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Nolf Focused on Improvement

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By Brandon Pelter, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There's certainly no denying Penn State's Jason Nolf has already made a name for himself among Penn State fans. Just two dual meets into the 2017-18 campaign though, the redshirt junior remains as hungry for more as ever.

"He's just a student of the game," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He's improving in all areas. You see him wrestling he's always trying new things."

Nolf has consistently treated the Nittany Lion faithful to a variety of unique and different moves.

That even includes a "secret move" Nolf broke out last Thursday to start his season out with a win by fall in the opener against Army. He followed with the same outcome in Sunday's win against Bucknell, totaling seven takedowns before pinning Christian Bassolino at the 3:33 mark to crack into the Penn State top 10 in all-time falls with 31 in his career.

Sanderson is nothing short of impressed with what he's seen from Nolf through the years.

"Some of the stuff that he's doing are the kind of moves that you don't really do until you're done wrestling and you're playing around as a coach," Sanderson said. "He's fearless enough that he'll master it and throw it out there and he enjoys that." 

In his freshman season, Nolf came one win shy from winning a national championship, but last season took home the title at 157 pounds on a truly memorable night in St. Louis.  

While fans may love to see the bonus point victories, it's all about improving for Nolf.

"Nolf's just a guy when you talk about expectations people just expect to come and watch him score a ton of points," Sanderson said. "And if he doesn't you're wondering well what's wrong with him. You can see he's constantly working and playing with the sport and that's why he's better now than he was a year ago. Next year he'll be better than he is this year."

After his NCAA national championship in 2017, Nolf then turned to Team USA wrestling over the summer, placing third in US World Team trials and fourth in the US Open.

"I'm doing about the same stuff I've always been doing," Nolf said. "Just learning a lot of different things and working with my coaches on strength and on techniques. Just learning about new stuff." 

While dedicated to his craft day in and day out, it's a combination of things that make someone like top-ranked Nolf so unique. 

"Nolf's special," Sanderson said. "We'll probably never see anybody ever like him again. He's just unique and special and we're glad he's on our team."

Although out to a 2-0 start along with his team, for Nolf, it is individual success that motivates the group.

"I think we motivate each other as a team and as teammates," Nolf said. "The more one person does well, the more everyone else wants to do well. Our coaches are really good at getting us focused on what we need to be focused on. I think we all know what we want to do and that's what it comes down to."

The top-ranked Nittany Lions return to action Friday, on the road taking on Binghamton at 7 p.m.

Terry Smith Q&A - Nebraska

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Catch up and listen in on the weekly Penn State Football assistant coaches conference call featuring assistant head coach and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith during Nebraska week.  Read More

Terry Smith Q&A - Nebraska

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State assistant head coach and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith joined this week's assistant coaches conference call to talk Nittany Lion football during Nebraska week.

Covering everything from senior day to Nittany Lions on the rise, catch up on a few highlights from the teleconference.

Senior Sendoff
For Smith, it's hard to pick a favorite memory when it comes to someone like Grant Haley. Of course there's the signature scoop and score to topple Ohio State, which Smith identified as a program-changing moment for the Nittany Lions.

"He's just played so much football, we've had a lot of great moments and he's just an awesome kid to be around and have coached," Smith said.

On Senior Day ...
As a proud Nittany Lion alum, Smith also has the benefit of knowing what it feels like to rush through the tunnel on to the field for the final time in full uniform.

"Senior night is an emotional night or an emotional day because you've come to the realization that this is the last time you're ever going to put the uniform on in Beaver Stadium," Smith said. 

"You come through that tunnel and it's the last time the crowd is going to cheer you on as a player. There's a lot of, just that surreal-ness of, this is it. A bunch of emotions start to pour through you and then at the end of the day, you still have your job to do. We still have a game to play and victory to chase."

A Bright Future
Smith noted that true freshman Tariq Castro-Fields has only grown into his position for the Nittany Lions. With a knack for finding the ball, speed, awareness and ball skills, Smith is increasingly more confident in his future.

"Tariq's doing really well for us, he's going to have a bright future for us as we graduate two senior corners in Christian [Campbell] and Grant [Haley]," Smith said. "We feel really good about where Tariq is as those two guys depart the program."

