still yet to come.
"I think, you know, the old saying that no one rises to low expectations - every time that we take the field our expectation level when a possession begins, it's going to end with a touchdown," Moorhead said. "To this point in the season, we are averaging 40, close to 500 yards of total offense, but I do think that we have more in us. I do think we have to continue to improve on a weekly basis with our preparation, our play calling and our execution, but I definitely think that our best football is still ahead of us."
Barkley Shining Bright
For Moorhead, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley has reached a point where there isn't much left in terms of surprise when it comes to his incredible play-making ability.
"I don't think that anything the kid does can surprise you anymore," Moorhead said. "I think the Iowa game was a microcosm of the kid's skillset. 350-plus all-purpose yards, he did it on the ground, did it catching the ball, did a very good job in pass protection. I don't get to see every player in the country on a weekly basis but if there's a better one, I'd be hard pressed to believe it. The kid has just done a fantastic job in his role, he has been a great teammate, a great leader and obviously when you have arguably the best player in the country on your team, you look to find ways to scheme to get him the ball because he's a game changer."
When asked about what he believes is the next step for tight end Mike Gesicki, Moorhead was pleased with the progress the Preseason AP All-American has made, only building off of a solid 2016 season this year.
"I think Mike has done a fantastic job in the pass game building off of the things that he did last year," Moorhead said. "It's great to have a target like Mike up the field, particularly in the red zone where he can create matchup problems. The things that Mike identified coming into the season as areas he wanted to improve, his blocking and his ability to run after the catch, are two things that I think he has done a very good job of thus far and he's certainly a guy like Saquon [Barkley], like the receiving guys, like Trace [McSorley], he's a guy who can really break open the game and help us continue with our explosiveness."
Creating Situations for
Moorhead was asked just how much goes into play calling when it comes to a decision to go with a tried and true call or opt for a call that might help the Nittany Lions get better in an area of weakness.
don't think we're going to try to do things - to major in the minors, we're not
going to do things that we're not particularly good at," Moorhead said. "We're
really going to try to put a game plan together that, I mean it sounds cliché,
that maximizes our strengths and minimizes our weaknesses and in those
situations where we need to be a little bit better running between the tackles,
I think we're fifth or sixth right now in the country in yards per carry right
now and Saquon averages a first down essentially every time he touches the
ball. It's really just a matter of trying to create an advantageous situation
either by numbers in the run game or matchups in the pass game and putting the
kids in the best situation to be successful."
By Tom Shively,
GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's both a luxury and a mark of program consistency when a loss in September is thought of as a setback. That is the case for Penn State women's volleyball, having experienced its first setback of the season last Friday.
Playing some of their best volleyball of the season leading up to the Nebraska matchup, the Nittany Lions met a worthy adversary in the then-No. 14 Cornhuskers.
Although able to come back the next day and notch a victory against Iowa, the opening weekend of conference play proved the legitimacy and competitiveness of the Big Ten from top to bottom in head coach Russ Rose's eyes.
"I've been saying the same thing for a while about the strength of the Big Ten," Rose said. "Three of the top four teams in the country last week were in the Big Ten, and three of us lost. All of us lost at home to other teams in the conference. It's just a reflection of how good the conference is."
Minnesota and Wisconsin fell as well, both losing at home to Michigan State over the weekend. The Big Ten now has seven teams in the AVCA Top 25 Poll and four ranked in the top 10, the most of any conference.
"I think the conference season is going to be a really interesting and exciting one for the fans and a very challenging one for the schools, and the coaches for sure," Rose said.
As the focus shifts to Illinois and Northwestern this weekend, the Nittany Lions are working hard in practice to strengthen what they felt was exposed last weekend.
Unable to establish the back row consistently, with a couple of critical service errors in key moments, proved out of the ordinary from otherwise strong and steady performances earlier in the year.
"We've been working on serving really aggressively since preseason," senior Haleigh Washington said. "That's something that coach really emphasizes in the Big Ten especially. You need to be a good serve receive team and a good pass team. In the Nebraska game, it really showed that we did not serve aggressively. We weren't serving hard enough to get them out of position for our benefit."
While a loss can certainly be humbling, the Nittany Lions are taking the weekend as an opportunity to succeed in the areas they are working to improve.
"We're just trying to be strong the entire way through," junior Bryanna Weiskircher said. "We weren't ourselves against Nebraska and I'm not really sure why, but there are a lot of doors open now. We really have to work for every game, every match."
The Nittany Lions now have a clear picture of what it will take to win in the Big Ten moving forward.
"Every weekend in the Big Ten, everyone is beating up on each other and it's definitely something where last weekend opened up everyone's eyes as to how competitive this entire season is going to be," Weiskircher said.
Settling into conference play also allows Penn State to gain valuable experience for some of the younger members of the team, competing against some of the top programs in the country every night.
"We're all here for a purpose and we all have a specific mindset and goal - winning a national championship," senior Simone Lee said. "We're making sure us seniors are really helping out the younger girls if they have questions. I think it makes a huge difference in terms of team camaraderie."
Illinois comes to town this weekend with a new look, as former head coach Kevin Hambly took over as head coach at Stanford last offseason. Chris Tamas is now at the helm of the Illini program, in his first year as a head coach. Tamas has experience in the Big Ten as a member of coaching staffs at Nebraska and Minnesota.
Penn State will have a bit of a planning edge, having already seen Illinois earlier this season, although not meeting on the court.
"We saw Illinois play because we were in the same tournament with Stanford and Colorado, and they haven't lost since we saw them play," Rose said. "I think Illinois has the best setter in the conference and is arguably the best blocking team."
Northwestern comes in on a three-game losing streak, but they were competitive in losses to then-No. 13
Purdue and aforementioned Illinois last weekend.
"They had some great wins in the preseason and they have some players on their team that we all recruited and we all know how good they are," Rose said.Penn State looks to return to form as Friday's match begins at 7:30 p.m. in Rec Hall. Saturday's match has been moved back 30 minutes to 7:30 p.m. to accommodate for the home football game against Indiana.
By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's not news that college students have packed schedules, with 15-plus credit hour weeks, extracurricular activities and often internships or part time jobs to balance. To have all of that, plus the responsibilities of a student-athlete on one of the country's top-ranked field hockey teams? That's a whole different story. Just ask junior goalkeeper Colleen Conway.
Conway, a junior from Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, was recruited by Penn State for her impressive skills in front of the net, but says she chose Penn State not only for its athletic program, but for its stellar academic opportunities. Conway now balances the sport she loves, consisting of daily practices, weekends packed with games, flights across the country for away matches and other training time with the demanding course load of a mathematics major.
In addition to a challenging major, Conway was selected to be one of a small group of students accepted into a rigorous and selective finance program, the Wall Street Boot Camp. A training program in Penn State's Smeal College of Business, the exclusive class typically features no more than 40 students.
"The application process was kind of serious, it was like applying to a real job on Wall Street," Conway said. "It took a lot of time and attention and it's a huge deal because I feel like everyone in Smeal wants to be in this class."
Penn State University's Smeal College of Business enrolls an estimated six thousand students, ranked in the Top 20 overall by Bloomberg Businessweek for undergraduate education and eighth among public institutions. Based on enrollment numbers, that means roughly less than three in every five hundred students have the privilege of being accepted into the Wall Street Boot Camp training program, which is selected based on a student's academic merit, resume, business etiquette, communication and leadership skills.
The group meets once a week in the Rogers Family Trading Room, an advanced laboratory setting in the business school, created for students ranging from undergraduate to Ph.D. levels of education. The trading center, which was one of the first of its kind to be implemented in the nation at a university, replicates a real world trading experience on Wall Street with advanced software and technology.
"The class teaches us about investment banking, advanced accounting," Conway said. "We learned how to analyze financial statements, trade and invest. It covers all of those huge topics in class."
Held for three hours in the evening once a week, the training program is an accelerated hands-on environment for students to kick-start their understanding of what happens on Wall Street.
"There's not a lot of in-class time, so we have a huge amount of out-of-class preparation," Conway said. "We have group assignments that are very similar to things that are actually done in internships on Wall Street. It's awesome because the teacher's assistants have all had internships on Wall Street and have accepted full time offers upon graduation. The TA's are an open resource for us, people who have been in our shoes and have successfully earned full time offers, which is a pretty big deal."
Most of Conway's out-of-class time is already dedicated to field hockey practices, team bonding sessions, training, injury prevention and of course, mandatory study hours. All of this combined, leaves her with little free time, but she's focused on the big picture.
"I'm currently in the recruiting process for all of the big banks for internships in sales, trading, and investment banking right now," Conway said. "So on top of this class, that's another full-time thing. Just getting interviews lined up and networking."
When asked how she manages to juggle the stress of perfecting her applications and making herself a fitting candidate for internships, Conway admits it's a heavy load.
"It's extremely difficult to make sure I'm doing proper networking and applying to internships, just because field hockey is so important to me, but I want to make sure I'm getting all that too," Conway said. "It's a lot of work to get those internships because they're so competitive."
Although Conway has a sharp mind and is skilled with numbers, she originally thought her undergraduate career would lead her to medical school to pursue a career as a doctor. That changed when she realized her skills and talents in the classroom could be transferrable to other career paths.
Her inspiration? An iconic former Penn State student-athlete.
Former Penn State football quarterback John Shaffer helped guide the Nittany Lions to the 1986 national championship before working on Wall Street for nearly two decades. Most recently, he served as co-head of New York credit sales for Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
"I know his daughter from high school," Conway said. "He was a student-athlete who went to Wall Street through Penn State sports. I think that's where the idea first came from. I went in here and thought I wanted to be a doctor, but seeing another Penn State athlete and how that helped him and how he got to Wall Street, I thought that sounded like something I wanted to do, too."
In addition to being in such a competitive training program, Conway is also one of only two student-athletes enrolled - an impressive accomplishment, especially considering the time commitment needed to balance responsibilities between their sport and academic lives.
"There's one other student-athlete in the class, a girl on the tennis team," Conway said. "So we bond over the class and it's unique to us because we're the only two with our exact experience, both being female student-athletes. Especially being female athletes, we're a huge minority in that sense."Conway has a few more years at Penn State to prepare for her future career, but hopes to use the 500-plus network of Penn State alumni offered to her through the course, in addition to her skill in the field, to secure a job on Wall Street after Penn State.
Cabinda noted that Penn State practices have largely been up tempo in an effort to keep practices tougher than situations presented on game day, especially with Indiana coming Saturday.
"It's hard to simulate it on the scout team so we started today instead of going two minute, we changed the plans up and did a tempo period, offense versus defense and not really the way our tempo is, fast, we have the ability to do that although we don't do that very often," Franklin said. "We did that in practice today against the one defense and against the two, not for very long but just to get a little bit of that before Saturday."
For Cabinda, Penn State's increased speed on defense has certainly made a difference this year.
"It's a lot easier to squeeze the air out of things," Cabinda said. "Nowadays a lot of your runs and plays are to the outside, out to the perimeter and now we have the speed to get out there. A lot offenses aren't really running that up the middle, fullback, a lot of offenses are going away from that. So right now, having the speed that we have and having guys who can cover and also play well in the run game is a huge advantage."
Cabinda's Thoughts on
Like most Nittany Lions, Cabinda is thrilled for the white cleats, just one piece of Saturday's Generations of Greatness uniform.
"I'm happy we're able to do it this year," Cabinda said. "It's a nice switch up. When they first unveiled the uniforms and they had Josh [McPhearson] as the model for it and he came into the team room, I think everybody went crazy it was pretty cool."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was mid-June when Penn State unveiled plans for its Generations of Greatness game, now just a few days from arrival. Highlighted of course by a custom uniform design incorporating select pieces and elements representative of a proud tradition, the throwback transformation doesn't just begin with pulling on new threads.
While the program remains focused on Indiana, there's still a bit of excitement surrounding an entire game dedicated to honoring those who have come before them.
"It's really fun, actually trying on some new uniforms and build something that everyone can enjoy is very exciting and something exciting to see," wide receiver Juwan Johnson said. "I want to see myself in the uniform. It's going to be something different, something new and refreshing for everyone to see."
Early this week, the Nittany Lion equipment staff began the process of swapping out traditional game day uniforms to those with custom elements featuring jerseys with block numbers, white trim on the sleeves and a Nittany Lion shrine icon anchored on the front collar, just to name a few.
Among blue-striped pants, striped socks and glove changes, game day helmets also underwent a transition this week, as equipment staffers unscrewed blue facemasks to replace with gray facemasks, originally worn by the Nittany Lions from 1959-86. Helmets were also carefully numbered, representing an element on display from 1959-61 and later from 1967-74.
Perhaps an element that's most popular among the team though, the white cleats, needed a bit more than week-of transitioning.
"I've never really worn white cleats before, ever," Johnson said. "So I'm actually wearing some white cleats for once and it's kind of fun, it will be interesting to see."
Penn State has actually already tested out its Generations of Greatness cleats, allowing ample time for each Nittany Lion to adjust to a crucial piece of game day gear well in advance.
"It feels really good, we have them on in Sunday practices, trying to break them in and get a feel for them to try to showcase them on Saturday," Johnson said.
As early as last week, Penn State facilities and groundskeepers began the process of switching the end zones at Beaver Stadium to reflect a throwback diamond pattern. Leaving time to old paint to grow out before maintenance, diamond designs appeared on the end zones early this week.
As Penn State assistant marketing athletic director Brad Keen noted on reveal day, going beyond the ultimate throwback uniform means transforming game day into the ultimate throwback game experience.
Behind the scenes, Keen and his staff have been responsible for game day Generations of Greatness elements including everything from scoreboard design and music selection to lining up honorary captains.
"For the playlist, we went through every year from the 1940's, '50s, '60s, '70s and took a look at the top 10 songs from each year," marketing manager PJ Mullen said. "We obviously can't get to every song, but I have all of top songs from each decade in a folder to be able to mix in throughout the game, whether it's during timeouts, transitioning into breaks or other areas like that."
Working alongside venue display partner ANC, Penn State drew inspiration from a variety of throwback looks to craft a unique retro design to illuminate the scoreboards in Beaver Stadium. Now approved and ready to go, standard run throughs on Wednesday and Friday will provide a last look before game day.Outside of the football team, Penn State's cheer and dance teams will don historic uniforms, with the Blue Band set to compliment with music selections spanning the generations.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin took to the podium Tuesday afternoon for his weekly press conference to preview Saturday's upcoming Generations of Greatness game against Indiana. Franklin was joined by wide receiver Juwan Johnson and tight end Mike Gesicki for a pair of media sessions.
With takeaways from last week noted, Franklin mentioned that Penn State's ability to execute in critical situations made all the difference, but they didn't turn out for the better by chance.
"The thing I'm most proud of is situational football which we spent a lot of time on," Franklin said. "Two areas, specifically: The two-minute, the game-winning drive there. That's something we do all the time. As you guys know, we take actual situations in games. So we're going to do that situation again (Wednesday) in practice. Tuesday is just speed-on-speed, seven-on-seven, either normal downs, third down or red zone. So today we will do red zone skelly, ones versus ones. Tomorrow, we'll do the two-minute situation from Saturday because it's such a good two-minute situation, two time-outs, 80 yards to go, those type of things. But that makes me real proud that we work a lot on those things and it worked out."
Amidst the Indiana preparations though, Penn State is also thinking a bit about Generations of Greatness, highlighted by custom throwback jerseys, set to make their debut Saturday.
"I think having this generations of greatness game and honoring the tradition that we have here at Penn State with our uniforms going back to all the different teams and kind of taking a piece of everyone's uniforms and putting it together on Saturday, it's going to be cool," Gesicki said. "I know all the players are looking forward to it, so it's definitely something we're excited about."
On The Quote Board -
- Franklin on balancing Barkley related to what the team needs are week to week.
"You know, I think we all know he's a special player. How we handle him during camp, how we handle him during practice during the week, how we use him during the season, I think we all see he is a special, special talent and an impactful player in so many different ways, more so than I have ever been around. Can't imagine there's a better player in all of college football."
- Gesicki on the progress that Johnson has made since arriving at Penn State.
"He deserves all of the success that he's having, because of all the time that he's put into it. There were times in the summer where I would call Juwan, trying to get food or something at night, and he's in Holuba [Hal] running routes or something like that."
- Johnson on what he remembers about the Saquon Barkley before Penn State.
"He's the same exact person. He's still the same Saquon that I knew when we were at The Opening. He hasn't changed a bit to be honest with you. I'm not saying this because I'm in front of a lot of people. He's the same person. Our relationship has grown. He's become a more mature person, and a better friend. So Saquon, he's awesome."
- Franklin on defensive coordinator Brent Pry
"I sit in the defensive meetings when he addresses the defense and just tremendous leadership and passion for what we do and how we do it. He's a guy that really understands the X's and O's and the schemes and how important they are but also the motivation and the development that also is such an important part of your jobs. He does a great job with his staff, you know, with the defensive staff. There's so much respect for one another and different opinions and perspectives and experiences in there."
- Johnson on the feeling when the extra work pays off
"You just have to invest in yourself honestly. I know sometimes I don't really feel like catching or I just have some extra school work. The school work is going to be there, you have to do it, but I just try to live in the moment and be present at the time."
- Gesicki on Penn State's two tight end set for a few snaps at Iowa
"The one play that we ended up running on that fourth-and-1 play was something that we didn't even practice to be honest with you. He just kind of drew it up right there, literally drew it up on a piece of paper and said: You're going to go here and you're going to go here and this is what you're going to do. That's kind of what you can do when you're Coach Moorhead and you're a football genius."
- Franklin on moving Kevin Givens out to defensive end at Iowa.
"I think that's kind of one of the storylines of the scenes that went into our success in that game is having Kevin rotate and feeling so good about guys like [Tyrell] Chavis and [Robert] Windsor and those guys behind him - that we can take one of those D-tackles and move him out and create a little bit more of experience on the edge and a little bit more size on the edge."
By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming to college is a huge transition for anyone, but for a cross country athlete, it comes with a lot of different challenges in the sport.
For freshman Alison Willingmyre, these challenges of higher mileage, more intense workouts, and competition, were easily overcome with her positive impact on the team so early on in the season.
Willingmyre is a freshman biomedical engineering major from Wernersville, Pa., where she went to Wilson High School. During her time there, she earned multiple accolades along with the 1600m record, so it's no wonder how she is already showing a big impact here at Penn State.
"My parents were always athletes, so I grew up in a family that liked raw sports. So, when I got the opportunity to run in seventh grade, I went for it. My transition from high school to college cross country was actually really good. I was used to the mileage and stuff, so I think that helped a lot," said Willingmyre. "I wasn't necessarily used to the intensity of the workouts or running with girls that were as fast as me, which honestly I think both of that helped just because it challenged me and it's made me better so far."
With running workouts that are more intense than what Willingmyre is used to, she has learned more than she expected she would've, which she knows is the main reason why she's had such a huge impact so early on the cross country season.
"The older girls definitely give me pointers and stuff on my mileage, and my intensity. Just seeing them and seeing what they've accomplished and being able to run with them," said Willingmyre. "I think that in itself pushes me, not necessarily the things that they say, although they are very helpful."
At the first two races of the season, Willingmyre finished fourth on the team at the Dolans Duals and third at the Spiked Shoe Invitational with a debut home course 6k time of 21:33.4.
Her early point scoring on the team is unusual for a freshman, so her impact is felt from the coaches and her teammates.
"Alison has made a great impact on the team. She's come in with a purpose and she executes that purpose at practice and doing so, even as a freshman, shows some great leadership. She's having a lot of fun, so when you combine all of those it makes for a fun start to the season. I'm really impressed with what she's done so far," said head coach John Gondak.
Alison knows that this early start to success on the team won't be the end for her. She wants to continue being a point scorer for the team, and wants to continue improving her running throughout the rest of her years here.
"Just to continue to be a big contributor on the team and to push myself and my times. I mean, it's freshman year so I just really want to improve as a person and a runner," she said mentioning her goals. "I don't really know what exactly to expect, and I think in a way that's good."
Willingmyre will be traveling with the Nittany Lions to their next meet of the season in Stillwater, Oklahoma on Saturday, September 30, 2017.
"I think the first really away meet of the season will be really cool. I've never been to Oklahoma before," said Willingmyre.
"It feels extraordinary," she added. I didn't really expect to have such an impact. I wanted to be a point scorer, and I think just the fact that I am is really special. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season."
By Erin Neri, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Calling Bristol, Pennsylvania home, freshman Evan Barratt will look to make a big impact in his first season with Penn State. The lefty shooter comes in with quite a resume, looking to add quickness and implement a higher level of play on the ice.
For head coach Guy Gadowsky, Barratt brings a big hockey IQ, a unique asset for any incoming Nittany Lion.
"He gets points in so many different ways, he creates offense in so many different ways, just because his mind is so quick" Gadowksy said. "That applies to both sides of the puck."
Barratt fits right into the Nittany Lions' fast paced play that guided them a Big Ten Championship last year. His ability to quickly process on both offense and defenses, only serves to make him a double threat on the ice.
Barratt also brings a lot of international experience with him, including his 2017 IIHF U18 World Championship gold medal, an event he highlighted with a total of seven assists and one goal.
"Anytime you play outside the country it's
definitely a harder type of game," Barratt said. "It has definitely helped me
as a freshman."
Barratt played on both the U17 and U18 U.S. National teams before enrolling at Penn State, as well as the U.S. Junior National Team Development Program in the USHL during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.
Barratt's style of play has already attracted the attention of the Chicago Blackhawks, who drafted him 90th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, but he hasn't let that go to his head.
"Of course it's awesome that it happened to me and I'm so thankful for it," Barratt said. "But I don't put more pressure on myself or anything, I just continue to play."
Now at Penn State, Barratt is preparing for the 2016-17 season just like any other season, working to build strength and add muscle to his frame to play at the next level.
This year, Barratt will face off against one of his teammates from last year in almost every Big Ten competition of the season, something he's excited for, but not taking lightly.
"Every game is going to be fun for me but every game is important, too," Barratt said. "It's going to be a lot of fun battling out there."
Come October 1st in an exhibition against Ottawa, Barratt will experience his first game at home in Pegula, although already having seen a packed arena last year, as well as at last week's NHL preseason game.
Suiting up in the Blue and White is also a bit of a homecoming as the Bucks County native, returns to his home state. Having moved away from home at the age of 16 to Ann Arbor, Michigan for hockey, his family can now come watch him play in front of a rowdy Hockey Valley crowd."How can you not be excited?" Barratt said. "Selling out in 2:12, I mean, you can't, not be excited for that."
