October 2017 Archives
PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and linebacker Jason Cabinda
highlighted the Nittany Lion weekly press conference this afternoon at Beaver
Preparations are well underway for a second consecutive road trip, as Penn State travels to Michigan State for a noon matchup Saturday.
Since touching down in Happy Valley last weekend, the Nittany Lions have remained confidently focused and positive approaching the upcoming outing against the Spartans.
"I could not have more confidence in our players," Franklin said. "They had a player-only meeting on their own on Sunday. Sometimes I have a hand in those. I did not have a hand in this one. It was not a long meeting at all. The feedback I got, it was really good. Some things I think they just wanted to get off their chest."
Among the Nittany Lions responsible for the players only meeting, was Cabinda, who texted with quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley. Together, they decided to call the meeting to reiterate the mindset headed into Michigan State week.
"We just felt like there were just some things we had to get off our chest," Cabinda said. "Making sure the mentality of the team was the same. Be sure that we were [all] still taking the same approach. Knowing there's a ton of football left and a lot still left to be accomplished. We kind of just reiterating those things really."
For Cabinda, his confidence was reassured knowing that at this point, there really wasn't much convincing that anyone in the room needed when it comes to keeping the confidence alive.
"I know the kind of kids we have, the kind of guys we have in that locker room," Cabinda said. "It was really to reiterate and make sure the mentality was set. Get anyone who was doubting that and make sure we are all pulling the rope in the same direction, which we are."
On The Quote Board
- Franklin on how the team and staff handled Sunday's practice following the loss at Ohio State.
"We were able to learn from it, grow. We got a resilient group of guys with tremendous character and heart and belief in themselves and belief in what we're doing. We'll have a great week of practice and go play a tough opponent on the road."
- Cabinda on his experiences keeping confidence after a loss.
"I think the best thing about this team is we're very aware of what we're capable of. We're very aware of our potential and how good we can be. I think that's the reason we're not really losing any confidence. I think it's more feeling as though we just didn't play our best football. It's more disappointing really than anything."
- Franklin on Troy Apke following a career performance at Ohio State.
"I'm really pleased with Troy and his development. He's been a great teammate. He's kind of earned his role and worked up the ladder in terms of his role on special teams, on defense, now as a starter, a leader. He's very well-respected. The coaches trust him. He's making the plays that he's supposed to make from a force perspective in terms of tackling in the run game. He's making plays in the passing game from a coverage, pass breakup from an interception perspective. I couldn't be any more pleased with Troy."
- Cabinda on the strengths of defensive tackle Kevin Givens.
"To me, it's his leverage. If I had to compare him to a player, he is kind of like an Aaron Donald. He just plays with leverage. He gets low, he's strong and twitchy. He comes off the ball and drives people back. He lives in the backfield. He's always in the backfield, creating a new line of scrimmage. That's why he's so effective both inside and outside."
- Franklin on the positives following the loss at Ohio State in his opening statement
"Offensively we were able to score 31 points. Didn't turn the ball over at all. That's been one of our real secrets to success this year. We're plus 14 in turnover ratio, that's number two in all of college football."
- Cabinda on improving the way the Nittany Lions handle momentum shifts in the game, especially defensively.
"Those situations, sudden change, whether it's an interception, a blocked kick, some type of turnover on downs or any unfortunate situation. A lot of times you're put in bad field position and are asked to make a stand. We need to make that stand. It's as simple as that."
PARK, Pa. - With film reviewed and corrections made, Penn State football has
turned its full attention toward Saturday's assignment. Hitting the road for
the second consecutive week, the No. 7 Nittany Lions travel to No. 24 Michigan
State for a noon kickoff.
Saturday's matchup also marks Penn State's only Big Ten regular season trophy game of the 2017 season. The Nittany Lions currently own possession of the Land Grant Trophy, having captured it for the first time since 2010 in last year's regular season finale.
Established in 1993, the Land Grant Trophy is presented to the winner of the Penn State-Michigan State game, initially established to honor a pair of pioneering land-grant institutions.
With a win on Saturday, Penn State would maintain possession of the Land Grant Trophy in back-to-back outings for the first time since 2008-09. The Nittany Lions are currently 14-7 in Land Grant Trophy outings.
Like Penn State, the Spartans enter the matchup coming off their first conference loss, falling in a 39-31 triple overtime decision on the road at Northwestern.
Looking at the statistics, Michigan State is ranked among the best nationally in rushing defense, allowing opponents an average of 89.8 rushing yards per game, which ranks fourth in FBS and tops in the Big Ten. In total defense, the Spartans are ranked eighth nationally (283.4) and third in the conference.
Before officially moving toward Michigan State though, take a quick look back at a few more bright spots from the weekend.
Not-So-Retired Kickoff Returner
Penn State linebacker Koa Farmer joked postgame that he might not be the retired kickoff returner he joked he was back in mid-September. Between running back Saquon Barkley and Farmer, two accounted for 175 of Penn State's 185 kick return yards against Ohio State.
A large part of that yardage of course came by way of Barkley's stunning 97-yard kick return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff of the game. Farmer made the most of his opportunities when Ohio State did opt to kick it to him though, highlighting the day with a career-long 59-yard kickoff return in the second quarter that led to a Nittany Lion touchdown drive.
Even with his success Saturday though, when asked about the kick returns, Farmer was quick to give credit to Barkley, although smiling at the notion he might not be retired anymore.
"He's probably the best player in the country," Farmer said. "He is the best player in the country. If I was a kicker or a coach, I probably wouldn't kick it to him too."
Honors and Awards
For his 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Barkley earned Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors, marking the second time he's earned special teams laurels and his fifth overall Big Ten weekly award this year.
As the major national awards begin narrowing down semifinalists and finalists, Barkley was selected as one of 18 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, presented to the collegiate player of the year.
In the statistical standings this week, Barkley is still atop the FBS and conference rankings averaging 206.25 all-purpose yards per game. Having scored a touchdown in a school-record and FBS leading 15 consecutive games, Barkley has tallied nine rushing scores, good for third in the Big Ten standings.
Career High Day
Penn State safety Troy Apke posted a career-high eight tackles at Ohio State, halting several potentially big Buckeye plays that didn't necessarily show up on the stat sheet, especially near the end of the first quarter. Apke added one tackle for loss and one pass breakup. Apke has posted at least four tackles in every Big Ten outing this year.
Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com student
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite a steady rain, Penn State took to the field with an admirable amount of energy Sunday afternoon at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex, marking the beginning of Big Ten Tournament play.
"Our team came ready to play," Morett-Curtiss said. "They had great energy from the locker room. There's no way they let the conditions deter their focus on this game and I think we had a great passing game to get the ball rolling."
Katie Dembrowski opened up the scoring for the Nittany Lions in the seventh minute with a seamless penalty corner conversion, assisted by midfielder Madison Morano. While Penn State maintained possession, the Nittany Lions put eight shots on goal in just 15 minutes.
Finding success in drawing several penalty corner opportunities, an important factor of offensive play for Morett-Curtiss, the Nittany Lions were only able to score on one of five first half opportunities.
"I always thought Iowa was very skilled, and had grit," Morano said. "We knew it was going to be a challenge, but we knew that if we played together we would pull it off."
With a 1-0 lead headed into the second half, the Nittany Lions capitalized offensively to smother any opportunities for the Hawkeyes, while opening up the scoring.
Gini Bramley sparked the offense with an unassisted goal as the Nittany Lion energy levels started to rise.
With 12 minutes left in the game, sophomore Bes Bovelander set up teammate Emily Klingler to take care of the third goal of the match. Moments later, Putsch didn't waste any time, assisting on Bramley's second goal of the game, giving the Nittany Lions a firm advantage with a 4-0 lead.
The Hawkeyes looked to rebound with a goal off of a penalty stroke but the Nittany Lions didn't see that as a roadblock.
Penn State took over for the remainder of the game, scoring their fifth and final goal of the game off a penalty corner capped off with a swift shot by Aurelia Meijer.
"We were expecting a big challenge coming into the game with Iowa, especially being a Big Ten Tournament game," Bramley said.
For Murano, although the Nittany Lions would have liked to finish a bit more, it was a relentless team-approach that Penn State deployed to advance to the Big Ten semifinals.
Morett-Curttis, it was the team effort that proved key in the win.
"I give credit to the team for making a great team effort," Morett-Curtiss said. I thought our press was outstanding. I thought they put really good pressure on the ball, and our defense did a really nice job of not giving out a lot of penalty corners."
The Nittany Lions will prep for the Big Ten semifinals coming Friday, Nov. 3. Penn State will take on Maryland in the semifinal matchup traveling to East Lansing, Michigan for a 1:30 p.m. outing.
By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior forward Christi Vetter spoke about her teammates with great pride following a question about their impressive performances over the past two weeks.
"We don't give up," Vetter said. "That's one of those things that I can trust every single one of the girls on this team that they are not going to give up. Even when that final buzzer is done we are going to work all the way through that period. We are going to keep pushing that team and make them earn a win over us."
Vetter's words rang true and her statement was made apparent after taking ninth-ranked Robert Morris to overtime in back-to-back games. The team also fought hard into extra time in their last two games the weekend previous, against Merrimack.
During the first game of the series against Robert Morris, the Nittany Lions showed just how much fight they have in them, and why they choose to never give up.
Down 2-0 heading into the second period of the game, Penn State refused to give up, and would not be deterred in the efforts. The entire team showed their passion and fought hard to even the score, and even took the lead at one point during the third period before ending in a 3-3 tie. Junior defender Kelsey Crow explained how the team's mentality aided them in the comeback performance, and what message she wants her teammates to receive.
"We're mentally tough," Crow said. "Who cares if your down 2-0? Fight!"
Head coach Jeff Kampersal was proud of his team for not quitting and fighting back until the very end of the game.
"To be down two and battle back, it's certainly admirable," Kampersal said. "They are determined, they have grit. I love them for that."
Going into the second game, Crow made it clear that the team wanted to outperform themselves from the night previous.
"Our first couple series, we had a slow second game," Crow said. "But I think we recently we've shaken that."
The team came out ready to fight in the second game, and it was anything but slow as Vetter and sophomore forward Brooke Madsen each scored in the second period. After a late goal by RMU in the third, the teams battled it out in overtime before tying again, this time with a score of 2-2.
"We worked hard... I thought we were great," Kampersal said. "We competed. It's just down to working harder and doing better."
Kampersal credited his team's tenacious defense as a key to tying against a talented offensive team like Robert Morris.
"Our kids really defend hard. We don't give up many shots," Kampersal said. "[Vetter] is an insane shot-blocker. She knows what the shooting angles are and when to go down, so I give her a lot of credit for that."
Vetter ended the weekend with seven of the team's 49 blocks.
Moving forward, the team will continue to fight side by side for one another, and hopes to turn their close games into wins.
"I think what our coaches have taught us is that they have confidence in us, and certainly we have confidence in ourselves because we're fighters," Crow said. "We don't care what the score is, we're going to be keep going until the last minute."
Kampersal agreed with the sentiment that he and his staff has absolute confidence in their players.
"We have great expectations to win every game," Kampersal said. "They should too, when they play they are a very good hockey team."
Penn State will have the chance to showcase the fight in them in the upcoming home series against Mercyhurst next weekend.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's been nearly 10 months since Penn State felt the uncomfortable pang of the emotions surrounding a bitter loss. Experiencing seemingly some of its most excitable highs and even the lowest of lows in a 3:42 stretch Saturday, the result came in an excruciating one-point loss.
While the stat packet tells one story, as Penn State head coach James Franklin noted postgame, that's not the full story this time around.
Regardless of what the stats say, Saturday's 39-38 loss at Ohio State was perhaps decided by a final shift in momentum, a proverbial pendulum swing that sent a jolt of energy straight into a ferocious crowd, and one that Penn State could not overcome.
"The margin of error is very small when you play these types of games," Franklin said. "I thought the blocked punt was a huge play in the game."
With a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, defensive end Shareef Miller dove on a loose ball following a J.T. Barrett fumble for his first career fumble recovery to give the Nittany Lions a prime opportunity to widen to finish the Buckeyes.
"I don't think we've handled sudden change really well this year, defensively," Franklin said. "If the offense turns the ball over or something, like the blocked punt, our defense has not handled sudden change well. That's an area we've got to get better. I have to take a hard look at that."
In the three quarters prior to the final one Saturday, Penn State engineered its highest point-scoring total in Columbus ever, opened by yet another sizzling start, when running back Saquon Barkley returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to mute an anxious crowd packed inside Ohio Stadium.
"The reality is we didn't win the game against a really good opponent on the road and we have to learn from this and get better," Franklin said.
As the clock ticked down to zero and Ohio State fans poured on to the field, Penn State's first loss in more than 300 days was most definitely a reality.
Tight end Mike Gesicki was the first Nittany Lion to exit the field, jogging alone up the cement gray tunnel to the locker room, where he, the rest team and the coaching staff would soon gather to reflect.
"Coach Franklin came in and told us that he loved us and that he was so proud and happy to be the head football coach at Penn State, and told us to keep our heads up because everything's out there still in front of us that we want," Gesicki said.
As the small visiting media room flooded with media members, the Nittany Lions entered with a much different message than the one that resounded throughout the Rose Bowl locker room the last time the Nittany Lions were faced with adversity.
"For us, anything can happen," quarterback Trace McSorley said. "At this point last year, we thought maybe we have a chance at the Rose Bowl and by the end of the year we had a shot at the College Football Playoffs. Teams lose, upsets happen. We don't control our own destiny but we can focus on the only things we can control which is coming in each day, working harder than ever, playing harder than ever on Saturday's and doing whatever it takes to get wins from here on out."
For McSorley, it's not only what happens on Saturday's that dictates the outcome of the all the little things built magnified in the tiny margin of error.
Rather, it's what happens on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday that really makes the difference.
That's precisely what the Nittany Lions are ready to turn toward.
"You just watch film and think about the corrections, what you did wrong, what you did right," wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins said. "You talk about that as a unit and as an individual, you watch the film and question what you would have done on each play to help the team."
For Thompkins, the message he took in from the coaches and seniors who stood up to speak in the locker room was clear, that adversity strikes every team and the opportunity to capitalize on an even stronger bounce back is now.
As Gesicki noted, the bounce back begins at the end of the 20-minute correction period on the field today, with the conclusion signaling only one thing - Michigan State.
By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Penn State extended its season long winning streak to three to cap off the regular season with a 2-1 win on Sunday against Northwestern.
On a wet a sloppy day at Jeffrey Field, both teams struggled to control the ball in a hard-fought game on senior day for the Nittany Lions.
"I'm just really happy and proud of the whole team for doing such great work for the seniors today," head coach Bob Warming said.
Seniors honored postgame were Aymar Sigue, Dani Marks, Cameron Steele and Sam Bollinger, all participating in their final home game at Jeffrey Field.
Sigue was the hero on the day tapping in the go-ahead goal late in the second half for his second goal of the season. Marks also had a strong day as the stalwart on defense played his typical physical defense.
Penn State got on the board first when a corner kick went to the top of the 18 yard-box to Aaron Malloy. After taking a touch to settle the ball, Malloy sent a rocket to the top corner of the net, giving no chance to Northwestern goalie Robbie White for his third goal of the season.
Malloy dominated the middle of the field for the Nittany Lions, playing with great aggression and leading the team with five shots on the day.
"It was set up for Aaron because their back four line and their midfield line were dropping very deep so it was going to be a lot of space between them and their forwards," Warming said. "He (Malloy) took advantage of his space really well."
The equalizer came with 10 minutes remaining in the half for Northwestern. On the cross from Tommy Katsiyiannis, Sean Lynch cut across the face of the goal and was able to flick a header just past Penn State's goalie Josh Levine.
State was very aggressive, especially Malloy and Ethan Beckford, taking shots
from outside the 18-yard box for the rest of the half, but were unable to pull
ahead and went into the locker room tied 1-1.
With 23 minutes remaining in the second half Sigue put Penn State ahead for good. Northwestern goalie Robbie White was unable to handle a shot from the outside bouncing off his chest. The rebound fell right to the feet to Sigue who was able to put away the easy go-ahead goal from six yards out.
"We were just trying to build off a couple great performances that we've had this year," Sigue said "It's a great honor scoring on senior night."
Tom Katsiyiannis had the final opportunity for Northwestern sending a shot just wide of the net from the corner of the box with under a minute to play.
Penn State outshot Northwestern on the day 18-12 holding off the late Wildcat attack to pick up the win.
While the regular season may be over, Sigue thinks this team and his Penn State career is far from done. "We still have it all to play for. We can still win the Big Ten Tournament, and make it to the NCAA (Tournament)," Sigue said. "We have the opportunity to end someone else's season."
Penn State now awaits its opponent in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament which will take place next Sunday.
Marcus Allen, S. Miller, Farmer
By Andy Kuros, GoPSUSports.com
student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A game-winning overtime goal by sophomore forward Blake Gober completed No.15 Penn State's comeback win against Michigan in a 5-4 victory Friday night.
Junior forward Chase Berger's game-tying goal at the end of regulation set the stage for Gober, who sent the packed crowd at Pegula Ice Arena home happy after scoring his first goal of the season to cap the victory.
"I just went to the net," Gober said. "Then when I looked up I saw my teammates screaming."
Coming on the heels of a stinging overtime loss last weekend, Friday's Big Ten home opener against Michigan was a different story for the Nittany Lions.
"I think these guys are mentally tough", Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "This game showed it."
It was earlier this week that Gadowsky noted the Nittany Lions are still in the process of finding their identity, with the focus set on getting back to exactly what it is that lifted them to the success they experienced last year.
"I thought we played our best game," Gadowsky said postgame. "We absolutely got back to our identity and it felt really good. It felt like us again."
For junior forward Andrew Sturtz, who tallied one goal and a critical third period assist, the Nittany Lions are making progress.
"Our team worked hard tonight, from top to bottom," Sturtz said. "I think our performance was a step in the right direction."
With an emphasis on shot production also stemming from the 1-1 home opening weekend, Penn State made it clear Gadowsky's voice was heard.
"We got our pucks to the net," Sturtz said. "Our line had a target of 20 shots on goal and we finished with 15. We'll take that."
Penn State's physical play against a hard-nosed Big Ten team also satisfied Gadowksy.
"It was a really tough and physical hockey game and that is the style we like to play," Gadowsky said.
Penn State fell behind by two goals early in the first period, trailing Michigan three separate times throughout the game. The Nittany Lions, however, battled back.
Freshman forward Alex Limoges, whose first collegiate goal tied the game at three in the third period, noted the continuous display of fight, regardless of the score.
"I think we have a lot of resiliency," Limoges said. "The focus of winning the game was always there."
Michigan head coach Mel Pearson was also impressed with Penn State's ability to fight back as adversity struck.
"We would get ahead and they would come back," Pearson said. "I give them credit for staying in it."
Penn State will attempt to complete the sweep against Michigan Saturday, preparing for game two in Pegula Ice Arena. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m.
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State has gotten used to playing as a favorite in the Big Ten conference, but that changes for the first time in the team's history as we approach postseason play.
Sure, no one would be surprised if the Nittany Lions won three straight matches and locked up the Big Ten conference tournament title, but this season they'll have to do so as the No. 5 seed. Since the team was formed in 1994, it has never been worse than the No. 3 seed.
In 21 tournaments prior to 2017, Penn State went in to the tournament as the No. 1 seed 15 times. The Nittany Lions simply aren't used to playing as the underdog.
This year will also be the first time Penn State will play its first round game away from Jeffrey Field, as the squad will travel to Rutgers for its first round matchup with the No. 4 seeded Scarlet Knights on Sunday.
"Obviously it's great playing on Jeffrey Field. We love playing on Jeffrey Field, but this group needs to put all that stuff aside and just play right now," head coach Erica Dambach said.
Dambach has preached a James Franklin-esque, one-game-at-a-time approach heading into postseason play. It's easy to look ahead at the College Cup because that's where this team believes it can be this year, but Penn State is solely focused on Rutgers for the time being.
"It's really going to have to be one game at a time right now," Dambach said. "We're just focusing on getting better."
The Nittany Lions have sputtered a bit down the stretch after a strong start to the Big Ten slate. Penn State won just one of its final four games to drop from second to fifth in the conference. The team still had a chance to finish with a share of the Big Ten regular season title up to the final game against Wisconsin, but a loss dropped them back three spots.
One of the biggest areas of improvement heading into the tournament will be finishing opportunities up top. Penn State has created plenty of chances down the stretch but only notched three goals in the final four games combined.
The Blue and White were averaging two goals per game before that stretch.
Dambach said she's been encouraged with the recent attacking play and that it's only a matter of time before the offense gets its scoring groove back.
"I think that our ability to create attack has been really unlike any team that I've been a part of," Dambach said. "The quality chances we're creating right now--just the law of averages is in our favor, and now it's just a matter of that little bit extra to finish these."
The attack will be tested greatly in Penn State's first round match against the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers' goalkeeper Casey Murphy is one of the best in the business. She's allowed just five goals all season and has 14 shutouts to her name. Her goals against average of 0.263 per game is the second best mark in the country.