Throughout the season, Castro-Fields has continued to grow, giving the staff more confidence with each snap.

"Tariq, he played really well in the Michigan State game and he's had some games where he has played really well and like I said, we just continue to give him a little bit more and more," Smith said. "As he continues to handle it, Tariq's going to be really good for us." 

More Freshman Impact
Smith also spoke highly of true freshman Lamont Wade, comparing his freshman campaign to that of someone like Grant Haley. 

"Lamont has become really, really important to us on special teams," Smith said. "He makes a ton of plays on special teams units and he's played a significant role with us on the defensive end as well. His role is going to continue to grow for us. Lamont is a super smart kid." 


By Jack Dougherty, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State took down Stony Brook 7-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament last Friday, but the competition heats up this weekend as the Nittany Lions travel to Morgantown, West Virginia.


The Blue and White, ranked No. 10 and a No. 3 seed in the tournament, will square off against No. 24 Wake Forest Friday at 4 p.m. in the second round of the tournament. With a win, the road to a second championship in three years doesn't get any easier.


Penn State's potential third round game on Sunday would be against the winner of No. 22 Rutgers and No. 7 West Virginia. The Morgantown pod of four teams may be the toughest in the field to overcome, as it's the only pod out of eight to feature four ranked teams.


Luckily for the Nittany Lions, they're playing their best soccer of the year right now. They've outscored opponents 10-1 since postseason play began with the Big Ten tournament.


"I think the whole team in general has grown a lot just from the beginning of the year," redshirt junior Emily Ogle said. "Knowing each other's tendencies and starting to get in a real flow and rhythm with the people around us. We've come a long way and it's finally starting to show."


One of the biggest reasons for Penn State's recent dominance is the offensive emergence of Laura Freigang. She has scored at least one goal in three straight matches and is coming off a three-goal game in the first round. It was the 21st hat trick in program history.


Freigang's recent surge garnered national praise, as she was named to the TopDrawerSoccer Team of the Week two weeks in a row.


The sophomore from Oppenheim, Germany now leads the team in goals (eight), points (17), and game-winning goals (four) this season.


"It was a long time coming," head coach Erica Dambach said. "She's been in and out of the group with national team duty. It's taken her a while to get fully integrated, and we thought that once she did this was going to be the result. We finally were able to slide her into the starting lineup on a consistent basis and the result has been magical."


Freigang has competed with the German Women's National Team since she was only 15. Recently, she played four matches in the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup last November.


Freigang said the pressure that comes with national team matches has helped her this year to produce in the clutch. Teammates have noticed, too.


"She has experience in these big stage games and it showed," Ogle said. "She's been our go-to player and has really come up big for us when we need her. She's a great player and she has that experience she can lead on when we need it the most."


Penn State will rely heavily on Freigang for some offensive firepower this weekend against stiff competition.


Here's what each team in the challenging pod presents for Penn State.


Wake Forest

 Wake Forest is a cohesive group that works well together up top. Of the team's 31 total goals scored this season, 29 were assisted on.


Bayley Fiest leads the team with eight goals and 18 points on the year, but the Demon Deacons feature a balanced offensive attack in which 13 players have scored at least one goal.


Wake Forest's best win this season came against South Carolina back in August. The Gamecocks are a No. 1 seed in the tournament, and Wake Forest defeated them, 3-2.


Dambach said the key to beating Wake Forest will be dominating the flanks on both ends of the field.


"They are good in the attack in the flanks, and I think in our attack we can get at them in those areas," Dambach said.


She also said Penn State needs to have success with set pieces like it did against Stony Brook. The Nittany Lions scored two goals off set pieces in that match, and Dambach said that could make or break the team in this upcoming game.


The Demon Deacons upset No. 15 Georgetown in penalty kicks in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and they'll be hungry for another one Friday.



West Virginia

 If Penn State can scrape by Wake Forest, a potential matchup with the Mountaineers would be especially intriguing.


Penn State already faced West Virginia in Morgantown earlier this season and came up one goal short in a thriller. A rematch would have every college soccer fan's eye on Sunday.


The Mountaineers are the No. 2 seed in the region and sport a 16-3-2 record. They've won eight of their last 10 and haven't lost since September 24.