PARK, Pa. - Fourth-ranked Penn State football is back from the road, having
weathered its first Big Ten test of the season, now set to return to Beaver
Saturday's matchup against visiting Indiana not only marks the 21st meeting between the two teams, but also a special outing too, as it's also Penn State's Generations of Greatness game. Game day will take on an entirely retro feel, with throwback uniforms on display for one day only.
Penn State debuted its Generations of Greatness game details in mid-June, in the culmination of years of top secret planning and preparation. Elements of the custom uniform design date back as far as the 1940s, encompassing a variety of changes on through 2011.
In keeping with the throwback feel, take a look back at a few final notable performances from Penn State's dramatic road win at Iowa and where a few of those key contributions stack up, Generations of Greatness style.
A White Stripe on the
Penn State head coach James Franklin noted postgame that the defense probably hasn't been given enough credit this year. While the stats might not fully reflect the final score, Penn State limited Iowa to just 82 net rushing yards.
Wearing jersey No. 19 in honor of teammate Torrence Brown, defensive end Shareef Miller wrapped up Wadley for a safety in the second quarter.
"It's an honor for me to wear his number because we're so close," Miller said. "Since I came to Penn State, he took me under his wing and he's like a big brother to me, so it was really good for me to wear that number."
Miller finished tied for second on the team with five tackles, all solo, behind linebacker Jason Cabinda (6). Miller also tied for first on the team with 2.0 tackles for loss.
"Obviously he had a lot of inspiration knowing T [Torrence Brown] wasn't out there, he had a ton of TFLs and I'm really proud of him and the way he's playing right now," Cabinda said.
Alongside Miller and Cabinda, safety Marcus Allen matched Miller with five tackles and two tackles for loss. Allen also added a sack in addition to forcing his fourth career fumble in the third quarter, which corner back Grant Haley then recovered, marking his first career fumble recovery, that set up a Penn State scoring drive resulting in an 8-yard touchdown run from running back Saquon Barkley.
Miller's safety is the second of the season for the Nittany Lions (Marcus Allen vs. Pitt), which marks the first time since 2004 that Penn State has recorded two safeties in a single season.
How does that tie into Generations of Greatness? Although Penn State's uniform had a white stripe on the sleeve several times, it was present from 1992-2011, encompassing the 2004 season of course.
Numbers on the Side of
the Helmet & A Gray Facemask
Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki has continued his steady climb up the Penn State career receiving yards list, with five catches for 25 yards against the Hawkeyes. With 1,066 career receiving yards, Gesicki passed Jimmy Cefalo (1,058; 1974-77), who would have worn a helmet with his number 44 on the side, in addition to a gray facemask.
Gesicki has now totaled at least one grab in each of the last 18 consecutive games, with his final reception coming on a 3-yard catch in the final drive of the game.
Barkley was seemingly unstoppable Saturday, logging a career-high 211 rushing yards in the win, marking his third career 200-yard game. His 211 rushing yards rank tied for 15th in Penn State program history alongside Eric McCoo (vs. Ohio State; 1999), Curtis Enis (vs. Ohio State; 1997) and Lydell Mitchell (at Iowa; 1971), who would have done so in striped socks, worn on game days from 1970-72.
Barkley broke free for a 44-yard run in the third quarter before closing out the Nittany Lion scoring drive with his 8-yard rushing score.
Following a school-record 358 all-purpose yards at Iowa, Barkley is firmly slotted atop the FBS standings averaging 253 all-purpose yards per game headed into the week.
Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As Penn State's Big Ten slate continued in a weekend finale against Michigan, where fans in the stands and scattered outside field were dressed in pink to celebrate a special breast cancer awareness game.
With a fierce start from both teams, the Nittany Lions and Wolverines battled for the ball, with plays across the field and aggressive exchange of possession.
The first half was packed with penalty corners on both sides. Michigan managed to find space for two shots, in addition to the first penalty corner of the game by the seventh minute, but Penn State keeper Jenny Rizzo deflected the ball to reject their attempted shots on goal.
The Nittany Lions bounced back to achieve their own two consecutive penalty corner, after Alexis Horst nearly opened the scoring with a competent shot on goal. Two more shots followed, including one by Katie Dembrowski, who was selected as one of "Char's Stars" for her performance against Northwestern this past Friday. Both shots were denied by the Wolverine goalkeeper.
"I thought that we threw the ball away too much," Dembrowski said. "I thought one thing we did do well was getting the ball out of our backfield, and outletting. It's just that next step of getting it up to the forwards for a goal."
Pressure mounted at the 18th minute, when the Wolverines converted on a play after a penalty corner by Penn State resulted in a turnover. Michigan rushed to the circle, and earned the first goal.
"Michigan came out, and they just wanted it more," head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "We talked about their physicality, they showed determination and when they kept out-cutting us for passes, I knew we were in trouble."
While energy remained high from both teams, the Wolverines took over for the rest of the first half, forcing the Nittany Lions to defend the circle. Michigan slammed their second goal into the back of the cage in the in the 26th minute, making it the first home game where Penn State has trailed at the half.
"I was very disappointed that we didn't show that competitiveness at the start," Morett-Curtiss said. "Michigan did a great job of spreading the field, and we were just slow to recover."
The Nittany Lions returned to the field with their engines fired, and took possession of the ball to send it to the Wolverine circle. Gini Bramley made a beeline for the net, but a locked defense from Michigan wouldn't let up.
Michigan fought back for their ninth and 10th shots on goal in the 45th minute, but Jenny Rizzo, with some help from Cori Conley, denied the opportunity, temporarily sending the ball back to Penn State.
"Our connectedness was off," Morett-Curtiss said. "I was taken back by how many times we turned the ball over. We lacked possession skills."
When Michigan returned to Penn State's circle with 17 minutes left on the clock, Gini Bramley made some swift moves to send the ball to her teammates, setting Maddie Morano up for run down the field and the Nittany Lions' ninth shot on goal. The attempt earned Penn State their fifth penalty corner of the game. As for the Wolverines, they weren't backing down.
Michigan's offense barreled back to Penn State's circle, knocking in a third goal, ticking the time down to 15 minutes. At six minutes left, shots were tied up for both teams, 12-12.
The Nittany Lions gave it their all as time expired, including an impressive save by Jenny Rizzo. The game concluded at 3-0, the Nittany Lions' first loss at their home field and second loss of the season.
"I think we were missing togetherness at the start of the press," Bramley said. "We weren't connected like we usually are. It's something we should work on for next weekend."The Nittany Lions will travel to East Lansing, Michigan to face Michigan State Friday, Sept. 29.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the team plane touched down in Happy Valley in the early morning hours following a gripping beginning to a 2017 Big Ten schedule, an air of excitement and energy was still swirling.
Just hours prior, the Nittany Lions silenced a fervent crowd of nearly 70,000 inside Kinnick Stadium as the final seconds of the game clock ticked toward zero.
With the outcome of the game hinging on one final play, Penn State head coach James Franklin called a timeout on fourth-and-goal to give the staff time to settle on just the right option.
"We felt like with Juwan, we had a height advantage," Franklin said. "We could kind of slip him through the middle of the field. Trace hung in there and Will Fries and our offensive line battled to give us just enough time to get him through there."
With a margin of error reflected in mere inches, Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley found Johnson in exactly the right location for a 7-yard touchdown grab to lock up a 21-19 win.
Making the most of his first career touchdown catch, Johnson moved to the edge of the end zone and paused, or blacked out as he said.
"I kind of dreamt about this," Johnson said. "This is the stuff that you dream about when you're so little and just for it to happen, it's just crazy to dream about and then it's crazy for it to happen in real life. When I caught it, it was just like a dream, I just dozed off, I just blacked out."
Like Johnson also added though, when he came back from his delirious state, what's also crazy to him, is the way in which things line up, or how it just so happened that McSorley found him for the final play.
Johnson's heroics of course wouldn't be possible without McSorley, who embodied every sense of what Franklin calls the gut-it-win against the Hawkeyes.
"I told the guys in the locker room, 'if you look at any really good season, there's always one game where the team has to gut it out and find a way to win, and we were able to do that tonight,'" Franklin said.
While McSorley's 7-yard touchdown pass to Johnson will certainly loop on repeat for the most passionate of Nittany Lion fans, it wasn't the only heart-stopping situation where McSorley's performed. Sure, we saw it last year, even a bit earlier this year, but an even closer look is only few snaps prior to the end of Penn State's game-winning 12 play, 80-yard scoring drive in the final 1:42.
"He's amazing," Johnson said postgame about the certain special something that McSorley had. "He's literally magic. I don't know how he does it and I don't know how even Saquon [Barkley] does it but they make it happen and I'm just glad they're on our team."
McSorley found Johnson two times before the game-winner for catches of at least 12 yards, including an 18-yard grab to bring the Nittany Lions to the Iowa 24-yard line.
Helped out by an 8-yard run from running back Saquon Barkley, on third-and-10, Penn State called its first timeout of the drive with :58 on the clock staring down a fourth-and-2 situation.
"Two minutes, two timeouts, let's get it in the end zone," Barkley said, recounting what was streaming through his mind headed into the final drive.
Barkley later followed Johnson's 18-yard catch with a 14-yard grab and go from McSorley to set up first-and-goal at the Iowa 10-yard line.
Barkley of course, had been on all night, hurdling his way to a school-record 385 all-purpose yards, including his third career 200-yard rushing performance, that also saw him reach the 3,000 career rushing yards plateau as the seventh Nittany Lion in program history to achieve the milestone.
"The dude never ceases to surprise you with what he can do," McSorley said looking back on what he saw from Barkley in the win.
To circle back to Johnson though, perhaps things might not have lined up just as they did, if McSorley didn't come out of the break to find wide receiver Saeed Blacknall for a 6-yard catch, his only reception of the day and the one that gave the Nittany Lions a fresh set of downs to bring it home.
QB McSorley, WR Johnson
By Will Desautelle, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a large, white out crowd packed into Rec Hall Friday night and a lot of momentum coming in, the No. 2 Nittany Lions seemed poised to extend their 10-match winning streak.
Instead, Penn State fell in its first loss of the season as Nebraska emerged with a straight set win (26-24, 25-19, 25-20).
"Obviously I didn't do a very good job of preparing the team to play." Rose said. "I'm very disappointed in our effort. I thought the crowd was better than the team tonight, and I apologize for that."
The Cornhuskers forced the Nittany Lions to play out of system frequently, making it difficult for Penn State to establish any hitters other than Simone Lee.
"Our back row play wasn't very good. They served Simone and Ali [Frantti] and they didn't have the ability to pass well enough for us to run middles to do what we want to do." Rose said.
Lee finished with 15 kills and hit .333 for the match, as the only Nittany Lion to finish with double-digit kills.
In three games in the Penn State Classic last weekend, efficiency from the three middles, Haleigh Washington, Tori Gorrell, and Heidi Thelen, was the biggest storyline. On Friday, the trio combined for just nine kills and hit only .333 as a group, after hitting over .700 in last weekend's tournament.
The Cornhuskers actually made four more hitting errors in the match than the Nittany Lions, but they also posted 21 more kills. Much of that had to do with how well their serve-receive game was and their ability find holes in the Penn State defense when playing out of system.
"I don't think any of our servers put any undue pressure on them and I thought they won the battles at the setter and libero positions." Rose said. "They hit the ball tactically and put the ball in positions where I would have thought we would have made better adjustments.
Rose also pointed to the fact that the three key Nebraska seniors outplayed the Nittany Lion upperclassmen.
Nebraska setter Kelly Hunter finished with six kills (.625 hitting percentage) and dished out 39 assists, while outside hitters Annika Albrecht (.400 hitting percentage) and Briana Holman (.750 hitting percentage) added 19 and 13 kills, respectively.
"I don't think we coached very well," Rose said. "I thought we had a good game plan, but we didn't execute at all, but it's a long season and there's still 19 more Big Ten matches."
The Nittany Lions will have a quick turnaround, hosting the Iowa Hawkeyes at 4 p.m. Saturday to finish the opening weekend of Big Ten play.Penn State is one of the most experienced teams in the country, and a lot of times that veteran leadership comes in handy after a loss like this one. Saturday's matchup presents an opportunity to show just how resilient this experienced group can be.
By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The first day of autumn brought a warm evening for the Nittany Lions, who squared up to the Northwestern Wildcats for their second Big Ten contest of the season.
The pressure of Big Ten competition could be felt.
Since 1992, Penn State leads the all-time series 29-6-1 with Northwestern. Last season, they fell to the Wildcats 5-3. Combined with the first Nittany Lion loss of the season in the most recent game against Delaware, motivation was all they needed.
Both teams jolted forward with energy at the start of the half, but Penn State exceeded in force, a positive change of pace from the trend of second-half dominance seen from the Nittany Lions so far this season. It didn't take long for Penn State's possession of the ball to reward forward Shay Cannon with the first goal of the night just before the five-minute mark, followed by two shots on goal off penalty corners all in less than 10 minutes.
By the 20th minute, Penn State's forward line continued to keep the momentum going, converting passes into plays and shots at the net. The Nittany Lions attempted a total of seven shots on the goal, including two apiece from Aurelia Meijer and Cassie Kline, all denied by Northwestern's goalkeeper.
"We kept the goals for the game today very simple," Morett-Curtiss said. "Possession, individual defense and finishing in the circle. Again, we had so many chances in the circle in the first half that, just like our Delaware game, just weren't coming through."
The Wildcats converted on a play off of a penalty corner, finding space for their first goal at the 29th minute of the first half. The Nittany Lions made an effort to bring the ball back to the hands of their offense, but fell short of chances as the whistle blew to signal the end of the first half. The half wrapped up at 1-1, with both teams also tied in penalty corners and saves by goalkeepers.
"We know that after we score, they're going to come out strong in the next few minutes," Cannon said. "So we know that we have to stay strong and play smart. Sometimes they get down the field, but we're a strong outletting team, we know we can come out with it."
The Nittany Lions took no time bouncing back when the second half kicked off. In the first five minutes of the half, Penn State earned a quick penalty corner, where Cori Conley used her speed and handled the ball to set up forward Moira Putsch for a strike at the goal to bring the score to 2-1. The Nittany Lions earned two more penalty corners, where one shot opportunity was deflected by the Wildcat keeper.
"We worked on penalty corners and we put Cori up on the line today," Morett-Curtiss said. "Moira [Putsch] has really just been getting her stick in there and does a great job in front of the goal."
Penn State, with heads held high, held the advantage, sending Bes Bovelander an assist as Aurelia Meijer slammed the ball into the back of the cage. The Nittany Lions were dominant at 3-1, with 20 minutes left in the match, and kept the engine going on Northwestern's side of the field.
"The energy was really contagious," Putsch said. "A little frantic at times, I think there's some things we can still work on, but I think it was really exciting for us to get the win out of it.
Northwestern was able to come back and pressure Penn State's defense, locking another goal onto the scoreboard for the Wildcats. The Nittany Lions attempted to battle back when their next attempted goal was disallowed, and Northwestern took possession for the goal to tie the score, 3-3.
"We know Northwestern never gives up," Morett-Curtiss said. "They're very competitive and well-coached, they just keep coming back with more."
With three minutes remaining and a tied score, the pressure was mounting, and Penn State is known for doing well under pressure. The Nittany Lions remained composed, when Putsch converted a penalty corner to a fourth goal with just over a minute left, ending the game with another win for Penn State.
"I thought the energy was very good today," Morett-Curtiss said. "Gini [Bramley], Moira [Putsch], Shay [Cannon], everyone went in and had good energy. We had a good week of practice, got our legs back under us, and I think hopefully we'll be good for Sunday."Penn State will welcome the Michigan Wolverines to the Field Hockey Complex Sunday, Sept. 24.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fourth-ranked Penn State (3-0, 0-0 B1G) hits the road for the first time this year, traveling to Iowa (3-0, 0-0 B1G) to open its 25th season of Big Ten football Saturday.
Traveling to Iowa City for the first time since 2012, the Nittany Lions head into unfamiliar territory in a second consecutive outing under the lights, with kick off slated for 7:30 p.m. inside Kinnick Stadium.
Penn State punctuated its nonconference slate with its second shutout of the season last week, taking down Georgia State 56-0 to mark the first time the Nittany Lions have registered a pair of shutouts in a single season since 2007.
Running back Saquon Barkley continued to impress, totaling 142 receiving yards against the Panthers, including an 85-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Trace McSorley. With the second-most receiving yards by a running back in a game Penn State history, Barkley etched his name into the record books with 804 career receiving yards.
From defense to special teams, the Nittany Lions have continued to execute in all three phases. Having surrendered just 14 points to date, Penn State enters the weekend with a 19-1 touchdowns scored to touchdowns allowed ratio.
"On special teams, I just think we have been fantastic," Franklin said. "Our coverage units and our drive start differential from our offense compared to our opponent's offense has been a dramatic factor in games. Pleased with what's going on."
Turning the focus toward the Hawkeyes, the Nittany Lions are focused on the imminent challenge.
"That place is going to be rocking Saturday night," Franklin said. "Their sidelines are very tight. Their fans are going to be right up against you. We want to get our players prepared for that.
We've got to get ready for the noise."
Outside of an unknown atmosphere, Penn State isn't overlooking history either.
"Coach Ferentz, during his tenure, has one of the more consistent teams in all of college football," Franklin said. "You look at what they have been able to do not only against Penn State in our last 10 games but also against ranked opponents. You're talking about a blue-collar team that takes a lot of pride in their fundamentals, their techniques, being sound and playing hard. Really, in some ways, similar to our history and our traditions."
What to Watch For - Penn State
1. Barkley Nearing
Seemingly every week Barkley's name has been found in the same sentence as the phrase, record breaking. Following a career-high performance against Georgia State, Barkley is now 196 yards shy of 1,000 career receiving yards and just 121 yards from eclipsing 3,000 career rushing yards. Should he reach both marks, Barkley would be the first Nittany Lion in program history with the pair of milestones. Earlier this week, Ferentz noted he was well aware of just how many different types of challenges containing Barkley would present.
"They use him in a multitude of ways," Ferentz said. "He's very, very tough to contain, run or pass. We're going to have to really work at it, and it's going to take a great team effort to get that done. He's one of several guys that you have to really be concerned about. They've got good balance."
2. McSorley Still
McSorley enters Saturday's matchup tied for the second-longest active streak in FBS with 18 consecutive touchdown passes, dating back to 2016. With nine touchdown passes on the year, McSorley is ranked second in the Big Ten, having also thrown at least two or more touchdown passes in each of the last six consecutive games.
Ranked third in FBS in turnover margin and second in scoring defense, there's no denying that Penn State's defense is executing at a high level. This week though, Franklin noted that the Nittany Lions are giving up a few too many yards, which could present a real challenge Saturday.
"I think [running the football] is what Iowa prides themselves on and being really physical up front," Franklin said. "Coach Ferentz is one of the more well-respected line coaches in the country from his NFL time, and his teams have always been great up front. It's a little bit different. You're not facing a team that's a spread team or an RPO team. They are more of a traditional offense, like a Michigan, like a Michigan State, like a Stanford. Iowa is going to get up and they are going to line up and they are going to try to pound you from multiple personnel groups."
What to Watch For -
1. Stanley at Quarterback
Leading the Big Ten with 10 touchdown passes on the year is Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley, slotted just ahead of McSorley in the standings. With 10 touchdown passes in the last three games, Stanley's streak is the best 3-game stretch for the Hawkeyes since 1987.
2. Leader of the
Both Franklin and special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff noted that Iowa middle linebacker Josey Jewell is the commanding leader and presence among the Hawkeye defense.
"He has a knack for seeing things before they happen, he has a knack for being in the right place," Huff said. "Obviously, he has played a lot of football in this league and the things that you see on film, you can see his veteran prowess kind of take over in games."
With a team-high 28 tackles on the year, the AP Preseason First Team All-American ranks third in the conference, having previously led Iowa in the category in each of the last two consecutive seasons. Jewell also leads the Hawkeyes with two sacks on the year, slotted second on the team with 2.5 tackles for loss.
3. A Potential Game-Wrecker
Earlier this week, Franklin named senior running back Akrum Wadley as one of the better running backs in the country. Although Wadley and running back James Butler both left the game early in Iowa's most recent outing against North Texas, there's no doubting Wadley's impact in particular. With 258 rushing yards and an average of 4.3 yards per carry in 2017, Wadley is coming off of a 1,000-yard rushing season in 2016, with 2,021 career rushing yards to date.
The Final Word -
Penn State heads to Iowa set to play its second consecutive night game since 2014. Under Ferentz's direction, Iowa owns a 9-3 record under the lights at Kinnick Stadium. Among the three losses in the record though, the Nittany Lions are the most recent team to come away with a win, having topped the Hawkeyes, 38-14, at night in 2012.
Aside from the night games though, the Hawkeyes also enter Saturday's matchup with wins in three consecutive home outings against top five teams.
"You think about last year and after they came and played here, the next week was a night game," Franklin said. "I remember watching it last year and they upset over Michigan, who I think was No. 5 at that point. It's going to be a tremendous challenge, there's no doubt about it, and we're looking forward to it."
Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Having just one goalkeeper on the roster who can be trusted to make all the saves and police the defense to where it needs to be is rare, but having two is an absolute luxury very few teams enjoy.
Penn State happens to be one of those teams.
Starting goalie Rose Chandler and backup Amanda Dennis combine for what could be considered the best one-two punch in all of college soccer.
"I would argue we've got the two best goalkeepers in the country," said head coach Erica Dambach. "They are the classic definition of iron sharpens iron. They make each other better every day. They can both go as far as they dream about in this game because I cannot imagine a better collegiate training environment than the one they're in."
Chandler, a redshirt junior, jumped into the starting role this season after taking last year off to play with the United States U-20 Women's National Team at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. It's her first year carrying the duties of an every day starter, and she's performed at a high level so far.
She owns a 6-2 record this year and a 1.02 goals against average. She has also notched two shutouts so far.
Originally from Atlanta, Ga., Chandler said she never seriously thought about Penn State until she was recruited and made her first visit to State College, but she was instantly hooked afterward.
"I thought that I wanted to play ACC soccer, but it took one visit and I fell in love and I knew that I definitely wanted to be a Nittany Lion," Chandler said.
Chandler has improved steadily each year since stepping foot on campus due to U.S. National Team experience, the mentorship of Britt Eckerstrom in 2015, and the help of goalkeeper coach Tim Wassell.