Penn State was unable to squeak one by her in the regular season matchup against Murphy a few weeks ago. The game ended in a 0-0 draw.
Dambach said the key to sparking the attack will start with the team's defense.
"Right now we have to tighten up some things defensively in order to create more attack," Dambach said. "The best attack is a great defense and how can we win the ball higher up on the field to try to break them down before they get organized."
Rutgers isn't too scary offensively, which is why one goal may be enough for the Nittany Lions on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights averaged less than one goal per game in conference play this season, but for the most part, they needed only one to win most of their contests.
It'll be a physical, defensive battle between two teams who don't much like each other, which is what the Big Ten is all about. It should be one of the more competitive first round matchups in the tournament.
Freshman Frankie Tagliaferri is entering her first postseason as a Nittany Lion, and she's been thrusted into a more prominent role offensively with Frannie Crouse's recent injury.
Tagliaferri said she's excited for playoff soccer but that it will be business as usual.
"I think it's going to be just as tough as regular season games," Tagliaferri said. "The Big Ten is really competitive, and I think that helps us and prepares us for all these other games that we're going to have."
The Nittany Lions will look to take that approach this postseason, no matter the role they play.
By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - He may have played soccer across the nation in California and Florida, but he found a home in Penn State's neon goalie jersey. From an eager recruit to a seasoned redshirt senior, Evan Finney reflects on his five years between the posts of Jeffrey Field with gratitude and motivation to move forward.
"I think that playing for Penn State is a huge, huge honor," Finney said. "Obviously one of the best athletic and academic schools in the nation."
When one imagines a soccer game, they picture freshly mowed grass, sunny skies, and a picturesque breeze, but Finney's initial recruiting trip during the height of a State College winter saw beyond the frigid weather that dawns mid-soccer season and recognized Penn State's historic legacy of excellence.
"I will never forget it, it was like zero degrees outside it was freezing and I remember standing on Jeffrey Field for the first time as a recruit with a foot of snow and then just touring the school and seeing all of the facilities, campus life, everything," Finney said. "I just pictured myself for four years and I just made the decision."
Finney found a natural desire to join the large sea of Blue and White walking to class bundled up against the winter elements, but most importantly he embraced a culture and team that gave him soccer, lifetime achievements, home, and family.
"I thought first coming here would make me feel like a little fish in a really, really, really big pond like an ocean but you know being on a team with a bunch of guys I feel like a big fish in a little pond just because I have those guys," Finney said. "We are all family...that's what helped me be away from home for so long."
Finney began manifesting the relationships and familial bond with the rest of the men clad in Penn State Blue and White from the onset, especially as he lifted a Big Ten trophy his first season on the squad.
"The most memorable being definitely winning the Big Ten Championship back in 2013," Finney said of his favorite times in the Blue and White. "We beat Northwestern in overtime and that was a huge, huge moment...I will never forget that with all the guys."
Although he redshirted his true freshman year, Finney's presence was felt between the posts and amongst his teammates for the remainder of his career.
His best season, as a redshirt junior, also gave way to another career defining and memorable experiences for the goalkeeper.
"Last year beating Michigan State in double overtime when Robby Sagel scored on a header with literally minutes to go," Finney said on some of his most memorable moments. "I thought that was a pretty special one as well because it had been a tough year for me with injuries and stuff."
That season Finney started all 13 of the matches he spent in net. Throughout the 2016 campaign he recorded four shutouts, while also ranking second in the Big Ten for save percentage (.810) with 47 total saves. He also earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors on two separate occasions.
Throughout the 2017 slate, Finney continued to shine through nine games with 31 saves before having to put away the starting jersey due to injury.
Finney wants to continue and motivate his success beyond Penn State's last line of defense as he looks towards the Major League Soccer (MLS) Draft in January.
"I am definitely going to go into the draft," Finney said, who added it's always been a goal of his to be drafted and play in the professional ranks.
As a productive and noteworthy staple on the Penn State men's soccer team for the past five years, Finney has become a part of the honorable, historic, and excellent standard of Penn State that originally motivated the young recruit to immerse himself in a community rife with Blue and White.
"When you hear about Penn State you hear about the history, the commitment, the drive you need to play here so being able to play here for not only four years but five years has been probably one of my proudest accomplishments in my life I couldn't be more thankful," Finney said.
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. - No. 2 Penn State football (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) is set to hit the road, traveling to No. 6 Ohio State (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) for a top 10 matchup Saturday. The Nittany Lions will make their first trip to Ohio Stadium since 2015, meeting the Buckeyes in a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
While Ohio State enters the weekend fresh off a bye week, the Nittany Lions will look to channel the momentum from a spectacular 42-13 victory against Michigan, in yet another quintessential Penn State White Out at home in Beaver Stadium last weekend.
Led by head coach Urban Meyer, Ohio State heads into the 18th meeting between the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium on a five-game winning streak. Well aware of the bonus of the bye week, Meyer-coached teams are currently 45-4 in games where he's had more than a week to prepare.
Since Penn State head coach James Franklin arrived at Penn State, matchups against Ohio State have been some of the most dramatic and thrilling in program history. From a 31-24 double overtime loss in 2014 to last year's magical 24-21 thriller, so much has changed from then to now.
"I think our team has steadily just grown over the last four years in a lot of different ways and a lot of different experiences to get to this point," Franklin said earlier this week. "But again, there are no moral victories, but I do think there are lessons. There are lessons that are learned in every win and lessons that are learned in every loss, as long as you're willing to look at them and be honest with yourself."
For both Franklin and senior tight end Mike Gesicki, when looking at where the Nittany Lions are now compared to 2014, it all comes down to maturity.
"We have guys like myself, Trace [McSorley], Saeed [Blacknall], Jason [Cabinda], Marcus [Allen] and DaeSean [Hamilton]. A bunch of guys who were either true freshmen or redshirt freshmen for that game and are now either seniors or a redshirt junior as guys who have played a lot of football for us. I think taking those experiences that we've gone through in our past and taking some of those losses that we went through earlier in our career and remembering what went wrong in those game and the little things, trying to improve from that and use that to our advantage now, I think that all goes along with being a mature football team."
Regardless of maturity, there's no doubting the impending challenge in this week's assignment.
"A tremendous challenge there, tremendous respect and a great history between these two schools, I think that's probably going to be one of the biggest differences in this game is being able to go on the road and play one of the best teams in the country on the road in a tough environment," Franklin said. "It's one thing to win at home in a whiteout. It's one thing to win at home with College GameDay and 110,000 [people in the stands]. It's another thing to go on the road and do that. That's a challenge for our entire program."
What To Watch For -
1. It comes as no surprise that Penn State's special teams have been on display this year. In his Tuesday press conference, Franklin noted he was particularly pleased with improvements in field goal protection, while also giving credit to Blake Gillikin at Irvin Charles.
"Obviously Blake has just been fantastic," Franklin said in his Michigan review. "I would make the argument that the punt out of our end zone, and then to pin [his second punt] on the sideline - and Irvin Charles I think is probably playing as elite of a level as you possibly could play as gunner. The combination of Blake's punts and Irv going down there, you see a guy who is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds running down the field like that, he's been tremendous."
2. Among few critiques following the win against the Wolverines, Franklin did not that the Nittany Lions would need to do a better job in caging the quarterback. When asked about containing Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett from beating the Nittany Lions with his legs, defensive tackle Curtis Cothran noted it will certainly present a challenge.
"Definitely just try to keep a good cage on him," Cothran said. "A lot of times with a lot of those good runs it's either the defensive linemen doesn't rush up the right angle, or the linebacker blitzes at the wrong angle, so it's just going to be trying to keep him caged. It's definitely a challenge, J.T. Barrett is a great athlete. He's been at Ohio State for a long time, he's seen a lot of football."
3. Penn State's improving offensive line will also be tested against the strength of a deep and experienced Ohio State defensive line. With 96 starts between seven Buckeyes, that also including returning freshman All-Americans Nick Bosa. With a team-high 10.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks, Bosa is part of an Ohio State defense that ranks sixth nationally with 8.5 TFLs per game, with the d-line accounting for 35.5 on the year.
"People were saying last week against Michigan that we were playing two good defensive ends and [Maurice] Hurst in the middle at nose tackle," offensive lineman Ryan Bates said. "They were saying that they are the best d-line in the country but personally, I think Ohio State, their d-line, they rotate a lot of people and I think they're the best d-line in the country per say, just from my perspective."
What To Watch For -
1. Earlier this week, Franklin noted that experienced Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is playing with a lot of confidence. Within the five-game winning streak, Barrett is completing 72 percent of his passes for 1,351 yards with an 18-0 touchdown to interception ratio. The Buckeyes are also averaging 53.1 points per game since a Sept. 9 loss to then-No. 9 Oklahoma.
"I mean you have to just completely respect everything that that guy's been able to do in his career and everything I know about him and have heard about him, he's a class act," Franklin said. "So that's going to be a challenge for us because he can beat you with his legs, he can beat you with his arm, he can beat you with his mind."
2. Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer said Thursday the Nittany Lions would have to be conscious of true freshman running back J.K. Dobbins. More than just Dobbins though, the Nittany Lions won't be singling anyone out.
While Dobbins is averaging 7.8 yards per carry with five touchdowns and 775 yards on 100 carries, Mike Weber has four touchdowns with 227rushing yards, sidelined only due to injury early in the season.
"We recruited J.K. Dobbins and I think Coach Huff said about two months ago that he'll be the starting running back before the season is over," Franklin said. "That's no disrespect to Mike Weber, we think he's fantastic too. I think that he's a special player. There's no doubt about it. He's playing behind a really good offensive line and a good scheme and just like us, they have a lot of weapons that you have to deal with, which is ideal for running backs."
3. As Franklin also mentioned earlier this week, Meyer has assembled a staff that's loaded with individuals who also possess head coaching experience. His take on a just a few of the former head coaching staffers, below.
"Their defensive coordinator, Greg Schiano, obviously very familiar with him and his reputation as a guy who's been a college and NFL head coach. Their offensive coordinator, Kevin Wilson, again you have a guy who was a successful college head coach in our conference," Franklin said.
The Final Word -
Saturday's matchup marks the eighth time the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes have meet as top 10 opponents and the all-time series within the stretch is quite close. As Penn State preps for its highest ranked Big Ten game since 1997, Ohio State leads top 10 matchups between the two teams 4-3. The last time Penn State and Ohio State met as ranked opponents though, it was the then-No. 3 Nittany Lions who emerged with a 13-6 win against then-No. 9 Ohio State Oct. 25, 2008 in Columbus.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer joined the weekly assistant coaches conference call during Ohio State week.
Talking everything from the Buckeyes to the Nittany Lion scout team, catch up on a few highlights from the teleconference.
Spencer on Dobbins
Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins' 7.8 yards per carry currently ranks fourth best in the nation as the top number among freshmen. The true freshman has rushed for 775 yards in seven starts and the Nittany Lions have taken notice. With great feel and balance, Spencer tabbed Dobbins a tremendous player with the ability to make all the runs.
"When you continue to play teams, each week there is going to be a guy who presents problems," Spencer said. "Clearly we have to be conscious of him with our preparation throughout the week but we have to prepare for them as a unit because they're a great team. Not really singling out one person, but just focusing on gap control and doing those types of things and rush lanes so that we're where we're supposed to be when we need to be."
No Surprises with
For Spencer, there aren't exactly surprises when it comes to defensive end Shareef Miller who's currently eighth on the squad with 22 tackles and at least a half of a tackle for loss in all but two games on the year. While Spencer had seen flashes from Miller last year in a reserve role, he and the staff knew what Miller could do in practice and even in a game setting, but the question soon became if he could execute with the game on the line. Through seven games, Miller is meeting expectations.
"I'm not just talking about his two sacks at Pitt, I think one of his best plays of the game in my opinion, was the safety at Iowa where he's circling out, he's bending down the line, he circled out and made a tackle, made an unbelievable tackle on an unbelievable back in the end zone which I thought was a huge play in the game," Spencer said. "Those were the plays where we were wonder could he be like [Garrett] Sickels, [Evan] Schwan, [Carl] Nassib, [Anthony] Zettel, [Austin] Johnson, dating back to [Deion] Barnes, those guys who just made those plays, those game changing plays. Could he do that? And he has shown to this point that he can."
Givens' Biggest Jump
For Spencer, defensive tackle Kevin Givens' biggest jump from last year to this year is simply in his ability to make the most of his knowledge of the game. With the versatility to play end, nose guard or three technique, Spencer noted that it's his size that also adds an advantage.
"That gives us a changeup guy where you can go, from having, nothing wrong with our ends at 255-260 (pounds), but you play at 285-pound end that's strong and powerful and dynamic, I think you have a really good weapon there," Spencer said. "At the same point, he can rush in four down and affect the pocket. I think what people don't know about Kevin is that he's so good in the run game because he plays with such great leverage and he's so powerful. If you ever tap him on his back it's like hitting a wall. You're going to hurt your hand, I have to go see Tim Bream every time I tap him on the back because I bruised up my knuckle."
Looking at the Scout
Spencer is pleased with the looks the scout team his given the defensive line this year, especially when it comes to true freshmen offensive linemen C.J. Thorpe and Des Brown, or "Big Sweat" as he's called.
"I coach against all of the o-linemen in the conference and those guys are true Big Ten guard, tackle type players," Spencer said. "They are aggressive, they are athletic. They give us a tremendous, tremendous look week in and week out. I'm really excited about them and guys like Mike Miranda. They definitely help prepare us and better ourselves for the speed of the game. I'm excited about them."
On any given game, Spencer noted that he'll generally rotate in anywhere from eight or nine defensive linemen, but the number is much more strategic than random.
"I think I develop tremendous confidence with any of my guys going into the game at any point in time," Spencer said. "I get a feel for the game. Obviously as you guys know we chart the reps on the sidelines so it's really strategic and calculated in how many reps I want a guy to take. We plan it out on Saturday morning. Myself and coach Franklin and coach Pry, we just talk about how much we want to see a guy this and that. If I could play more guys, honestly in games where we're ahead and I can get guys valuable reps I'll certainly play my younger guys because there's nothing like game experience."
By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After 60 minutes of intense play, the two teams gather at their respective bench. The coach huddles the team and discusses strategy. The players catch their breath, get some water, and stretch. All of this is in preparation for one final battle, the ultimate closing scene of the evening. The next five minutes will be played with all heart and courage. What is being described of course, is sudden death overtime in college hockey.
Overtime in hockey is an exciting and intense event to say the least. Players have worked hard and given all they had, only to end regulation with the score even. They now have one final sliver of time to try and score a single goal and earn a hard-fought win. The Nittany Lions like to thrive in these situations, and practice for it accordingly. Penn State women's hockey head coach Jeff Kampersal chooses to downplay the significance of the overtime period, with the idea that cool heads will prevail.
"We try to set our practices up like five minute games, so we're competing for five minutes and just trying to win that five minutes," Kampersal said. "We try to break down periods into four, five minute games, so that overtime, a 13th period, is just another game."
Kampersal's strategy is a great way to prepare both physically and emotionally for a grueling overtime period. Coaching wise, he tells his team to stick with what they know and play smart.
"We try not to get too excited, and stay focused on what's working," Kampersal said. "[There are] little tips I'll try to give them, but it's a non-panic situation for us."
It's not easy mustering the energy and strength to perform at the top of your game after playing a full three periods, but the Nittany Lions pride themselves on their training and preparation. Freshman forwards Katie Ranking and Natalie Heising both spoke on how the team gears up for extra time.
"It's a mentality thing, coming into overtime everyone knows that they have to step up their play so we can get the win," Rankin said. "We train so that if we are put in that position, we can come out even harder than we did in the first, second, and third periods."
"We practice for overtime with our conditioning," Heising added. "We have the legs, energy, and intensity for it, so we can go and get the win."
The duo stressed that the team is pushed by its competitive edge, something they believe helps them in all facets of their game. As natural competitors, the team as a whole hate to lose, and ending in a tie could be considered just as tough on them.
When asked their thoughts on ties (the team has tied once this season), both Heising and Rankin simultaneously gave the same reply: they don't like them.
"With a tie it's even, but every game we're looking to win. That's our goal," Rankin said. "If we all just have a competitive mentality; we can get it done."
"It's frustrating to end in a tie," Heising said. "Because it makes you think that you could have given a little more.
The team likes to treat losses and ties in the same manner when they reflect back and prepare to move forward
"It's all about channeling that anger in a positive way and coming out even harder," Rankin said. "[It's about] having a positive mindset and mentality... let's flush any negativity down the toilet and focus on the task at hand."
Rankin put her words to action in the matchup against Merrimack last weekend. In the first game of the series, Penn State was defeated in the overtime period. However, the next day the team was able to get the best of their opponent, thanks to a clutch game-winning overtime goal from Rankin herself.
"[It was] such a crazy feeling. Anyone that has asked me about it so far, I've described it as an incredible rush, a feeling like no other," Rankin said. "I was just happy to be able to contribute to the win. It's a feeling I will never forget."
Hockey is an intense, fast-paced game that lives off emotion and momentum. The Nittany Lions hope to carry their momentum from last weekend as they move forwards into the season. Next time that an overtime period rolls around, the team can take comfort in the fact that they are prepared, and that winning won't be too much of a challenge.
After all, they've done it before, and they are confident they can do it again.
By Will Desautelle, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Russ Rose's number-one ranked Nittany Lions defeated the ninth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in four sets (25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 25-16) Wednesday night to improve to 20-1 (10-1 Big Ten) on the season.
"I thought it was a typical Big Ten match," Rose said. "These were two really good teams that were playing hard throughout the match."
Penn State's dominant presence at the net was the difference early on in the match, as the Nittany Lions recorded seven blocks in the opening set.
A front line of seniors Haleigh Washington, Heidi Thelen, Ali Frantti, and Simone Lee all contributed in holding the Badgers to just a .022 hitting percentage through one set. Penn State, however, had offensive struggles of their own, as they hit just .125 in the opening set as a team.
When Wisconsin scored four of their first five points off of Penn State hitting errors, it seemed like the Nittany Lions would be in for a long night offensively perhaps having to rely on their blocking and defense to escape with a victory.
With the Nittany Lions trailing 16-9, Rose opted to make a move that changed the entire match. Redshirt junior Nia Reed entered the match for Frantti, who at the time had just two kills on 17 attempts with four errors.
Reed provided the offensive spark the Nittany Lions needed and then some, turning in eight kills on nine attempts in just the second set, including four in a row to clinch a close second frame with a 25-22 win.
"Coach is always telling me to be ready," Reed said. "As a designated hitter, I'm always ready, so the game plan was just to go up, go in and take big swings."
Reed would find the floor only three more times for the rest of the match, but finished with a career high 11 kills.
"Nia is a tank," Washington said. "She goes into practice everyday and works so hard. To see a result like that is just phenomenal. You love just seeing your teammates succeed."
Also with a career night was Lee, who made her impact defensively Wednesday night with 18 digs. Sophomore libero Kendall White also chipped in a game-high 21 digs to anchor the Penn State back row.
"It's great seeing your teammates succeed, especially when you have such great passing out of Simone, so it's great to see Simone pass well," Washington said.
The third Nittany Lion to turn in a career day on Wednesday night was Washington. Early in the fourth set the senior middle blocker became just the seventh Nittany Lion in Penn State women's volleyball history to reach 1,000 career kills and 500 career blocks.
Although Penn State hit just .241 for the match, the Nittany Lions sided out on nearly 63 percent of their attempts, compared to the Badgers side out rate of just 52.6 percent. Wisconsin also committed 15 service errors to just five for the Nittany Lions.
The Nittany Lions will head back out on the road on Saturday night for a matchup with Illinois. Rose and his team will look to knock off the Illini for the second time this year and remain at the top of the Big Ten.
Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Penn State Lady Lions led by head coach Coquese Washington met with the media Wednesday afternoon, as they get ready for the 2017-18 campaign. Coming off a strong 2016-17 that saw the Lady Lions finish 21-11 with a postseason appearance, expectations are high going into the year. Below are five things to look for this season when Penn State hits the floor.
1. Building off Momentum
For the first time in three years, the Lady Lions returned to postseason basketball last season. Penn State reached the Women's NIT third round, and gained some valuable experience from being able to compete in postseason play.
"It wet our appetite and it wet the kids' appetite for more," Washington said. "They enjoyed the experience of playing in the postseason, a lot of first time opportunities for many of them."
The Lady Lions will look to expand on the success they had last postseason and use it to understand how difficult it is to compete every night and win in the Big Ten, one of the premier conferences in the country.
2. Leaders Emerge on Young Team
With the departure of four seniors as well as second-leading scorer Lindsey Spann from last season's squad, 2017-18 provides ample opportunities for several players to solidify themselves as leaders on this team. This is a group with a young core, and a few players have an ability to take over as that commanding voice in the locker room.
The team will be without All-Big Ten guard Teniya Page to start the season, which allows several other players to gain valuable experience as leaders in nonconference play.