The two powerhouses have played each other at least once in each of the past eight years and seem to always run into each other in the NCAA tournament. Penn State had to go through West Virginia during its 2015 national championship run.


The rivalry has an enthralling history. The series record sits at a deadlock at 7-7-2, and 11 of those 16 matches were either one-goal games or draws.


Michaela Abam leads the Mountaineers with 10 goals on the season. She's extremely aggressive offensively, as she averages almost six shots per game.


Goalkeeper Rylee Foster has been sturdy all season long. She owns a 0.56 goals against average and a .774 save percentage.



 Defense, defense, defense.


That's been Rutgers' identity since All-American goalkeeper Casey Murphy arrived in Piscataway three years ago.


The redshirt junior has allowed just six goals in 20 games this season. Her 0.28 goals against average is the top mark in the country.


The Scarlet Knights frustrate their opponents with stifling defense and physicality. The chippy, low-scoring game with plenty of fouls is Rutgers' comfort zone.


Penn State has played Rutgers twice this season and neither team has scored in 220 minutes of game time. The Nittany Lions grinded out a victory in penalty kicks in the Big Ten tournament. If this rematch occurs, expect the first team to score to pull out the win.


Going away to a hostile environment and making it through Morgantown will undoubtedly be Penn State's biggest challenge of the season, but confidence is oozing from this squad right now. The friendly confines of Jeffrey Field won't be revisited this season, but the Nittany Lions are ready for a fight on the road.


"There's no place like Jeffrey Field," Ogle said. "It's the best place in the country to play college soccer, but we're hunters. We go on the road and we try to eat, we try to get the job done. It doesn't matter where we play--we'll play anyone anywhere."

By Patrick Anglin, Student Staff Writer

Every university wants to build an elite coaching staff for its varsity sports. The administration wants to bring in the best, and choose individuals who will make their teams better. One would hope that each coach on staff has a unique skill-set and perspective, that when combined with other coaches, will create a force to be reckoned with.  Read More


By Patrick Anglin, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Every university wants to build an elite coaching staff for its varsity sports. The administration wants to bring in the best, and choose individuals who will make their teams better. One would hope that each coach on staff has a unique skill-set and perspective, that when combined with other coaches, will create a force to be reckoned with. An ideal coach will push their student-athletes to be the best they can be, and then some. That's why hiring Celeste Brown as an assistant coach was a no-brainer for Penn State and women's hockey head coach Jeff Kampersal.


"I remember coaching against her when she played at RIT," Kampersal said. "She's super competitive, and we wanted somebody who had moxie and grit. Somebody who would instill toughness into the players. She's a tireless worker, she was that as a player and is now that as a coach."


Kampersal was impressed with what Brown was able to do on the ice, and for good reason. During her playing career at RIT, Brown tallied a 15-2 postseason record including a Division III National Championship in 2012 and consecutive CHA titles in 2014-15. She was a two-time captain with 42 goals and 28 assists, with nine of her goals coming as game-winners. After graduating, Brown spent a year playing professional hockey in the NWHL with the New York Riveters. Then, the next year, she played professionally for the Connecticut Whale while serving as an assistant coach at Connecticut College. Brown emphasizes that her success as a player wasn't due to talent, but to her mindset and attitude.


"I wasn't an amazing player, but I figured out how to get where I needed to be," Brown said. "I outworked people, and that's my main thing. Yeah you can be super talented, but if you don't have the work ethic, grit, determination, and the willingness to sacrifice as a player, I don't think you'll get to level you can be."


Brown enjoyed her time playing professionally and coaching at Connecticut, but was ready to take the next step in her career by joining a top program. It just so happened that a school at the top of her list had an opening.


"What drew me to Penn State was its unbelievable potential," Brown said. "I played in the CHA, as Penn State joined the same time that RIT did. I remember being here as a player, and even back then, we all knew this place was special. I knew this place could provide excellent support for not just athletes but also students. Seeing that drew me in from the get-go."


It wasn't just the school that caught Brown's attention, but the team itself. Specifically, it was the top-tier coaches that had already joined the staff.


"PSU hired two top-notch coaches in Kampersal and Coomey," Brown said. "Coming here was like finding a golden ticket. Working with those two has been extraordinary, has been wonderful. I'm very fortunate, and what I like about them most is that they value my opinion just as much as if I was a long-tenured coach."