"It's been incredible to watch Rose's growth, and I think it's such a testament to the environment that [the goalies] intentionally shape on a daily basis," Wassell said. "I'm the luckiest guy in the world to get to share my days with those guys and to see them go chase excellence is fantastic."
Wassell also said the tandem is the best one-two punch he's coached in his eight seasons as a Penn State assistant coach.
Chandler may be the starter, but Dennis is not your normal backup.
She came to Penn State last year as the No. 2 ranked goalkeeper in the country and started all 21 matches as a freshman. Dennis also boasts U.S. National Team experience. She has been a member of the U-14, U-15, U-17, U-18 and U-20 teams in the past.
Dennis recorded seven solo shutouts and ended the 2016 season with a 0.92 goals against average. She was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team last year, but she had to take a backseat to Chandler in 2017. Instead of getting down about the demotion, Dennis has embraced the opportunity to improve her skills and push Chandler to get better as well.
"We both want to just make each other better, so at the end of the day if she's in the goal and she's making great saves and we're winning--whenever she makes a save it almost feels like I'm making a save," Dennis said. "It's a fantastic thing to see Rose doing so great."
Dennis has subbed in for only one match so far this season, but coach Dambach said there's no drop in talent when she goes to the bench for her backup keeper.
"I've got 100 percent confidence in Amanda," Dambach said. "She proved herself last year. She proves herself in training every day, and most importantly she continues to invest in her teammates."
What makes the dynamic duo of Chandler and Dennis so special is their competitiveness on the training field in practice. Since they're so close in skill level, they're always pushing each other and trying to one-up each other in drills.
"The growth that they're bringing out of each other in the last six weeks has been unreal, some of the stuff they pull off in training," said Wassell. "This iron sharpens iron is so cool to watch, and I think it's translated into games. It's been awesome to see."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff joined this week's assistant coaches conference call to talk Penn State football during Iowa week.
Catch up on a few notes from the media session and listen in on the call.
On running back Saquon
For Huff, when it comes to individual honors, awards and watch lists for Barkley, there's certainly, but it's not exactly those types of recognition that are the most rewarding.
"I think it's more pride in the work that he has put in this offseason," Huff said. "He worked his tail off this offseason, as all of the guys have, but he took it as a kind of personal goal to work harder than he ever has on and off the field, in the classroom, in the weight room, on the field doing drills and those things. The pride comes when you see a young man put in the work and you see him reap the awards from the things he sowed this offseason."
Owning a Spot on
Huff echoed Franklin's previous point that he and the staff had challenged the Nittany Lions, starters in particular, to own a spot on special teams. While Huff certainly detailed the process with Barkley on kick returns, he also noted that Barkley wasn't the only starter reaching out to secure a special teams spot.
"Jason Cabinda is another young man who people may not see because he doesn't touch the ball, but he asked as well," Huff said. "He said, hey coach I want to be on kick return. Actually, in the Georgia State game, we were going to replace him with another young man, just giving guys opportunities and he came to practice on a Wednesday and said, coach I am starting on kick return. When you get that type of buy in and guys want to be a part of it, I think it says a lot about your program, it says a lot about your leadership from the top down."
On Iowa's Josey Jewell
With the road trip to Iowa drawing closer, Huff was asked if Hawkeye linebacker Josey Jewell compared to any NFL or collegiate player.
"The guy that he reminds me of, and I'm not comparing the two from a physical attribute perspective, I'm comparing them from a leadership, awareness, efficiency in movements, a complete understanding of the game and the defensive scheme, is a guy like Mike Hull when we first got here," Huff said. "Obviously I think they are two different type players, but Mike Hull had an unbelievable ability to see things happen before they did. He was an unbelievable leader, he understood the defense and that's kind of what I see in him [Jewell]. He's kind of their leader, he has a knack for seeing things before they happen, he has a knack for being in the right place. Obviously, he has played a lot of football in this league and the things that you see on film, you can see his veteran prowess kind of take over in games."
Update on Journey Brown
Huff noted that true freshman running back Journey Brown has made huge strides since he first arrived on campus.
"When he first got here, you were kind of like okay, he's a track guy, he's fast, but he has a ways to go with football and now you're starting to see things from a football perspective that make you say okay, this kid has a chance to be really good," Huff said. "Now with that being said, he probably had the widest gap to close than some of the other guys, he was a little raw when we recruited him, just because he was a multi-sport athlete, he played basketball, he played track, he played football so there was never really time that he devoted to develop as a football player, he was constantly developing as an athlete."
By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nearly halfway through the season, the Nittany Lions are slotted No. 3 in the latest NFHCA Coaches Poll, with a 7-1 record on the year.
A valuable asset on Penn State's side is its offensive attack, something the Nittany Lions are well-known for, in both conference and nonconference games. Any fan in the stands can see it, as Penn State takes the field in shape, fit, confident and fierce. High-intensity play and stamina is a crucial component of their training, thanks to head coach Char Morett-Curtiss.
"What I've seen since preseason is our ability to play the play up out of backfield," Morett-Curtiss said. "With the midfielders using each other a little bit more, we've been really good about getting numbers up against our opponents, and executing some counter-attacks."
With some challenging matches
ahead, and a heavy Big Ten conference slate, taking place mostly on the road,
Morett-Curtiss aims for strong cohesion on the attack, and she's pleased to
have seen the team's cohesion elevate.
"Our focus is working on our connectedness and really just playing our passing game," Morett-Curtiss said. "We did a really nice job with that against Iowa, so just keeping the composure and knowing we want to put a priority on the possession."
Penn State's momentum has continued to crank up notch with every game, with an impressive uptick in penalty corners and goals. Between a strong forward line and a resilient defense, Penn State has put its opponents defensive lines to the test, exceeding their contenders in shots on goal in nearly every match, in addition to registering shutouts in four of seven games.
It's hard for Penn State's line of attack to lack that high momentum with a roster composed of explosive offensive players, including Aurelia Meijer, Gini Bramley, Maddie Morano, Katie Dembrowski, and Moira Putsch, who currently leads the team with six goals and seven assists on the year.
While there's no doubt to the fans in the stands that the Nittany Lions have a certain spirit about them, what's truly admirable is Penn State's growing connectivity on and off the field. Junior Katie Dembrowski, who didn't back down her aggressive playing style during a tough game against Delaware, owes her successes in the circle to her fellow teammates.
"Something pushing us through the season is definitely our connectedness," Dembrowski said. "We're all really close, and I think that shows on the field. We're all there to support each other, both passing and vocally."
The Nittany Lions have been keen with striking on penalty corner opportunities this season, an important element of pressing on goal for Morett-Curtiss.
"We want to have our forwards more engaged with opportunities when the backs can get them the ball," Morett-Curtiss said. "We're hoping for more penalty corners."
On the offensive line, Dembrowski has been a key player in slamming shots at the goal and finding openings, currently tied for second on the team with five goals alongside Bramley.
"We've also been really good at drawing corners, which is how we've been getting some great shot opportunities," Dembrowski said. "We had really good ball movement coming up the field, so we've been able to find those openings by getting the ball up quickly and once you get the ball in the circle, taking a shot."
With two home games approaching, and the remainder of the season predominantly on the road, the Nittany Lions have nowhere to go but up with their tempo on the attack. The competition is only getting tighter, with conference teams already vying for a Big Ten title ahead of the Big Ten Tournament.
"We really need to get Gini [Bramley] involved in the attack, she's been nursing an injury, and she's healthy now," Morett-Curtiss said. "What we've talked to the forwards about is really being ready for shots, and being ready for rebounds. Not waiting for the perfect shot, get the ball in the back of the cage."The Nittany Lions host Northwestern Friday, Sept. 22, at 5 p.m. before closing out the weekend hosting Michigan at noon Sunday, Sept. 24 at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.
By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions (1-3-2, 0-2-0 B1G) secured their second win of the season in a team effort against the Detroit Mercy Titans (4-1-1, 1-1-0 Horizon). The Blue and White's offense woke up under the lights of Jeffrey Field as they took home the win with a 2-goal shutout.
"Well you know if you just keep fighting and fighting and fighting and keep doing the right things, things are going to get better for you," said head coach Bob Warming. "Its been the theme of our team we've been fighting, we've been trying and trying and trying but haven't been getting results so the guys feel really good about tonight."
Supporting head coach Bob Warming's emphasis on team support and unity heading into Wednesday night's match, Jeffrey Field was a carousel of new starters, faces, and substitutes as the Blue and White banded together for a much needed win.
"They are a team which means that it is one of the last times in your life that you are actually going to have a group of people that support you," said Warming. "So the great thing about team sports is that you have a group of guys who all have the same mission as you. They all want to do well, they are going to help you and support you to do better."
Defender Mitchel Bringolf and forward Mac Curran embodied the team's sense of togetherness as they stepped up to find the net and lead the Nittany Lions to victory.
"The team effort was amazing," said Curran. "As a team we played unbelievable. On the sideline everyone was helping out keeping the energy up so it was a great team effort tonight."
Bringolf's second half goal came during the 51st minute when he connected for a rip to the lower right of the net.
"So I went back post to get away from it and then I kind of lost my man and ran first post and then the ball kind of just fell in front of me," said Bringolf. "I don't even know how it got there I think the other team hit it there and I just open net tapped it in."
Curran's goal was the icing on Bringolf's game winning cake. During the 69th minute, the forward laid a bullet into the middle of the net from the top of the box.
"It was amazing," said Curran. "I've been working so hard and these guys pushed me every single day and just to finally get one and to get my name up there, so it just felt really good."
Although team efforts are not unfamiliar to Curran and Bringolf, their goals were season and career firsts. Bringolf's game-clincher was the first of his career dawning the Blue and White, while Curran's connection with ball and net was his first since his freshman year campaign.
"It is Mitch's first goal ever like ever," said Warming. "The guy is a team favorite and then he gets a great goal...for us; right place at the right time. "Everybody was really happy because it was an amazing event for him. It was the game winner."
Although Bringolf was relatively new to the scoring spotlight, he knew exactly who he wanted to celebrate with under the lights of Jeffrey Field: the rest of the Penn State men's soccer team.
"I was lost to be honest," said Bringolf. "I'm not used to it. I just ran around and found a group of guys and ran towards them."
While the Blue and White struggled through their early season campaign, they found belief, unity, and strength through the brothers standing on the same side of the pitch dawning the Blue and White and Penn State pride.
"Tonight was family," said Curran. "We felt like we lacked that the last couple of games...and tonight was just unbelievable. Everybody's heads were up, everyone was standing more straight up, everyone was just playing for each other like a family."
"They are all leaders in their own way and I mean that 100 percent," said Warming before Wednesday night's victory. "They all have something they contribute to the team. They are just so bright and there are so many good personalities on this team."
As they hope to capitalize on their growing bond and maintain their momentum, the Penn State Nittany Lions head on the road for a conference clash against the Wisconsin Badgers on Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. They will remain on the road through Sept. 27 as they bookend their trip against the Temple Owls for an in-state bout.
"We went out there and got it done," said Curran. "We started to play for each other like I said as a family so that's really going to keep us close and fighting for each other...for the guy right next to you."
For more information on Nittany Lion men's soccer, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin met with members of the media Wednesday evening following practice, along with offensive lineman Andrew Nelson.
Full preparation for the upcoming Big Ten opener on the road at Iowa is now underway. The Nittany Lions and the Hawkeyes meet Saturday under the lights in Kinnick Stadium.
Franklin noted earlier this week that the Nittany Lions would be prepping for the atmosphere inside Kinnick Stadium in any way possible, especially when it comes to pumping in crowd noise and even a few unfamiliar fight songs.
"As you can see, we're working in the end zone where the speakers are," Franklin said. "I think it's louder, I know it's louder than what it is in Beaver Stadium so trying to get our guys as prepared as possible, playing the same types of music, all of those things, crowd noises and those types of things. I think we handled it pretty well, but we've also done it from the beginning of camp. We didn't wait, we've been doing this since the beginning of camp."
Per Franklin, just the music alone comes blaring typically around 97-98 decibels, with just crowd noise pumping through the speakers as high as 105 decibels. That's enough to make anyone's head hurt from time to time and Franklin noted that it's certainly not a piece of practice that coaches, staff and players are thrilled about.
"It's one of those things - you don't like conditioning," Franklin said. "You don't like morning workouts but all of these things are important for us to be prepared and be ready to go into these venues."
On The Playlist
Nelson also provided a sneak peek into Penn State's practice playlist. Among the highlight, "Throwback Thursday, Turn up Tuesday and Salsa Saturday." All playlists a pivot from what Nelson said was "all rap," in the past.
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State cruised to a 10-0 mark in nonconference play, including two victories over defending national champion Stanford and seven straight-set wins.
However, that's now in the rearview mirror, as the Nittany Lions shift their focus to Big Ten opponents and taking home a conference championship.
Conference play presents some unique challenges, as the talent level across the league is among the highest in the country. Teams are more familiar with one another, which can lead to more unpredictability night in and night out.
"The Big Ten Conference is filled with great players," head coach Russ Rose said. "Nine of the 14 schools are ranked or receiving votes this week in the coaches' poll, so it's clearly the strongest conference in the country."
Rose also stressed a need for balance in preparing for Big Ten teams based on what has happened in the past while also understanding that turnover from year to year can always be a defining factor.
"Certainly everybody is more familiar with their conference opponents, but every year it's different," Rose said. "Even when you have a majority of your players returning, you'd like to think you are still making change and getting better."
Any team in the Big Ten has the talent to compete with any other team, and the Nittany Lions emphasized the importance of taking the season one game at a time, not focusing too much on the future.
"In the Big Ten, every team is very good, so we have to play every team like it's the national championship match," senior right side hitter Heidi Thelen said. "You have to play hard, grind through it and push every point."
The Nittany Lions open up the conference slate against Nebraska this weekend in a rematch of last year's NCAA Tournament regional semifinal match. The Cornhuskers outlasted Penn State on that night in a five-set thriller on their way to an NCAA regional championship.
While that loss may have ended the season for Penn State, the Nittany Lions are completely focused on the upcoming challenge, understanding that two very different teams will be walking into Rec Hall on Friday night.
Rose touched on the challenge of preparing for a team like Nebraska, noting that so many individuals on the roster can cause damage.
"Once you get into the Big Ten, every team you play is loaded with players that have the ability to go off in a match," Rose said. "That's what makes the conference and all the teams you play so challenging."
Nebraska may have graduated starters from last year's Big Ten championship team, but some key players remain from that squad.
"Nebraska has always been a really good serve and pass team, they have one of the best players in the country in (outside hitter Annika Albrecht), who is a great all-around player," Rose said. "Mikaela Foecke may be the best attacker in the conference. We'll have our hands full with them."
For two of Penn State's freshmen, conference games are a unique opportunity that they have not yet faced.
"With each team, there's a sense of grit," right side hitter Cami May said. "Whether it's home or away, there's so much energy in the gyms."
Excited for the challenge and the intensity of each atmosphere, just last week May and outside hitter Michaela Putnicki experienced a sneak peek into what playing at Rec Hall is like. For both, the sense of community and pride that comes with playing for Penn State was among a top takeaway.
"All the fans are super crazy, they just love Penn State and are all about it," Putnicki said. "You can tell at our games everyone is excited to be there."
The early conference schedule is kind to the Nittany Lions, as their first four matches this weekend and next, come at Rec Hall.
"It's going to be awesome starting off at home, we have all our fans, the boosters, the band, all there supporting us," Thelen said.
No. 2 Penn State welcomes No. 14 Nebraska Friday at 8 p.m. to kick off the Big Ten slate before hosting Iowa Saturday at 4 p.m. in Rec Hall.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When sophomore cornerback Zech McPhearson committed to Penn State, his mother, Kim, cried.
It was April 18, 2015 and McPhearson and his parents were in Happy Valley visiting older brother, Josh, then a sophomore on the team, for Penn State's annual Blue-White game in Beaver Stadium.
Making his way back to his bedroom that afternoon, Josh paused at the sight of a single tweet appearing on the screen of his phone. Class of 2016 defensive back Zech McPhearson has committed to Penn State.
"I didn't really know for sure what his decision was going to be, but I told him to do his best," Josh said. "It felt good though to know that I was going to be playing with my brother and that he was going to be a part of Penn State Football with me."
are eight children in the McPhearson family.
"Zech is the youngest boy and my mom has seen all her sons go to college, so it was it was a special moment for her, but she cries even when we leave home to come back to Penn State, so I was expecting it," Josh said with a wide smile.
Eldest brother, Gerrick Jr., played football at Maryland and was a 2006 NFL Draft pick in the seventh round by the New York Giants. Then there's Derrick, who played football at Illinois, and next in line is Emmanuel, who played football at New Mexico. Then there's Jeremiah, who played football at Indiana (Pa.), followed by Josh, a now senior running back at Penn State, Matthew, who was drafted in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school in 2013, and then there's Zech. Although Zech is the youngest of seven boys, sister, Kimberly, is the youngest of the eight. She is set to play soccer at the Division I level in January.
For Zech, Penn State had always been a top choice. With a longstanding family relationship dating back to Penn State head coach James Franklin's tenure at Maryland with Gerrick Jr. on the team, even before Josh arrived, Penn State was on his mind.
"My first memory of Coach Franklin, was at a testing day at Maryland when they ran the 40 and I don't remember it clearly, but he remembers it, it was all my brothers, we all hopped out of this Yukon, there were like six of us, and he just started busting up laughing because there was a bunch of us hopping out of the car to go watch my brother run the 40," Zech said.
Despite none of the McPhearson brothers ever playing on the same collegiate football team together, Josh was adamant on letting Zech make his own decision, even though the idea was always something he knew would make his parents, Kim and Gerrick Sr., proud.
"Josh wanted me to explore a little and see other things I liked and I did that, talked to some players at other schools and I just really didn't have the same feel as I had at Penn State," Zech said.
Four years older than Zech, for Josh, there wasn't always time for brotherly bonding growing up.
Per Christmas tradition, when the McPhearson brothers would outfit themselves in plastic helmets and shoulder pads from toy stores with NFL jerseys pulled on over top, Josh recalls Zech watching one of the year's biggest games from the windows, too small to join.
The older McPhearson brothers would let him join in for a backyard outing from time to time, where Josh recalls giving Zech the ball with the whole family cheering as he ran past his brothers with ease.
"We couldn't really tackle him because he was so small, he would cry if we hit him," Josh said with a laugh.
Together, Josh and his other five brothers would often speculate on the type of individual their youngest brother would grow up to be.
"It's really cool to see him in practice sometimes when I'm standing on the field," Josh said. "It's really cool to see his development. Me and my brothers would always ask each other how he would be when he got older because growing up he was spoiled because he was my mom's last boy. It's really cool when you have a family member on the team with you because you can really see where that person was and where they are now, and it's a good feeling."
When Zech arrived on campus he can recall calling Josh often even for the smallest of things. From campus tours and visits to drop off medicine when his youngest brother wasn't feeling well, Josh was also there when times got tough on the field.
"My first training camp, it was tough," Zech said. "One practice, I was not in the mood to go out there. I was really sick, I did not want to go out to practice."
So Josh marched over to Nittany Hall before practice to find Zech in his room.
"He came to talk to me and told me that this is my time, that I have to go out there and prove what I have and it really got me motivated to get up and go out there to practice," Zech said.
For Josh, it's simply what his older brothers had done for him growing up - what family does for each other.
"I had older brothers before me who always set the example for me, so I took it upon myself to be there for him and be able to give him what he needs and give him a helping hand in whatever he needs me to be there for," Josh said.
As Josh recounts, it's his older brothers who taught him to do things the right way the first time, so nobody has to tell you anything.
"I remember my older brother saying those words to me when I was doing dishes, he would tell me to do the right thing so mom and dad don't have to tell you anything," Josh said. "That's what I try to do with Zech, I try to do what's right and lead by example so he won't have any questions to ask, he will just look at my actions and that will be all he really needs."
It's now those actions that define Josh's work ethic, something Zech leans on the most.
"His work ethic is what I try to model my craft after," Zech said. "His work ethic is pretty unbelievable. I'm pretty sure anybody in the program would say that. I feel like that helped me this upcoming camp to really work hard and go get a spot on the depth chart."
While Zech is close with all his brothers, it's Josh who he says is the funniest, the one he goes to when he's in need of a good laugh.
For Josh, his relationship with Zech is different because he's the youngest brother - but also the brother that he says is actually the funniest.
About the same height and only about 15 pounds different in weight, Zech describes himself as a more mellow, laid back guy, unlike Josh of course.
"Josh is always bringing the juice wherever he goes," Zech said. "In the locker room he's always hyped up, always the loud one getting everybody hyped up."
While Josh would agree, he still insists that although Zech is quiet and reserved, he knows truly who his brother is and together, it's the bond they share that's truly unique."It's really special because we came from the same struggle," Josh said. "He knows what our family went through, all of the hard times and the good times and there's a lot joy in knowing that we're at the same place. We put in the same amount of work and same amount of time working on our craft, so it's great to be at the same midpoint in our lives."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin hosted his weekly Tuesday press conference ahead of the Nittany Lion Big Ten opener on the road at Iowa. Linebacker Brandon Smith and wide receiver Brandon Polk joined the weekly availability for a pair of media sessions previewing the upcoming road trip.
Among highlights from last week's final nonconference outing of the season, Franklin noted that quarterback Trace McSorley earned offensive player of the week honors picked by the staff, with Marcus Allen earning defensive player of the week honors and Tyler Davis and Blake Gillikin as special teams picks.
Franklin also noted how impressed he and the staff have been with Polk, who highlighted the 56-0 shutout with is first touchdown catch of the season.
"We are very pleased with his overall development and how he's playing right now - his enthusiasm for his teammates and the effort he's playing with," Franklin said. "If you watched that play with Saquon Barkley, we all know how fast Saquon is. Watch Brandon Polk, he's on the opposite side of the field, he sprints down, catches Saquon and gets in front of a defender, and then goes into the end zone and celebrates, and he's as happy as or happier than Saquon is. I'm very pleased with him."
As Penn State prepares to make its first trip to Iowa since 2012, adjusting to the unfamiliar certainly a priority during the week.
"I'm sure the coaches will have the speakers way up in practice this week for the offense, being able to communicate and make adjustments and things like that with noise," Smith said. "Whether they are really loud or a crowd that isn't that big and isn't that into a game, you know, each can have their own challenges, but we have our standard. We're just going to step up to the challenge and have our own energy, have our own standard, regardless of what the crowd is doing."