"We've gotten used to playing without her and it's allowed some other players to really flourish and step up. Jaida Travaiscio-Green has shown her growth on the court," Washington said. "De'Janae Boykin has really stepped up and shown how she can impact the team. Jaylen Williams has been a pleasant surprise for us and how she is playing with a lot of confidence as a junior."
The players also understand the sense of trust and accountability that has developed over the last couple of months.
"Off the court, our chemistry is really good," Boykin said. "We all get along and we all love each other. On the court, we're a young team but we're pretty smart too."
3. Freshmen Have Chance to Shine Immediately
The unique part about this current team is that there are no seniors on the roster. On one hand, that can be viewed as a positive because the team now will have two full seasons to build cohesion and develop together before the juniors graduate a year and a half from now.
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the team now is finding that voice who can lead the team, which is still so very young and relatively new to the basketball world.
The freshmen in particular will have opportunities to make names for themselves as the season progresses, further helping the building process of this team.
"One of the things I've really enjoyed about coaching them so far in the limited time they've been with us has been their attention to detail and their willingness to ask questions," Washington said. "They've progressed really well because they're go-getters, they play with a lot of confidence and I think they'll be able to be impactful for us pretty early."
Sam Breen, Kamaria McDaniel and Alisia Smith were all first team all-state players last year and are expected to make an immediate impact on the court.
4. 'Cool' Carter Ready to Step Up at Point Guard
Junior Amari Carter has been a strong voice for this team since she arrived on campus, averaging 7.9 points and 29.3 minutes as the starting two-guard last year. She acknowledges the importance of her play and how it will impact the team, magnified by the fact that she will be playing the point at least for the first few games of the season.
"Personally, I want to be more consistent in my play and lead the team better," Carter said. "We had little ups and downs during a couple of games during the season last year and my play. I want to be a better scorer, make sure I hit the open teammate, knock down the easy shots when I can and make sure when we get down or too high I can help us be more well-rounded."
If there's anyone qualified to fully take over the point guard duties, it's Carter, as she spent much of last year sharing time on and off the ball with Page and Spann. Washington praised her court vision and athleticism on the court, but also her ability to be mellow and even-keeled off of it.
"I think if I had to describe [Carter], it would be 'cool'. She would be very at home in the 1940's Jazz era. She's as cool as a cucumber, just so cool."
5. Games on the Horizon
The Lady Lions begin competition this Sunday, when they take on Cedarville in an exhibition game at the Bryce Jordan Center. More than anything, the team is simply looking forward to playing people that aren't themselves or the scout team.
"I am so excited to play against teams that aren't ourselves, and actually other girls on another team," Travascio-Green said. "Since it's the first game, we don't have everything in that we did at the end of last season, but we're working on just getting the basics down and getting in what we need to be successful."
Freshman Sam Breen looks to get her career off on the right foot, and is embracing the challenge of playing at the college level and in the Big Ten.
"I don't know what to expect, but no game is going to be easy, so we can't take anything lightly coming into this season," Breen said.
After the exhibition, the Lady Lions host Siena on Nov. 10 to kick off the regular season
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and running back Saquon Barkley met with members of the media following practice Wednesday evening at the Lasch Building.
With Ohio State prep underway, Franklin noted he was pleased with the level of execution and energy in Wednesday's practice.
Catch up on a few highlights from the media sessions.
For Franklin, regardless of what the outside chatter might be, Penn State will rely in its usual routine and stand operating procedure ahead of Saturday's matchup, allowing the Nittany Lions to keep a level head, especially faced with the magnitude of critical situations.
"You don't change," Franklin said. "You don't overemphasize things, you keep teaching football the way you've taught football all year long. For us, we're going to stick to our routine. We've played very good, disciplined football and we're going to need to continue to do that. Everything's magnified obviously when you're on the road, but I think that's something I'm pretty proud of, how we've done so far."
Drawing on his first experience against Ohio State, Barkley paused to look back on a game where he rushed for 194 yards on 26 carries as a true freshman for his third 100-yard rushing game of the 2015 season.
"I was kind of in awe of being on the field with Braxton Miller and Ezekiel Elliott, obviously coming from high school watching their highlight tapes, especially Braxton," Barkley said. "What I remember from that game, obviously we lost that game, it was a blackout, Ohio State fans are amazing, the stadium is amazing but it's going to be a fun challenge for us.
Since then, Barkley said he's a smarter player and knows both the game and the playbook much better than he did when he first stepped on to the field at Ohio Stadium.
"I just think I've developed into an all-around player and I'm willing to do it all whether it's special teams, blocking or making the catch," Barkley said.
On the Buckeye Defense
Speed, athleticism and length were all words that Franklin used to describe Ohio State's defense.
"They're one of the more talented teams in the country, Franklin said. "They have recruited really well, they have developed really well. They're really a multiple defense, they do a lot of things and they do a lot of things well."
When asked about how safety Marcus Allen's leadership has developed, Barkley noted that it has come through his improvement as a more vocal leader on the team.
"Last year, he was always a lead by example type of guy but as the season went on last year and in the offseason and now, he's more vocal," Barkley said. "He's a guy who has to be vocal, he's one of the best defensive players in college football and it comes with the part. He's taken that role and accepted it and he's been doing a good job with it."
When it comes to who is the better dancer though, Barkley said he has that one on Allen.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In fifth grade, Jason Cabinda and his mother drafted a contract. Unlike most written contracts, this one doesn't have any signatures. It doesn't need them either. It's a contract between a mother and her son, one still in effect to this day, drafted to honor a commitment to education alongside an ardent love for the game.
For someone like Cabinda, the path from Pop Warner to "Linebacker U" isn't as simple as the straight shot on Interstate 78 from Hunterdon County, New Jersey to Happy Valley.
When the Cabinda family relocated to Flemington, New Jersey, he was a child, life was good.
"At at first my parents were together and between their good-sized incomes, we actually lived in a fairly big house," Cabinda said. "We had it pretty good for a few years there and when my parents got divorced, that's kind of when things went downhill."
Following the divorce, Cabinda spent a short period of time switching homes, alternating between one week with mom and one week with dad, until his father moved to Chicago.
Natalie Cabinda decided to remain in Hunterdon County though, moving Jason and twin daughters, Linda and Loretta, into a smaller townhome, where she would raise all three children.
"It was tough and it took big toll on my mom," Cabinda said. "That's why growing up, I wanted to be a good thing for my mom. I didn't want to cause her any stress, I didn't want to get in trouble or those types of things. For those first couple of years though, I was."
In school, Jason's grades plummeted. Struggling with anger issues, in third grade he was suspended for fighting another student.
At eight years old, Cabinda was 5-feet-3 inches tall and overweight.
"At that time, I was a very negative person," Jason said. "It was really, really hard for me growing up because my dad was my best friend.
As a single mother, Natalie knew she had to do something.
In fifth grade, Natalie signed Jason up for Pop Warner football with the Flemington Falcons.
"It was very, very hard," Jason recalled. "I was that kid, who, it was hard to finish the sprints, who came in last, who had asthma, who, when we had to do bear crawls, I would hide in the bathroom."
In week one with the Falcons, Natalie can remember watching her son and several of his teammates getting sick on the field during drills at practice. She considered taking him out of football all together.
"The coach said to me, 'don't worry that's how they all start out, they'll get better' and of course, Jason got better," Natalie said.
As the weeks turned into months, Jason improved. His body began transforming as the weight came shedding off his growing frame, while his passion for playing sports was only just beginning.
"It gave me perspective, I know how it feels to be at the bottom," Jason said. "I know how it feels to be last, to be that kid who is really struggling with workouts to being the kid who is leading because I've been there before. I don't think there are a lot of guys who can say they have been there. You see guys who always dominated workouts, they weren't ever really that kid, and I was."
At school, Jason started avoiding trouble and his grades started trending upward.
"Football saved me," Jason said.
Jason's love of the game soon expanded to more than just the football field, adding on basketball, AAU hoops and even lacrosse.
"It was a lot of work for me as a single mother because I was constantly running from one activity to the next, picking and dropping, picking and dropping," Natalie said. "When I look back, it was a very good decision, even though I almost died because it was so stressful. But it was a good thing for the kids, it was very good for him."
For Natalie, keeping up with Jason's schedule meant balancing games and practices in between working two jobs.
"All my life, my mom has been a teacher," Jason said. "Ever since I can remember."
Fluent in French and a pair of native Cameroonian languages, Natalie originally started her education career teaching French.
"When I moved to the United States, there weren't a lot of schools offering French, so I went in for the English certification," Natalie said.
Settling at Piscataway High School, Natalie made the nearly 40-minute commute so that her children could attend Hunterdon Central High School. Three days a week, Natalie also taught evening courses at Raritan Valley Community College.
"My mom put me in school at Hunterdon Central High School because the education was really good and her main thing when I was growing up was getting good grades," Jason said.
As quickly as Jason's life soon filled with football, Natalie's expectations for his performance in the classroom also grew. A poor academic performance was simply unacceptable and the tradeoff soon became football.
"Then there were multiple times when my mom threatened football," Jason said. "Anytime I would come home with a bad grade, mom would threaten football and that did it for me. I didn't need to hear anything else."
Together, Jason and Natalie forged a contract.
"He loves football and I love education and the only way he would play football was if he was doing well in school," Natalie said. "So I made sure that I never missed any practices or any of his games because he promised me that he would go to school."
A three-year letterman and starting linebacker and running back at Hunterdon Central High School, Cabinda put together an impressive high school resume, named a three-star prospect by all four major recruiting services.
During the recruiting process, his high school coach, Matthew Perotti, would often take him on campus visits.
"I'm lucky enough to be so close with my high school coach because a lot of those visits were during school days and my mom had to work," Jason said. "It was hard for her to take a day off of school unless it was a Saturday to go visit a school."
With a focus on academics at the forefront of the college football decision for both Natalie and Jason, mom's top choice quickly became Yale.
"We took a trip out to Yale and my SAT score was too low for Yale, so she made me take the ACT," Jason said with a smile.
Having successfully qualified to meet the academic requirements to attend Yale, Jason calls it his mother's proudest moment.
"Jason didn't want Yale because Jason wanted a big school," Natalie said.
Upon their visit to Penn State though, everything fell right into place.
"I spoke to one of the academic advisors and he presented some of the players who had graduated with their degrees and where they were," Natalie said. "They were all already working with companies, so that really encouraged me to see that Penn State wasn't only about football."
Walking through a year-by-year look at Jason's intended major, Penn State's academic staff detailed the path that he would take to earn a meaningful degree.
Flash forward a few years and Jason's in the midst of a standout career, now an All-Big Ten linebacker, a team captain and perhaps most importantly, on track to graduate with his degree in economics.
"I am most proud that he has stayed focused on his goal," Natalie said. "I'm also really proud because he's turning out to be this really humble, beautiful person that a lot people really seem to love. That love of humanity that he has, that makes me extremely proud."
For Jason, it all comes back to perspective - the kind that has time and time again defined his confident authenticity and magnetic personality.
"I have a lot of perspective because I've been around a lot of people and you can't really understand people unless you're around them and you hang out with them," Jason said. "I'm grateful for that because I think that's why I'm as social as I am because I've been around so many different types of people from all types of places who grew up in all different ways. From people who had a lot of money growing up to people who didn't have a lot of money at all, who were struggling."
It's Jason's radiant confidence, of course, that Natalie has instilled in not only her son, but all three of her children growing up."I believe that anything that you set your mind on you can achieve," Natalie said. "That was a statement that was very regular in my house. All you need to do is believe in who you are and the strength that you have."
By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey split its opening series at home against American International College this past weekend. While winning the first game of the series 7-5 Thursday night, the Nittany Lions dropped a 3-2 overtime loss Friday night.
While the team did have an extra day to recover from the weekend, Coach Guy Gadowsky noted Penn State will be working hard in practice this week to continue the process of finding its identity this year.
"We have to get back to doing what we do very well," Gadowsky said. "It's not easy to play the way we play, it's actually very difficult and very taxing, but we have to get back to it."
For Gadowsky, it's a gradual process though, something that isn't solved with just a flick of a switch.
"You have to work on it, you have to stress it and the biggest thing is you have to buy in," Gadowsky said. "Not only when the coaches are there, what happens when we leave the locker room. That's what's important."
There were some flashes of progress during the weekend's home opening series though, starting with a few newcomers. Freshman defenseman Cole Hults stepped up, named Thursday night's second star of the game. Hults scored in back-to-back outings for the Nittany Lions, registering a power-play goal to start the Nittany Lions' opening period of Friday night's matchup to close out the weekend extending his four-game point streak.
"Cole is a great skater and a great shot as you've seen, but he has great offensive instincts," sophomore defenseman Kris Myllari said. "He's been a great compliment with Erik (Autio) and that's been huge for our d-core."
Drawing on the positives of the weekend, junior goaltender Chris Funkey also made his first start of the year Friday night, making 21 saves.
"Funkey played because he's an excellent goaltender," Gadowsky said. "He deserves to play, he's earned that and we want him to play."
For Gadowsky though, among his skillset, Funkey is the type of Nittany Lion who brings tremendous value and leadership in other critical areas for the team, not just on the ice.
"He's such a positive guy and such a good team guy who's not going to let one goal or one loss bring him down," senior captain James Robinson said.
Looking ahead, the Nittany Lions will play Michigan this weekend, under the direction of a new head coach for the first time in more than 30 years with Mel Pearson guiding the Wolverines. Even with a new face behind the bench, Gadowsky doesn't expect a Michigan team that's drastically different than what Penn State has experienced recently.
"I don't expect much differently because Mel Pearson, he's a great coach, he coached with Red [Berenson] for 23 years," Gadowsky said. "Red Berenson's footprints are all over everything that program does and they probably will be for decades and decades."As it is with any Big Ten opponent, the intensity will be high this weekend, but Penn State is confident in its ability to remain positive and rise to the challenge in its first conference series at home this year.
By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - He may have grown up going to the Berkey Creamery and spending Saturdays in Beaver Stadium, but he found another kind of home on the Penn State men's soccer team. As a walk-on, State College native Sam Bollinger uses his coveted Blue and White No. 26 as a motivation to consistently work hard and remain resilient in all facets of his life at Penn State.
"Sam Bollinger is just a tremendous story to begin with," head coach Bob Warming said. "A local guy whose put himself in the position to not only be on our team but be a starter on our team, be a scholarship player on our team, to be Academic All-Big Ten."
After his freshman year as a Penn State student, Bollinger worked restlessly to earn a spot on Jeffrey Field's pitch as a student-athlete.
"What you leave behind is a legacy and the legacy is how hard you work every day and what the standard continues to be for the program no matter what and they've really helped leave a great legacy for us," Warming said on the senior class.
Bollinger's legacy began when he played meaningful minutes as a walk-on sophomore. In his sophomore campaign, he appeared in 14 games for 495 minutes and notched a season-high three goals.
"Most memorable on the field was probably my first goal at Ohio State two years ago," Bollinger said. "Obviously I wanted to play for Penn State my whole life it was a dream come true to be able to contribute in that way by scoring."
As a junior, his playing time increased through 13 games, two starts and 570 minutes; he even played a season-high 90 minutes through three consecutive games on the field in 2016.
He continues to contribute as a forward and midfielder throughout this season's senior campaign. Through fourteen games Bollinger has already notched 734 minutes of total play with two crucial assists.
Bollinger's work ethic does not only play through his time spent on the pitch, but also his education and future career path.
He has been recognized as a Schreyer Honors College Scholar, Academic All-Big Ten athlete and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar throughout his time at Penn State.
"All the things Sam's done are the things you'd love to see out of every student athlete," Warming said. "He is going to be a great physician or researcher or whatever he decides to do."
Following in his father's footsteps, Bollinger is majoring in chemistry and pursuing medical school after graduation.
"Still medical school," Bollinger said on his future plans. "I actually just completed like all of my applications for all of the schools so I'm just waiting to hear back now hopefully I'll start getting interviews soon."
As the Penn State men's soccer player looks towards his future beyond graduation, he also reflects upon his college experience with gratitude towards a program that enabled his hometown roots and stimulated a motivating and successful work ethic.
"It just kind of was like my freshman year, I wasn't on the team and I kind of was like lost," Bollinger said on his first year at Penn State and the importance of the men's soccer team. "I had my high school friends but didn't really know my place at Penn State and being on the team just gave me a lot more meaning in my college career. It kind of helped me structure my time a lot better, it gave me a sense of purpose waking up everyday...it made my college experience a million times better than it would've been otherwise."
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. - As he does every week, Penn State head coach James Franklin met with members of the media Tuesday afternoon for his weekly press conference. Cornerback Grant Haley and offensive lineman Ryan Bates also joined him for a pair of additional media sessions.
The second-ranked Nittany Lions are fully underway in preparations for an upcoming road trip at No. 6 Ohio State.
"To get into Ohio State, we have so much respect for the university as a whole and the football program and their history and their tradition," Franklin said. "Obviously Urban Meyer is one of the most respected coaches in college football and has been very successful there and everywhere else he's been."
The transition from more than 110,000 cheering fans clad in white to nearly 104,000 fans cheering against Penn State isn't one that's unfamiliar for the Nittany Lions, as they prepare to enter another tough road environment at Ohio Stadium.
"I think we're going into a hostile environment, also something similar to the Beaver Stadium atmosphere," Haley said. "I think the coaches have a good game plan, good working practice with loud music and just the intensity that we're going to see on Saturday. I think from a leadership standpoint, we just have to keep everybody focused. Last week was last week and we're trying to stay focused on Ohio State and going 1-0 this year."
For Franklin the experience at Iowa's Kinnick Stadium is valuable and the Nittany Lions will draw on the same practice methods this week, cranking the music during practice to an often uncomfortable level.
"This week, we're going to do it starting today - Tuesday - we're going to do it all week long to make it as difficult as we possibly can make it," Franklin said. "As you guys know, I think I told you earlier in the year we went out and bought one of those decibel meters for practices and for games so we can literally replicate the type of music that's played in the stadium, crowd noise, chants, songs, how loud it is, the whole deal."
Even with the practice simulation though, experience certainly makes a different, especially for someone like Bates, who will make his first trip to Ohio Stadium Saturday.
"I think that us playing Iowa this year at Iowa they had the "stripe out" and it was a night game and it was loud," Bates said. "I couldn't hear myself think let alone hear [quarterback] Trace [McSorley] make some calls. Honestly, I think that if we could play the way we played versus Iowa in that environment, I think we can play anywhere."
On The Quote Board -
- Franklin on what he sees in Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett ...
"I see J.T. playing with a lot of confidence right now and he's obviously surrounded by a lot of talent and he's doing a great job of distributing the ball to that talent. So, again, you got an experienced play making quarterback and playing in a scheme that really accents his abilities and his supporting cast."
- Bates on confidence ...
"Playing football, confidence is the biggest thing you can have really. If you're not confident in yourself, then who is going to believe in you if you don't believe in yourself really?"
- Haley on the combination of leadership styles between himself, linebacker Jason Cabinda and safety Marcus Allen ...
"I think a video on Twitter or something the other day, Jason kind of put it perfectly - we mesh together well. Jason's that vocal leader, I'm more of the lead by example guy, and Marcus kind of combines the both like with his character and his goofiness."
- Franklin on the benefit of experiencing a hostile environment earlier in the season and how he'll prepare the team this week ...
"I think we all know it's tough to do. It's tough to come and play at Penn State. It's tough to go on the road and play at Ohio State. But that's the situation we're in and I want our guys to embrace it. I'm going to try to make practice as difficult as I possibly can. Typically we do light music on Tuesday, because there's still a lot of teaching going on from a game plan perspective and then Wednesday it is full throttle, piercing eardrums, headaches for the coaches at the end of practice, it's not a whole lot of fun."
- Bates on whether Michigan was the best game Penn State's offensive line has played this year ...
"I'm not sure. I know last week we played really well. I'm not sure if it's the best one we played all year. There are always corrections we have to make. After the game, you watch film and you see the mistakes you made on technique and the mental errors you made if you blocked the wrong guy, there's always places to grow."
- Haley on managing emotions when it comes to reflecting on his past performance against Ohio State ahead of this week's matchup ...
"I don't think I use last year as any advantage for me. I think that our coaches do a great job of keeping us level-headed, keeping us focused, keeping the outside world away from us in terms of like social media and TV. So I think that we're a mature group of guys, so I think that having guys like [DaeSean Hamilton], guys like even Trace [McSorley] and Saquon [Barkley], leaders on offense and leaders on defense, I think people can just reiterate the message of what we want to do each and every week."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 2 Penn State football will hit the road this week, opening a two-game road swing beginning with a trip to sixth-ranked Ohio State. Although solely focused on the Buckeyes, the Nittany Lions hauled in the weekly awards this week, coming off a spectacular performance against Michigan in the Penn State White Out game.
Weekly Award Rundown
Following the victory, three different Nittany Lions earned five weekly awards for their performances against Michigan. Quarterback Trace McSorley earned the Rose Bowl Big Ten Player of the Week honor in addition to being selected as the Walter Camp National Player of the Week.