On The Quote Board -
- Franklin on Iowa's pink colored visitor locker rooms.
"Obviously one of the kind of cooler, historical things in college football from a tradition standpoint is their pink locker room. I think it's awesome. I'm not going to make a big deal out of it with our guys. I'm actually going to talk to our guys about it being a really, really nice gesture by the University of Iowa to welcome Penn State, since our original school colors are pink and black, and how wonderful it is and what a wonderful gesture it is that they painted their locker room pink for us."
- Smith on his decision to ultimately pursue a career as a doctor.
"I really value people and I value life, and I think I can really be a part of the solution in the health industry. I'm studying health policy and administration now, and just seeing from the other perspective, the administrative perspective, some of the problems our country is facing with healthcare. I think I could be a doctor who is part of the solution to that."
- Polk on the pride he takes in blocking this year.
"I take a lot of pride in that because I know the people out there who are blocking for me, they are going to give everything they can. I don't care - they don't care how big, how small they are. They are going to give everything they can. So for me, even being a smaller guy, I'm going to give everything I can for them. And if I don't give them the best block, then I'm frustrated and mad at myself because I know that if they were put in that situation, they are going to do their best for me."
- Franklin on evaluating his team in different situations, especially related to last Saturday.
"I remember when I was a young coach listening to some old ball coaches who'd been doing it a long time, they said one of the great ways to tell what type of team you have is to watch the fifth or sixth field goal block - or PAT and see if your team still going as hard on the sixth PAT field goal block as they are earlier in the game. That's a great sign of the type of team you have, and I think the same thing shows up on kickoff."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fourth-ranked Penn State Football has turned its complete attention toward the upcoming Big Ten opener. Following a 56-0 shutout against Georgia State, the Nittany Lions are set on Iowa.
Saturday marks Penn State's ninth trip to Iowa City in program history and the first since 2012, when the Nittany Lions captured a 38-14 win on the road. While Penn State has won its last three consecutive meetings against the Hawkeyes, including last year's 41-14 decision at home, Iowa has won four consecutive night games at Kinnick Stadium, in addition to all five of its last Big Ten openers.
Penn State has won two of its three Big Ten openers under the direction of head coach James Franklin, having last opened its conference slate at Iowa in 2010.
Before diving into Iowa week, take a look back at a few remaining Georgia State highlights and how they shaped positioning in this week's NCAA stats release.
Punt Returner DeAndre
Penn State's special teams improvements have been without a doubt exciting to watch. From Saquon Barkley on kick returns to DeAndre Thompkins' resurgence as a punt returner, fans are finding their way to the edge of their seats in anticipation for what either one of these two will do next.
"I couldn't be more pleased," Franklin said postgame. "Obviously having Saquon [Barkley] as a return man on kickoff was a great way to start the game and then obviously, DeAndre [Thompkins] has just been fantastic as a punt returner, even tonight, where their scheme was to use the low angle punt, which are hard to get returns on."
Against Georgia State, Thompkins returned three punts for 44 yards including a 27-yard return in the third quarter. On the year, Thompkins is averaging 20.2 yards per punt return, which ranks seventh in FBS and second in the Big Ten. Bolstered by Thompkins' 202 punt return yards in 2017, Penn State's punt return unit is averaging 17.92 yards, good for ninth in FBS and second in the Big Ten.
Penn State grabbed three interceptions against Georgia State for the first time since notching three at Maryland in 2015. Stretching its streak, Penn State has secured at least one interception in three consecutive games for the first time since the middle of the 2015 season (vs. Maryland; 3, vs. Illinois; 1, at Northwestern; 1).
Ranked fifth in FBS and first in the Big Ten with six interceptions on the year, Grant Haley is leading the way with two on the year. New to the group was senior Marcus Allen and true freshman Tariq Castro-Fields, who both recorded their first career interceptions.
"I feel like it's my birthday," Allen joked postgame. "I've been working on this for a long time. I always try to just be myself and I know that getting interceptions is something that helps my team. That's why I work so hard on it. It's an accomplishment for me and my team."
Penn State utilized opportunities to rotate in a variety of new faces throughout its defense against the Panthers. Among several highlights, defensive end Daniel Joseph tallied his first career tackle, tackle for loss, sack and fumble in his second career appearance on the field.
With at least nine tackles for loss in all three games this year, Penn State has totaled at least 10 tackles for loss in two of its last three outings. Against Georgia State, eight different Nittany Lions notched one tackle for loss with two more registering a half of a tackle for loss. In this week's NCAA stats release, the Nittany Lions remain atop the FBS and conference standings averaging 11.3 tackles for loss per game.
Helped out by the pair of shutouts this year, Penn State's defense is also allowing just 4.7 points on the year, good for second in FBS and tops in the league.
By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions (1-3-2, 0-2-0 B1G) fell to the No. 3 Maryland Terrapins (6-0-1, 2-0-1 B1G), 2-0 in a hard fought defensive battle Sunday night. The Nittany Lions held one of the top ranked teams to a single goal through 88 minutes on the pitch.
"It was a busy night," said goalkeeper Evan Finney. "I really think our defense played really well...we played 89 of the 90 minutes. They got one back at the end but it was you know oh well. I think our defense played extremely well tonight and I think we will use that momentum to go into Wednesday's game against Detroit Mercy."
While the magic of Jeffrey Field and Mack Brady Day were not enough against the conference rival, the Blue and White proved resilient from the top of their attack to the depths of their own box.
"I think our shape overall was very good," said Finney. "I thought countering out we looked pretty dangerous, set pieces we looked way better than them every single time, couple of balls cleared off of the line on corner kicks, free kicks."
Finney led the charge for the Blue and White and Mack Brady as he had three dominant saves on the day.
"We had a remarkable tradition that was unfortunate it that it had to be started but we started it," said head coach Bob Warming. "Every goalkeeper who comes through here this game means so much to them," said head coach Bob Warming. "Evan made some fantastic saves tonight, fantastic saves."
Although the end result favored Maryland, Finney tested the offense that averages 2.17 goals per game. His most momentous save came during the 35th minute of the contest when Maryland's offense delivered a through ball that forced Finney to make a play off of his line and keep the board scoreless.
"I was just trying to stay on my toes and keep out as many as I could," said Finney.
The goalkeeper reflected on the importance of Sunday night's match and dedicated his play to the eight-year-old boy who dedicated his life to soccer.
"It is just a different type of game you know playing for someone else who is not with us anymore," said Finney. "You know it kind of means a lot if Mack were my age today he would love to be standing in my position. I am not only fortunate to play soccer but be at Penn State as well."
With Mack in their thoughts and Detroit Mercy in the foreground, the Blue and White take every loss, win, and tie as a learning opportunity and building block for the rest of the season and future.
"One thing that is always important which is belief you know, but our goal is to keep getting better that's it," said Warming. "We're going to keep getting better. I thought there were moments tonight where even a man down I'm thinking we are going to tie the game down. I think if guys have some belief we will move forward."
As frustrations built between the two conference squads, the man down situation came during the 72nd minute when forward Ethan Beckford secured a red card just as the Terrapins were crossing over the threshold of midfield. Despite playing with only 10 men, the Blue and White rallied to maintain their composure throughout the entirety of Sunday night's showdown.
The Penn State Nittany Lions hope to redeem themselves and continue to build upon their developing foundation this Wednesday night at 7 p.m. against the Detroit Mercy Titans under the lights of Jeffrey Field.
"I think we need to come out with a lot more passion, a lot more energy," said Finney. "Training this week we are going to have to be a little bit more determined...and hopefully we'll come out and get a win on Wednesday for everyone."
For more information on Nittany Lion men's soccer, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.
By Will Desautelle, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Following an impressive 7-0 start on the road to begin the season, Russ Rose and the second-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions returned home to Rec Hall for their first three home games in the Penn State Classic.
The Nittany Lions dominated Yale Friday night for a 3-0 sweep (25-9, 25-21, 25-11), in which the Nittany Lions out-blocked the Bulldogs 13 to 3, hitting .431 for the match.
Penn State returned even more efficient Saturday morning against Wake Forest than in Friday's home opener.
Although somewhat sluggish to start, the Nittany Lions eventually separated for a 25-16 victory in set one, before surging to a 25-11 victory in the next two sets to close out the morning.
The Nittany Lions hit an incredible .500 for the match and recorded 11 blocks and eight service aces.
"I thought we handled the ball pretty well and had good control of our net play," Rose said. "Simone [Lee] had another good match and Haleigh [Washington] continues to score well."
Lee was nearly perfect Saturday morning, putting away 10 kills on 11 attempts. She also chipped in two blocks and five service aces. Ali Frantti added four kills on nine attempts in addition to one block.
Washington proved outstanding at the net as well, posting eight kills on nine attempts, and seven blocks to go along with two service aces. Penn State's other two middles, Heidi Thelen and Tori Gorrell, added four more kills and four blocks.
Rose's use of two setters continues to work effectively for the Nittany Lions, as both Abby Detering and Bryanna Weiskircher have continued to shine in split setting duties. Weiskircher tallied 24 assists in the win over the Demon Deacons while Detering added eight assists and continues to be a reliable option on the right side.
Penn State also utilized opportunities to rotate in off the bench, for Nittany Lions to gain valuable game experience throughout the weekend. Clare Powers and freshmen Cami May and Michaela Putnicki saw time throughout the home tournament. Nia Reed also recorded three kills on three attempts against Wake Forest.
In their second match of the day, Penn State swept Ohio with Lee and Washington leading the way again with nine kills and 12 kills, respectively.
Weiskircher was used as the primary setter against the Bobcats , allowing other hitters the opportunity for more reps, particularly Reed. She added seven kills and Thelen added another six against Ohio.
"I feel much more comfortable," Reed said. "It's hard not to when you practice in the same gym and with these girls every day."
The Nittany Lions remain undefeated at 10-0, now turning the focus to Big Ten play, which begins next weekend at home against Nebraska Friday night."We'll need to work hard this weekend," Rose said. "We have Nebraska and Iowa coming up, and I think the players understand the importance of being prepared to play in Big Ten play."
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Through 109 minutes, the scoreboard still read 0-0 and reality set in that Sunday just might not be Penn State's day.
It wasn't as if the Nittany Lions didn't deserve the victory. They outshot Illinois 27-2 and held possession for the majority of the game. A draw just wouldn't have seemed right with the way Penn State dominated the match.
As the clock ran down in the second overtime, Laura Freigang refused to let three points in the standings slip through the cracks.
After a flurry of Penn State chances, Maddie Elliston sent a high ball to the top of the box for Freigang. She controlled it off her chest, dribbled once to her right to face the goal and ripped a right-footed bullet into the net with just 42 seconds remaining to give Penn State the walk-off win.
"I just tried to hit it on goal," Freigang said. "I knew that we didn't have much time left, and it was honestly kind of lucky. [The goalkeeper] had her hand on it and it rolled in, but it's all we needed."
Head coach Erica Dambach said she never doubted her team would eventually find the back of the net.
"We do a five-minute drill all the time," Dambach said. "We know we can score with five minutes left in a game. I believe in this group. I always think that they're dangerous and can put a ball away."
The goal was Freigang's first of the season and third of her career. She and Charlotte Williams led the team with six shots apiece in the game.
Penn State tested Illini goalkeeper Jaelyn Cunningham with 12 shots on goal in the contest. Cunningham made a season-high 10 saves and miraculously kept the Nittany Lions off the board as long as she could. Dambach said Cunningham was the MVP of the match.
If Penn State had an MVP, it would most certainly be Freigang.
The sophomore from Oppenheim, Germany fought fatigue and a physical back line all day without giving an inch. She came off the bench and played 70 minutes in the game, more than any other substitute.
Freigang can be forgotten at times playing with high-powered scorers like Frannie Crouse and Megan Schafer up top, but she's just as dangerous when she receives the ball in the right position. She's clever with her passes and uses her 5-foot-8 frame to pin defenders before making her move, like she did Sunday.
Defender Ellie Jean was a key contributor to Penn State's fourth shutout in eight matches this season. She said a game like Sunday's shows that the team can fight through different forms of adversity.
"We have a really tough season, and I think it's really good for us just to prepare for whatever postseason," Jean said. "We're looking to just be a team, create as a team, be a unit, and create every game."
If Sunday's hard-fought win proved anything, it's that no matches in the Big Ten are ever guaranteed victories.
"We say it day in and day out--any team in this conference can play with any other team regardless of who it is and when it is, but you got to show up with your A-game," Dambach said.
Penn State will hit the road for three straight games away from home. The Nittany Lions travel to Iowa City, Iowa next to face the Hawkeyes on Friday, September 22 at 8 p.m.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State football put on a spectacular offensive display Saturday, showcasing its arsenal of options to cruise past Georgia State in its nonconference finale under the lights in front of more than 102,000 fans at Beaver Stadium.
With touchdowns from eight different Nittany Lions for the first time since a 70-24 win against Akron in 1999, Penn State saw records fall as the points piled up.
Let's get right into a few of the highlights.
Following the 56-0 shutout win to mark Penn State's first season with two shutouts since 2007, running back Andre Robinson (who accounted for touchdown No. 8 with a career-long 41-yard run), noted that among the familiar four-quarter team instructions, the Nittany Lions were particularly focused on a finishers mentality headed into game three.
Alongside the always resilient Saquon Barkley though, perhaps no better example of a unique ability to finish, shined through Saturday night in quarterback Tommy Stevens. Stevens, who finished 2-for-4 with 43 passing yards and a touchdown also grabbed two receptions for 19 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown catch.
As the first Nittany Lion with a touchdown pass and reception in the same game since Christian Hackenberg in 2015, Stevens was calm as he smiled postgame, noting he was simply doing what he was asked to do to put Penn State in the best position to win.
"I think my teammates give me a great chance, and the coaches included, give me a great chance to be successful, so I'm doing whatever I can to help the team win," Stevens said.
Insert exhibit one, where Stevens caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trace McSorley out of a two quarterback package that pushed the Nittany Lions out to an early first quarter lead.
Stevens' touchdown of course, was the first of eight for the Nittany Lions, followed then by Barkley's 85-yard catch and run score for the third-longest pass play in Penn State history and the longest Penn State passing play ever at home.
While it's seemingly not to anyone's surprise that Barkley could make as many defenders miss blasting his was to the end zone as he does on a regular basis, it's all part of the details for Barkley.
"It was kind of just a feel," Barkley said. "I kind of thought that Trace was going to lose me and that me sliding would help. I thought Trace did an unbelievable job of using his eyes and coming down to a check-down. It was kind of weird. He looked away from me at first and I thought that he was going to go down field and just naturally turned around and did what we work on. He goes through his reads, his one, two, and three and checks down. It's just something that we work on every single day in practice and he just naturally came down to me. I was able to get one-on-one and find a way to score and get into the end zone. Brandon Polk and all of the wide receivers did an unbelievable job of blocking down field for me."
"The fact that we had eight different players scoring is something that's huge for our offense and for our team," McSorley said. "It really puts the defense in a situation where you can't focus in on one guy and all of the weapons that we have and be able to have success with them, it's something that we feel is a huge benefit for us and we want to take advantage of it as best as we can."
Getting back to Stevens though, exhibit two came in the fourth quarter, when McSorley hit Stevens for a 9-yard grab before the Nittany Lions closed out the drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Stevens to wide receiver Saeed Blacknall to widen the advantage to 49-0.
While Stevens was humble postgame with a business-as-usual type approach, McSorley saw Stevens' impact a critical piece to the Nittany Lion offense.
"You see Tommy being able to come out and be a receiver, be a running threat, be able to take a handoff or throw the ball, it's something that a lot of players in this country aren't able to do," McSorley said. "For him to be that type of player for our team is something that, it gives us a huge option from that package, being able to have two quarterbacks in there. Being able to run our offense but also being able to have those gadget plays getting him the ball in certain situations be able to throw it and run it."
Fifth-ranked Penn State shuts out Georgia State 56-0 Saturday evening inside Beaver Stadium. Check in with head coach James Franklin for a closer look postgame.
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State kept its undefeated record intact, putting together a dominant effort in the return to Rec Hall for the Nittany Lions.
The win marks the eighth consecutive victory for the No. 2 Nittany Lions, as they convincingly put away the Bulldogs in the first of a three-match tournament.
"I thought it was a good opening match for us," Penn State head coach Russ Rose said. "All of their players have really high volleyball IQs, and they're accustomed to playing with good players because most of them played with the top club teams in California."
The home crowd played a huge part in the victory for the Nittany Lions, as more than 3,500 fans showed up to support the Blue and White. After seven straight matches on the road, Penn State was finally able to feed off the home crowd.
"To have the energy from the band and the crowd makes a big difference in how the kids feel about their efforts," Rose said.
Sophomore libero Kendall White led the Nittany Lions from the service line, posting a career-high four aces. Penn State had seven on the night, while surrendering none to the Bulldogs.
White's success is only part of the story as the 6-2 offense has been an adjustment the Nittany Lions are settling into. However, one week from the start of conference play, the Nittany Lions are finally starting to find their consistency across the board.
"Kendall had her career high and passed well," Rose said. "It's a position that we have a challenge with and we have a couple kids that are dinged up, but you have to play with who's ready to play and I thought the kids played hard"
Rose also reflected on the senior leadership stepping up when the team needed them most, even though the outcome of the match was never significantly in doubt.
"(Senior hitter Haleigh Washington) played really well, blocked well and hit well," Rose said.
For Washington, the team consistency is growing stronger with positive chemistry.
good being out on the floor with everybody," Washington said. "It's great
because I've gone through this program with all of them. "We have more of a
vibe and we connect well on this court now so it's awesome. It's great having
my last home opener here at Penn State and the energy in the gym and the
coaches. Regardless of who's on the other side, Rec Hall just doesn't change
and that's awesome to be a part of."
By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The long-awaited Big Ten slate finally arrived, as the Nittany Lions secured their first conference victory against the Iowa Hawkeyes Friday at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.
Penn State took possession and launched into Iowa's defense at the blow of the starting whistle, but it didn't take long for Iowa to put pressure the ball and bring it back to Penn State's half.
"We expected Iowa to come out strong," head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "I asked the girls in the locker room what they remembered about Iowa, and that was it."
The first quarter of the match was a true toss-up, with the ball on both sides of the field and turnovers for both teams. In just the fourth minute of the game, Iowa attempted a shot at the goal, with a swift block by Penn State goalkeeper Jenny Rizzo. The shot was followed by two consecutive corner penalties for Iowa, where the Hawkeyes placed two more blocked shots at Rizzo. Even when the Nittany Lions fought back with an opportunity from forward Gini Bramley, the first attempted goal of the night was stopped by the Hawkeye keeper.
"I thought they had momentum in the first fifteen minutes of the game," Morett-Curtiss said. "We were just not making good decisions at first, which surprises me, but we made some adjustments and kicked in some speed."
As the half progressed, Iowa's offensive line proved to be a challenge for Penn State as the Hawkeyes pressed on, finding two more opportunities for shots on goal, but Rizzo wouldn't crack, blocking both.
"The backfield works well together," Morett-Curtiss said. "They can interchange really well and Jenny [Rizzo] had some great saves."
Penn State's Cori Conley proved to be a key piece of the defensive line, offering little space for Iowa's offense to get too close to the circle.
"We just had to make sure we were really communicating in the backfield, making sure we were marking our girls and making good outlet passes to our forwards," Conley said. "I thought we did a really good job holding it down and not letting them get an easy ball."
The Nittany Lions earned their first penalty corner of the game in the 23rd minute, followed by an immediate second. Penn State remained energetic on the attack, despite two more shots blocked by Iowa's keeper.
Although unsuccessful in conversions, the Nittany Lions pushed on with force, managing to keep the ball in the away team's half. Penn State continued to pressure the goal and despite a blocked shot by Aurelia Meijer, it wasn't long before the Nittany Lions found an opening with a penalty corner. Senior Shay Cannon perfectly set up her teammate Moira Putsch for the first goal of the night.
The Nittany Lions came into the second half with fueled with new fury. In the second minute, Putsch slammed a goal past Iowa's defense, thanks to an assist by Meijer.
"We definitely improved with ball speed in the end of the first and into the second half," Morett-Curtiss said. "I think there was more composure and stretching out across the field."
Penn State's offense kept the engine going, progressing with some aggressive play in the second half. The chances kept flying in as the Nittany Lions placed more attempted shots at the goal, until Maddie Morano finally slammed a shot into the back of the net, marking her fifth goal of the season and Penn State's third goal of the game.
"I think our unity as a team improved," Putsch said. "I think since we felt more connected, I could have more space to move into different pockets. In the second half, we definitely opened it up for each other."
Penn State battled on to close the second half, leaving Iowa with little opportunity to mount a comeback. The match wrapped up seamlessly at 3-0 with yet another shutout, making it the third consecutive season that Penn State has defeated Iowa.
"We got our first taste of Big Ten hockey this season and we know it's just a really physical time of year," Conley said. "We're really looking forward to keep pushing at that level."
Big Ten play will resume on September 22, when Penn State will put Northwestern up to the challenge.
"It's always great to win that first Big Ten game," Morett-Curtiss said. "It's a very tough conference, top to bottom, so we have to take care of some business on the road."The Nittany Lions will head to Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Sunday, Sept. 17th to meet defending NCAA national champion Delaware.
By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State Nittany Lions take the pitch Sunday night against the Maryland Terrapins, the Blue and White will step on the field unified in remembering their 12th man, Mack Brady.
Mack, the young son of Elizabeth Brady and Christian Brady, the former Dean of the Schreyer Honors College, passed away in 2012, but his aspirations to be a goalkeeper live on through the Penn State men's soccer team.
"It has been wonderful for me to see how Mack's life, his memory, his legacy has lived on with people like Evan Finney," said Christian. "He [Finney] has talked about how much it means to him that he is a Mack Brady goalkeeper...It's a wonderful way to keep our son's memory alive in a positive and encouraging way to basically still see Mack play as it were through Evan."
Mack's lasting impact on the Penn State soccer community has connected the core of their 'Goalkeeper U,' strengthened relationships, and transcended their game beyond just wins and losses. An eight-year-old boy and his family brought an entirely new meaning to representing the Blue and White every fall.
The goalkeeper position has connected Mack to his father, head coach Bob Warming, and the numerous players who have dawned the Blue and White from the backline over the years.
"Mack loved carrying his team in that way he loved being the last line of defense from the beginning of the counterattack," said Christian. "So just to share that and say, 'look an eight year old just embraced it.' "
"We get to go out and play for him every single day and let him shine through us," said past Nittany Lion and LA Galaxy goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton. "He's a great example of what strength is and we can all model after that."
This core of individuals feeds off of Mack's lasting energy so much so that they have yet to lose an annual Mack Brady Match, and they even return years later to feel him between the goalposts of Jeffrey Field. Wolverton will be back at home amongst the Blue and White this Sunday as he reflects on the meaning of the Mack Brady Match.
"It's always good to come back and support...unfortunately such a terrible event happened to someone in our community that's really dear to us now," said Wolverton. "(Former) Dean Brady is a great example to all of us. He is a great guy that we all really look up to, so it's great for us to be able to support him and his family."
Two years ago, another Penn State starting goalkeeper, Matt Bersano, fed off of Mack's presence during a penalty kick situation against the Indiana Hoosiers during that year's Mack Brady Match.
"One of my favorite stories will always be two years ago when we played Indiana," said Christian. "They gave us a penalty kick against us and Matt Bersano dove and got his right hand on it and Coach Warming, you don't talk to the man before, during or for an hour after the game...so Bersano made the stop and he [Warming] came over and just squeezed me so tight and said, 'that was Mack.'"
Mack's love for the gloves did not only connect Penn State's
continually strong group of men holding down the backline of defense, but also
strengthened the relationship of an established athlete and coach, Bob Warming,
and an academic scholar, Christian Brady.
"He has become an incredible friend," said Christian. "I have watched him be an amazing mentor to not only these guys but so many of his former goalkeeping players...It's been an honor and a privilege. I have been very thankful. Bob is a dear friend."
Coach Warming also played an instrumental part in helping Mack's legacy live on through the distinguished student-athletes who find themselves protecting the net of the Blue and White. Every season on the pitch each goalkeeper who suits up can be seen wearing a diamond patch with a green number seven, four leaf clovers, and Mack's name prominently displayed above all else.
"Mack picked his number seven when he was four years old and stuck with it," said Christian. "The clover came from that [State College Celtics]. It was actually one of the other fathers on the team just a few weeks after Mack died who brought me this patch that he had made for the Celtic boys to wear so I gave one to Bob and he said, 'Can I get some of these made?'"
"One of the sheer things that we have with the Brady family is that we know that our team and our goalkeepers are living the dreams of other people," said Warming, on the team living out Mack's childhood dream.
Although the circumstances of the annual Mack Brady Match are undeserving and tragic, the rallying of a community as large as Penn State speaks to the aspirations, character, and energy of an eight-year-old boy. Soccer consumed Mack Brady's life, but Mack Brady gave Penn State men's soccer and the surrounding community a connection that will transcend generations and uphold a legacy that goes well beyond the confines of the pitch.
If you would like to support the Mack Brady Memorial Men's Soccer Fund, memorial gifts may be made online here or by sending a check, payable to Penn State with "In memory of Mack Brady" in the memo line, to: Penn State University, One Old Main, University Park, PA 16802. You can also visit http://www.mackbrady.com for more information about the fund.
For more information on Nittany Lion men's soccer, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.
RELATED LINKS: Gameday Central I Game Notes I Depth Chart I Tuesday Presser Roundup I Wednesday Practice Report I T. Smith Q&A I Monday Notebook I Nittany Lions in the NFL I Gameday Reminders & Promotions
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 5 Penn State football (2-0, 0-0 B1G) is back in Beaver Stadium for a third consecutive week, hosting Georgia State (0-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) in a prime time matchup Saturday.
In the first meeting between the two teams in program history, the Nittany Lions close out the nonconference slate with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff live on the Big Ten Network.
On a nine-game home winning streak, Penn State's high-scoring explosive offense will also look to stretch its nine-game streak scoring 30-plus, with a program record 33 or more points in as many outings.
Quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley are also streaking. With at least one touchdown pass in 17 consecutive games, McSorley's touchdown pass streak is the third longest in FBS, while Barkey's nine straight rushing touchdowns is tied for the longest in FBS.
Penn State's defense hasn't missed a beat this year, currently leading the conference and ranked seventh in FBS in scoring defense, averaging just 7.0 points per game surrendered on the year.
Safety Marcus Allen led the way with a game-high 12 tackles last weekend, including Penn State's first safety since 2010 to earn Lott Impact Player of the Week honors. Allen and cornerback Grant Haley both earned staff defensive player of the week honor, with Haley triggering the Nittany Lion offense right from the start, with a first quarter interception that he returned 42 yards.
Rounding out Penn State's early success in all three phases, the Nittany Lion special teams unit has been instrumental in the 2-0 start, especially key in a 33-14 win against Pittsburgh last week.
"I thought probably one of the biggest factors in the game was drive start," Franklin said. "Our drive start was the 36-yard line. Their drive start was the 18."
Guided by first year head coach Shawn Elliott, Georgia State enters the weekend fresh off an early bye week, having dropped its season opener in a 17-10 loss to Tennessee State.
"I think the thing that probably jumps out to me is essentially this same team went to Wisconsin last year and was leading in the fourth quarter," Franklin said. "So they are going to be used to playing in these Big Ten type of environments on the road."
What To Watch For -
1. Trained in the Art of Chaos
Defensive line coach Sean Spencer has unleashed his wild dogs this year, with the Nittany Lions up front responsible more than half of Penn State's 23 tackles for loss on the year. Currently ranked atop the FBS standings, the Nittany Lions are averaging 11.5 tackles for loss, with defensive tackle Tyrell Chavis and defensive end Shareef Miller tied for fifth in the Big Ten, averaging 1.4 per game. Miller is coming off a career outing against Pittsburgh with 2.5 tackles for loss in addition to two sacks to match a career-high mark.
2. Playing at an Elite
On a conference call this week, Penn State assistant head coach and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith noted that the Nittany Lion secondary has made plays on the football this year better than it has in any of the last three years. As Franklin mentioned following the Akron opener, along with Christian Campbell, moving Grant Haley the nickel position has allowed for the Nittany Lions to utilize Amani Oruwariye on the field. Add in experienced safeties in Marcus Allen and Troy Apke and the five have combined for 24 of 99 rushing tackles and 12 of 40 passing tackles on the year, grabbing three interceptions (ranked first in the Big Ten) across two games.
"It's important that these guys want to make a new for themselves," Smith said. "We hear we're LBU and the wild dogs up front, well our guys want to make a name for themselves and that's what they've done the first two games. It's a long season so the third game is up and we're preparing for us to be able to make some plays when the play is presented to us."
3. Gesicki Approaching
Mike Gesicki heads into the third game of the season looking to match the Penn State single season record for touchdowns by a tight end that he originally tied in 2016 with five. Yes, in just two games, Gesicki has multiple touchdown grabs in back-to-back games (4 total), having also recorded a touchdown catch in each of the last five consecutive games. That's not the only Nittany Lion record he'll look to eclipse in game three. With 10 career touchdown receptions, Geskick i just one shy of matching Jesse James' (11, 2012-14) program record for a tight end.
What to Watch For -
1. Talented Wide Receivers
In his weekly press conference, Franklin noted that Georgia State's wide receivers jumped right out to the staff in pregame planning.
"They are a spread offense, mostly 11 personnel team," Franklin said. "They will mix in some other things, as well. They are an RPO team. They like to run the stretch and the pin-and-pull play, which we saw a lot of last week, so we have got a little bit of a head start on that."
Among the group, seniors Glenn Smith and Todd Boyd are the veterans of the group. Noted as not only a receiver but a target in the run game and in the return game, Smith ranks third on Georgia State's career all-purpose yards record list with 2,069 yards, as the first Panther in program history to reach 500 yards on the ground and through the air. Alongside Smith and Boyd is Penny Hart, a redshirt sophomore returning from a season-ending injury in 2016 who led the way with 84.5 receiving yards per game in his rookie season.
2. Solid Secondary
Franklin also noted that he and the staff have identified Georgia State's corners as their top players, presenting a possible challenge for the Nittany Lions. Filled with veterans, Georgia State's senior cornerbacks Jerome Smith and Chandon Sullivan have 57 starts between the two. Combined with B.J. Clay, all three have accounted for 13 career interceptions, grabbing nine in 2016.
3. A Bit More on
Georgia State's defense is loaded with upperclassmen who bring valuable experience. While it's in the past, it's worth noting that inside linebacker accounted for eight tackles, including seven solo stops when Georgia State and then-No. 9 Wisconsin met last year. This year, Payne is second on the team with eight tackles, with one tackle for loss and Georgia State's lone sack on the year.
Final Word -
Penn State's ability to capitalize on explosive plays has been pivotal in its surging success. With 18 long plays on the year, the Nittany Lions have only built on last year's thrilling consistency with an even larger arsenal of offensive options. Saturday's matchup will position Penn State against a Georgia State team that has allowed two plays of 50-plus yards in their last 13 games, something Franklin addressed early this week as one of the big challenges come gameday.
"You have a number of ways of creating explosive plays - that's throwing it over their head or that's breaking tackles," Franklin said. "To me that states that they are one of the better tackling teams in the country because typically that's where a lot of explosive plays come is you break a tackle and now you're able to take off for another 40, 50 yards, whatever it may be. I think that's going to be one of the better storylines in the game."
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Brittany Basinger is listed on the depth chart as a defender, but she is much more than just that, and she showed it Thursday night.
Basinger's primary duty is to police the left quarter of the defense as the left back, but she's never static. The redshirt senior from Purcellville, Va. must run at least a mile up and down the left flank game in and game out. She might cover more ground than any other Nittany Lion over the course of a match.
Basinger was at it again Thursday night, sprinting up constantly to get involved on offense and retreating back to help the defense when necessary. She was one of the focal points of the offensive attack, which went through the left half for the majority of time that she was on the pitch.
Midfielder Emily Ogle and forwards Frannie Crouse and Megan Schafer continuously fed Basinger with through balls down the left flank, and the redshirt senior would instinctively find a seam and send a cross into the box.
Basinger's aggressiveness offensively led to 15 shots and eight on target in the first half against one of the stingiest defenses in the country. The first Penn State goal in Penn State's 3-0 win was primarily Basinger's doing.
In the fourth minute Crouse dished a pass backward to Basinger who took one touch and flew a curling cross into the box that landed right on Schafer's head and she was able to finish to give the Nittany Lions an early lead.
"Today we were really focusing on big five moments and giving each other boosts throughout the entire game, and it just happened to come and [Schafer] did a fantastic job to finish it," Basinger said.
The assist was Basinger's first of the season.
Basinger also made her impact felt on the defensive end early in the first half. She nabbed three solo steals in the first five minutes of the game and finished with five in the half.
She played a key role in a dominating first half performance for the Nittany Lions defensively. Penn State didn't allow a Northwestern shot until the 40th minute.
Most players don't have the skills to be an offensive firecracker and a defensive stone wall in the same game, but Basinger isn't most players.
"[Basinger] was a warrior for us today," said head coach Erica Dambach. "That's your fifth-year senior captain. That's what you would expect in Big Ten play. She knows the mentality that she needs to bring, and she shares it with the group."
Penn State tallied another goal in the 42nd minute off an Ogle free kick from 24 yards out. The redshirt junior ripped a bullet around the wall and into the bottom right corner to give the Nittany Lions a two-goal cushion at halftime.
"It's something that the whole team works on every day in training, and we want to be strong in all aspects of our set pieces," Ogle said. "We've been training it, working it, trying to get the details, so it's good that we finally got one today."
Basinger showed off even more of her versatility in the second half. She entered in the 54th minute after a much-needed rest, but this time she lined up as a center back.
Center back and left back may be a slot next to each other on the pitch, but the two have completely different duties. Basinger had to dial back on her attacking role and focus solely on being the last line of defense.
"I'm working on center back," Basinger said. "It's different. Just being in a different part of the field is a change but we're working on it."
Penn State added an insurance goal in the 48th minute courtesy of Charlotte Williams and the game was all but sealed.
The three-goal shutout is all the more impressive taking into account Northwestern's defensive dominance of late. Wildcat goalkeeper Lauren Clem was a third-team All-American last year and is tied for 15th all-time with 39 shutouts in her career.
The last time Northwestern gave up three goals was in 2015 to West Virginia. Penn State also beat the Wildcats 3-0 that season.
"They had a good game plan and I thought our movement was quite good and we were able to unlock them a little bit," Dambach said. "That's a very good team that we just put three goals away on."
Penn State moved to 24-3-0 all-time against Northwestern. The Blue and White have outscored the Wildcats 17-5 in their last six matchups.
The Nittany Lions dive back into the conference slate Sunday at home against Illinois at 1 p.m.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State assistant head coach and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith joined this week's assistant coaches conference call to talk Penn State football during Georgia State week.
Listen in and catch up on a few notes from Smith's Q&A session.
Update on the Newcomers
Penn State true freshmen corner backs Tariq Castro-Fields and Lamont Wade are two of three true freshmen to make their collegiate debut in 2017. With both developing well, Smith is confident in where their development is at in week three.
"They have played a decent amount of minutes and plays for the first two games and as the season grows on, we want to have those guys ready so that when we get into conference play - you just never know when injuries are going to set in," Smith said. "We want to have those guys ready so they can step into full time roles as needed."The Grandpa of The Cornerback Room
When Penn State is recruiting its corners, Smith noted that the type of recruit they are seeking is one who resembles what Haley has done for the Nittany Lions. With an even-keel personality, it's Haley who sets the tone in the room, with his consistency on the field backing up his leadership and accountability, often called the grandpa of the cornerback room as Smith notes.
"His leadership in our room is why we are playing at a high level right now," Smith said. "A lot that is going on, on the back end is attributed to Grant Haley."
More on the Stripes
Yesterday, Penn State head coach James Franklin mentioned the newest Nittany Lion tradition, where newcomers have to earn the stripes on their practice helmets. Smith noted today that Castro-Fields was actually the first freshman to earn a helmet stripe.
"Tariq came in really, really prepared," Smith said. "He's a mature kid, he's big, he's strong, he's fast. It was a few weeks, but he has had an instant impact. He has done a really nice job and he continues to get better for us."
Two Week Evaluation
Smith was asked to evaluate the state of the cornerback unit through two weeks, already nearly to the conclusion of week three.
"I think we're playing at an elite level," Smith said. "I think we're making plays on the football better than we have in the last three years here. I have a great group of guys who are dialed in, they are locked in and they prepare really, really well. They work really hard during the week to perfect their craft."
By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With an impressive 6-0 start to the season, Penn State rose to No. 2 in the most recent NFHCA Poll, but isn't dwelling on its early success. The Nittany Lions are looking ahead with a new challenge on their minds, gearing up for the Big Ten opener at home before hitting the road.
First up for the Nittany Lions? Iowa.
For Penn State, the Hawkeyes are a fierce opponent to kick off the Big Ten slate. With a slow start to this week's earlier 5-1 win at Bucknell, Penn State is looking to lock in with conference play approaching.
"With Bucknell, I think we had a lot of scoring opportunities and we weren't focused to find the back of the net," head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "Our focus should've been a bit sharper in the circle and opening up the play instead of playing into the Bucknell defense."
Morett-Curtiss has been focusing on implementing both adequate training and rest in addition to film study in preparation for the Hawkeyes.
Penn State's other Big Ten outings include home matchups against Northwestern and Michigan before hitting the road for trips to Michigan State, Ohio State and Maryland, wrapping up with a home finale against Rutgers and a trip to Indiana.
"With Princeton and Bucknell behind us, it's great to get our focus on the start of the Big Ten," Morett-Curtiss said. "It's obviously going to be very competitive opening up with Iowa, they're a strong team. They come to play, they compete."
Equipped with standout play from goalkeeper Jenny Rizzo, she'll guide the Nittany Lions into conference play having totaled 10 saves in Penn State's roadwins at Princeton and Bucknell.
"We know it's our first conference game," Rizzo said. "It's just another game, but it's an important game, and we just want to come out strong and set the tone for good play."
Earning both Big Ten and NFHCA Offensive Player of the Week honors this season, forward Gini Bramley has continued her solid play, all backed by a strong sense of faith in her teammates.
"Being there for my teammates, they're leading for the ball and I just want to give them that perfect pass so we can get some outcome in the circle, to keep our win streak alive," Bramley said.
Iowa aside, the Nittany Lions also travel to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to meet defending NCAA national champion Delaware at Spooky Nook Sports. Home to the official training location of the USA Field Hockey Team, and to many of the Nittany Lions, Sunday's outing will be a refreshing trip back home to balance a heavy away schedule for the remainder of the season.
"We love playing in the Lancaster area because so many of our girls are from that area," Morett-Curtiss said. "It's a great field hockey community, so we have a lot of alums in the area. It's a great hometown feel for us and being at the U.S. training facility has a little bit of a prestige to it."
With a roster featuring at least half of the Nittany Lions calling home somewhere in close proximity to the Lancaster area, Bramley and Rizzo, are both from the Lancaster-Hersey area and familiar with the setting.
"It's fun because you see familiar faces, like friends from nearby colleges and family," Bramley said.
While it's always special to compete in front of a hometown crowd, Penn State is focused on keeping one foot in front of the other, taking each game as its own challenge.
"Our focus is on Iowa and the Big Ten this Friday," Morett-Curtiss said. "Both teams have a lot of spirit and physicality, it should be a great game."
The Nittany Lions will take on the Hawkeyes Friday, Sept. 15 at 5 p.m. in the Penn State Field Hockey Complex before heading to Lancaster to meet the Blue Hens Sunday, Sept. 17 in a 1 p.m. matchup.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and safety Nick Scott met with members of the media Wednesday evening following practice to preview Saturday's upcoming Georgia State matchup.
The Nittany Lions and the Panthers are set for a primetime matchup on Big Ten Network with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m. in Beaver Stadium. Catch up on a few updates from week three practice.
Franklin shared that the Nittany Lions closed out the post-practice huddle with a stripe presentation, a new tradition that he has been thinking about since arriving on campus. All true freshmen, with the exception of the early enrollees entered camp without stripes on their helmets, something that they'd have to earn.
Inspired by the book "Legacy," Franklin originally wanted to begin the tradition in his first season, but opted to hold off for just the right time, having also sought input from the leadership council.
"It's something I've wanted to do since year one so we finally came up with something that we were all comfortable with that's just all new players in the program," Franklin said.
Earning a stripe goes further than just what a newcomer is showing on the field, taking into account meeting conduct, respect, catchability and class attendance.
"It's everything," Franklin said. "It's basically, the veteran leadership players that we have are saying, you're doing a really good job and I'm comfortable with the direction you're headed in terms of how we do things around here at Penn State. It's something that each position and each position coach are handling on their own."
As one of those veteran leadership players, Scott also talked through the process to earn a stripe.
"It's by position so true freshmen when they come in, they don't have a stripe on their practice helmet, of course they have one in the game," Scott said. "You decide as a position group with your coaches."
Scott named true freshman safety Jonathan Sutherland as a Nittany Lion who has already earned his stripe, right at the end of camp to be exact.
"We felt that he came in and he was real physical and he picked up the defense pretty fast and has just been playing fast with a lot of confidence so we gave him his stripe," Scott said.
Effort vs. Result
For Scott, the biggest thing he has learned from special teams coordinator Charles Huff all comes down to the difference between effort and result.
"I came in and I was a huge effort guy," Scott said. "I liked to run down the field and throw my body around but I wasn't always making the play. Basically, that can be ineffective, so we want a bunch of guys who give a lot of effort but at the same time they stay in their lanes, play under control and make plays."
Quick Look at the
Georgia State Receivers
In his Tuesday press conference, Franklin made specific note of Georgia State's wide receivers. Solid athletes, no different than the typical high caliber athletes the Nittany Lions generally see, Scott noted that practicing against Penn State's receivers is perfect preparation.
"We have a lot of athletic guys and a lot of guys with a lot of speed like [Brandon] Polk and DeAndre [Thompkins]," Scott said. "Just being cognizant of that, as DBs we respect every opponent."
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Late last season, Penn State head coach Russ Rose decided to make a change, switching the Nittany Lions from a 5-1 to a 6-2 offense.
The 6-2 offense allows for two setters to be on the floor at the same time, meaning one setter is always in the back row, giving the team six attackers at all times as opposed to only five in a traditional 5-1.
Rose opted for the change in large part due to the experience of his veteran setters, redshirt junior Bryanna Weiskircher and senior Abby Detering, knowing the benefit of having both on the floor at the same time. Weiskircher and Detering are both offensive threats as hitters as well, with the 6-2 allowing Rose to have both in the lineup as much as possible without constantly having to substitute in and out.
"I didn't think we were playing at the highest level that we needed to play (at the end of last season)," Rose said. "Usually, (the change) is personnel driven and both players have experience setting the 5-1 and if we get in a bind rotationally, I'm comfortable with either one of them."
The challenges of facing a 6-2 for opposing teams can of course be noted in last year's NCAA Tournament match against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were the top overall seed headed into the regional semifinals, but Penn State's 6-2 offense presented challenges in the first two sets, helping the Nittany Lions to a 2-0 lead at the break before Nebraska battled back for the 3-2 win.
There are obstacles to overcome in any new offense with adjustments to positioning and flow difficult at times. For Detering though, growing up a hitter all the way through high school, the changes have come much more naturally than they might have to to someone who's only developed as a setter.
"Hitting comes naturally to me, since I have done it in the past," Detering said. "The hardest thing at the beginning was realizing I was a hitter and not a setter because there would be times where someone would dig the ball and I would want to go in to set. The more we play, the better it's gotten, especially this last weekend."
Even with a successful trial last year, Penn State wasn't sure it would make the change to a 6-2 offense until preseason, not wanting to commit until all personnel settled in and the coaching staff was able to see how each rotation fit.
"One practice, (Rose) just kind of threw it out there," Detering said. "Our team actually played really well together, so we went with it in the first tournament and it's been going well ever since. There's still areas to improve on, but it's really neat to see how awesome our team can be. We've been playing so well, but we can get so much better with this lineup too."
Positioning is one of the main reasons for the change as well, having Detering on the right side as a hitter as much as possible while still keeping her on the floor for her setting abilities. For Rose, it simply allows he and the staff multiple players on the floor who can set at a high level without compromising the team's strength up front.
"At the beginning we had a couple of people we wanted to look at playing the right side position," Rose said. "I thought Abby was a good candidate to be one of those people in addition to letting her set. Her personality is very aggressive and she plays hard."