McSorley, who threw for 282 passing yards against the Wolverines, rushed for three touchdowns, tossing one touchdown reception to mark his 22nd consecutive game with a touchdown pass. Earning Walter Camp National Player of the week honors, McSorley is just the ninth Nittany Lion to earn the honor and the first offensive selection.
Running back Saquon Barkley and linebacker Jason Cabinda picked up a pair of Big Ten Weekly honors named offensive and defensive players of the week, respectively. Barkley was also selected to the Paul Hornung Award weekly honor roll.
Barkley has been a staple of the weekly awards releases this year, collecting his third offensive honor of the year with one Special Teams Player of the Week honor earlier this season. Cabinda's honor marks his first career Defensive Player of the Week award.
Meyer: 'He's the best
all-purpose guy we've probably faced in maybe my career'
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer had high praise for Barkley, calling the midseason All-American probably the best all-purpose guy the Buckeyes have faced in his career.
"He's obviously a great running back but they do a good job using him and creating matchup issues," Myer said. "But his threat - no disrespect for the great running backs. You have different ways of bottling up great running backs. It's hard, especially this guy, really hard. But the fact that they motion him out and create matchup nightmares, that's what makes this guy. He's - I'd be careful to say this, but he's as good an all-purpose running back we've seen. And that's 30 years."
On the defense too ...
Meyer also made note of Penn State's defense, which executed at an elite level in Saturday's 42-13 win against the Wolverines.
"They just come after you," Meyer said. "They're very aggressive with - their defensive line, it's not a read-and-react, they're up the field and they menaced the team up north. They were all over the place."
The Nittany Lion defense racked up 7.0 sacks against the Wolverines, while also forcing a pair of fumbles. Cabinda, who led the team with 13 tackles, forced an O'Korn fumble on Michigan's first drive of the third quarter before cornerback Christian Campbell's strip sack early in the fourth quarter, which defensive tackle Robert Windsor picked up for his second career fumble recovery.
"The combination of him and that defensive line, like any very good team, that's what you notice right away, is the explosiveness of the defensive line and a guy like No. 40, great player," Meyer said.
In the statistical rankings, Penn State's scoring defense is tops in the conference and FBS, allowing an average 9.6 points per game, also sliding up to the top spot in team passing efficiency defense (94.02). A total of 27 different Nittany Lions have recorded at least a half of a tackle for loss this season as Penn State also enters the week leading the Big Ten and ranked fourth in FBS averaging 8.4 tackles for loss per game.
On the offensive side of the ball, Barkley continues to remain atop the national standings all-purpose yards, averaging 211.14 per game. Barkley logged 176 all-purpose yards against the Wolverines, rushing for 108 yards with 53 receiving yards and 15 yards on kick return.
By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior Greta Lindsley has certainly made her mark on the cross country course since she started four years ago as a freshman, but more importantly, she's made her mark off the course as well, pursuing a future career in broadcast journalism.
From Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Lindsley is a senior cross country and track & field runner here at Penn State. She first got her start in running when she was young and was inspired to continue from her father's collegiate running career.
"I was always trying new sports, playing outside, and wildly energetic, so the only logical solution was put that energy into something productive. I did a couple fun runs in elementary school and loved it, but I didn't really focus on it as my main sport until junior year in high school. Plus, my dad ran in college, so he inspired me to lace up the spikes," Lindsley said.
The decision to run in college was a big one for Lindsley, but so was deciding what to major in. She always knew that journalism was the direction she wanted to go in, but had trouble picking the area to focus on.
"I have always enjoyed writing, plus I'm a big talker, so it didn't take long for me to realize that journalism was the way to go. I originally started as a print journalism major, but really started to like the broadcast side of things better around my spring semester sophomore year," Lindsley said.
Although the journey to deciding a future career path wasn't easy, the decision to come to Penn State was an easy one for Lindsley. She says that Penn State felt like home right away.
"During my visit, I got to go on the field at Beaver Stadium, watch a home cross country meet, and I also got to see the College of Communication's Centre County Report (CCR) newsroom during a live broadcast, which is what I'm currently a part of right now, so I was immediately in awe of all there was available here," Lindsley said.
A huge struggle of being a student-athlete is the time commitment that you have to put toward your sport. Lindsley found out how to time manage as soon as she got to campus her first year. She now balances practice, meets, schoolwork and the Centre County Report, which is news, weather and sports presented by Penn State's College of Communications students.
"Although I have a lot more on my plate with CCR and my sport this year, I have a lot of practice with prioritizing to-do lists from the past. The bright side for me is that I thoroughly enjoy my major and my sport, so even though I can get stressed out, I love what I get to do every day," Lindsley said.
Lindsley has experience with a news station prior to Centre County Report. She recently had an internship at WGAL, a local news station in her hometown.
"It was my first experience in a newsroom, and I was so lucky to have gotten the opportunity to learn from such a talented network right away. I got to sit in and watch the anchors live from the studio, but I also got to go on the road with reporters and cameramen to a scene. I observed, took notes, asked questions, and wrote everything down," Lindsley said.
Lindsley knows that interning at WGAL prepared her for how fast-paced things are in Centre County Report, she even still brings that same notebook to CCR today.
Balancing all of these things can be really tough, but Lindsley knows that being this involved is only preparing her for her next phase of her career.
"My favorite thing about working for the Centre County Report is how well it's preparing me for my next stage in this job field. During my internship last summer, I practiced anchoring and reporting, but this class was the first time I was actually on air," Lindsley said. "I'm learning something new every day, and it's a great program to put on a resumé. I also enjoy the people I work with. I have very helpful professors and very talented classmates to take notes from, so I'm in a really great spot there."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - From the moment head coach James Franklin checked the time at his postgame press conference, Penn State's 37 minutes of uninterrupted enjoyment are long over. While coaches grade out film and make corrections, the team returns to the grind, with week eight on the horizon.
Penn State unsurprisingly remained second in both releases of the AP and the Amway Coaches polls this week. In fact, there was hardly anything surprising to the Nittany Lions in Saturday's 42-13 win against Michigan.
In front of the largest Beaver Stadium crowd in program history, the second-ranked Nittany Lions silenced many of their critics, perhaps going one step further to prove just how little the opinions of those critics even mattered in the first place.
"One of the things we're doing, I haven't been around it very much, we're playing really good in all three phases and that doesn't happen very often where offense, defense, and special teams are all playing good enough to win," Franklin said.
While also noting room for improvement, it's only cause for excitement for Franklin. Looking back on an offense that racked up more total yards in the first half than any Michigan team coached by Jim Harbaugh has surrendered in any half, it's easy to see why. Complimented by its special teams, Penn State's defense rose to the occasion, shutting down the Michigan offense on drive after drive.
Penn State emerged with more than just its first 4-0 start to Big Ten play since 2011 and a 15th consecutive regular season win though.
The Nittany Lion offense accounted for 506 yards of total offense, led by a quarterback who rushed for a career-high three touchdowns, the first Penn State signal-caller to do so since at least 1982.
"I don't think people put enough value on toughness at the quarterback position," Franklin said. "The guy is going to stand in the pocket when you know the blitz is coming and you know you're going to get hit but you still deliver the ball and then being able to run the ball tonight way obviously helped us out."
McSorley went 17-for-26 against Michigan for 282 yards, targeting his receivers and utilizing his speed in a gusty display.
Leading by one in the second quarter, 14-13, McSorley engineered a 52-second scoring drive spanning 75 yards in seven plays. He found receivers Juwan Johnson and veterans DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki for three key receptions of at least 12 yards, before running in for the 3-yard touchdown.
"When you're able to complete long balls, shots down the field against a team that is trying to sack your quarterback and trying to play man coverage, you're going to be difficult to deal with," Franklin said.
The list of words and clever phrases to describe running back Saquon Barkley has been all but exhausted, as he added to the spectacular showing with three touchdowns, including a 42-yard scoring grab from McSorley, that he bobbled before finding control, gliding into the end zone with arm and ball high in the air.
Penn State's defense shined just as bright, highlighting the night with 7.0 sacks, marking the most for the Nittany Lions against at Big Ten team since 2011.
"All week long everybody was talking about Michigan's defense, we've got so much respect for Michigan's defense, their university, their defensive coordinator, Don Brown does an unbelievable job, but we play pretty good defense around here too."
The Nittany Lions opened the emphatic statement on the second play of the game after kickoff, as Barkley took a direct snap and ran the ball 69 yards for a touchdown.
That was wrinkle number one that took the Wolverines off their game from the start, something Franklin foreshadowed long before the fireworks lit up the sky to signal the start of the Penn State White Out game.
"It's stuff that we worked on in camp," Franklin said. "We had another play that Joe [Moorhead] wanted to call, and I just said I prefer you not, plays that we've been running in camp and then each week we kind of go back. What do we want to use from our overall playbook? What do we want to use that we ran in camp? The fact that we have some recall helps."
For Barkley, it's building on that recall with the bonus of the bye week, taking in as much film as possible to prepare for what's ahead.
"Obviously, we knew that they were aggressive, they're a great defense, they have a great defense coordinator," Barkley said. "Sometimes it's going to be like a heavyweight fight, they are going to get some and we get ours. When you get your opportunity you have to score, you got to get a chance to take the fours, take the twos, might even take a negative two, but when you get a chance to split it you got to find a way into the end zone. That's something watching of that I felt that I was capable of using my speed or find a way of finding anyway into the end zone, and we were able to do it and I was able to find a way."
the extras in the world hardly mean anything unless the Nittany Lions
can execute when the lights come on. Utilizing the bye week as added
preparation time, Penn State was able to draw on experience on both sides of
the ball to find success.
"They put together a great plan," Buchholz said crediting the defensive coaches postgame. "I know we threw in some stuff from the back of the playbook because they thought it would really help and it did help so it was beneficial for both the players and the coaches to prepare. I think it was good to mix things up. That was kind of our game plan to mix up our front and give them a different look to kind of get us on the other side of the ball and get us to trick them a little bit."
Eight different Nittany Lions accounted for at least a half of a sack against the Wolverines, while senior linebacker Jason Cabinda led the way with 13 tackles. Cabinda was quick to credit the defensive line though, especially when it comes to the season-high sacks total.
"It's huge," Cabinda said. "It's really getting the offense on third and medium, third and long and letting our d-line really get after them. Knocking them off schedule with negative or no yardage plays helps a ton."
Cabinda, Buchholz, Campbell
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 2 Penn State powered past No. 19 Michigan, capturing a 42-13 win against the Wolverines inside Beaver Stadium Saturday in front of its largest crowd in program history. Check in with Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin postgame.
Honorary Captain Kyle Brady
STATE of Excellence Recognition
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Laura Freigang had only scored two goals all season coming into Friday's Big Ten clash against Purdue. Both goals just happened to be overtime game-winners.
When the game is on the line and Penn State is in dire need of a savior, Freigang has been able to provide. The biggest moments at the end of games bring out the best in her play.
"She's proven that she can score goals late in games, and she's become kind of our go-to player in those moments and she wants the ball," head coach Erica Dambach said. "She's a pressure player. She wants to be on the ball late in the game."
With Penn State down 2-1 with just three minutes remaining on the clock, the Nittany Lions were in desperation mode as the regular season Big Ten title seemed to be slipping from the team's fingers. A loss would've sealed its fate, as Ohio State had beaten Minnesota to jump four points ahead of Penn State with one game to play.
With hopes fleeting, Penn State made one last push forward, and guess who was there to tie the game.
You got it. Laura Freigang.
There was a scrum in the box as the ball bounced off multiple players before finding Freigang's foot close to net. She said she saw Frankie Tagliaferri get a foot on it to nudge the ball to Freigang who finished calmly.
Penn State, however, was unable to push a winning goal across in the overtime period and ended with a 2-2 draw. Freigang's goal in the 87th minute was her earliest goal scored in a game all season long.
The sophomore from Oppenheim, Germany put on a footwork clinic all day, weaving in and out of trouble with clever touches and spins throughout the match. She was the ignition for an offense that put up 23 shots in the game.
Freigang made plenty of chances for herself aside from the goal. She recorded a team-high six shots in the match and hit the post on a close-range shot in overtime that seemed destined for the back of the net
She stepped up in Frannie Crouse's absence and played 102 solid minutes.
"Frannie is a major part of our team and losing her is not good, so I just try to do my best out there working with [Megan] Schafer and the attack," Freigang said. "Everyone else makes it easy for me to be honest. We have so many great players."
Penn state outshot Purdue 23-4 in the game and controlled the ball for most of the match, but star Boilermaker forward Maddy Williams found the net twice to spoil the Nittany Lions' home finale.
Williams is the all-time leader at Purdue in both goals (36) and assists (26). She is a contender to become an All-Big Ten First Team selection this season, and she showed why Friday night.
"That's a kid who doesn't want their season to end," Dambach said. "Maddy Williams decided before the game that she didn't want her season to end, and she decided that she wasn't going to need many chances to do it, so a ton of credit to them."
Elizabeth Ball scored the first goal for Penn State for her second of the season. She said the defensive group played well but that there are room for improvements in communication and leadership.
"I thought our team showed a bunch of grit. We need to come out stronger and faster and try to put these teams away early, and that's not happening right now," Dambach added.
The Nittany Lions finish the regular season with a trip to Madison, Wisconsin. To take on the Badgers of Wisconsin next Wednesday. They currently sit three points behind the Big Ten leaders, Ohio State. Penn State would need a win against Wisconsin and an Ohio State loss to Illinois next week to share the Big Ten regular season title with the Buckeyes.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a Thursday afternoon in Happy Valley, Penn State's iconic Old Main lawn is anything but low key, bustling with construction as ESPN's College GameDay prepares to go live ahead of Saturday's primetime matchup a little more than a mile across campus inside Beaver Stadium.
Beyond the seemingly perfectly coordinated crew busy bringing the set to life, following the twists and turns of 1,000 feet of tightly bound fiber-optic cables all the way back behind Old Main though, is where the magic of College GameDay really happens.
Tucked inside the production office is Judi Weiss, College GameDay's senior operations producer and also, a Nittany Lion alumna.
While the Emmy award-winner's name might not be instantly synonymous to the average College GameDay fan, Weiss' responsibilities include just about everything related to pulling off the perfect show. From location to set up and breakdown, the behind-the-scenes College GameDay operation is like a highly organized logistical feat and Weiss is always up for the challenge.
Weiss' path to ESPN's College GameDay started at Penn State in 1987, when she transferred to University Park and later graduated in 1989 before returning to pursue a master's degree in film. With an interest in documentary filmmaking, Weiss wasn't interested in the go-to "Penn State parking problem" angle that most film, broadcast and journalism students opted to pursue. Also taking Russian studies, Weiss decided to spend a summer abroad in Volgograd, Russia at the Pedagogical Institute.
"I went there with four other Penn State students and it was a program that accepted you on all levels," Weiss said. "You didn't have to be advanced Russian because to go to Moscow or St. Petersburg, you already to be in advanced Russian and I was like, I don't time for this. I want to go fast I want to learn and I'm going to bring my eight millimeter video camera and get footage."
Intending on shaping a project around Russian musicians and the day-to-day lives of women living in Russia. Already dealing with some culture shock, things got even more interesting to Weiss upon arrival.
"We got to Volgograd and we found out the Pedagogical Institute in summertime is pretty much defunct," Weiss said. "So they gave us private teachers from the university to tutor us in Russian."
It was one of those tutors, a Ph.D graduate student from South America, who happened to be a musician who invited the group to band's studio.
"We went to the studio and the man sitting at the console working on, you know recording some musicians at the time, some Russian musicians, which is the music part, wound up becoming my husband," Weiss said.
Weiss never returned to Penn State to finish out her master's degree, having partnered with friends to start the first private radio station in Volgograd, Russia bolstered by some internship experience she picked up in her freshman year.
Drawing on contacts from her brother, an ABC Sports staffer, Weiss had done work as a runner in the past, but it soon took off. From the Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Weiss moved to Atlanta Olympic Broadcasting later moving up to ABC Sports, where she spent several years on college football and figure skating as a production manager. All because of her simple choice to opt out of the Penn State parking problem of course.
Among nine Olympic Games, Weiss is the only person to own a tie-Emmy. In her third season on College GameDay, Weiss was also freelancing for Turner Sports' pregame basketball studio show, which earned a submission for its playoff coverage. In 2013, College GameDay took home the Emmy for best weekly studio show alongside the NBA studio show.
"It's a tie for weekly studio show and it was us, and the NBA studio show, so I have a certificate from them and a statue from College GameDay in the same category in the same year," Weiss said.
After years of traveling across the world with figure skating, with the Olympics also sprinkled in, it was her boss at the time who came to her and asked if she would consider College GameDay.
"At that time GameDay was a big show, but it wasn't the way it is now and nobody wanted to work on it," Weiss said.
With an unpredictable location as the weekly norm, Weiss' boss asked her for two years, but four shows in, Weiss was sold. It's been seven years on College GameDay and she hasn't looked back.
"I fell in love with the show," Weiss said. "It's extremely challenging. It's fresh. It's just exciting to be a part of this project."
It takes six semi-trucks to haul ESPN's College GameDay setup to its weekly location, and that's not counting the bus or the other sponsor box trucks that go along too.
Once finding out the location, it's Weiss who reaches out to the schools to begin the conversation before a site survey. Penn State's bye week allowed some extra time for surveying, allowing for just the right location - this time not Beaver Stadium.
"We want to capture an iconic set location," Weiss said. "What the campus locations allow us to do, is give our audience a sense of place. The idea that we are at Penn State, this is Old Main. It's that sense of place and sometimes with the stadiums, it's not always obvious what stadium you're in front of."
With everything in place, Weiss deployed the trucks to Happy Valley, where the crew arrived late Wednesday, typically needing around four to five hours to begin early construction. Thursday brings another full day of building, which wraps up in the early evening.
"Usually about six or seven at night on Thursday everybody is gone and clear of the set, clear of the truck, ready to go for TV at 8:30 in the morning on Friday," Weiss said.
On the ground, Weiss is driving everything from on-site policy to overall procedure, brining all the pieces together to ensure that nothing skips a beat.
"I kind of connect a lot of the dots during the week, so I'll get legal talking to the legal at school, I'll get I.T. talking to our I.T. department and I just connect a lot of the dots for everybody," Weiss said. "That's how it works is just making sure you get the right people talking to the right people and delegating."
Facing the challenge of a massive cable run to encompass all of Old Main in the perfect College GameDay shot, Weiss worked alongside all involved parties to execute a major undertaking.
Looking past the bright Home Depot orange, the faintest sight of cables looped through street lamps along the sidewalks and tethered to trees can be seen in the distance.
Regardless of what happens when the lights pop on and the show airs live at 9 a.m. ET Saturday morning, it's her experience at Penn State, that Weiss credits to her success.
"I really do credit my experiences here, my education here, but the study abroad, learning a second language, that was key," Weiss said.
Making an impact on her career, it's now mission critical for Weiss to continue making an impact on students following in similar paths. Hosting tours for students and challenging her staff to take an all-in approach at all times, it's hard not to be inspired by her motivating work ethic.
"It's really important to me to get the next generation, trained, engaged, excited and educated on working in this business," Weiss said.
By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Between senior night, a THON-dedicated game and ESPN's College Gameday just a few blocks away, Happy Valley was bursting with activity as Penn State field hockey hosted Rutgers to wrap up their regular season home schedule.
Maybe it was the swirling excitement, or maybe it was pure motivation as the Nittany Lions seamlessly defeated the Scarlet Knights to earn their fifth conference victory.
Junior midfielder Gini Bramley was impressive on the field, quickly switching possession and sending the ball to Penn State's forwards. Penn State capitalized offensively in the first five minutes, as forward Moira Putsch offered another attempt at opening up the scoring, followed by Madison Morano, giving the Nittany Lions three shots.
Unable to take possession of the ball until the 14th minute, Rutgers earned the first penalty corner of the game, converting a shot into a goal for the Scarlet Knights. The Nittany Lions didn't let the disadvantage hold them back, despite heading into halftime with a 1-0 deficit.
"We knew they were going to come out strong," Bramley said. "It is a Big Ten game, so we knew it was going to be something we needed to battle."
As the teams returned to the field, the Nittany Lions rang in the second half with two consecutive penalty corners. With an assist by Mary Nell Smith, sophomore back Bes Bovelander converted the second opportunity into Penn State's first goal to tie up the match.
"As I said to the girls at halftime, we have been in this position before with Rutgers, where we've come back after halftime," head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "We made a great adjustment with opening up the field. We just were able to get pressure on the ball and create turnovers, which was one of our goals."
One goal, with some help from the most enthusiastic and most packed stands at a home game yet, was all the Nittany Lions needed to spark the scoring.
Putsch didn't waste any time, pounding in a second and third goal just moments later for a three-goal outing, thanks to assists from teammates Katie Dembrowski and Bramley.
"Mo [Putsch] had an amazing game, she played so outstanding," Morett-Curtiss said. "I thought Shay [Cannon] and so many of the seniors played so inspired tonight and they really set a great tone for us."