Rose has experimented in the 6-2 in the past whenever he felt it fit his team or he needed a change in strategy, but this year is the longest any of his trials have lasted, something he certainly likes.
"I would say we're still experimenting with what I think our optimal line would be but they(Detering and Weiskircher) are both good setters and they know what's going on," Rose said. "Sometimes you lose when you're experimenting, but sometimes you can experiment and still win. I want to win."
"There's advantages to both, but I think the awesome thing about the 6-2 is how different it is," Detering said. "With Bryanna and I both being setters, it's pretty neat when I'm in the front row that if she does dig the first ball, it's still a setter who can set the ball."While we'll have to wait to see how long the experiment lasts, if anything is for sure, it's that Penn State's 18th 7-0 start under Rose might just mean things are operating according to plan.
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For Penn State, the Big Ten slate isn't just a portion of the schedule--it's a whole new season.
The non-conference section of the schedule is used to find out the team's strengths and weaknesses so that head coach Erica Dambach can fine-tune the issues and have the team playing its best soccer when it matters most.
That's why Dambach loves to schedule top-ranked opponents in the beginning of the year, each with different playing styles. Doing this exposes Penn State to all forms of play the team may see from conference foes during the year.
"We've had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at us, so I don't think there's any team in the Big Ten that's going to give us something new," senior midfielder Haleigh Echard said. "I think we're going to take all the challenges that we had in the past six games and just bring them in to Big Ten play and come out firing."
Since 1998, Penn State has dominated the Big Ten. There's no other way to put it. The Nittany Lions have won or shared 18 of the last 19 conference regular season titles.
"[Conference opponents] circle this date on their schedules," Dambach said. "They come out and they play hard, and I think at this point we get everybody's best game."
Penn State is Goliath, but there's always a David lurking. This year, there may be a few Davids with a chance to slay the giant.
Rutgers is always one of Penn State's biggest threats on the schedule, and this year looks no different. The Scarlet Knights have started the season 6-0-1 and haven't conceded a single goal. They also lead the conference in goals scored with 20.
Rutgers has been a defensive juggernaut in recent years thanks to goalkeeper Casey Murphy.
Murphy was named a National Soccer Coaches Association of America Second Team All-American in 2015. She took a redshirt last season to play for the U.S. U-20 Women's National Team, where she was teammates with multiple Nittany Lions, but she's back in net for the Scarlet Knights this year.
Penn State will meet Rutgers Oct. 12 in Piscataway, NJ.
Wisconsin is another dangerous team that has the tools to challenge Penn State for a conference title.
The Badgers (6-1-0) are ranked No. 9 in the United Coaches Soccer poll, right behind No. 8 Penn State. In 2015 the two teams shared the Big Ten title with 8-2-1 records, and Wisconsin might be even more talented this season.
Offensively, youth is powering the Badgers early on. Three of their top four goal scorers are underclassmen. Wisconsin's leading goal scorer is sophomore Dani Rhodes, who has notched four goals so far coming off a freshman season in which she was named to the 2016 All-Big Ten Freshman Team.
The Badgers may be young up top, but they're experienced where it matters most--in the net. Goalkeeper Caitlyn Clem is a redshirt senior who ranks ninth all-time at Wisconsin with 18 shutouts. She has tallied 17 saves on the young season and is allowing 0.91 goals per game.
Penn State finishes up its regular season in Madison, Wis. against the Badgers in what could be a winner-take-all game.
Rutgers and Wisconsin may be the top dogs with the best chance to dethrone Penn State this year, but the Big Ten as a whole looks much more competitive and well-rounded than in year's past.
Twelve of the 14 conference teams come into Big Ten play with a winning record, and seven teams have five wins or more. Three Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 25, while Ohio State and Nebraska both received votes as well.
"I was really impressed with our conference during non-conference play," Dambach said. "It looks like there's going to be a lot of competition for the Big Ten championship this year, which is exactly what we want. We want to be challenged. We want to obviously play against the best and hopefully prepare ourselves as much as possible for an opportunity in November."
As for the Nittany Lions, they enter the conference slate coming off a 3-2 loss to Virginia. They sit at 4-2-0 on the year, but both losses came to teams ranked inside the top six.
Penn State will open up Big Ten play at home Thursday night at 7 p.m. against Northwestern. The Wildcats had their best Big Ten season to date last year, going 7-1-3 in the conference and sharing the regular season title with Penn State and Minnesota.
Whether the challenger is a team listed above, or another Big Ten opponent, the Nittany Lions know that it will be tough competition in conference play all season long.
By Mark Brumbaugh, Penn State Strategic Communications
Penn State and the Peach State? Not a very common pairing.
That's not to say the Peach State has not had an impact on Penn State.
Penn State prevailed over the University of Georgia in the 1982 Sugar Bowl to earn the national championship, while the two teams met again recently in the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl. There are four Georgians on the current Nittany Lion roster and one of them is particularly well known for a couple of the plays he made last season.
Penn State fans know it by heart. Marcus Allen leapt for the stars, the field goal kick went off his left arm and Grant Haley, an Atlanta resident, scooped up the bouncing football and had nothing but beautiful green grass and crazed White Out fans ahead of him. The touchdown swung the game in Penn State's favor and the Nittany Lions crashed the national scene with a thrilling win over No. 2 Ohio State.
The victory propelled the Lions to the Big Ten Championship Game, where Haley's stop on fourth-and-1 against Wisconsin sealed the victory and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
A key asset since he stepped on campus in 2014, Haley's contributions have surpassed two big plays. For his position coach, cornerbacks coach Terry Smith, Haley checks all the boxes.
"Grant is obviously the leader of the cornerback room," Smith said. "He's not very outspoken, but he's a leader by example. He's a great student. He's a really smart, reliable and dependable player. You know exactly what you're getting from him. He's got a lot of experience. He knows our system as well as the coaching staff and he puts that out on the field. That is probably the main reason why his peers voted him captain."
The son of Brown University and Penn State alums who met while both were students at Pitt Medical School, Haley was born in Michigan but moved to Georgia before he can remember, when his father, Leon, got a job at a hospital in Atlanta. In fact, Haley was born into a legacy of education, as his maternal grandfather was a school superintendent and his paternal grandmother was a teacher.
"Every single thing since I've grown up has been 'academics first,' no matter what," Haley said. "My dad always talks about how with your degree, no one can take that away. Even when football goes away, you're still going to have your degree. It's always been important to me because it's been important to them."
However, sports have always been Haley's passion. He started with soccer and baseball as a young child, but had trouble getting on the football field right away, as his mom, Carla, who ran track for one year at Penn State, was concerned about injuries and did not let him play until he was in the seventh grade.
Inspired by his grandfather, who was also a high school football coach, Haley always knew he wanted to step onto the gridiron himself. Before he got his mother's permission, Haley honed his athleticism playing a variety of sports, adding basketball to his soccer and baseball repertoire.
Once Haley started playing football, it did not take long for him to excel.
"It was funny, my first game I didn't get tackled by anybody. I ran for like three touchdowns -- it was crazy, but it was exciting," Haley said.
Haley became a four-sport star at The Lovett School in Atlanta, particularly in football and baseball, and he also excelled in the classroom, earning a bronze medal on the National Latin Exam.
When it came down to deciding which sport to pursue at the next level, Haley was drawn to the excitement and camaraderie of football. He then looked for a school that could deliver it all.
"I always wanted a big college town and obviously my parents were high on the academic side," Haley said. "Going to school and getting a quality education is very important to me and setting myself up for the long run was one of the important things. Just finding a place where I could be comfortable and call home and be able to have trust and relationships with different people socially, athletically and academically."
One school that was not on his radar? Penn State.
"Honestly, the only game I remember watching Penn State was when they played Michigan in the White Out in 2013. My mom had pictures [of Penn State] all over the house, but I had never really thought about going there until Coach Franklin switched over."
Haley was already verbally committed to Vanderbilt and head coach James Franklin by then. While Vandy had all the attributes Haley was looking for in a school, Coach Franklin had stood out on the recruiting trail. He felt Franklin was someone he could trust.
"Growing up as a recruit, you can tell when people are real and when people are fake and you can tell he's real," Haley said. "He genuinely cares about his players and wants what's best for them on the field and off the field."
That trust and belief held when Franklin decided to depart Vanderbilt for Penn State in January 2014.
"It was a pretty crazy process because I was committed to Vanderbilt for a couple of months, and that quick switch -- I had to figure out what I was doing in a month," Haley said. "[Coach Franklin] gave me a call a couple days [after he went to Penn State] and he asked me if I would come up to Penn State and visit. I immediately did, and it was the best thing for me, getting a chance to visit Penn State made me love it even more."
Haley's mother helped ease any concerns about the still-intact NCAA sanctions.
"My mom always talked about Joe Paterno, the tradition and pride that Penn State has and how she felt about that," Haley said. "When your mom loves something, you kind of love it too. I'm a momma's boy. I never really put it in my mind about the sanctions. Everything fit perfectly: the college town, academically and athletically."
The family's faith in Penn State was rewarded as the bowl ban was lifted, allowing Haley and the Nittany Lions to take on Boston College in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl his freshman year. Fittingly for the former baseball star, he drew his first career start at cornerback in that game, which was played in Yankee Stadium. The Nittany Lions went on to win in overtime.
"I wasn't nervous, I felt prepared [going into the game], but just getting thrown in there like that, it was exhilarating," Haley said. "Saying your first start was in Yankee Stadium in a bowl game is something you'll always remember. When we were going into the stadium, I was looking at all the baseball everything and I was kind of in love with that and someday I can tell my kids, 'Yeah, I got to play in Yankee Stadium for the first start of my college career.' That's a pretty important memory for me."
In 2015, Haley moved into the starting lineup, relying on veterans and current NFL-ers like Trevor Williams and Jordan Lucas to guide him. The season resulted in another personally meaningful bowl game, as the Nittany Lions took on Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville.
"I never got an offer from Georgia, so it was very personal for me. It was down in Florida, so I had a lot of people come to the game. [The result] was disappointing, but it was a special moment for me to get to go down and play close to home, and have a lot of people come out to support me."
Haley took another step forward as a junior last season, taking on a larger leadership role. Thanks in part to him, the 2016 Penn State football season was among the finest in program history. It ultimately ended in a bowl game special to any college football player, "The Granddaddy of Them All," the Rose Bowl Game.
Entering this year as a senior, Haley is looking to use the wisdom he has gained over the years to take the team to new heights.
"When I first came in, there was a lot of separation between the team and coaching staff," Haley said. "I think I'm a guy who's seen it all, so I'm able to realize if anything is going bad in the locker room and being able to help out with the guys and the coaching staff, be like a middle man almost. Being on the leadership council for the last three years, I've really understood what it takes to be a leader, becoming a vocal guy."
With the season just getting underway, it remains to be seen what the 2017 season has in store for the Nittany Lions, but if the upward trend of personally meaningful bowl games continues for Haley, the ending could be a good one.Just look up where the national championship game will be played.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin met with members of the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Saturday's upcoming Georgia State matchup. Linebacker Koa Farmer and wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins also joined Franklin for a pair of media sessions.
Looking back on last week's performance, Franklin was pleased with the progress the Nittany Lions have made in all three phases of the game.
"Our special teams continue to be a big positive for us," Franklin said. "Our defense is doing some really nice things and really starting to kind of figure out their identity, and then the same thing with our offense. I'm pleased with where we're headed and the progress we're making there."
Among those areas, Franklin has been quick to point out Thompkins, an explosive punt returner who's already found tremendous success in bolstering the Nittany Lion punt return unit. Thompkins though gives credit to those around him for his success.
"A big part of it is just trusting everyone around you," Thompkins said. "I know every single one of those guys who are in front of me are going to do their job to try to protect me and all I have to do is worry about my job and not have to worry about the other 11 guys coming to basically take my head off."
Now focused on Georgia State, Franklin noted that the Nittany Lions aren't overlooking the Panthers, who are in their eighth season of football and fifth as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
"I think the thing that probably jumps out to me, is essentially, this same team went to Wisconsin last year and was leading in the fourth quarter," Franklin said. "So they are going to be used to playing in these Big Ten type of environments on the road. Obviously they are a talented team."
On The Quote Board -
- Franklin on a clip he'll show the team today.
"Today I'm going to show a clip to the team of Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant is coming down the court, goes behind his back, loses the ball; it's a turnover. The guy goes down the court for an easy layup and Kobe Bryant comes and pins the ball to the backboard with that type of effort. I want to keep emphasizing the importance of playing with tremendous effort because when you do that with all 11 guys on the field, you're able to overcome maybe some deficiencies or maybe some mistakes or weaknesses."
- Farmer's Thoughts on Georgia State
"I think they are a solid program. They had a good game against Wisconsin last year at Wisconsin...Jason [Cabinda] and I were actually going to watch some film on it yesterday. They have some athletes. They run a solid offense and it's going to be a challenging opponent."
- Franklin on the offensive line improvements.
"I've said this before. If my daughters choose to marry football players, I want them to marry offensive linemen. They are just big, nice, happy, jolly guys that put the team first. They are the ultimate teammates. But that's also one of the challenges. They typically have been big kids their whole life, and being able to find offensive linemen that will get on the field and play with a nasty streak and a nasty demeanor, and then be real gentlemen off the field, that's what we want."
- DeAndre Thompkins' response on if he models himself after.
"One thing that's different about punt return is that you can't really watch film on anyone catching punts because it's kind an individual type of technique. It's really just backyard football. Once you catch the ball, you just try to get away from everybody who is trying to tackle you. It's like playing tag, basically. There's not really anybody in the NFL that I watch consistently catch punts. I do watch punt return at the NFL level but there's not really a guy that I can single out."
PARK, Pa. - Week two is already in the books and per Penn State head coach
James Franklin's weekly Sunday tweets this season, it's time to turn toward
Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott joined the Sun Belt Conference football head coaches call this afternoon to talk Saturday's upcoming outing. It's the first meeting in program history between the two teams as the Nittany Lions enter the week at 2-0 following a 33-14 win against Pittsburgh. At 0-1 on the year, Georgia State returns to action following an early bye week, having dropped a 17-10 decision to Tennessee State in its season opener.
Among his weekly conference call questions, Elliott was asked about Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.
"You know I've had the opportunity to see a lot of good backs in my time and he ranks right up there," Elliott said. "He's powerful, that's the thing about it. He's just got so much strength and you have to gang tackle this guy, you have to rally to the football. I don't think anybody in college football can bring him down alone and that's a huge, huge compliment to the strength and conditioning staff up there. What a tremendous amount of body control and strength they have put into this young man."
With 432 all-purpose yards across two games, there's certainly no doubting Barkley's playmaking abilities. In the win against Pittsburgh, Barkley registered 88 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown, in addition to four catches for 45 yards and another touchdown. He hauled in another 50 yards on a pair of kick returns to earn one of five spots on the Paul Hornung Award Week 2 Honor Roll.
Under The Lights
Penn State will host Georgia State in its first night game of the 2017 season, marking the first Nittany Lion non-conference matchup under the lights since hosting UCF Sept. 14, 2013. At 45-31 all-time in night games, Penn State has also won five of its last six evening outings.
Also interesting to note, among teams currently in the Sun Belt Conference, Penn State has only met Coastal Carolina once in program history. While Coastal Carolina was not a member of the Sun Belt in the 2008 meeting, the Chanticleers joined the conference in July 2016.
Strong, Physical, Fast
Elliot also made mention of Penn State's secondary, calling the unit both talented and skilled.
"They can matchup with pretty much everybody in the country," Elliot said. "Strong, physical and fast."
Penn State's secondary has embraced every sense of Elliot's description this year, with the Nittany Lions opening 2017 with at least one interception in back-to-back games for a second consecutive year.
While it wasn't a pick, safety Marcus Allen followed interceptions by Grant Haley and Troy Apke with his first career safety, marking the first Penn State safety since Devon Still notched a sack in the end zone at Minnesota in 2010.
"I just read it," Allen said. "I knew it was coming, we practice that a lot during the week so I ready that and just reacted. I saw the lineman starting to widen out, trying to arc left, then I saw number 22 just start going back and I reacted."
We can't stop watching this Marcus Allen highlight safety.-- Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) September 10, 2017
Last Word - Pittsburgh
At halftime Andrew Nelson's message to the rest of his offensive line was simply to remember what it feels like have fun. After sustaining an injury that sidelined him for the final eight games of the season, Nelson made his return to the field against Pittsburgh.
"Sometimes people can lose sight of the fun," Nelson said. "That's something that when I got back out there and I was a part of a drive to go down there put it in the end zone, I was like, I'm having a lot of fun out here. I told the guys, when you watch from the sideline for a long time and you finally get back out there, you realize how much fun it was when you were out there playing."
More from Nelson below (starting at 2:25).
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin made no major mystery of the game plan last week in his Tuesday press conference.
Naming Quadree Henderson a potential Pittsburgh game-wrecker, the Nittany Lions had seemingly no trouble neutralizing the All-American returner from what could have been a game-wrecking afternoon.
From kickoff to the moment the clock hit 0:00 on the scoreboard, Penn State's special teams unit refused to step off its proverbial gas pedal, powering the Nittany Lions to a ninth consecutive win at home in Beaver Stadium.
Pinning the Panthers at the 2-yard line on the opening kickoff, Tyler Davis set the tone early as the Nittany Lions swarmed Henderson at the 19-yard line.
Alongside Penn State's standout special teams display though, the Nittany Lion defense also put on a gusty showing, proved no sooner than the first five minutes as corner back Grant Haley picked off Pittsburgh quarterback Matt Browne, looking for Henderson, before weaving 42 yards to put the Penn State offense in prime position to do what it does best.
"It was kind of funny, I was late to the coverage we called, I was kind of late to break on that ball and kind of slipped on my break but the receiver stopped running for the ball and it just kind of slipped into my hands," Haley said. "It was awesome out there seeing all the other 10 guys out there trying to block for me and big man up front on the other side got my foot and stopped me around the 10-yard line."
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley quickly found tight end Mike Gesicki wide open in the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown grab, the first of two for Gesicki in the opening half.
On the next Penn State drive, punter Blake Gillikin pinned Pittsburgh inside the 20-yard line, before Haley came through once again, with his first career sack on third-and-9 forcing a Panther punt, which DeAndre Thompkins fearlessly raced 16 yards on the return.
Even as Pittsburgh devoured the clock, Penn State's defense battled on, holding the Panthers to just a pair of field goals, with the Nittany Lions leading 28-6 following a pair of Saquon Barkley touchdowns, including a career long 46-yard touchdown reception.
"I think at the point in the game where those (field goals) happened, it was a big deal," linebacker Jason Cabinda said. "It was huge and it was really good for our momentum."
Without surrendering a Pittsburgh touchdown until nearly the midpoint of the fourth quarter, Penn State's defense piled up three of its five total sacks, with defensive end Shareef Miller accounting for two up front.
Pittsburgh moved only as close as 14, while Penn State proved potent in the field position battle.
"Special teams, a lot of people don't understand that we have the ability to change the game," safety Nick Scott said. "Blake [Gillikin] is obviously very talented and he has been doing a great job since he got here, so we take a lot of pride in having influential plays in the game."
Gillikin placed a career-high four punts inside the 20-yard line against the Panthers, something that's only a testament to hard work he puts often when nobody is looking.
"He's a huge asset, with his talent, he's always working on punting," Scott said. "Not just in practice, but you'll arrive early or leave late and you'll always see Blake on the field working. Same with Tyler Davis."
For Franklin, Penn State's special teams are tracking in just the right direction, a byproduct of a significant commitment to improvement that Franklin has referenced often this season.
"We've got a two-deep on our kickoff team and our punt team right now that can run down the field and beat blocks and make plays," Franklin said. "I think obviously, you guys know how happy we were with Blake Gillikin last year, but now the combination of Blake Gillikin with our coverage team, with Tyler Davis and our coverage teams, that I think we have a chance to be really good. We've now solved the problem on punt return. We've got an explosive punt returner that people are excited now to watch and it goes hand-in-hand with how we're blocking."
On the other side of things, as crucial as the Nittany Lion defense proved to be, there's no denying that there's still room for improvement with next weekend's Georgia State matchup now on the horizon.
"Our defense was on the field probably too long and that's a combination of us not sustaining drives on offense but also our defense not creating enough three and outs," Franklin said.
While it may not have been perfect, Penn State's shining special teams coupled with a resilient defense gave just enough for the explosive Nittany Lion offense to do just what it needed to do to pull out a win in front of Beaver Stadium's seventh-largest crowd in history.
For Barkley though, reflecting on success in all three phrases is simply a beautiful sight to recall, like a musical, as he calls it with a laugh.
By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On Friday night, the Penn State Nittany Lions (1-1-2, 0-0-0 B1G) and the Saint Francis Red Flash (2-3-0, 0-0-0 NEC) faced off in a grueling 110-minute defensive battle under the lights of Jeffrey Field. Christian Sload's heroics in the final seconds of double overtime rewarded the Blue and White's dynamic defensive play, and tallied their first win of the season, 1-0.
"Amazing for the team," said forward Sload on the win. "I don't care if I scored that goal, I wouldn't care if anybody scored that goal. Just good to get that win."
As the minutes ticked down to 36 seconds left in the game, Sload's goal came off of a pass into the top of the box from midfielder Mikey Conneh. Sload then connected to sail the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
In Sload's case history really does repeat itself as he continues to make an impact in the offensive third for the Blue and White. Last year Sload's first and only goal of the season manifested against Saint Francis; this year he did much of the same, but this time around the result favored Penn State.
"Amazing, I don't have any other word," said Sload. "I am out of breathe right now, it is just overwhelming. Just finally getting one under the belt, now we know more are going to come now we just needed that momentum and now we have it."
A majority of the match was a back and forth grind in the middle third as both teams dove, slid and hustled along with the sounds of Penn State's cheering section, the Sons of Jeffrey. As six yellow cards were issued throughout the match, the Nittany Lions and Red Flash's physicality created a defensive scrum on the pitch. So much so that both teams only had a combined six shots heading into the second half.
"I tried to stay on my toes on that one just cause I might fall asleep back there but our defensive shape was really really good in the first half," said goalkeeper Evan Finney. "We played a little bit more carefully. We were swinging the ball around a lot more."
Finney and the core on the backline continued to prove its strength throughout the entirety of the match, even well into the familiarity of two overtimes. With the leadership of Dani Marks, the dominance of Finney and the trust in freshman, Callum Pritchatt, the Nittany Lions defensive efforts were the unsung heroes on the pitch.
"Well they are tough aren't they?" said head coach Bob Warming on his defensive unit. "Those guys are just tough. Dani made so many big tackles tonight...We took Ryan Holland and put him in the back and moved Callum up a little bit because he has so much technical ability and savy and we didn't miss a beat when that happened...I was really proud of the backline tonight."
The defensive unit helped keep Saint Francis at bay with only eight shots and scoreless; Friday night was the Blue and White's first shutout of the season.
"I played with Dani for four years now and our chemistry is unbelievable," said Finney. "Having Callum back there too. He is a really really smart player. Bringing on Ryan Holland, he's probably the best header on the team, he can win any area ball and obviously Gally too. They are all just on the same page, they step together they drop together it is a really great group of guys to have in front of you I am really fortunate."
With their first win under their belt, the Nittany Lions hope to continue to capitalize on opportunities and draw from Friday night's momentum.
"Big Ten opens up on Tuesday against Ohio State so hopefully we keep that momentum we just had in the last 30 seconds and come out flying Tuesday against them," said Finney.
As they look to continue their winning ways, the Penn State Nittany Lions are back on the road as they start their Big Ten campaign against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's and women's cross country teams started their season off right today, with their first home invitational of the season. Read More
By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's and women's cross country teams started their season off right today, with their first home invitational of the season.
The Nittany Lions host the Spiked Shoe Invitational ever year, and each year it serves as their first test running against some tough competitors on their hard home course.
The women's team won its sixth-straight Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational at Penn State's very own Blue and White Golf Courses.
The Nittany Lions had their top three runners finish in the top ten overall in the 6k (3.7 mile) race. Jillian Hunsberger took first with a time of 21:07, sophomore Kathryn Munks took fourth at 21:17, and freshman Allison Willingmyre placed eighth at 21:34. And not far behind, junior Greta Lindsley took 11th overall running a time of 21:44.
The girls felt that this race was a great early start to their upcoming cross season.
"I think it's really exciting. It's just a really good way to start off a season and kind of get everybody on the team excited for the rest of the season and to show them 'hey, we can win, we can do things, we can accomplish everything we need to accomplish,'" said Hunsberger.
"It feels great, especially because it's our home course, we want to defend it. The girls team went Jill, Kathryn, Allison to me to Julia, so a solid top five," said Lindsley. "We're just gonna keep grinding from here and get our girls back and just keep pushing the rest of the season. It's the start of something special I think."
"We are hoping that people can step up especially younger people," said Munks on the early season race. "We got talented people on the team and we are just hoping to make an impact and do great."
On the men's side, the team came out strong, placing second behind Syracuse. Junior Colin Abert won the Invitational with a time of 25:46 over the course's 5.2 miles. Senior Tim McGowan followed closely behind, placing third overall and running a time of 25:53 and senior Bobby Hill placed seventh overall (26:15).
The men's team is also really excited for where this early success will take them the rest of the season.
"I'm pretty stoked about it. I knew coming into this, it was still really early, it was September so I didn't really have an individual goal. I just kinda wanted the team to do well," said McGowan. "We got pretty kicked in the stomach last year with how we did. It was sick to see Colin do so well. He's got a lot better foot speed than I do, which makes him a great training partner. I think we all finished real strong and everyone's happy."
"It's pretty awesome. This summer we put in so much work. Me, Tim, all the guys, we even took a trip out to Colorado, so seeing it work out for us and having a great finish today was definitely awesome," said Abert.
The men and women both showed a solid, early effort in their first home meet of the season. The coaches were excited about their performances, and look forward to what lies ahead in the season.
"We're really pleased with their efforts. It's still really early in the season, but we made a lot of big steps in the right direction, especially compared to last year," said assistant coach Angela Reckart. "Both on our men and women side, a lot of PR's for each of the teams and the biggest thing is that they worked really well together. They packed up very well and they fought through the end."
The team has three weeks until they compete again, so the next few weeks will be a solid training period for them to prepare for the rest of their cross country season.
"We'll recover off this meet and then use the next two weeks to get in some good, solid, hard efforts and gearing up for more championship part of the season," said Reckart.
Abert is ready to take these next few weeks of training alongside his teammate, Tim.
"Well, one of the big things for me is just having my teammate Tim to run with, race with, hang out with. He's a really identical runner to me, and I think having him out there right next to me really helps me to push myself to the best that I can be, so we're just gonna look to keep the low stick going for the next few races," said Abert.
The team will next be action on September 30th, when they travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma to compete in the Cowboy Jamboree.
RELATED LINKS: Gameday Central I Gameday Live Blog I Game Notes I Depth Chart I Tuesday Roundup I Wednesday Practice Report I Matt Limegrover Q&A I Monday Notebook I Nittany Lions in the NFL I Gameday Reminders & Promotions
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fourth-ranked Penn State football (1-0, 0-0 B1G) returns to Beaver Stadium Saturday, hosting Pittsburgh (1-0, 0-0 ACC) in the Keystone Classic presented by Peoples Natural Gas.
In the 98th meeting between the two programs, both the Nittany Lions and the Panthers enter the matchup coming off of season-opening wins.
After executing what Penn State head coach James Franklin deemed perhaps the most complete game of his tenure, the Nittany Lions will look to build on the consistency. Scoring at least 35 points in each of the last eight consecutive games, Penn State owns the longest active streak among Power 5 teams, with an explosive offense loaded with options.
Penn State moved up to two spots in both the Amway Coaches and AP Polls this week to No. 4 in the standings, with Nittany Lion running back Saquon Barkley earning Rose Bowl Game Big Ten Player of the Week honors in addition to co-offensive player of the week accolades from the conference following his 11th-career 100-yard rushing performance.
The newly reloaded Nittany Lion defense proved disruptive in its third consecutive yearly shut out, with a variety of new faces rotating in to create the chaos. Earning the staff's defensive player of the week pick was junior defensive end Ryan Buchholz, who rotated in early to finish with a career-high four tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble.
Among the success in the season-opener though, Franklin noted early this week that there's still a bit more in the tank.
Looking at Pittsburgh, the Panthers captured a 28-21 OT victory in their 2017 season opener last week, outlasting Youngstown State in Heinz Field.
"Coach Narduzzi does a really good job and we have a lot of respect for him and their program," Franklin said. "They present a very challenging offense. Probably more similar to a Stanford or Michigan State style of offense. Multiple personnel groups, multiple formations, unbalanced, shifts, motions, trades. I think that's something that we're going to spend a lot of time working on this week defensively. They play a base 4-3 defense and will use a lot of nickel, and they'll go with their three-down front, as well. [They are] Very well-coached, play hard, physical and run to the ball."
Saturday's 3:30 p.m. matchup will broadcast live on ABC with Joe Tessitore (pxp), former Penn State national champion quarterback Todd Blackledge (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sideline) on the call.
What To Watch For - Penn State
1. Starting Fast,
Yes, this was item number one in last week's game day preview, but the Akron opener juxtaposed with last year's Pitt game only adds importance. Although it's in the past, Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley noted that the slow start against the Panthers last year was crushing. Against the Zips, it was DeAndre Thompkins' 61-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter that sparked the Nittany Lions early, as Penn State entered halftime with a 35-0 lead for the first time since 2009.
"I think that's something that sticks out is if you can get a fast start, come out, be productive, get points on the board as an offense, force three-and-outs and turnovers and chaos on the defensive side of the ball, then you'll be much better off throughout the rest of the game and give yourself a much better chance," McSorley said.
2. The Game Wrecker
Franklin noted that Pittsburgh All-American return specialist Quadree Henderson is a top priority for the Nittany Lions in the game plan. With a school-record three kickoff return touchdowns last year, Henderson closed out the season ranking second 11th nationally and second in the ACC with an average 160.23 all-purpose yards per game. In Pitt's opener, Henderson logged 155 all-purpose yards, rushing for 77 and picking up 71 on kickoff returns, in addition to seven receiving.
As Franklin noted early this week though, kicker Tyler Davis and punter Blake Gillikin will be key in neutralizing Henderson's impact, with precision in kick location as well as distance and hang time of the utmost importance.
3. Better on Third Down
It has been a point of emphasis for the Nittany Lions for a while, but it was perhaps one of only a few things that Franklin noted Penn State would need to improve.
"That is still an area that we need to get better in," Franklin said early last week. "We were 33 percent on 3rd down and on 4th down we were 50 percent."
What To Watch For - Pittsburgh
1. Jester Weah
Wide receiver Jester Weah clinched the win in Pittsburgh's opener against Youngstown State, grabbing an 11-yard touchdown catch on his only reception for the Panthers. A top returning receiver, Weah averaged more than 20 yards per catch (24.2) in 2016, leading the team in catches (36), receiving yards (870) and touchdown receptions (10) last year.
2. Hard-Nosed Defense
Yesterday Penn State offensive line coach Matt Limegrover noted that Narduzzi defenses are always well coached. Franklin used hard-nosed and physical to describe a Panther defense that returns after allowing 119.6 yards per game in 2016.
"The one thing about them is, they have a lot of new faces, especially in the front seven," Limegrover said. "They're not going to disguise, they're not going to show, they're not going to change significantly from week to week, but what they do, they're about as good in the country from a technique and an assignment standpoint as anybody you'll find. What they do, is they basically say we're going to play our defense really well and our scheme really well and you've got to play really well in what you do to beat us. That's what it comes down to."
3. Qadree Ollison
The Pittsburgh rushing attack totaled 208 rushing yards in the win against Youngstown State, led by a 91-yard performance by running back Qadree Ollison. In 2016, Pittsburgh averaged 225.1 rushing yards per game, which ranked third in the ACC and 28th nationally.
The Final Word -
Come Saturday, Pittsburgh will make its first trip to Beaver Stadium in nearly 20 years, having last visited in 1999, when Penn State claimed a 20-17 win in the final seconds of regulation. Although the Nittany Lions fell short in last year's comeback attempt at Heinz Field, Penn State has won each of its last four games against the Panthers at home, leading the all-time series 17-6 as the longstanding and historic series between the two teams meets in the second of a four-year agreement, set to conclude in 2019.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Frannie Crouse loves to score. She's pretty darn good at it, too. Crouse has netted 35 career goals in her illustrious career as a Nittany Lion. She ranks 11th all-time in goals at Penn State and tied for 12th all-time in points with 82, and she isn't done climbing the record books quite yet. Read More
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Frannie Crouse loves to score. She's pretty darn good at it, too.
Crouse has netted 35 career goals in her illustrious career as a Nittany Lion. She ranks 11th all-time in goals at Penn State and tied for 12th all-time in points with 82, and she isn't done climbing the record books quite yet.
She scored a career-high 12 goals last season as a junior, which led the Big Ten, and she just keeps getting better. Every season she has increased her goal total from the year before.
She has scored double-digit goals every year since coming to Penn State in 2014 and is poised to do the same in her senior year as one of the leaders up top.
Crouse is also one of the most clutch players on the team.
She has scored 13 game-winning goals in her career, including a goal in an upset over No. 2 Stanford and the first goal in a 2-0 College Cup semifinal win over Rutgers in 2015. She scored three times in the NCAA tournament during Penn State's national title run that same year.
Crouse always seems to come up with the magical goal in the biggest moments, and that trend continued Thursday night in Penn State's 1-0 win against No.6 North Carolina.
"Your big players got to show up on big nights," head coach Erica Dambach said. "Everybody's got to show up, but you knew that Frannie Crouse was going to be there tonight. You knew she was going to put one in the back of the net."
To put the moment in perspective, North Carolina is far and away the most accomplished team in the history of women's college soccer. The Tar Heels have won 22 national championships, the most ever by a whopping margin of 19.
North Carolina has had its way with most of its opponents over the years, and that list includes Penn State. The Tar Heels owned a 6-1 all-time record against the Nittany Lions before Thursday night, but this was their first trip to Happy Valley, and Crouse made sure their ride back to Chapel Hill, NC wouldn't be a happy one.
In the seventh minute she made a darting run to the middle of the box and Charlotte Williams threaded a through ball right to her feet that Crouse finished easily with her right foot for what ended up being the only goal in the contest.
"I love playing games like this because usually you're the underdog," Crouse said. "Our team may be ranked higher but they have the tradition that's well known. We just wanted to come out and beat them."
This win could end up being the most impressive for Penn State in the entire regular season. Coming off a tough loss to West Virginia, the Nittany Lions were able to rebound and defeat one of the best teams in the country to improve their record to 4-1.
The Nittany Lions held North Carolina off the scoreboard for the rest of the game in the stingiest defensive showing the Tar Heels have faced all season.
North Carolina came into the game averaging 19.2 shots per game and 2.8 goals per game. Penn State held them to just six shots and two on target.
"Defensive performance straight through the roster," said Dambach. "Not just the back line, not just the goalkeeper. [I'm} really proud of this back line, though. They've been under so much pressure against some of the top teams in the country and to hold strong against a great Carolina team is a testament to them."
Junior defender Kaleigh Riehl said the defensive performance is going to boost the back line's confidence moving forward.
"I think just the details were super important in this game," she said. "Always checking our shoulder, always bringing people together, organizing, and we knew that we had to bring a blue collar mentality."
The Nittany Lions will look to continue to use clutch goals and big-time defensive efforts to keep this momentum going all season long.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In a competitive series between two storied programs, Penn State and Stanford prep to meet again for the second time in two weeks. Read More
By Tom Shively,
GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
PARK, Pa. - There have been 37 national champions since the NCAA DI women's
volleyball National Championship first began in1981. More than a third of those
championships since the events inception belong to Penn State and Stanford, two
programs both very familiar with each other on the court.
Nittany Lions and Cardinal have each won seven national titles, tied for the
most of any NCAA DI women's volleyball program nationally. Between the two
teams, both programs have met four times in the national championship game,
three of which were won by the Nittany Lions.
In a scheduling quirk that has both teams meeting twice in the first month of the season, this ultra-competitive series once again comes into the spotlight.
The Nittany Lions took the first match in Texas just six days ago, but the perennial west coast powerhouse and last year's national championship squad can never be counted out.
It's the eighth consecutive season that the Nittany Lions and Cardinal have met either in the regular season or the postseason, most of which being early-season affairs with the recent scheduling of the rotating Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge.
While an early season and a postseason matchup have come to be fairly common occurrences, Penn State and Stanford will meet in the opening two months of the season this weekend for the first time since 1997.
For Penn State head coach Russ Rose, he views these matchups as a benchmark to assess the team as they prepare for what's ahead, with a challenging Big Ten schedule ahead featuring even more of the most elite programs in the nation.
"We play Stanford for a reason," Rose said. "We play great competition in the Big Ten and you only have four weeks in the preseason to play other teams, so I always wanted to guarantee that I was playing one of the best programs and teams in the country. I thought Stanford always fit that bill."
The straight set win last week may have looked impressive, but with a team like Stanford, there will never be anything easy when it comes to winning. Although Stanford has been challenged with some health issues, Rose was quick to point out that Penn State will have to be careful not to think back too much on their accomplishment, as it's still early in the season.
"There was nothing dominant about (Penn State's win) in my mind," Rose said. "It was a match where two teams were battling. We played the defending national champion without one of their starting All-American outsides. You don't want to celebrate winning a match like that because it's the first weekend in September and the season is a really long one."
For Stanford, 2017 presents a bit of transition as former Illinois head coach Kevin Hambly was named the sixth head coach in program history following the retirement of 16-year Cardinal head coach John Dunning.
and Dunning met twice in the national championship match at their respective
programs, with Rose winning both matchups. Rose also bested Stanford in 1997
and 1999, then coached by AVCA Hall of Famer Don Shaw.
From the student-athlete perspective, the Nittany Lions appreciate the competitive series just as much as Rose, understanding the history between the two team and the success both programs have enjoyed.
"It's a huge rivalry with Stanford," sophomore Kendall White said. "They're tied with us in national championships no matter what. It's obviously a huge deal for us to come out and beat them."
The Nittany Lions aren't too quick to forget the losses along the way. Last year, Stanford took the early season meeting in straight sets, something that fueled Penn State in last week's win and even into preparation for the second matchup.
While every game as a challenge and the Nittany Lions know better than to focus on one opponent more than any another, there's still a little added intensity when it comes to the Cardinal.
"It's different when you're playing the No. 1 team," White said. "It's definitely a factor."
This weekend's tilt against Stanford has an
extra wrinkle, as the Nittany Lions will take on an undefeated Colorado team
the night before, in the first of two Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge outings.
"We have to get used to scouting two teams at a time, being able to do that is good for us," White said.
Back-to-back games can be physically challenging at times, but the Big Ten schedule is centered around that layout and this weekend provides a prime opportunity to test conditioning.
"It's a lot, but that's how the Big Ten is," senior setter Abby Detering said. "Having (last weekend and this weekend) was a huge thing because it's preparing us for the Big Ten season."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Offensive line coach Matt Limegrover joined the Penn State weekly assistant coaches conference call this afternoon to talk Pittsburgh and the current state of the offensive line.
Fourth-ranked Penn State is set to host the Panthers Saturday at Beaver Stadium in a 3:30 p.m. kickoff, broadcasting live on ABC.
Listen in and catch up on a few notes from Limegrover's Q&A session.
A Seasoned Group
Simply having a group of seasoned student-athletes is exactly what Limegrover likes most about the offensive line right now.
"Even our young guys," Limegrover said. "Ryan Bates is a veteran now, he started every game last year. Connor McGovern as a true freshman last year wasn't even in the starting lineup for this game last year, the experience he has gained. Steve Gonzalez, people don't realize that Gonzalez and Chasz Wright, going into last year's fall camp were both listed at three. I think just the experience in big games and what it takes to prepare each week."
Looking at the Panther
It's perhaps the seventh time Limegrover has been in position to take a look at a Pat Narduzzi defense, with past Big Ten stops connecting the two. For Limegrover though, the one thing he has always known and respected about a Narduzzi-led or influenced defense, is that they are always well coached.
"They don't do a ton of things, but what they do is - it's kind of the old line, I think it was Bruce Lee who said, I don't fear the man who practices 10,000 kicks once, I fear the man who practices one kick 10,000 times," Limegrover said. "That's kind of the way they are."
First Time Out
Of the 13 freshmen (10 redshirts, 3 true) to take the field in their first collegiate debut Saturday, all three redshirt freshmen on the offensive side of the ball were offensive linemen. With varying levels of experience during their redshirt year, Limegrover noted that Will Fries was perhaps the most familiar on the field, followed by Michal Menet, with Alex Gellerstedt entering a whole new experience.
"I think with Will [Fries] and to a little bit of a lesser extent with Michael [Menet], because of the experience they had last year, traveling each week and for the most part being with the two deep and working what we were doing each week to prepare for the opponent, I think that gave them a leg up even though that was their first game experience," Limegrover said.
Earlier this week Franklin noted that he was initially a bit uneasy when McGovern made the move to center, mentioning he was unsure how a normally more reserved individual would handle a more vocal responsibility.
"I think as with anything, confidence is a great thing, it will buoy you, it will always you to get out of your comfort zone the more comfortable you feel," Limegrover said. "I think that's where Connor is right now as opposed to really at any point last year. He kind of had a kid brother complex last year, Brian [Gaia] kind of took it upon himself to lead Connor around last year, make sure he was in the right spots, doing the right things and I think Connor feels really comfortable with his role now. He doesn't have to be the vocal leader of that group, having guys like Brendan Mahon and Andrew Nelson in the room, they are the vocal leaders being the older guys. It's now more of an even plane with Connor."
By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State men's soccer team prepares to take the pitch against in-state opponent St. Francis on Friday, Pennsylvania natives will prepare to face-off against familiar faces, similar play, and a reminder of their home-state roots.
"Just being around Penn State all of our lives we know a lot of things about the campus, about the sports teams and we have a pretty good connection," said midfielder Austin Maloney (Harrisburg) on a common bond between the opponents.
Between the Nittany Lions and the Red Flash there will be 18 players suiting up Friday night who find familiarity in things like Hershey Park, hunting season, and each other.
While more than half of Penn State's roster comes to Penn State from neighboring states, the West Coast and across the pond, the Blue and White uphold a core group of individuals who enter Jeffrey Field breathing in the same scents and seeing the same tree lines as their childhoods. Some teammates and future opponents even recognize each other through past opportunities.
"Me and (teammate) Mac [Curran] actually played together on club team so we have a really good connection," said Maloney.
Defender Stephen Kenney (State College) hopes to contribute to the teams scouting efforts with his familiarity with past State College high school teammate and current Red Flash forward Kyle Moerschbacher.
"I played with him [Kyle] in high school," said Kenney. "I know him as a player so I can use that in the game and I can inform other players about him if he's on the field...just get a tactical advantage."
Among Maloney, Mac Curran (York) and Kenney are other Keystone State representatives like Pierre Reedy (Kutztown), Christian Sload (Reading), Travis Kell (Bear Creek), and Sam Bollinger (State College). Penn State's assistant coach Owen Griffith (Lewisburg) also calls the Keystone State home.
Although St. Francis houses 11 of the 18 student-athletes that called Pennsylvania home growing up, the Nittany Lions still find an immense pride and benefit from recruiting within the confines of the state and upholding a Pennsylvania presence.
"There are a lot of great players in Pennsylvania, you can go all over the state and find players," said associate head coach Chad Duemberger. "We like Pennsylvania players, we like to keep them in-state."
The natives also find great opportunity in head coach Bob Warming's emphasis on Pennsylvania recruiting because of their ability to stay within state lines and receive an education and expand their soccer careers.
Maloney and his teammates also enjoy the added benefit of seeing familiar faces cheering them on from the stands of Jeffrey Field.
"For me probably how accessible it is for my family to get up here for games," said forward Sload. "It's only like a two hour drive for them so they pretty much have been to every home game so its nice to have that connection...There is a bunch of kids from my hometown that go to this school so being able to see them after games and around campus is really nice."
"Everyone gets to come up for all of the games and all of my friends are from around Pennsylvania and they come here for school and they come to watch my games as well," added Maloney.
Those friends and family in the general vicinity of Penn State will also have the opportunity to bring the Blue and White spirit on the road, as the team will also head to opposite sides of the state when they face off against Temple and Pitt this season.
Although Friday against the St. Francis Red Flash will be another regular season game for a number of players on the pitch, it will also be a celebration and sense of pride for Pennsylvania's core of soccer talent that streams through youth leagues up to the mantel of university and professional play.