Rutgers nearly snuck an opportunity with a shot at the post, but Bramley wasted no time to carry the ball the entirety of the field to Putsch, who slammed another goal in the back of the cage.
The Nittany Lions dominated as the clock ticked to zero, leaving little opportunity for the Scarlet Knights to trim the deficit, outshooting Rutgers 15-5.
"I think this set us up really well for Indiana now that we won and are more comfortable again, it's just going up from here," Bramley said.
Hosting the Scarlet Knights on senior night, Penn State honored seniors Skyler Fretz, Shay Cannon, Delani Higgins and Cassie Kline, who all took to the field for their final regular season home game.
Cannon reflected on her last regular season home game of her collegiate field hockey career following the game.
"We practiced really hard this week with a game plan," Cannon said. "We wanted to get back to Penn State field hockey, we felt like we haven't been able to get goals. Today it worked out because we stretched the field, we were able to find our teammates and goals happened. It's sad, I can't believe this is my last season here. I love my team, we have each other's backs and I wouldn't have wanted to go through this with anyone else."
The Nittany Lions will hit the road to face the Indiana Hoosiers for their final game of the regular season Sunday, Oct. 22 in Bloomington, Indiana.
By Andy Kuros, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 11 Penn State displayed a combination of depth, youth, and experience in its 7-5 win against American International in front of its first regular season home crowd of the year at Pegula Ice Arena Thursday evening.
Setting a season high mark with seven goals, Thursday's outing marked the first time since 2015 seven different Nittany Lions scored at least one goal.
Head Coach Guy Gadowsky strategically opts to spread the wealth of talent between numerous lines something that plays a role in Penn State's depth.
"That is the plan," Gadowsky said. "We have never been a program that is very effective when we put all our eggs in one basket."
Gadowsky was pleased with Penn State balanced offensive attack and rightfully so.
"We (got) depth and scoring from everybody and when this happens, it's an indication we are going in the right direction," Gadowsky said.
Although perhaps uncommon, Gadowsky is hoping the Nittany Lions will continue the trend.
"I would love to see more of that," Gadowsky said. "It's encouraging to see seven different goals scorers."
One of the Nittany Lions in the scoring column was freshman defensemen Cole Hults, who scored arguably the most meaningful one of all - his first collegiate goal.
Gadowsky was complementary of Hults, who has been a key contributor for Penn State on both sides of the puck so far this season. "He made a great play in the offensive zone. That was a very nice goal for any forward, let alone a defender."
Although Hults was drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings, he has been especially impressive in the way he has carried himself on the ice, something Gadowsky made note of postgame.
"He always seems to be comfortable and never appears to be rattled," Gadowsky said. "He doesn't look like he will have any problems in transitioning (to the college game)."
Thursday night's home opener not only served as a coming out party for Hults, but perhaps a welcoming back for the returning upperclassman.
Forward Chase Berger, who registered 36 total points last season, had a career-high three assists, while Andrew Sturtz, who finished 2016 with 37 points, tallied one goal and one assist against American International.
Gadowksy praised both Berger and Sturtz not only for their good play, but also their veteran presence on the team.
"He (Chase Berger) played much better, and I thought (Andrew Sturtz) deserves a lot of credit for just being the guy (leader) he is," Gadowsky said.
Gadowsky also noted the tremendous amount of energy his two juniors brought throughout the first period.
"They got us all going," Gadowsky said. "They provided a real spark for us early."
Forward Denis Smirnov picked up where he left off, finding the back of the net early in the third period. Even though he has scored in each of the past four games, Gadowksy made a point of mentioning his great vision and playmaking skills.
"Any time he is on the ice he is dangerous," Gadowsky said. "He makes things easier for his linemates and people gravitate to him when he has the puck."
RELATED LINKS: Gameday Central I Game Notes I Depth Chart I Tuesday Presser Roundup I Wednesday Practice Report I R. Rahne Q&A I Monday Notebook I Nittany Lions in the NFL - Week 6 I Gameday Promos and Reminders
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Back from a restful bye week, No. 2 Penn State football (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) returns to Beaver Stadium, set to host No. 19 Michigan (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) in a Penn State White Out Saturday.
The Nittany Lions and the Wolverines will meet in a primetime matchup set for 7:30 p.m. on ABC with Chris Fowler (pxp), Kirk Herbstreit (analyst) and Maria Taylor (sideline) on the call.
Earlier this week, head coach James Franklin called Saturday's matchup a real challenge for the Nittany Lions, as the two storied programs prepare to collide with a variety of intriguing storylines coming to life under the lights.
At the midpoint in the year, Penn State storylines have continued to take shape, including an explosive offense, an efficient special teams unit and a powerful defense highlighted by a secondary loaded with ball hawks who have proven key in pivotal moments.
Outscoring opponents 76-0 in the first quarter, Penn State's defense is limiting opponents to a national-best 9.0 points per game. In the big plays category, Penn State ranks within the top 25 nationally and second in the Big Ten with 38 plays of 20 or more yards.
Turning toward Michigan, the Wolverines head to Happy Valley for their second weekend on the road, coming off a 27-20 OT win at Indiana last week. Ranked within the top 10 of nine defensive categories in the NCAA standings, Michigan's defense is tops in FBS in total defense (223.8 avg.), third down defense (20.5 pct.) and passing efficiency defense (88.85). At the midpoint in the year, the Wolverines have also limited five of six opponents to a season-low points total an all six to a season-low in yardage.
Regardless of what the statistics say though, Franklin and the staff have stressed focus above all things this week, with University Park buzzing ahead of the Penn State White Out, the Nittany Lions' highest AP poll ranking in nearly 20 years and ESPN's College Gameday [MORE: College Gameday Info] taking over the Old Main lawn.
"My message for the team this week is, they've earned these things," Franklin said. "These things are nice. The rankings are nice. The fact that ESPN and College GameDay is coming is nice. The fact that this is a white-out is nice. At the end of the day none of those things matter. It's about our preparation."
What To Watch For -
1. Franklin noted that Saturday's matchup will bring some interesting chess matches between coordinators, also putting on display, as he says, two of the best defensive coordinators in college football. Having coached together at a previous stop, Franklin was quick to note Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown's success.
"Don's big thing, it shows up on tape, they're going to solve their problems with aggression. That's something I remember years ago Don talking about. It still shows up on tape. His answer for the game of football is to be aggressive, be aggressive in the way he calls the game, be aggressive in how their players play. They're a big wreck-the-decision-maker, try to get to the quarterback as much as they possibly can and either sack him or make him uncomfortable in the pocket, and don't give any yards away, no free-access throws."
2. Penn State is tops in the Big Ten and second in FBS in turnover margin at plus-12. With 17 takeaways in the in the first six games marking the most for the Nittany Lions in a six-game span since 1993, the mark is also tied for third in FBS. With the Nittany Lion secondary contributing a Big Ten leading nine interceptions, it's more than just the secondary that has helped Penn State make take such a significant step forward.
"I don't think it's just our secondary," Franklin said. "I think it's our D-line. I think it's the linebackers. "Christian is a senior and has been playing since his freshman year. Grant is a senior, has been playing since his freshman year. Amani, his role just continues to grow every season. I think those guys have had a dramatic impact. But, again, to play really good defense, all three phases, D-line, linebackers, secondary, all got to be coordinated and working together."
3. Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki enters Saturday's matchup looking to eclipse a career milestone. Coming off of the road trip win at Northwestern, Gesicki is just 249 yards shy of the a nearly 50-year old career receiving yards record for a Penn State tight end. He also needs just one touchdown reception to match the career touchdown catches record, also tying his own record for single season touchdown grabs.
What to Watch For -
1. Franklin identified Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst as both explosive and disruptive for the Wolverines.
"I think Hurst is really fun to watch on tape," Franklin said. "He's a really good player. He's explosive. He is quick. His get-off is what really jumps out. You watch the ball snapped, he's the first one across the line of scrimmage. They move their defensive line a lot. He uses his hands well."
Hurst is second on the team with 7.0 tackles for loss with defensive end Chase Winovich leading the team with 8.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. On the year, Michigan's defensive line has accounted for nearly 50 percent of its 20 sacks. The Wolverines are sixth in FBS and tops in the Big Ten averaging 3.33 sacks per game.
2. From his early film study Penn State wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins mentioned Michigan's trust in the secondary, noting that winning the contested matchups will be key.
"Basically we've just seen guys who are very sound in their technique with footwork and attention to detail," Thompkins said. "These guys are very comfortable with being one-one-one on the outside and that's something that they do pretty much every game, so that's something that's not different for them. They kind of live in that environment, and they thrive in that environment."
3. Michigan running back Karan Higdon enters Saturday coming off of a career-high 200-yard performance with three touchdowns against the Hoosiers. With starts in three consecutive games, Higdon has totaled 401 yards at the midpoint of the season.
The Final Word -
Nearly every Nittany Lion asked about the Penn State White Out this week explained the electric atmosphere as something you'd have to experience to be able to describe. Penn State and Michigan have met for a Penn State White Out four times since 2004. Under the lights though, the Nittany Lions and the Wolverines' last primetime meeting came Oct. 12, 2013 when Penn State battled to a 43-40 win in four overtimes.
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Three Big Ten regular season titles. Sixty-four total wins. A winning percentage of .735. One National Championship, the first in program history. And they aren't done yet.
Those are just a few of the accomplishments the 2017 senior class members have achieved so far in their careers. It's quite simply one of the most accomplished classes Penn State has ever had.
The group will play its final regular season game on Jeffrey Field this Friday, October 20.
"It's never a good feeling when you know you're about to say goodbye to a really special group, but they've certainly left their legacy and hopefully we got a lot of soccer still ahead of us," head coach Erica Dambach said.
With all of their postseason experience, the seniors will be crucial to Penn State's success this season in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. The team will go as far as they take it.
"These are guys that have impacted the program since day one on and off the field," Dambach said. "That's a group that can take from all of its experience and drive this team right now."
Sophomore Laura Freigang said this year's senior class was paramount in helping her adjust to the college game and fit in with the team. Freigang came to Penn State from Germany and she said the upperclassmen help make her transition a smooth one.
She also said the seniors are the biggest reason for No. 9 Penn State's success this season.
"I personally always count on them. They're incredible. We have so many great seniors on this team," Freigang said. "I feel like you can see it on the field. Just the energy they bring and they talk to everyone. They drive the team. This year they have a huge impact."
Each senior has impacted the team on and off the field in various ways over the course of their careers. Here's what each one has accomplished in Blue and White.
Basinger has been a team captain her junior and senior years as a Nittany Lion. She's a natural leader on and off the field.
As a defender, Basinger doesn't get many chances to score, but she's been a sturdy back line piece her entire career. She can also push the tempo offensively down the flanks when she feels it necessary.
She started all 23 matches as a freshman and logged at least 1,762 minutes on the pitch in each of her first three seasons. That role changed this season, as she has come off the bench for a few games because of Penn State's defensive depth, but that hasn't fazed her one bit.
Basinger is also incredibly proficient in the classroom. She has earned Academic All-Big Ten status from 2014-2016.
Schafer is a fierce, physical attacker no defender wants to see barreling toward them. She's always had a knack for finding the back of the net.
She has totaled 30 goals and 17 assists over the course of her career. Within the senior class, Schafer ranks second in goals scored and first in assists.
In 2015, the National Championship season, Schafer netted 13 goals to lead the team and the Big Ten. She also added four assists.
Schafer has been a clutch performer since day one, with tallied 11 game-winning goals in her career.
In her four years as a Nittany Lion, Ball has earned the label of dependable team workhorse, and deservedly so. She has totaled 7,065 minutes in her career, by far the highest mark on the team.
She has started 83 of her 86 total matches played.
Ball has been a rock in the center defense since 2014, but she didn't even come to Penn State as a defender. She was actually a highly touted striker prospect coming out of high school.
Ball scored 57 goals from 2011-2014 with her club team, the Richmond Strikers ECNL. Dambach needed help in the back line when Ball arrived on campus, and she was more than happy to fill the void.
It's safe to say the move worked for both Ball and Dambach. Ball recently had her best year as a Nittany Lion, as she was named to the First Team All-Big Ten squad.
Wait, what was that bolt of lightning that almost hit the field? Oh, it was just Frannie Crouse.
Crouse is the speediest player on the team and uses her pace to simply outrun bigger defenders for clear angles at goal. She's pretty darn good at finishing too.
Crouse has netted 35 goals and added 16 assists in her illustrious career. She's scored double-digit goals in each of her first three seasons.
She, with Ball, was also named to the All-Big Ten First Team last season. She was also one of the biggest reasons Penn State won its first national title, scoring three goals in the NCAA tournament and receiving College Cup All-Tournament Team honors in 2015.
Echard has been a valuable substitute during her career. She's played in as many games as Crouse, but her career-high for starts in a season is just 10.
While Crouse and Schafer handle most of the scoring for this group, Echard plays more of a setup role. She's tallied 10 assists in her career and scored five goals.
When Echard does attack, however, she's incredibly accurate with her shot. She leads the senior class in career shots on goal percentage (.509).
Echard also shines in the classroom. She made the Academic All-Big Ten team in 2015 and 2016. She also earned the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honor last year.
Williford is mostly a possession player in the midfield. She rarely turns the ball over, and she's a natural with beginning an attack.
She's scored seven goals and tallied seven assists in her career. Her best season came in 2014 when she scored five goals and added five assists.
Williford also earned Academic All-Big Ten team honors last season.
Clauss has played in three games in each of her four years at Penn State. She's been described as the perfect teammate and one of the hardest workers on the team.
Maddie Elliston, who was originally part of this senior class before she redshirted last season, said Clauss has made the biggest improvement of anyone on the team since freshman year.
Clauss made the Academic All-Big Ten team in 2015 and 2016. She also was named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar last year.
Elliston said she's going to enjoy every minute she has left with the senior class. She said her goal is to play with or against some of them in the pros.
"I'm going to miss all of them as people," Elliston said. "They're awesome people and they're grinders and they really set a standard. They've left a big mark on the program. I'm going to miss so much, but mostly their friendship."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State tight ends coach and pass game coordinator Ricky Rahne joined the assistant coaches weekly teleconference Thursday afternoon.
Talking everything from life in the booth to Michigan, check in with a few highlights from the Q&A session.
Week Six Surprises?
At the midpoint in the season, Rahne was asked if there's anything specific the Nittany Lions might have learned when it comes to how opponents are attacking the offense. Having spent more time than usual on self-scouting due to last week's bye, there weren't many surprises for Rahne and the staff.
don't know if there was anything that we've learned necessarily," Rahne said. "I
think it was more of a confirmation process than anything else. As we look at
things we've said to ourselves, 'okay this is how we think teams are attacking
us' and we were really able to confirm most of those thoughts. There might have
been a thing here or there that maybe we overestimated how it was happening. In
general, I would say that most of the ways we thought teams were attacking us,
those were pretty accurate."
When asked about the blocking performances Rahne has seen from his tight ends this year, he noted that he's generally happy to date.
"As a general rule, I think we've been blocking pretty well," Rahne said. "I'd obviously like to see us get a little more movement at the point of attack, but I think that's something, as an offensive coach you're searching for until the end of time. I don't think you're ever going to be satisfied with that."
There's no doubting that the matchup between Penn State's explosive offensive and Michigan's physical defense is intriguing.
"They play on defense very similar to how we play on offense, Rahne said. "It's a great matchup."
For Rahne, maximizing practice preparations means making concepts as efficient as possible to put the Nittany Lions in the best possible situation for success come Saturday.
"You try to give the guys as many of the looks as you can, while trying to simplify it as much as humanly possible and give them concepts as opposed to trying to have them remember every defense against every play," Rahne said.
Life in the Booth
From up in the booth, Rahne noted that his vantage point from up top can give a little better view of the field as compared to coaches on the sidelines. From either angle, part of what Rahne finds as the most enjoyable part about working with the rest of the offensive staff though, is how well everyone communicates.
"I'm able to talk to coach Gattis, he's able to talk to me," Rahne said. "I'm able to talk to Coach Limegrover, Coach Huff and then Coach Moorhead. We're all able to make suggestions, no one is looking to assign blame, we're all looking to move the ball down the field to help us score points and help us win. Obviously being up top I can have a little better view on that sometimes."
Learning from Moorhead
Rahne called Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead the best offensive coordinator in the country. More than his ability to call up the perfect play at precisely the right time, it's his unique ability to inspire belief that Rahne noted.
"I just think the world of Joe and what he brings to the table," Rahne said. "The one thing underestimated, is his ability to get the players to play hard for him and believe in him and our system. Obviously he calls a lot of great plays. I think we as a staff do a great job of designing plays, making adjustments. None of that matters if the kids don't believe. He does a great job of motivating our team and I've learned that from him."
By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "There's a lot of sleeping."
Those were the exact words of junior defenseman Kelsey Crow when asked about what happens on road weekends. The same exact statement was also uttered by head coach Jeff Kampersal and sophomore goalie Daniel Paniccia. This isn't surprising, as traveling across the country and playing a physical sport like the game of hockey can be extremely draining. However, there is more to the four-day expedition that is a road-weekend than just sleeping.
The team's journey begins early on Thursday morning for a Friday-Saturday series, when they meet at the team's home Pegula Ice Arena, and load all of their belonging and equipment onto a team bus. The ride can be a breeze or drag on for hours, but it serves as the perfect time for players to bond with one another. The girls like to play all different types of games and activities to pass the time.
"'Heads Up', the phone game," Paniccia said. "We love to play that."
"Heads Up" is an app game in which one player holds the phone on their forehead so that they cannot see the word or phrase, and other players yell out hints to help them guess. The game is a favorite on the team, but they also find other ways to pass the time while showcasing their many talents.
"Sometimes we also do karaoke and stuff. We get to hear some beautiful voices," Paniccia said with a smile and laugh.
"There's different sections of the bus, I'm usually in the back," Crow added. "We're the annoying, loud bunch."
Once arriving at their destination, the team checks into the hotel where they will be staying for the weekend. By the time they finally settled in, everyone is usually stiff and worn down from the bus ride, so they usually spend that night relaxing.
"We try to have them live as normal as possible," Kampersal said. "Get there, wind down, sometimes watch a movie. On most trips, I try to work out."
Kampersal isn't new to road weekends in hockey, but it is his first season with Penn State, after spending 21 seasons coaching the Princeton Tigers prior to joining the Nittany Lions. He is still adjusting to traveling and bonding with a completely new team.
"Going out in blue and white is still a very surreal thing for me," Kampersal said. "But once the puck drops, there is a game to be won. I look forward to making memories with these girls."
One of the perks of competing against teams across the country is being able to see the various host cities. So far this season the team has been to Minnesota, and is headed to Massachusetts this weekend. During the weekend, the players have some free time upon arrival and between games to explore the host cities.
"It's nice seeing different places," Paniccia said. "Boston for example, is really cool. It's a really nice city, one of my favorites. It's so fun to travel."
Other players find joy in road trips in other things, such as the opponents that await them.
"I really like it because I get so bored playing the same people," Crow said. "Different teams have different styles. We get to play a lot of good out of conference teams on our trips."
The team enjoys the perks of being student-athletes and having the opportunity to travel and represent the Blue and White, but they also point out that it comes with some drawbacks.
"It is so hard when we leave Thursday mornings, that's two days of classes we miss," Crow said, a junior psychology student. "I'm starting my 400 level classes and it is really important to get ahead, go see TA's and go to office hours."
As most Penn State students come to learn, as involvement and responsibilities grow, finding time to complete schoolwork can be quite difficult. However, the team prides itself on its ability to excel both on and off the ice working hard to master personal organizational skills that will benefit them now and moving forwards into the future.
"You definitely have to manage your time well when a road trip is coming up" Paniccia said. "You have to stay on top of your work."
Of course, with academic advisors and a staff to help them, road weekends aren't a challenge for these hard-working women.
By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - He transferred from Tulsa University and extended his stay away from his home country just to play for the Penn State men's soccer team. Aymar Sigue's dedication to the game plays through his performance on Jeffrey Field, and will see him through to professional opportunities after he retires the Blue and White.
"Aymar is terrific," head coach Bob Warming said. "A guy that I'm really going to miss having around the program."
Sigue's immense dedication to his craft transcends into a positive presence on the team as he motivates his fellow Nittany Lions to focus, learn, and maintain composure even on the worst days or through a trying experience.
"Aymar has never had a bad day," Warming said. "Days he hasn't played well, he has days where things are going wrong with him, he had Malaria for goodness sakes, deathly ill and just wanted to play soccer so guys like that you just love to have around."
The Nittany Lions also love to have the explosive forward in the box looking for his next chance to connect ball with net.
As a newcomer in 2016, Sigue proved to be an asset to the offense as he started 11 of the 16 matches that he saw playing time. He scored three goals on the season, including the ultimate golden goal in double overtime against Rutgers.
The 2017 campaign has kept the graduating senior as a constant in the lineup. Sigue has played in all but one of the 13 matches so far. He continues to add a spark to the team's offensive scheme.
Sigue's dedication to the game transcends ball and cleat as he also encompasses and appreciates the men wearing the Blue and White.
"One of the most memorable moments as a senior that I had this year was the overtime win we had versus Saint Francis because they're our Pennsylvania rivals and I've never seen the team come together as much as we did for that win," Sigue said. "It was one of the first times I really felt like apart of a brotherhood."
That brotherhood has given the game of soccer even more meaning to the striving athlete as he has created a home well beyond the confines of Albert, Canada, his hometown. Once again, he cites his teammates and their bond as an essential piece to his entire Penn State experience.
"Just assimilating myself with the guys because originally I'm from Canada and I went to school in Oklahoma so going to Penn State was a big transition for me just going to a big state school," Sigue said.
As Sigue continues to prepare himself for another life transition, he plans to continue to lace up his cleats and chase the ball into his future with the help of the foundation that he continued to grow as a Nittany Lion.
"After graduation, I of course want to pursue my dream of becoming a professional soccer player. I am going to go on some trials, probably gonna go back to the Vancouver Whitecaps, which is my academy team from back home," Sigue said.
"I'm really happy for them I feel like they are prepared for what's next," Warming said on Sigue and his senior classmates. "They are all going to do great things and I think they are going to be great representatives of Penn State when they leave."
The Penn State men's soccer program gave a great experience to the senior, but Sigue will also leave the influence of his dedicated attitude on Jeffrey Field for the next no. 7 to learn from and appreciate.
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 and defensive linemen Shareef Miller met with members of the media following practice Wednesday evening during Michigan week.
Check in for a few highlights from the pair of media sessions.
Franklin noted that at this point in the week, he's pleased with the progress the Nittany Lions have made from Sunday through Wednesday.
"I felt really good about yesterday's energy and execution," Franklin said. "We've got some new things in so it wasn't as clean as you'd like it to be but that's typical on a Tuesday. I thought today, just being out here, not watching the film, I was really pleased with how we practiced."
Bye Week Bonus
Last week's bye meant more time for Miller and the rest of the Nittany Lions to prepare for this week's Michigan assignment. With extra time to get a handle on film, Miller also got the opportunity to head home for the weekend before getting back to the grind Sunday.
"It helps a lot to be honest with you, you can get more film in," Miller said. "A lot of us were watching film constantly so now this week, most of us kind of know what they are going to do Saturday. Having a bye week really gave us a good jump on it."
Looking at Michigan
Describing the Michigan offense, Franklin went with Stanford-esk, Michigan State or a traditional Big Ten style of offense to describe the Wolverines.
"They're one of those styles offenses where they're going to be multiple formation, multiple personnel groups, multiple shift and formation," Franklin said. They're going to run power, run lead, run counter."
Miller's First Penn
State White Out
For Miller, his first Penn State White Out experience came in 2014, when the Nittany Lions narrowly fell short in a double overtime lossto No. 13 Ohio State. Among the rest of his visits, nothing came close to Penn State though, which prevailed by a longshot.
"That's what really sold me to come to Penn State, just the white out atmosphere," Miller said.
Now on the field suited up in the Blue and White, it's an exciting experience that's difficult to explain.
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Top-ranked Penn State has jumped out to a 7-1 start in Big Ten play and part of its success has come from the momentum of a raucous atmosphere inside Rec Hall on a consistent basis. Penn State has played six of its first eight conference matchups at home, seizing the opportunity to ascend to a tie for first place atop the Big Ten standings and a No. 1 ranking in the latest AVCA poll.
A home-heavy opening to the conference slate inevitably leads to challenges on the road in the later part of the season and the Nittany Lions are about to enter into one of those critical stretches.
Penn State plays four of its next five games away from Rec Hall, including trips to No. 17 Purdue, Indiana, Illinois and No. 18 Michigan State over the next two weekends.
The lone home game for the Nittany Lions? A top 10 showdown with No. 8 Wisconsin next Wednesday.
"The schedule is what it is," head coach Russ Rose said. "Coaches are responsible for the preseason schedule, the conference is responsible for the conference schedule and the NCAA volleyball committee is responsible for the postseason schedule."
Alongside the Nittany Lions in the NCAA standings for highest home attendance, Purdue is also consistently among the top 10.
The Big Ten as a whole sets the standard for NCAA volleyball attendance, averaging just more than 2,800 fans per match all together, with four programs averaging nearly 4,000 fans per home outing.
"The Big Ten, as always, is leading the nation in attendance, so you know wherever you go there's going to be a pretty strong fanbase," Rose said.
The Nittany Lions don't have much time to relax after their home match against the Badgers either, as they'll head to Illinois the very next day.
"Illinois is one of the best unranked teams in the country, Rose said. "We'll do our best to try and put a game plan together to be ready to go."
Penn State does have some experience playing in Champaign already this year, sweeping Colorado and Stanford in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge. The Nittany Lions have also already seen Illinois, taking down the Illini in three competitive sets at Rec Hall in late September.
Just as daunting as the games themselves is the travel schedule, with teams typically playing on back-to- back nights at different venues. Some program have the luxury of chartered flights, cutting out commercial airport traffic, but that hasn't always been the case.
When the Nittany Lions went to Texas A&M earlier this year, they weren't quite sure of their travel plans until shortly before they left, based on the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey affecting the entire region.
"The trip to Texas was really long and we didn't have the luxury of chartering," senior outside hitter Heidi Thelen said. "Traveling takes a toll on everyone's body but we're used to it. A lot of us, since we're seniors, are used to it and know what to do and how to prepare for travel."
Coupled with their visit to Illinois the following week, it helped the Nittany Lions prepare for this stretch coming up.
"Traveling to places like that just gave us a little more experience coming into these games. I think we're confident in where we are right now," sophomore libero Kendall White said.
Rose agreed that the veteran leadership of the team guided by its senior leaders is a huge advantage whenever Penn State goes on the road.
"We have some older players, so I'd like to think they've at least been around the block and hopefully they'll be able to handle the challenges of being on the road," Rose said.
An added wrinkle of this particular road trip is that aforementioned number next to Penn State's name. The No. 1 ranking comes with knowing that most teams will put forth their best effort to try to be the team to knock off the best in the country. Just last week, then-No. 1 Florida (at the time the only undefeated team in the country) lost at home to Kentucky."Being No. 1 and being Penn State gives us a target on our back," Thelen said. "We're just focused on how we can improve. It's better to be No. 1 at the end of the season than in the middle of the season."
By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After splitting this past weekend's series in Minnesota, Penn State men's hockey has a lot of information to work with heading into their home opener against American International College Thursday.
The Nittany Lions came out strong, beating the Golden Gophers on Friday night 3-1 with goals coming from the sticks of sophomore forwards Nikita Pavlychev and Denis Smirnov along with junior forward Andrew Sturtz. Both Sturtz and Smirnov also scored on Sunday night in the team's 6-3 loss, along with junior forward Alec Marsh.
"If you asked us in the start of the year if we were to guarantee ourselves 500 out of those two trips, we'd probably take it," Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said
One of the bright spots from the weekend, Sturtz's back-to-back goal scoring performances.
While the righty shooter led the team in goals last season and tied the single season scoring record, that's not all he adds to the team. Sturtz brings passion, enthusiasm and intensity, know by his teammates and coaches as the type of Nittany Lion to lead by example.
"When he's 'Sturtzy' there's no excuses," Gadowsky said. "When he's going out there and sacrificing his body, bumping into people and flying over people, no one has an excuse to take it easy."
Although scoreless in the Nittany Lions season opener on the road, it goes without saying Sturtz felt like himself again this weekend while finding the back of the net twice.
"Personally, I didn't think I played that well the first weekend," Sturtz said. "I thought I caught a second gear last weekend, and hopefully I can just keep amping it up."
Sturtz wasn't the only one who got back to his "old self," with sophomore goalie Peyton Jones showing off his skill and concentration with an unbelievable diving stick save in net. The play was even impressive enough to crack the SportsCenter Top 10, coming in at No. 4.
"I know it's only two weekends in, but [Jones' save could be] the save of the year," Gadowsky said. "When something like that happens you can't help but think, 'oh man this is our night.'"
The save wasn't just luck though, as Gadowsky noted Jones had pulled off the same save in practice earlier during the week and in Friday's pregame skate.
Come Thursday, Penn State hosts its home opener in front of a rowdy and eager blue and white crowd. With the puck drop set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, the Nittany Lions are anxiously awaiting their return to Pegula Ice Arena.
"The area that really separates us is honestly the atmosphere in Pegula, starting with the Roar Zone. It is truly is the best in college hockey and that truly is a significant statement," Gadowsky said. "That's a big part of our record at home."
In addition to getting their first taste of Hockey Valley for the season, the Big Ten Championship banner will also be raised in Pegula to commemorate last year's historic team.
"It makes me extremely grateful to be a part of Penn State, that's the honest truth," Gadowsky said.
Although this will be a special moment for many, there is still a game to play afterward. Gadowsky didn't seem too worried about how his team would handle the pressure to perform after the ceremony.
"It's a really good
problem to have," Gadowsky said. "Is it a concern? Yea it is, but it's a concern
I'd love to have every year."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State football is back from the bye week, as Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin met with members of the media in his weekly Tuesday press conference. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye and center Connor McGovern also joined Franklin for a pair of media sessions.
For Franklin, if there's one thing he's more excited for thank Christmas, it's the Penn State White Out game, as the second-ranked Nittany Lions turn their focus toward No. 19/15 Michigan.
"We're excited. Obviously it's going to be a great environment," Franklin said. "I'm jacked up like I am every year because the environment is special. I think Beaver Stadium on a normal game day is a top-five atmosphere. I think a white-out game day is something I think you don't really understand unless you can come experience it for yourself."
For Oruwariye and McGovern, both echo the notion of a truly unique experience.
"It's unreal. To have all those fans behind you, screaming and cheering the whole time for you, it's unlike any atmosphere in the world," Oruwariye said. "We have to stay focused on the task at hand and there's going to be a lot of outside stuff going on and we're really just exited to get it to 1-0 with a win."
Among the Penn State White Out excitement and the added anticipation from the addition of ESPN's College Game Day, Franklin noted that keeping the focus on this week's assignment is the top priority.
"It's going to be special," Franklin said. "Then my message for the team this week is, they've earned these things. These things are nice. The rankings are nice. The fact that ESPN and College Game Day is coming is nice. The fact that this is a white-out is nice. At the end of the day none of those things matter. It's about our preparation. A lot of times, I think the most important job of a head coach, in my opinion, is to eliminate distractions. If not handled right, that's what these can be. We're going to stick to our routine and our SOP, kind of go from there."
Franklin's message is nothing new for the Nittany Lions, who know just how to maintain focus amidst distractions.
"The coaching staff does a great job of just keeping us focused on the week, preparing hard, focusing on practice and getting ready for the game," McGovern said.
On The Quote Board -
- Franklin on limiting negative yardage plays
"If we just eliminate those, the plays that we get tackled behind of line of scrimmage and things like that, whether that's a block getting beat, whether them doing a great job of disguising what they're doing, that will really help us. The sacks, the negative yardage plays, if we can just reduce them a little bit, I think that will help us, will keep us on schedule from a first down perspective, and it will extend drives."
"I don't know, I just would say it's just the loudest thing you'll hear. It's the -- it's just all you hear is just screaming, crazy, fanatic, like crazy fans, and just, like, the whole town is just lit up in white because everyone is wearing white. I don't know, it's just -- you have to experience it most of the time to get a feel."
-Franklin on Nittany Shareef Miller
"You're talking about a skinny kid from Philadelphia, shows up here and takes advantage of training table, takes advantage of the weight room, gets bigger and stronger. He takes advantage of all the academic support, the unbelievable professors we have on campus, is doing extremely well in that area. Is well liked and respected by his teammates and coaches."
- McGovern on his adjustments since moving to center
"I feel very comfortable with the transition now, being more of a leader, being more vocal, and up front we just have to be more physical, blow them off the ball, and sustain our blocks."
- Franklin on the best part of the bye week
"I think it's probably allowing the players to just get some time off, either just to relax and be normal college students, normal 19-year-olds, the opportunity to go home and see their families. That's probably the best thing."
- Oruwariye on where improvements can still be made among the DBs
"As a group, like I said, we want to take the ball away as much as we can. We want to challenge receivers all the time. We're going to be put on an island sometimes so we can stop the run game, but we embrace that. We worked on it all off-season. But we just want to play to the best of our ability, like I said, and just try to make takeaways."
- Franklin on the Penn State White Out game
"I think people realize the only thing I like more than Christmas is a white-out football game. I'm jacked up like I am every year because the environment is special. I think Beaver Stadium on a normal game day is a top-five atmosphere. I think a white-out game day is something I think you don't really understand unless you can come experience it for yourself."
- McGovern on his first Penn State White Out experience
"Back in high school, that was my first-ever game here, the [Penn State] White Out, and I'd say everyone - if you're a college football fan, you have to experience at least one [Penn State] White Out in your life. They're a lot of fun, a lot of fun to play in, especially under the lights at night. It's a lot of fun."
By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As a transferring junior, he replaced the Red and White of North Carolina State for a No. 17 Blue and White jersey. Now a senior with graduation dawning, midfielder Cameron Steele continues to find great opportunity in his decision to transfer and play for the Penn State community.
"I absolutely loved it ever since I got here," Steele said. "The community support here is amazing and I loved the group of guys and the coaches I have gotten to meet here. I am so really grateful to be apart of Penn State."
Although Steele transferred from his home state of North Carolina prior to his junior year, he still made an impact in the Nittany Lions' lineup as a latecomer to Happy Valley. Steele appeared in 10 games with one start, while seeing his most action of the 2016 season against the No. 4 ranked Maryland Terrapins.
Steele's minutes and starts have drastically increased in the 2017 campaign as head coach Bob Warming has seen the senior achieve his full potential on and off the field.
"Cam Steele is one of the special ones really," Warming said. "I think that you have a collegiate athlete, a guy who is a fantastic student. He's really dedicated to people off the field, his teammates and other people and just works hard every single day on the field."
So far on the season Steele has played in nine games, started seven games as a midfielder or forward and played 697 minutes. The Nittany Lions still have three regular season games on their slate and Steele already tripled his minutes from last season.
"The legacy you want to leave is the culture, the work ethic and the determination to keep trying to improve every single time that they are on this field," Warming said.
Steele's work ethic and determination play through his drastic increase of appearances in the starting lineup and overall minutes on the pitch throughout the hustle and grind of the 2017 campaign. As a senior, his lead and example speaks volumes to the level of play that other transfers and freshmen must strive for in order to make their own legacy.
"He's really one of the special guys and a great role model for what we want our Penn State players to be," Warming said.
Although Steele made his impact on the Penn State men's soccer team with barely two seasons under his belt, Warming and Steele both see more opportunity for the seniors to leave their mark.
"Even though we haven't gotten the results we've wanted so far we still have a few games left to get momentum going into the tournament and then just take it one game at a time," Steele said.
"That's up to them...we're not done yet," Warming added.
No matter how the season plays out for the Nittany Lions, Steele hopes to continue his soccer journey after the positive legacy that the Blue and White has imprinted on his professional and educational career.
"I really want to keep playing after college," Steele said. "I am just hoping to get my degree then go from there."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Back from a bye week, Penn State football is set to return to Beaver Stadium as Nittany Lions host Michigan in the annual Penn State White Out game Saturday.
Having ascended to No. 2 in both the AP Poll and Amway Coaches Poll, second-ranked Penn State will open a challenging middle-third portion of the conference slate. The Nittany Lions are focused on nothing more than this week's assignment though, as No. 19/15 Michigan makes its first trip to Happy Valley since 2015.
Earlier this afternoon, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley earned a spot on the Sporting News Midseason All-Americans list. Averaging 217.0 all-purpose yards, Barkley is ranked atop the Big Ten and FBS standings in the category, having put together a standout first half of the regular season.
When asked about containing Barkley, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh named containing him critically important in his Monday afternoon press conference.
"It will be a team effort defensively to go against a great player and a really outstanding offense - a really good quarterback, good receivers, a line and backs that are hitting on all cylinders," Harbaugh said.
Ranked third in the Big Ten in rushing yards, eighth in receiving yards and first in kickoff returns with an average 32.3 yards per return, Barkley has brought fans to their feet and stunned opposing sidelines along the way this year.
"He can catch the ball out of the backfield, he can run all the assortment of runs inside the tackles, on the edge - a very good pass protector," Harbaugh said. "He's a multi-purpose back who can do everything well."
Defense vs. Defense
Penn State's defense has been equally as impressive this year, entering the week allowing fewer than 10 points per game (9.0), good for first in the FBS standings. On the flip side, Michigan's defense is surrendering just 223.8 yards of total defense, which is also atop the FBS standings. Regardless of the numbers, Harbaugh noted that Michigan was still looking at options when it comes to attacking the Nittany Lion defense.
"Very good defense," Harbaugh said. "I don't see a lot of big plays right now. I don't see them giving up a lot of plays in the running game or the passing game, which means they are really sound. You can already see really good players in the front seven and in the secondary. They get to the ball, close up gaps and they're rarely out of position."
Helped out by two shutouts, Penn State's defense has not surrendered a single point in the opening quarter, as the only FBS team to hold opponents scoreless in the first quarter to date.
Get the Signs Ready
Penn State announced Saturday that ESPN's College Gameday will takeover Happy Valley, marking the 16th time Penn State has hosted the pregame college football program. ESPN's College Gameday broadcasted live from the 2016 Big Ten Championship Game, but returns to Penn State as its site for the first time since 2009.
In White Out Conditions
Saturday marks the 10th stadium wide Penn State White Out game in program history. The Nittany Lions have hosted a Penn State White Out that's either spanned the entire stadium or just the student section in each of the last 12 seasons.
Penn State White Out History
Oct. 9, 2004 vs. Purdue (student section)
Oct. 8, 2005 vs. Ohio State (student section)
Oct. 14, 2006 vs. Michigan (student section)
Sept. 8, 2007 vs. Notre Dame (full stadium)
Sept. 27, 2008 vs. Illinois (full stadium)
Sept. 26, 2009 vs. Iowa (full stadium)
Oct. 30, 2010 vs. Michigan (student section)
Sept. 10, 2011 vs. Alabama (full stadium)
Oct. 27, 2012 vs. Ohio State (full stadium)
Oct. 12, 2013 vs. Michigan (full stadium)
Oct. 25, 2014 vs. Ohio State (full stadium)
Nov. 21, 2015 vs. Michigan (full stadium)
Oct. 21, 2016 vs. Ohio State (full stadium)
The Nittany Lions and the Wolverines have met for a total of four Penn State White Out games, most recently in 2015, which followed a thrilling four-overtime win against Michigan in 2013.
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There comes a time when excellence becomes the norm for a program, when winning is no longer a cause for celebration, but an expectation.
Every so often, performances like the Nittany Lions put on against Michigan Saturday night cause the viewer to take a step back and truly appreciate how talented this Penn State team has become.
Speaking of storied, Penn State's senior class was on the floor when it hoisted a seventh NCAA national championship trophy in 2014. Tonight proved why this group of Nittany Lions has all the right tools to make another deep run in the postseason.
With a straight set win and the outcome never really in doubt, Penn State's seniors put on a show for the nearly 5,000 fans in attendance at Rec Hall, the largest home crowd of the season.
All-American seniors Simone Lee and Haleigh Washington led the way for the Nittany Lions all night, combining for 27 kills on 49 attempts. Adding to the complete win, the Nittany Lions limited the Wolverines to only 31 kills as a team.
Washington hit at a blistering .571 clip for the match, turning in an error-free 12-kill performance.
"We're accustomed to having her hit for pretty big numbers," head coach Russ Rose said. "I thought she had a couple of really good swings and a couple of nice block moves."
Washington, fresh off her record-tying eighth Big Ten Player of the Week honor last week, is now only 14 kills away from the 1,000 career milestone.
"Approaching her 1,000th kill is really exciting and it's something we all want to share," Lee said. "It's very much so a team effort, and it's something we are all very proud of her for."
Senior leadership has set the tone all year for this team, with Lee and Ali Frantti (both already eclipsing 1,000 kills this year), turning in dominant performances on a nightly basis.
Experience becomes an increasingly valuable asset the longer a season progresses, something this senior class and Rose understand more than anything now that they have significant experience in everything from the grind of the Big Ten schedule to success in the NCAA Tournament.
"It's hard to win in the Big Ten and it's hard to win in the NCAA Tournament," Rose said. "In my opinion as a coach, it's hard to get people to understand the sacrifice you have to make to give yourself a chance to be successful. There's no guarantee that working hard is going to do it and there are a lot of other intangibles, but a couple of the seniors have made great commitments."
Sometimes lost in all the accomplishments of the big hitters up front is the defense and passing, which helped Penn State limit Michigan to only .215 hitting for the match. Sophomore libero Kendall White led both teams with 13 digs, while Frantti added 11.
Senior Abby Detering and redshirt junior Bryanna Weiskircher both had 20-plus assists, on a night where all aspects of the match were clicking for the Nittany Lions.