By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Although running is the basic concept behind cross country and track, the two sports couldn't be any more different. This fall, sophomore Danae Rivers is experiencing this difference first hand as she competes in her first cross country season at the collegiate level.
Rivers had a stellar track season last year as a freshman. She was named the Big Ten Women's Freshman of the Year of both the indoor and outdoor seasons, which was the first time a Penn State runner has ever earned both honors. She also has set the school record in the indoor 600-meters, 800-meters, mile and DMR and the outdoor 800-meters, DMR and 4x800-meters.
"Dane obviously had a breakout track season last year and improved all the way to placing third at the national championships in the mile and setting multiple school records. That was all off of doing cross country type training but just kind of a beginning level of it last fall," said head coach John Gondak. "Now that she has another year of experience under her belt, she's going to be able to be much stronger and potentially help contribute in cross country and add some more depth into that part of the program as we get to championship time."
Although it is clear that Rivers is trained well for track, the training for cross country is a whole different world. Rivers is mainly adjusting to the mental aspect of the sport.
"The major difference I have to say is the mentality and pushing myself to run with these ladies because it is completely different to run with a group. From Dolan Duals (the team's first meet of the season), I learned that you have to stay mentality strong and if you with a pack just run with them because that's who you run with all the time. That was the big difference from track," said Rivers.
Most would think that the more mileage would be the hardest adjustment, but Rivers isn't phased by the distance that cross country training adds.
"The most challenging part... I wouldn't say it's the mileage because coach and I have a plan where I'm content with what I'm doing right now, so I have to say it'd be doing something that's completely new for me. I'm actually running cross country races, so that's going to be a challenge."
Although the adjustment to running cross country is a challenge, the addition of Rivers to the team has the rest of her teammates and coaches excited.
Especially sophomore teammate and close friend, Kathryn Munks. Munks believes that Rivers is a strong asset to the cross country team and to her personally.
"I think Danae is a great contribution. I think she can definitely crack into our top seven. She's really strong, even though she says she's not, she has a great endurance base and she's got great speed," said Munks. "Me and Danae are really close, so it's awesome having that person there that's going to support you no matter what and she'll definitely help motivate me."
One of the benefits of running cross country this season for Rivers is that it will help her be that much more prepared for the track season.
"It's also going to help her be even that much stronger when it comes to track season. She was a little tired by the end of the year last year and that's typical for freshman, but the strength of just another year especially of cross country training is going to help her finish the season that much stronger when it comes to track," said Gondak.
Rivers is excited to have this extra bit of training and is ready to see how it all comes together during the rest of the cross season and for the upcoming indoor and outdoor track seasons.
"I am actually looking forward to how this benefits me in the track season. Being able to run longer distances, and like I said going back to the mentality, I think that's definitely going to help be stronger, especially when it comes down to running the mile," said Rivers. "I just want to be stronger and more confident."
That strength and confidence will help Rivers this year, whether she is running in the woods or on the track, and that can only be a good thing for the Nittany Lions.
By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a weekend of back-to-back matches to open up the home schedule for the season, Penn State will be spending a lot of time on the road, with a heavy away schedule spanning nearly the next two weeks.
With so much time spent traveling, one would assume Penn State must experience some away-from-home jitters requiring extra preparation. As head coach Char Morett-Curtiss and forward Moira Putsch had to say though, it might in fact be the opposite.
"Honestly, being on the road is more of a positive thing more than anything," Morett-Curtiss said. "It gives the girls time to regroup, focus on their studies and get away from the hectic campus in the fall. They always go into traveling ready and with a positive mindset."
This weekend, Penn State is set to travel to Princeton, N.J. to face off against the Tigers, followed by a trip to Bucknell just two days later. The Nittany Lions then head to Delaware the following week returning for a short trip back to their home field before spending the first two weeks of October everywhere from Michigan, Ohio, to Maryland.
"Going to away games is actually such a great thing," Putsch said. "We get away locker rooms, and we have little pregame dance parties."
It's not all fun and games though. The Nittany Lions know better than to let their recent successes get to their heads. Despite a 4-0 record this season and a recent jump to No. 3 in the latest NFHCA Poll, Morett-Curtiss emphasizes the importance of taking it day by day.
"We've learned a lot this past weekend," Morett-Curtiss said. "Although the team faced some tough competition, they managed to power through to smashing victories at the end. "We take a one-day break and get right back into it. We're very good at taking it one day at a time anticipating each game."
Putsch and goalkeeper Jenny Rizzo are both upperclassmen and have been leading the pack with incredible assists and goals from Putsch, and flawless saves from Rizzo. Along with their upperclassmen teammates, the two are excited for their younger teammates to see what life on the road is all about.
"It's cool to be home and get the fans, but when we're away, we get into a different flow and it's cool for the underclassmen to be a part of that," Putsch said.
The best part of a road trip for Putsch and Rizzo? Their fellow teammates having their backs for each and every play, but the mindset remains on a day-by-day approach.
"I think we're going to focus on Princeton for now, because we take it one game at a time," Putsch said.
"We lost to them in the NCAA tournament and in the spring. They're a really good match for us and I think it's important for us to remember the fact that we did lose to them and that it's not going to be an easy game no matter how well our season has been going so far."
Whether its on the road or close to home, the Nittany Lions love the support that the nationwide Penn State community provides.
"If you go to an away game, you hear the fans. We definitely compete with the away teams with fans. There are Penn State fans everywhere," said Rizzo.
The Nittany Lions are set to meet the Tigers Sunday,
Sept. 10 at noon.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin met with members of the media Wednesday evening at the Lasch Football Building, joined by defensive lineman Ryan Buchholz for a final preview before Saturday's Pitt matchup.
The Nittany Lions and the Panthers are set for a 3:30 p.m. matchup live on ABC. Check out a few updates from the media sessions as game day prep progresses in Happy Valley.
Franklin noted that the Nittany Lions have entered week two with a business-like approach, demonstrating focus in the early part of the week. Although he'd like to see a bit of an increase in energy, it's not something holding the team back on film.
"We're very focused, we're very locked in, very business-like," Franklin said. "I thought today was better. I thought there was more energy, there was more juice, more emotion."
Franklin is pleased with the progress Connor McGovern has made since he arrived on campus, not only as it relates to growing into his role at center, but his approach to putting on smart weight too.
"He's more confident, he understands defenses more," Franklin said. "In high school you don't really see a whole lot, especially the type of offense that he ran. I think that his biggest improvement is in pass protection, he probably did it more in one game here than in his entire high school career."
Buchholz: He reminds me
a lot of Carl Nassib
Penn State true freshman defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos has been impressing the Nittany Lion staff since he arrived on campus, even seeing his first collegiate action in the Akron opener. For Buchholz, it's the mental aspect of Gross-Matos' progress that has him impressed.
"I would say it's more mental than physical, but he has done as good as you can as a true freshman," Buchholz said. "He has the physical characteristics obviously, he's huge, he reminds me a lot of Carl Nassib to be honest. He's starting to get everything down and starting to get it."
Week One Takeaways
For Buccholz his week one takeaways focused on the entire Nittany Lion defense, as he noted Penn State's play-making ability as a key week one factor in the win.
"From the d-backs to the d-line, we all came off the ball fast and made plays," Buccholz said. "A bunch of times a play would go the other way and I'd see Cam Brown or Manny [Bowen] chase it down and make a big TFL so the whole defense as a group was running to the ball and making plays."
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Erica Dambach loaded up the 2017 non-conference schedule a bit heavier than most coaches around the country would feel comfortable with.
The first true test of the year was against West Virginia, which was pegged as the No. 1 team in the country before the season began. The Mountaineers made it to the national championship game last year but fell short to Southern California.
So, of course, Dambach jumped on the opportunity to give her team an early challenge and scheduled West Virginia as the fourth game of the year.
Junior midfielder and forward Alina Ortega Jurado said she loves the way Dambach approaches scheduling.
"We think we're one of the best teams in the country right now, and [Dambach] wants us to play against the best teams to see where we're at," Ortega Jurado said.
The Nittany Lions battled tough in one of the most intimidating environments in the country but fell 2-1 to the Mountaineers in Morgantown, WV.
Next up--North Carolina.
Yes, that North Carolina. The same North Carolina that has claimed a whopping 21 national championships since 1982. The Tar Heels have won more titles than all other teams combined.
Penn State will play host to North Carolina Thursday at 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. The Tar Heels come in to Happy Valley ranked sixth in the country, right behind the Nittany Lions, who sit at No. 5.
"They just put a lot of pressure on teams," Dambach said of the Tar Heels. "They press hard, they press with a lot of numbers, they attack with a lot of numbers, and so we expect them to be a big risk, big reward team."
Dambach also said the key to the game will be winning balls sent into the box on both ends.
If playing West Virginia and North Carolina back-to-back wasn't hard enough, the Nittany Lions have to travel to Charlottesville, Va. to play No. 8 Virginia on Sunday. It will be the third straight game Penn State plays against a top-eight opponent in the polls.
It's one of the most daunting non-conference schedules any team will face this season, but that's just the way Dambach and the Nittany Lions like it.
Redshirt junior defender Maddie Elliston said she loves the challenge and would want to play top-10 teams every game if she had the choice.
"It shows you where you're at," Elliston said. "It just adds so much to really see all the talent and get to play teams that you might not face until tournament time. It just challenges you in different ways. Every team brings something so unique."
Dambach has preached being "bulletproof" early and often this season. She said she wants the team to experience every style of play they might face in the Big Ten and in the postseason looking forward.
In her mind, she says scheduling the best teams in the country is the best way to make the team bulletproof.
"The schedule has been awesome from that standpoint," Dambach said. "We have seen so many different approaches to matches, and in these next two games we're going to see two even more completely different approaches to games, so we are getting exposed in a lot of different areas. We're figuring out what we're able to do against some of these systems. We're making some tweaks. We're making some changes and we can figure out if these adjustments work."
Elliston echoed Dambach's thoughts and said each non-conference opponent on the schedule brings a new challenge with them.
From Arkansas' physicality, to West Virginia's size up top, to North Carolina's individual playmakers and creativity--each test provides an additional piece to Penn State's suit of armor that will make the team bulletproof by the end of the season.
By Greg Campbell, Penn State Strategic Communications
On page 95 of the 2017 Penn State Football Yearbook, senior Mike Gesicki lists four hobbies. One is playing sports, another is going to the beach. When asked about the latter of those hobbies, Gesicki smiles, laughs and simply states, "That will forever be who I am."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Per the usual, Penn State Football head coach James Franklin met with members of the media for his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon. Quarterback Trace McSorley and safety Troy Apke also joined Franklin for a pair of sessions with the media.
In his opening remarks, Franklin announced staff player of the week picks went to the entire offensive line, defensive end Ryan Buchholz and DeAndre Thompkins on special teams for their performances in the Akron opener.
Among early takeaways, Franklin noted that he and the staff were pleased with Penn State's effort and ability to execute - even in the wake of some typical uncertainty with the scope of a season opener.
The Game Wrecker
Franklin noted the he and the staff were particularly keyed in on the Pitt special teams unit, specifically naming All-American return specialist Quadree Henderson as a unique piece of the group.
"He's the guy you go into the game and you say who's the guy that can be a game changer or a game wrecker, however you want to describe it," Franklin said. "He's that guy. So we have to have a plan for him to try to limit the impact that he'll have in this game."
In 2016, Henderson led the nation with a school-record three kickoff return touchdowns, also adding a punt return for a score last year.
Apke has a few unique family connections with both of his parents former student-athletes at Pittsburgh, his dad a linebacker on the football team and his mother on the track and field team. Although too young to attend a game, he does have a few memories of some Penn State, Pittsburgh history from his dad.
"It's kind of funny, my dad used to say every time he walks on this field for a photo shoot or media day, he tells me his blood is still on the ground because of when they played Penn State.
It's no secret that linebacker Jason Cabinda is among the most respected Nittany Lion leaders on the team. As Franklin noted, Cabinda's family foundation in the importance of education also makes him just as strong of a leader in the classroom.
"He's an active listener," Franklin said. "He's an active learner. He's on the edge of his seat. He's nodding his head. He's got great eye contact, and he's the guy that you feel really strong is going and reinforcing in the locker room and Saturday night what the young guys should be doing, as well."
When it comes to leaving behind his legacy after Penn State, Franklin said Cabinda is often one to reference modeling his approach to that of former Nittany Lion Mike Hull.
"I think he left an impact to Jason, and I think Jason is going to end up leaving an impact with the young guys that we've got in our program now, leaving a legacy that guys say, well, this is how Jason did it when he was here," Franklin said. "I'm very pleased with him. "The last cherry on top is making sure that he leaves in December with his degree in economics."
McSorley described Saquon Barkley's 80-yard run from Saturday's Akron game as if he was shot out of a cannon, noting that even sometimes it's a little hard to keep focused when Saquon is doing Saquon things.
"I kind of had my eyes backside with the read but once I handed it off and by the time I looked up he was already 40 yards downfield."
On The Quote Board
- McSorley's take on the offensive line improvements
"Probably the biggest area you can see is just in their confidence as a unit, where they're kind of going into games, they're confident where they're setting their blocks and really confident in themselves that this run play is going to work or we're going to be able to pass protect as long as we need to, to not let our receivers get open downfield."
- Franklin on the status of the Nittany Lion kickoffs
"Right now, Tyler [Davis] is the guy. We want to treat Alex [Barbir] very similar to other positions when we feel like we can get him a rep and gain some experience. We'll try to do that. But it's Tyler's job. I thought Tyler did a great job with his ball location. You talk about we'd like for that ball to land three, four yards deep in the end zone and outside the numbers, and he didn't consistently get it three, four yards deep in the end zone, but his hang time was really good, and his location was really good in terms of outside the numbers."
- McSorley's take on what the second half of the Pittsburgh game did for the confidence of the offense overtime.
"I think early on that was kind of a little confidence booster for us, being able to have that success and get it going. Obviously, it wasn't one of the big moments because yeah, we weren't able to finish it out and come away with the win, but I think if you were to look back on it and think about how we were able to have some success in that second half and claw and fight back and give ourselves a chance, I think that's something that you can look back and say, yeah, that gave us a little bit of confidence moving on through the year."
- Franklin on the progress of Connor McGovern settling into his role at center."He played at a pretty high level as a true freshman for us last year, has gotten bigger, has gotten stronger, has gotten leaner, is really doing a good job being verbal. That was an area I was a little bit concerned about him is he's not the most vocal guy. Making sure that he was going to take control in there, make the calls with confidence. That was something that I think needed to grow, and I think that was communicated through Coach Limegrover and myself, and he has done a good job. I think you'll just continue to see him get better and better as the season goes on and gain more confidence, which will allow him to be more physical."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fresh off of a dominant 52-0 win against Akron in its 2017 season opener, No. 6 Penn State will look to keep its momentum rolling, hosting Pittsburgh Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
Having officially turned its attention toward the Panthers, Penn State is set for its 98th meeting against, historically, one of its most frequent opponents, with an all-time series that dates back to 1893.
Sunday game corrections have been made, now it's on to Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt!-- James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) September 3, 2017
Spanning generations, the series crosses through the tenures of all 16 Penn State head football coaches, with nearly every true Nittany Lion fan able to recite their most memorable game at a mere mention of the two teams.
In the second of a four-game series spanning 2016-19, Pittsburgh will make its first trip to Happy Valley since 1999. In its most-played all-time series, Penn State has played just 23 games at home against Pitt, owning a 17-6 advantage.
The Nittany Lions met yearly from 1997-00 prior to a 16-year break that ended with last year's matchup. Within the four-year span Penn State played two games at home against the Panthers, winning both, including a 20-17 win in a back-and-forth battle in Beaver Stadium Sept. 11, 1999. It was Travis Forney's 24-yard field goal that put Penn State ahead with less than 1:30 to play, but a stout defensive effort and a blocked Pitt 52-yard field goal attempt by former All-American LaVar Arrington with less than five seconds remaining secured the win.
Before diving into Pitt week, take a quick look back at a few final remaining notes from the Akron opener.
Something About Openers
It's perhaps a welcome coincidence but Penn State's Amani Oruwariye has now recorded an interception in each of the last two season openers for the Nittany Lions. Either way, Franklin and his staff were equally excited about Oruwariye this offseason, noting postgame that his confidence in Grant Haley, Christian Campbell and Oruwariye is right where it should be.
"I loved watching Amani on that interception because it's one thing to stay connected and keep tight coverage, but it's another thing to have the confidence to turn and find the ball and be comfortable doing it," Franklin said. That's a difficult skill to learn and I thought he did a great job with that."
Sidelined with an injury for the final few games of the 2016 season, Penn State right guard Brendan Mahon reentered the starting lineup for the Akron opener.
"Nothing feels better than being out here with this team and out here in front of all our home fans and being back again and starting a new season, coming out strong with a nice win over Akron," Mahon said postgame.
Mahon's veteran presence on the offensive line was certainly clear as he helped paved the way for running back Saquon Barkley's 11th 100-yard rushing game of his career, which including a pair of rushing touchdowns.
"I have a great group of guys around me," Mahon said. "The offensive line, they're great guys and they're willing to come to work every day and put in the time and effort to be the best and we want to be the Penn State Big Ten type of offensive line and I think today was our first step in doing that."
Penn State's consistent success throughout Saturday's opener meant more opportunities for the Nittany Lion staff to call on some newcomers for their first experiences in a game setting.
In total, 13 Nittany Lion freshmen made their collegiate debuts, including 10 redshirts and three true freshmen. By position, that's nine on defense, three on offense and one specialist, with redshirt freshman kicker Alex Barbir entering for a pair of kickoffs.
Defensively, Penn State rotated in defensive ends Shane Simmons and Shaka Toney, as well as true freshman Yetur Gross-Matos. Defensive tackles Ellison Jordan, Daniel Joseph and Antonio Shelton also made appearances. Toney and Gross-Matos both registered a pair of tackles, with Toney adding a TFL and Gross-Matos adding a quarterback hurry late in the fourth quarter, forcing a Zips punt. In the secondary, Penn State saw true freshmen corners Tariq Castro-Fields and Lamont Wade as well as redshirt freshman Zech McPhearson.
Among all the new faces Franklin noted postgame that having the opportunity to rotate in Nittany Lions who have earned playing time as much as possible builds confidence in the locker room, alongside experience too.
"We want to play as many guys as we possibly can," Franklin said. "That's kind of our game plan. We want to be able to create depth and develop depth and the only way you do that is being able to play guys in the first half of games where it's legitimate plays, not end of the game garbage time."
On the offensive side, Penn State saw redshirt freshmen offensive linemen Will Fries, Alex Gellerstedt and Michal Menet rotate in. All together, Penn State's offensive line did not allow a single sack in Saturday's opener - something the Nittany Lions did twice last year. Not only as it relates to the defensive line though, Franklin also mentioned postgame that the offensive line has seen just as dramatic of an increase in improvement since he and the staff have arrived in Happy Valley.
Remember Last Year ...
Although not the ending the Nittany Lions had anticipated last year, this week's All-Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week, Saquon Barkley put on a resilient performance in last season's Pitt meeting, finishing with his first career five touchdown outing. With four rushing touchdowns and one receiving, Barkley's 30 points marked the most since Ki-Jana Carter's 30-point outing in 1994.
By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Much like Penn State's earlier weekend matchup, the seventh-ranked Nittany Lions found their offensive footing in the second half to power past Wake Forest for a perfect home opening weekend.
Wake Forest came out charged from the first whistle to start the game, but Penn State held off the Demon Deacons, overcoming a bit of the same slower start that the Nittany Lions saw earlier in the weekend.
After an early Moira Putsch shot went wide of the goal, Penn State's passing remained consistent between the Nittany Lion midfielders and forwards, keeping the ball under offensive ownership in the first five minutes of the game.
In another early offensive attempt, Skyler Fretz juked a Wake Forest defender before sending a swift pass to Emily Klinger. Moments later, Klinger worked past the Demon Deacon defense looking for a shot on goal before Bes Bovelander followed with a shot, saved by the Wake Forest keeper.
Less than a minute later, Aurelia Meijer attempted a shot, before Gini Bramley finished moments later with the first goal of the game in the net at the 16-minute mark in the first half.
The Demon Deacons battled back after Penn State's first goal, only to face a now fully charged Nittany Lion offense. Penn State drew its first penalty corner of the game shortly after, but couldn't seem to fit a shot in on a tight defensive line.
The Nittany Lions continued to push the attack as Aurelia Meijer slammed an unassisted shot to the corner of the net to send Penn State ahead with a 2-0 lead.
With less than four minutes left in the half, Wake Forest looked to capitalize on a few offensive opportunities, only to be stopped by Penn State back Bes Bovelander and keeper Jenny Rizzo.
Heading back to the field with a 2-0 lead, Penn State regrouped and settled into its offensive momentum as Putsch set up Mary Nell Smith for a perfect shot between the Wake Forest keepers legs to spark a 4-goal run.
"I think our team really buys in to being a strong second half team because they trust their fitness," Morett Curtiss said. "I thought we had a little lull in the second half but I think that we just told them to sharpen up their passing and be firmer with your passes and that will pick up the speed of the game."
As the momentum increased so did the Nittany Lion penalty corner opportunities as Putsch dished to Katie Dembrowski on an attempt to bring the score to 4-0.
Penn State's fire was only getting fueled as Shay Cannon darted to the goal just before the 50-minute mark to send in a fifth goal sending the fans in the stands wild and rallied up for a "We Are" chant.
"I just think this team plays so well as a team," Morett-Curtiss said. "They play together, they don't leave anybody hanging on the field and they have each other's backs, so it's great."
Perhaps no better representatives of that mentality come from Putsch and Meijer. Putsch closed out the weekend with three goals and two assists, including the sixth and final goal off a penalty corner, while Meijer added two goals and three assists.
"I think they're feeling good about the combinations that we're using," Morett-Curtiss said regarding the penalty corners. "Bes, Aurelia, and Katie can really get the ball on the goal, and that's what it's all about."
With a home opening weekend under their belt, Penn State charges ahead this season with a 4-0 record. Despite the stellar start, the Nittany Lions know better than to let confidence get the best of them, as they remain focused on preparing for one of their most challenging opponents, Princeton, this week.Last season, Princeton shocked Penn State with a win in the opening round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The Nittany Lions and the Tigers are set to meet Sunday, Sept. 10 at noon on the road.