"I thought it was a good passing match for us and I thought they played very good defense in the middle back area," Rose said. "Kendall played a great match defensively. We hit for a good number, and I thought it was a pretty nice effort tonight by the ladies."
The strength of the Penn State defense will be tested in the coming weeks, as the Nittany Lions play eight of their last 12 matches on the road, including four of the next five."It's altogether a different animal anytime you travel," Rose said.
By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The sound of pads crashing into the glass. The sight of skates in the air as players fly across the ice. This was the scene for most of the weekend at Pegula Ice Arena. Penn State faced a great opposition this weekend, with the reigning national champions No. 2 Clarkson coming to town. The Nittany Lions were not fazed however, able to stand strong and match their opponent's physicality.
Head Coach Jeff Kampersal acknowledged the fact that Clarkson was a top-tier program, but credited his players for stepping up to the challenge.
"They're a big physical team, really good on the wall and with their 50/50 battles," Kampersal said. "I thought we were ready for them."
Both teams played extremely tough throughout the weekend series, showcasing some of the strengths for each respective program. Over the course of the weekend, Penn State got off 31 shot attempts and goalie Daniela Paniccia recorded 47 saves.
Clarkson was victorious on both Friday night and Saturday night, with a score of 2-0 in both games. However, there were still many bright spots for the Lions to recognize as they move forward, and many signs of improvement to build upon for future growth.
"Everything we practiced, we followed through on," Kampersal said. "I'm proud of our players, I thought they did a great job. Everybody played tough."
Kampersal has made it clear what kind of effort and attitude he wants from all of his players. The team is living by the mantra that it's better to be feared.
"We want to be really hard to play against, we want to be physical." Kampersal said. "I want teams to know that when they play Penn State, they're going to have to grind to beat us"
Kampersal's first season at Penn State is all about competing and creating a culture for the team moving forwards. This includes providing some of the younger players on the team, whom he believes are ready, with extended playing time.
"Our freshman... are special players," Kampersal said. "The players we have in the lineup are really coachable, they work hard. When we had Madsen, Heising, Rankin and together on the ice in the last five minutes, we had some offense open up for us." He added that the lines may change a bit in the future, but he likes what he sees from every player that gets an opportunity to play.
While the young players show great potential for this season and the future of the program, Kampersal reminded the media that their success wouldn't be possible without strong play and leadership from the older players.
"Bella, Crow, and Hardy are great captains and leaders". Kampersal said. He credits the strong leadership from the upperclassmen and the comradery among the players one as of the team's greatest strengths.
Senior captain Bella Sutton takes great pride in the effort given by the younger players. She and her fellow upperclassmen are leading by example, and trying to pass on some positive qualities and a strong mindset.
"The newbies as a whole are seeing a lot of playing time... we believe in them," Sutton said. "We want them and we need them to be our best players at some times. We want them to step up to the challenge."
Both the young and old Nittany Lions will look to step up to that challenge as the season goes on.
By Tom Shively,
GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It is tradition at Rec Hall for the crowd to rise to their feet whenever Penn State has a set point opportunity. Tonight a few of those fans in the stands probably have some sore calves after a four-set win against Michigan State.
The No. 2 Nittany Lions had seven set point opportunities in the third set after a furious rally from the No. 10 Spartans, holding on for a wild finish. Nia Reed had the final two kills for the Nittany Lions in the third set, capping a dramatic swing of emotions and securing a 30-28 Penn State win.
Despite allowing Michigan State to stay alive in the set after taking a 24-22 lead, the Nittany Lions never wavered in their confidence, proving why they are one of the premier teams in the nation.
"We were just focused on our side to finish the game," setter Abby Detering said. "You can't worry about what the other team is doing. If they get a point, great. We have to come back and finish."
Heidi Thelen had two monster kills back-to-back to provide a huge energy boost for the Nittany Lions in the third set. Her kills gave the Nittany Lions an 18-13 lead at the time and forced Michigan State to call a timeout. She finished with nine kills on the night.
"I thought Heidi was huge for us in that third set," head coach Russ Rose said.
The Nittany Lions and Spartans traded blows in the first two sets, with Penn State cruising to a 25-18 victory in the first set while Michigan State took the second, 25-15. Both teams hit above .400 in the sets that they won and below .100 in the sets they lost.
"It was a tale of two different teams," Rose said. "Our effort was good in the first game and theirs was really good in the second game. Both teams battled in the third game."
After winning the aforementioned marathon third set, the Nittany Lions seemed to wear down the Spartans in the fourth. Penn State jumped out to a 7-1 lead and led the whole way through, winning 25-18.
Simone Lee led the way for the Nittany Lions with 17 kills and Haleigh Washington added 15 at a .433 clip. Autumn Bailey paced the Spartans with 17 kills.
The Spartans have had success on the road against top five teams on the road already this season, including back-to-back victories at then-No. 5 Wisconsin and then-No. 1 Minnesota to start conference play.
"Based on the results they've had to date, we knew Michigan State was very good," Rose said. "They certainly didn't disappoint with how they played and competed. I think they're terrific and I'm pretty pleased that we battled back."The win moves Penn State into a tie with the Nebraska Cornhuskers atop the Big Ten standings at 6-1 in conference play as Michigan State falls to 5-2 in the conference losing for only the second time in the last nine games.
By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions closed out their regular season today on their home turf as they hosted the Penn State National Open.
The women's team came away with a win against some tough competition including Villanova, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State. This last regular season win is a great way to head into the championship season.
"After this meet, we'll be going to Big Tens in two weeks I believe. I just kinda hope that momentum continues," said senior Jill Hunsberger. "I think it's really important that especially with the top five we know how to win, we know like maybe I don't feel great that day, but there's a girl from this team that I need to get ahead of, and that's what we need to do at Big Tens."
"Winning at home is always great. This is a great course and when we can put it all together on our home course it's awesome," sophomore Kathryn Munks added. "Looking forward, like Jill said, it kinda shows that we know how to win, we know how to get our top five mobilized and I think that going into Big Tens it gives us a confidence boost."
Hunsberger finished second overall with a time of 20:22, the ninth-fastest time in the Penn State National Open history. Munks finished third overall with a time of 20:23. Following that top two was freshman Alison Willingmyre at 20:34, senior Greta Lindsley at 20:37 and sophomore Danae Rivers at 21:05.
With all their runners in the top 25, the women took home the win on their tough home course. For the seniors, this was their last time racing on their turf, but winning their last home meet ever was the icing on the cake.
"It's definitely bittersweet. It's a really hard course, but it's my home course and it's my last one. Personally, I had my best time here ever, so it's good to go out on top with that," Lindsley said. "As a team, we did really well. We came in with targets on our back, but we didn't let that get to our head. We came out, competed, and came out with the win, so it feels really good, but definitely bittersweet."
"It's a bittersweet moment. I had a fun ride, and I couldn't have done it without the teammates that I got to spend the last four years with," senior Victoria Crawford added.
"It's super exciting. I mean, every time it's at the home course, I think the goal is to always win, you know at our home turf. Just to do it my last time ever it's super bittersweet. I'm very happy to be closing a chapter of my life, but it's also home," Hunsberger said on her final home meet.
Having it be their last big meet before heading into Big Tens, the women feel more confident as they prepare for the championship stretch during the next two weeks. They feel like their win will help them know exactly how to race come Big Tens in Indiana.
"Definitely motivating. It's just like any other race, even if we did bad today, everyone knows that it's championship time. It's ready to go, we've been training for this and we're ready. It's just time to make some magic and put our hard work and just try to do our best. It'll be fun," Lindsley said.
Head Coach John Gondak knows that with all the hard efforts that showed today, the women will be more than ready to compete at the championship level.
"Last regular season meet at here at home, celebrated senior day and thought that both teams competed extremely well. I'm very pleased for the women to come away with the win over a great Villanova team. So with championship time around the corner all you hope to do is week in and week out build confidence and I think today was another confidence boost for them as they move toward Big Tens in two weeks," he said.
The Big Ten Championships will take place on October 29th in Bloomington, Indiana.
By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Two is better than one, or at least that's how the timeless adage goes. That simple phrase applies to many things in life, including the current goalie situation for the women's hockey team. Why have one talented goalie, when you can have two, both ready to dominate at a minute's notice. That's the current situation for Penn State with goalies Hannah Ehressman and Daniela Paniccia.
Senior Hannah Ehressman has spent her last three years at Penn State perfecting her craft, but success in hockey is nothing new to her. Before stepping foot on a college campus, she was already a two-time state champion in hockey at Minnetonka High School in her hometown of Minnetonka, Minnesota. Outside of school, she played three years for the Minnesota Junior Whitecaps and spent two years as a player in the Minnesota Girls' elite league.
As soon as she arrived and began her career at Penn State, the accolades began to pile up, including a CHA Rookie of the Week Award and multiple CHA Goalie of the Week Awards. Her achievements don't stop on the ice, as she is proven to be very well-rounded with her success in the classroom. The accounting major has been a member of the CHA All-Academic team her first three years at school, and a member of the Big Ten All-Academic team the past two years, including a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar award.
Ehressman's recipe for success in all mediums of life is simple.
"It takes a lot of hard work... and being the best you're asked to," she said.
For sophomore Daniela Paniccia, Penn State hockey runs in the family; her older sister Nicole was a goalie for the school from 2012-2014. Before she came to Penn State, Paniccia played three seasons for the Oakville Junior Hornets. She is ranked second all-time in the Providence Women's Hockey League with a whopping 14 shutouts.
Her career at Penn State has been just as spectacular, earning various accolades through her freshman year. She has earned CHA Rookie of the Week honors, CHA Goalie of the week honors multiple times, and CHA Goalie of the Month for her performance last October. Academically, the liberal arts major is a great success, earning CHA All-Academic honors last year.
Paniccia acknowledges her wide range of accomplishments, but consistently remains humble.
"It's always nice to have the accolades, but it's a team effort." Paniccia said. "Those things can't be done without a strong team behind it."
Head coach Jeff Kampersal is the one of the biggest fans of the 1-2 punch that the Nittany Lions pack at goalie. He is never concerned about any drop off in performance when Paniccia steps on the ice for Ehressman.
"When she's in, she doesn't miss a beat... She's played great for four periods now, and she's only getting better." Kampersal said about his sophomore goalie. When asked about what it's like to see the two players push each other he added, "It's great to see some good, healthy competition on our team."
Both goalies have spent time competing on the ice this season.
Ehressman has played great hockey in the first two weeks of the season. In the first two games against Minnesota Duluth, she earned 60 total saves, including a 38 save performance in the second game. She earned CHA Goalie of the Week honors for her performance. In the third game of the season, played against Union, Ehressman recorded 11 saves, before Paniccia finished out the weekend.
Whenever Paniccia is needed, she's always ready to step up for her teammates. She came into game three at the start of the third period after getting zero shots in warmups beforehand. Of course, it didn't matter, as she didn't miss a beat. She kept Union off the board and recorded four saves. She then started the entirety of game four and picked up right where she left off the game before, recording 20 saves, including in the overtime period. She earned the CHA Goalie of the Week award for her efforts.
Having two hard-working, top-tier goalies is an enviable position to be in. No matter who's in goal for the Nittany Lions come game day, there will be widespread confidence that they have the defensive advantage.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Media members packed the Bryce Jordan Center green room Thursday afternoon as Penn State men's basketball hosted its annual media day. Officially kicking off the 2017-18 season, Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers opened the event, before moving into the practice facility for one-on-one interviews with the team.
"I'm really looking forward to this season. I want to see the development of these players," Chambers said. "I feel like we've really bonded and come together as a group. The connection and the love in the locker room is very strong and powerful and I'm noticing that through preseason and now through practice."
For senior Shep Garner, the close bond that the Nittany Lions have created this year is something unique and different from any other team.
"With that being said, it makes you just ready for the season, we want to play," Garner said. "We can't wait to play against somebody else because it's more fun that way."
Penn State opens its 2017-18 campaign hosting Campbell Friday, Nov. 10 before wrapping up opening weekend at home with a matchup against Fairleigh Dickinson Sunday, Nov. 12 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Garner's Last Lap
Garner also noted that this year marks the last lap, as he prepares to head into his final season with the Nittany Lions. When it comes to the legacy he wants to leave behind though, Garner's looking to go out on top.
"Just a guy who went out there and gave it his all, and a winner," Garner said. "I want to go out a winner. I want to leave Penn State in a better place than when I came into it."
Bostick Poised for a
Both Chambers and Garner noted that sophomore guard Nazeer Bostick has been impressive from the offseason into preseason, with great potential ahead of him in 2017-18.
"He's one of the guys that might have a breakout year for us," Chambers said. "He got hurt, he was just starting to earn his minutes, playing critical minutes, especially in that Maryland game, he gave us some really good minutes late and I think he's going to be right there with Josh (Reaves) as those guys who are going to do it all for us and going to be stat sheet stuffers."
Sophomores Step Up
Chambers shared details on Penn State's leadership council, which includes Penn State sophomores Lamar Stevens and Tony Carr. For Chambers, with a year of crucial experience, he and the staff will look for sophomores to step forward into increased leadership roles this year.
"We're going to ask them to lead as sophomores and that's a great challenge, but we've worked on that all summer long," Chambers said. "We've had small group meetings, one-on-one meetings, discussing how to lead and sometime as coaches we're like, 'will you start leading?' But what does that really mean? We have to break it down on what leadership means and maybe share a story on how would you handle this, how would you handle that. It's definitely a process. It's not going to happen overnight, but they're so open-minded and willing that it's only going to bode well for them and our team."
Skills Academy Experience
Carr was selected as one of fewer than 21 players from across the country to attend the Nike Skills Academy this summer. Among a variety of diverse experiences, there were many takeaways he's look to carry over in the season, especially as it relates to leadership.
"I took a whole lot from that experience," Carr said. "Just learning from all those NBA guys and coaches out there, and just playing against the best players in college right now. It was great on a day-to-day basis just competing and learning little tips here and there from those guys."
Returning as Penn State's second-highest scorer this year behind Carr, Stevens spent a significant amount of time this offseason working on his 3-point shot and shaping his body to prepare for the challenges that come with the Big Ten Conference schedule.
"Mainly, I was just trying to get in shape," Stevens said. "I saw how much that can play into the game and there were times where if I was in better shape, I felt like I could have performed better last year so I wanted to make sure that wasn't going to happen this year. I really focused in on that over the summer, really worked on it and I feel like I was really successful."
By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For Penn State hockey freshman Adam Pilewicz, becoming a Nittany Lion was once a faraway dream. This season though, it's been a reality for the Pennsylvania native who has bled blue and white since the day he was born.
With both of Pilewicz's parents Penn State graduates, he can recall becoming quite familiar with campus at a young age, traveling to football games on weekends with his family.
"When coach Gadowsky called me [with an offer to play at Penn State], he gave me the weekend to think about it and I called my parents right away and we all agreed I was insane to not accept it on that phone call," Pilewicz said. "I'd be insane to not go to the place I've always wanted to go to, not too many people can say they're exactly where they want to be, but I can."
Both of the righty shooters' siblings are also Nittany Lions, including his brother Jake, a fifth-year pitcher on the baseball team and his sister Emily, a sophomore education major.
Pursuing hockey, Pilewicz spent a significant time away from home, with Penn State now providing an opportunity for the family to be closer than they have in a while.
"Especially the last two years, I haven't really seen them much at all so now that we're all back together in the same place we can hang out," Pilewicz said.
Prior to coming to Penn State, Pilewicz spent two seasons playing with the Johnstown Tomahawks in the NAHL, skating a total of 108 games. During Pilewicz's 2016-17 season, he appeared in 56 games and anchored the blue line with 27 points and a plus-32 rating, good for second-highest on the squad.
"It's a physical league," Pilewicz said reflecting on his time in the NAHL. "Everyone wants to win there and it's the same thing here."
Pilewicz also wore the "A" for Johnstown during the 2016-17 season, taking on a big leadership role, hoping to carry the skill into his first season as a Nittany Lion, even as a freshman.
"They made it pretty clear it doesn't matter how old you are here, everyone is on the team, so if you're a freshman or if you're a senior it doesn't matter," Pilewicz said. "Whatever you bring to the table is what you bring to the table and if you're a leader, you're a leader."
For Pilewicz, the early part of the season has been working toward emerging in a role on the team, with head coach Guy Gadowsky trying him out on both sides of the puck in practice. Looking to older members of the team for guidance, he's working toward finding where he fits best within the team dynamic, leaning on sophomore defenseman, Kris Myllari.
"Kris Myllari is my mentor and I've learned so much from him," Pilewicz said. "But I could pick out anyone on the team and tell you something they've taught me though."
Pilewicz also spends a lot of time with his fellow freshmen class. Other newcomers have already commented on the closeness of the group and Pilewicz only adds to the notion.
"We do everything together, from eating meals to movie nights," Pilewicz said. "We try to do that at least once a week but whenever we get together it's a good time."
By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the game of field hockey, there are 11 players on the field. On offense, a left and right wing, two inner forwards and three midfielders. On defense, three backs. In the net, one goalkeeper.
In most cases, the competition between goalies can be tense, especially in cases where a team possesses two goalkeepers with equal potential to be the best in the league.
Penn State's goalkeepers are a special case.
With two stellar goalies on the roster, there's hardly tension between juniors Colleen Conway and Jenny Rizzo. Rather, it's their love for Penn State and the game that has resulted in one of the most tight-knit friendships on the team.
Their teammates and coaches are also in agreement - it's a relationship you can see and hear, from across the field and even miles away. The two can be found laughing or joking around before and after games, or getting pumped up for a tough outing with some football, just the two of them.
"It's a very unique relationship," head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "What I love about it is it's very sincere and genuine. There's such mutual respect and admiration, and the reason for that is they both work extremely hard. They both work hard at their positions."
Rizzo and Conway didn't know what was in store for them when they recognized each other on campus in passing prior to the start of their freshmen seasons.
"In the summer it was interesting, because I think we did see each other more as competition than possible friends," Conway said. "Once the season came around, we really got along and became supportive of each other and realized that would be a better way to go about it. Now she's one of my best friends on the team."
Rizzo was recruited early in high school by Penn State, arriving from her hometown in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Conway, who is from Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, joined her in committing to the Nittany Lions a bit down the road.
"We got to know Jenny over such a long period of time through her club coach from home and we were a bit worried about bringing someone else in for the right fit," assistant coach Stuart Smith said. "When we saw Colleen play, we were blown away by her capabilities and her personality. It's not easy to recruit goalkeepers in the same class and everybody gets nervous about it because they think they'll just fight each other for the starting job. What I love about these two is that they're best friends."
Morett-Curtiss and the rest of the coaching staff recognize their similarities as well as the strengths both Nittany Lions possess in the net.
"Colleen is very aggressive, whereas Jenny is aggressive but has a bit more calculation to her," Morett-Curtiss said. "We've had connections with goalies in the past but I think these two are very unique. Especially because I think more recently, society and culture has sadly focused a lot on individuals and less on the team. I think Colleen and Jenny are both in it for team success."
It's not uncommon for the team to hear Conway on the sideline screaming Rizzo's name, cheering her on with each save.
"Goalies spend a lot of time together apart from the team just working on their own position and they don't integrate with the other field players as much, so it's right in your face that their competition is right there," Morett-Curtiss said. "They are so supportive of each other, verbally encouraging each other."
Their similarities don't stop at their personalities, as both keepers also have a twin sibling. Rizzo has a twin brother and Conway has a twin sister.
"Jenny is pretty similar to my twin," Conway said. "We get on each other's nerves sometimes but then we're right back at it. She's like my twin away from home."
For Smith, coaching two keepers with such a special bond and support system has been enjoyable, rare and even easy.
"I've worked with national teams and I've never seen keepers get along the way they do, just because there's always such competition, Smith said. "They are so close, they make me laugh every day," Smith said. "They're both in my office all the time looking over film and they both want to get better. The level of growth has been fantastic. I love it when they come to talk to me about what's going wrong, they're always in and they're both such good people."
Evident in their friendship, the duo had nothing but good things to say about each other, both on and off the field. Instead of viewing each other as competition, both chose to make the most of their relationship, which has only helped them grow as teammates.
"Colleen's ground game has grown so much and I think that's helped me because I'm learning from her," Rizzo said.
Rizzo earned a spot on the Team USA U21 National Team, which has provided her the opportunity to compete and attend practices and clinics throughout the year. It's also an experience she uses to help others around her grow.
"A lot of times when I'm struggling with something, I go to Jenny and ask her take on it," Conway said. "Especially when she comes back from USA stuff, I want to know what the best of the best are working on. If I'm struggling with a drill, I'll watch Jenny to see what skills she uses and kind of work off of it."
For Morett-Curtiss and her staff, the bond between Conway and Rizzo largely contributes to the rest of the team's bond as a whole."The team sometimes sees us as goofballs I think," Conway said. "We're definitely comic relief and we lighten the mood for the team," Conway said.
By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With just under three weeks until the Big Ten Championships, the Nittany Lion cross country teams are set to run their last meet before championship season starts.
The Penn State National Open is to take place this Friday, October 13th at the Blue and White Golf Courses. The teams are using this meet as an opportunity to push themselves one last time before entering the championship part of their season. This part of the season includes the Big Ten Championships, NCAA Regional, and the NCAA Championships.
This home meet serves as a last chance to race before it really matters.
"I see every meet before championship season as way to practice racing, so you have to get used to racing again and get everyone in a good spot mentality," said senior Jill Hunsberger. "It's an opportunity for us to realize that we can accomplish a lot."
"I think we are just trying to work to kinks out, and to see one last time of a good hard effort before we really have to buckle down and get focused," added senior Greta Lindsley. "We've been focused all year long, but I feel like in the past it's been aimed toward getting more in shape and now it's time to get ready to execute what we've been practicing instead of getting stronger and fitter. Now, it's getting the pieces together as a team to create something magical."
The National Open also acts as a good way to prep for the competition at the championship level. With teams like Oklahoma State, Villanova and West Virginia, the Lions will be racing teams that will help them prepare for running in their championship meet.
"There's going to be good teams here, so we're going to be running toward the front of the pack. It gets us used to racing at the Big Ten level where there's going to be some really good competition," said senior Bobby Hill.
"I like this meet because it's at our home course again, which is really cool because it's my last home meet. We're going to use it to kinda keep running as a pack and get ready for Big Tens," said senior Tim McGowan.
For some of the Nittany Lion runners, like the seniors mentioned above, this will be the last shot they get at winning a Big Ten Championship. It will also be their last time running a race on their home course.
"I'm really excited especially because it's my last season. It's really been great to watch the team grow over my years here. So, that's really exciting especially since it's my last go around. You know everyone says in your last season to give it all that you got, and I think this year we are looking better than we ever have," said Hill. "The team is more together than it ever has been, which is really nice. Other than that, I'm really excited for championship season."
This last chance mentality has some of the senior runners feeling more than ready to give it their all for their final few races.
"It's a little sad going into my last championship season as a senior, but it's kinda cool to have nothing to lose and a lot to gain It's really exciting but definitely sad at the same time," said McGowan.
"It is my last cross country championship season, but I'm kind of excited for it. It's definitely something to look forward to," said Hunsberger. "It's a little sad being my last one, but at the same time it's just another reason to get after it to go and kill it."
These seniors and the rest of the Nittany Lions will be racing their final home meet of the season Friday, October 13th with races starting at 11:00 a.m. at the Blue and White Golf Courses.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin met with media members following practice during the bye week Wednesday evening.
Now further into the
bye week, Wednesday's practice featured the non-travel squad, wrapping up with
a scrimmage. Catch up on a few highlights from the post-practice media session.
Bye Week Objectives
Franklin noted the bye week gives ample time for the Nittany Lions to ease off the wear and tear of a regularly scheduled practice, incorporating younger members on the team, while still maintaining a level of productivity.
"Each practice we had a bunch of stuff with the young guys, probably at least three 12-play scrimmages per practice with those guys," Franklin said.
He also noted that tomorrow's practice will be solely run by Penn State's graduate assistants, with the GA's given the opportunity to take total control.
"Tomorrow, we'll have a GA run practice, which is great for them from a development standpoint because they get to run their own meetings," Franklin said. "They get to come out and run their own practice. It will be just the GA's and the non-travel squad."
Emerging Nittany Lions
With mostly the scout team on display this week, Franklin named a few Nittany Lions who have stepped forward.
One of those Nittany Lions is true freshman running back Journey Brown. Prior to arriving at Penn State, the Meadville, Pennsylvania native capped off his high school career winning a state championship in the 100-meter outdoor event, setting a state record with a time of 10.43 seconds.
"Obviously we knew he could run, but being able to run fast on a track and being able to do it at this level, he has really showed something the last couple of weeks," Franklin said. "He has the ability to break tackles, which we didn't know, because in high school he was just faster than everybody."
Franklin also made mention of true freshman offensive lineman C.J. Thorpe, someone who he believes has a chance to develop into one of the more physical, intimidating blockers in the Big Ten.
On The Recruiting Trail
While the team might be free to enjoy the weekend or a few days off from practice, Franklin noted that he and the staff will hit the recruiting trail this week. Franklin will head off to Texas immediately, with the rest of the coaching staff spread out in different areas of the country from Wednesday on through Saturday.
"For us, it's not like the old days where you go recruit Maryland and you just hit every school in Maryland," Franklin said. "You're going to see specific prospects all over the country and it's pretty demanding. We'll get our time off after signing day."
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the second time in 2017, Penn State women's volleyball is celebrating a major milestone, as senior outside hitter Simone Lee reached 1,000 career kills in Friday's victory at Ohio State.
Lee is the 27th Nittany Lion to reach the plateau, with senior outside hitter Ali Frantti having accomplished the feat in the first week of the season against West Virginia.
Frantti and Lee have a special bond that dates back to club volleyball in high school. The two played on the same club team for a year before arriving at Penn State early their freshman year alongside fellow early enrollee Lainy Pierce.
"It was nice to have someone else be there with you during that time," Frantti said. "It made the transition a lot easier."
Together, Lee and Frantti have developed a clear chemistry on the court, which Frantti attributes in large part to their connected roots.
"We're very familiar with each other on the court and she's a really good teammate," Frantti said. "We have each other's backs."
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Lee's feat is the amount of time it took her to reach the milestone. Bolstered by a strong junior campaign, Lee more than doubled her individual single season kill totals from her freshman and sophomore seasons.
As a freshman on the 2014 NCAA national championship team, Lee shared playing time with former Nittany Lion All-American upperclassmen Megan Courtney and Aiyana Whitney, both who are now training with USA Volleyball.
In 2016, Lee emerged as a key cog in the offense, leading the team with 503 kills on the year, marking the third-highest single season kill total in Penn State history during the 25-point scoring era. Recording at least 10 kills in 28 of 24 matches, she totaled seven outings of 20-or more kills on the way to All-America honors.
"Certainly Simone has improved significantly each year that she's been here," head coach Russ Rose said. "She was an All-American last year and I think she's headed toward that again this year. She's a great offensive player and a really strong net player."
Now in her senior season, Lee is once again pacing the Nittany Lions in kills, already with 225 at about the midway point in the season.
"I don't think we'd anticipate winning big matches without Simone being one of our main contributors," Rose said.
In the middle of a season defined by a chase for a championship, sometimes the individual accolades can take a back seat, part of the team-first attitude installed for so many years under Rose's brilliance.
Still, the team sees the accomplishment as a fitting way to celebrate a special player.
"It's always great seeing success," senior middle blocker Haleigh Washington said. "Nobody really knew what happened and then we were like 'Oh my gosh, Simone that's amazing and we are so proud of you.' It's great to see that she's grown so much in her time here and having done it in the amount of time that she did it is crazy."
As any great leader of a team does, Lee is staying focused on the team's ultimate goal of finishing the season on top.
"It's exciting, but it's not the whole goal," Lee said. "It's just something else that happens but that's not the end goal for me. Obviously, we're still playing and not done yet."
While she may be laser-focused during game time, Lee brings plenty of humor and positive energy to the team off the court.
"I've enjoyed my interactions with Simone," Rose said. "Her eyes light up, she has a great smile. She's receptive to banter and kidding and I've enjoyed that. I'll miss Simone Lee being gone, I've enjoyed my time with her."
Her teammates shared the same sentiments.
"Simone is just a ray of sunshine and she has a very infectious smile," Washington said. "On the court, she's very serious and down to earth and focused. She wants to take care of business. Off the court, she's very bubbly, loves to be in the sun and loves to drink tea."
Washington herself isn't too far away from the 1,000-kill club, which would complete the very rare feat of having three players reach that mark in the same season. She is less than 50 kills away, but doesn't really think about it that much because of her position.
If anything, being a middle blocker makes Washington's potential accomplishment even more impressive.
"It's tough for middles to get a thousand kills, just because we're not in for all six rotations," Washington said. "They (outside hitters) swing more in the back row and they are the more out of system options."
Washington, Lee and Frantti are all set to
return home from the road with the rest of the Nittany Lions this weekend. Penn
State hosts Michigan State Friday evening before wrapping up the weekend
welcoming Michigan to Rec Hall Saturday night.
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As much credit as head coach Erica Dambach has garnered over her career at Penn State for the team's massive success in the last decade--and deservedly so--her assistant coaches fly under the radar.
Associate head coach Ann Cook and recruiting coordinator and goalkeeper coach Tim Wassell seldom see their names associated with Penn State's recent dominance in the national polls, but Dambach says they deserve just as much recognition as she does, and her players agree.
"[Cook's] one of the best coaches I've ever been around," redshirt junior Emily Ogle said. "Just her outlook on the game and the way she helps each and every one of us grow not only individually but collectively is something that I haven't seen through a lot of coaches."
Cook is largely responsible for the team's attacking strategies. She's an offensive guru who was a three time All-American in college and was in the running for the MAC Hermann Trophy in 1995 and 1997.
After her collegiate career, Cook played on the United States Women's National Team in 1998 and was drafted as the 25th overall pick in the WUSA draft to the Bay Area CyberRays in 2000.
Dambach and Cook played on the same team at William and Mary, where they became good friends. Their friendship continued past their playing days, and Dambach reached out to Cook about becoming her assistant coach at Harvard. Cook refused because she said she still had a lot to learn before taking on a job of that magnitude.
So that's what she did.
Cook took the head coaching job at Drury University in 1999 and took the team from NCAA Division II to Division I in just two years. She then coached as an assistant at Missouri State from 2004-2005 and Nebraska from 2005-2007. Shortly after the 2007 season, the phone rang again.
It was Dambach. She was taking the head coaching job at Penn State, so she reached out to Cook one last time to jump on board, and Cook didn't turn down the offer this time.
"She was the player I respected the most when I was a player," Dambach said. "Her soccer brain, her joy for the game, her excitement that she brings to training. When I called her up at Penn State and she said yes I was over the moon."
Dambach said bringing Cook with her to Penn State was the best decision she's ever made.
The tandem is now in their 11th season at Penn State. They have led the Nittany Lions to a 169-55-14 record prior to this season and their first ever national championship in 2015.
"When we came to Penn state our hope was to compete for a national championship and do it the right way," Cook said. "Can we really value every kid on our roster? Can we really care about their development and care about them as a human beings and win national championships?"
She said her and Dambach have checked all those boxes.
Cook has overseen attacking players such as Maya Hayes and Mallory Weber, who etched their names in the team's record book for years to come. Hayes ranks third-best in school history with 163 career points and Weber ranks 10th with 101.
From 2011-2016, Penn State scored the second-most goals in the country. Cook is a big reason why.
"I think the players really feel free in the attack under her," Dambach said. "They're willing to make mistakes. They don't have a fear of failure. She just makes the environment one that they can express themselves, and that's a real gift."
"My philosophy is I want to be mobile and creative," Cook said. "That is the principle that we try to solidify, and whatever that looks like after that is largely up to the players."
Away from Jeffrey Field, Cook is heavily involved with the organization Soccer Without Borders, which strives to use soccer to make positive changes in the lives of under-privileged children around the world.
"It's been one of the best parts of my career and one of the reasons why I'm still at Penn State," Cook said of her involvement in the organization.
Through SWB, the team will be making a trip to Nicaragua in January to host clinics for young girls in the country who have a passion for the sport.
As much as Cook has assisted Dambach with the attack, Wassell has done the same with goalkeeping and recruiting. He is in his eighth year with the team and travels all over the globe to recruit.
"He is far and away the biggest influencer on our recruiting," Dambach said. "He starts the process. He has the relationship with the club coaches, and I give him full credit for the success that has happened in our recruiting over the past few years. Everything about him tells these families that we're going to take care of their daughter and they trust him 100 percent."
According to TopDrawerSoccer.com, Penn State tallied back-to-back No. 2 overall recruiting classes in 2014 and 2015 and brought in the No. 4 class in 2017. That success wouldn't have been possible without Wassell.
Wassell said bringing in international players and watching them experience a whole new world of soccer is one of the most rewarding parts of his job.
"It's a global game, so let's leverage that in some way," Wassell said. "When you see these internationals see how the women's game is supported here, it's incredible. I remember [Alina Ortega Jurado] and [Laura Freigang] and these guys, the first time they see our fields literally they started to cry."
Ortega Jurado and Freigang are both originally from Germany.
Besides coaching and recruiting, Wassell genuinely cares about each and every player and possesses an unparalleled passion for Penn State and the soccer program. Dambach said his attitude revolves around the players before himself.
"The first time I watched him coach and spent some time with him I knew he was most importantly a first class individual and a total pro," Dambach said. "He's all about the team, all about Penn State and Penn State soccer and would literally do anything for this program and these girls."
Both Cook and Wassell bring different strengths to the Nittany Lion program, and it wouldn't be where it is today without them.
By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 10 Penn State didn't let an opening night loss keep it from bouncing back the next evening. After falling to Clarkson, 2-1, Friday night, the Nittany Lions quickly bounced back, beating St. Lawrence, 4-1, Saturday.
Sophomore forward Brandon Biro scored the lone power-play goal against the Golden Knights, while sophomores Kris Myllari, Denis Smirnov, Nate Sucese and Liam Folkes all contributed goals against the Saints the following night.
"We enjoy how we play, we play to score goals, but the goaltender always has a say." Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said.
On the flip side of the puck, consistency in the defense has been a point of emphasis for Gadowsky throughout the preseason. This weekend senior assistant captain, defenseman Erik Autio set the example.
Gadowsky noted as early as media day that the Nittany Lions would work toward identifying who would fill the role former Nittany Lion Vince Pedrie left on the blue line. While Gadowsky did mention freshman Cole Hults as a potential option, Autio has shown he is ready to take on some of the responsibility.
"The way he [Autio] moves the puck with possession, not just at his end, is incredible," Gadowsky said. "I guarantee he leads the nation in that."
The Blue and White combined for 11 penalties throughout the weekend, with nine of those coming from Saturday night. These nine penalties combined to take an 18 minute chunk out of Penn State's quick level of play on Saturday, but aren't all exactly causing extreme concern for Gadowsky.
"When you play hockey tough and intense, you're going to get coincidental penalties," Gadowsky said. "Is it something that concerns us? Yes, we will not be successful if we let that get away from us."
Going the other way, the Nittany Lions only allowed one power-play goal throughout the entire weekend, coming from the stick of St. Lawrence sophomore forward Alex Gilmour.
Since last season, Gadowsky and his staff have been working on special team lines, focusing on keeping the puck out of their own defensive zone on the power play. During opening weekend, that emphasis was on display.
"We killed [the penalty] very well and I don't think we gave a lot of power play opportunities," Gadowsky said. "But the best way to kill a penalty is to not take them."
Looking toward the weekend, Penn State heads to Minnesota to get an early start on Big Ten play this season.
The Golden Gophers, who have been serious contenders in the NCAA national championship race the past few seasons, will pose as an early test for the Nittany Lions.
"I think everyone knows when it's a Big Ten game it's a little more hyped up and people are a little bit more amped up," junior defenseman Kevin Kerr said. "But as a team, we still go out there with the same objectives."
For Kerr, the opportunity to return to the ice is one that has him particularly hyped, after an injury sidelined him for Penn State's unprecedented postseason run.
Still, with all the success from last season, the team as a whole, is as determined as ever to stay on track and keep their focus."We try not to think about what everyone else's expectations are for us," senior captain forward, James Robinson said. "We know what we have to do to be successful."
By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - He can be seen by the Blue and White faithful hugging the wing, holding the defensive unit firm, or helping add an element of surprise to their set pieces. Standing at 6'4", freshman Callum Pritchatt has made his presence known on an already skillful Penn State men's soccer team with his technical ability, left-foot, and size.
"He honestly has already stepped into a leadership position just because of his background at West Brom (West Bromwich Albion Football Club) over in England," said senior goalkeeper Evan Finney. "He has really kept his head very well, you know it's not easy to just play in different positions every other game...I think that he has really done well to be able to move from center-back to defensive-mid now to right-wing."
The jack-of-all-trades on the pitch is a freshman standout with years of elite experience under his cleats. Pritchatt dedicated his life to soccer from a young age in the United Kingdom, his home country, and a place rife with a cultural emphasis on futbol.
At the age of 14, Pritchatt joined England's West Bromwich Albion, an English football club based in West Bromwich in the West Midlands. As Pritchatt joined the club circuit, he developed the foundation that brought him across the pond to suit up and represent the Blue and White.
"I joined West Bromwich at the age of 14, which is probably the highest level you can get in England so all the coaches there were top quality," said Pritchatt. "Instead of focusing on certain things they would just try to join in every aspect, so even if you play on defense you would work on stuff the strikers worked on. So, it just improved your game overall and I think that's helped me coming here, getting adjusted."
Head coach Bob Warming and his coaching core were so impressed with Pritchatt's versatility that they quickly adjusted his stagnant role as a defender to a transitioning threat throughout the entirety of the pitch.
"First of all, he is a very talented left-footed player," said Warming. "He has some physical qualities that are good for a very tall player as well. I think he is adjusting to the college game. This college game is so different than club soccer and I think he's learning to adjust. He has a big future ahead of him."
Pritchatt's teammates also find confidence and opportunity in the young player's skillset that capitalizes on his left-footed strength, especially in the attacking third and set play situations.
"You know it's his left-footed crossing ability and free kick ability," said Finney. "It helps me knowing that we can get a lot more chances in the goal if there are a lot more crosses coming in from that side...it kind of takes some relief from the defense. His left foot is wicked, it's good. I think we are going to get goals off it, it's just a matter of time until it comes."
Although the team's season is not over, Pritchatt's experience with the Nittany Lions has already come full circle for the freshman. He began as a constant on the backline and now pays homage to his positional origin with the help of creating offensive opportunities and keeping the pressure away from Finney's box.
"It's been good, but it's also been a challenge," said Pritchatt. "I'm more comfortable outside at the back four. All throughout my whole career I have played many different positions and obviously coach has seen something in me as a forward so if it's going to help the team then I am willing to try that."
Pritchatt's willingness to help in any facet comes from his respect for the Blue and White and the game itself.
"I'm just trying to focus on the soccer as much as possible," said Pritchatt.
He was raised on the sound of fans, the smell of freshly groomed grass and the feel of ball connecting with cleat. Soccer is the connective force between his home, West Brom, and now his time with the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Pritchatt is quickly realizing soccer is the sport that keeps on giving as he gains more connections through his time spent across the pond with the Penn State Nittany Lions.
"It's huge I didn't realize 'til the first game how much it means to the public and the fans like even though the futbol is big in England you don't really get the family feel like you do at Penn State," said Pritchatt.
After this season, Pritchatt will have three more years to continue to develop his left-footed threat and dangerous versatility under the support of his Blue and White family, friends, and fans at Jeffrey Field.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Although there was no regularly scheduled press conference this week, Penn State head coach James Franklin still made a regular appearance on the Big Ten Head Coaches Teleconference.
Franklin spent time taking questions from media members, giving a glimpse into the bye week schedule as well as looking ahead to next week's assignment.
Check in on a few highlights from the Q&A session.
What a Difference a
It's been 382 days since the Nittany Lions and the Wolverines last met and it goes without saying that so much has changed within in the stretch of time. For Franklin though, the success the Nittany Lions have seen since September 24, 2016 isn't just a result of what has happened exclusively within the nearly 400-day span.
"I think it's been a slow steady process of building since we got here," Franklin said. "I think that loss obviously gave us a shot in the gut and I think everybody took a hard look in the mirror and said, what do we need to do to move forward and to take the steps that we need to take. I think that loss as well as 100 positive steps in the right direction, kind of everything just came together at the right time and then we were able to get the win against Minnesota and just keep building."
Inside the Bye Week
Franklin noted postgame at Northwestern that he was pleased with where the Nittany Lions are at, but looking forward to the opportunity to key in on academics with added time to get healthy, in addition to some extra opportunities for development.
As Franklin shared today, self scouting was the first thing the Nittany Lions dove into on Monday, spending Tuesday getting ahead on Michigan before the team returns to practice this afternoon following an off day.
"You always have to take some time to check yourself out and then get on to that next opponent," Franklin said.
A captain on the team and the leader of the Nittany Lion special teams unit, Penn State's senior Nick Scott's impact goes much further on the team than his performance on the field. When asked about his responsibilities on the team, Franklin had only positive things to say about Scott's approach.
"He has done an unbelievable job with it, he's playing more and more on defense," Franklin said. "For two years now he has had a huge impact on special teams. He's an energy guy, he brings positive energy, enthusiasm, focus. He's one of the more respected players on our team."
Penn State returns to action next Saturday, Oct. 21 hosting Michigan in its Penn State White Out game set for 7:30 p.m. in Beaver Stadium.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The bye week has arrived as Penn State takes time to turn the focus toward itself before embarking on a challenging middle third of the Nittany Lions' nine-game Big Ten conference schedule.
Pleased with where the team is at and the progress it's made to date, Franklin not