Since joining Penn State in July, Brown has certainly established herself as a key component of the team's success. She's received high praise from everybody in Pegula Arena, from the other coaches to the players.


"Our players respect her," Kampersal said. "She certainly has the clout in the CHA for our players to respect her, but they also respect her for her work ethic that she brings every single day. The energy, the passion. Her being young is a positive because she can relate to them well. They can relate on a lot of things and the players can go to her and talk about personal things."


This year is Brown's second year of coaching overall, but she doesn't think being young puts her at a disadvantage. In fact, she's certain that it gives her a unique perspective and helps her communicate with her players.


"The landscape of women's hockey has changed, and me being a recent graduate and recently playing pro for two years gives me a different outlook than other coaches might have," Brown said. "I have walked through these girl's shoes, so I feel like I can relate with them."


The players agree that Brown is extremely approachable, and that her youth and energy, and the balance between being a coach and being friendly are all what makes her coaching so effective.


"During practice she has a fun side," freshman Sophie Slattery said. "She'll participate in our shootouts and give tips. When it gets to game time she's very serious about what she's doing."


It's not just her attitude that makes her a great assistant coach for the team, but also her mental and physical gifts when it comes to the game of hockey.


"She's a great coach and we love working with her," sophomore Brooke Madsen said. "She was a pretty good player a couple of years ago, so she has a lot of knowledge on the talent part of the game. Stick-handling, skills, playing off the zone, being creative, creating chemistry with our lines, she knows it all and does it all."


The players also noted that they admired her competitive nature, and how she takes the time to focus on everyone equally.


"You can definitely tell how much she genuinely wants to be here and how much she wants to develop each individual player," Slattery said. "She has a ton of tips for everyone, on how to develop our individual game."


Brown has already seen a lot in her young hockey career, before as a player and now as a coach, and she's excited for the future. She lives by a mantra that she hopes she can instill upon each and every player she coaches.


"You just have to do it," Brown said. "Follow your dreams. Which sounds cliche, but you just can't take no for an answer. If the road changes, you just have to change with it. You'll never know where you are going to end up until you are there, so it's all about the journey. Once you're on top of the mountain, you can look back and see, and then you'll understand it."


The women of the ice hockey team will continue on their journey, and can feel confident that they have a great guide in Brown. Her competitive nature and love for the game, along with a broad number of life experiences already piled up, have her ready to take on any challenge that comes.

Net Presence Carries Nittany Lions in Sweep

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By  Tom Shively, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's block leads the Nittany Lions to their 16th consecutive win in the Rec Hall regular season home finale. For Penn State head coach Russ Rose though, there's still room for improvement ahead of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.  Read More

Net Presence Carries Nittany Lions in Sweep

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By Tom Shively, student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a perfect letdown situation for the top-ranked team in the country. A weeknight home game against a team with only one conference win would have been easy to overlook, especially with a three-game road trip looming.

Instead, Penn State women's volleyball swept Indiana, 25-21, 25-16, 25-16 to push their winning streak to 16 consecutive matches. A large part of the victory came by way of the blocking success, as the Nittany Lions could rely on a timely block anytime Indiana showed signs of momentum.

Anywhere the Hoosiers tried to attack at the net, it was met with a wall of Penn State defenders. The Nittany Lions denied the overmatched Indiana hitters all night, racking up 13 blocks for the match. The Hoosiers hit at a .083 clip, in large part because of the Penn State pressure.

Tori Gorrell and Heidi Thelen were the biggest road blocks for the Hoosiers, combining for 13 blocks. Gorrell credited most of her success tonight to Thelen being a reliable teammate and putting her into positions to succeed. 

"With Heidi being a middle in the pass, it's easier to know what she's doing because we have different arm swings," Gorrell said. "Some outsides do short arm swings, some do long arm swings, but Heidi is very consistent with that on her blocking. I know where she's going and she'll talk to me and push me." 

Gorrell's play didn't go unnoticed by head coach Russ Rose, who commended her as well as Haleigh Washington for their complete efforts on the night.

"I thought Tori played a great match, she hit and blocked really well. Haleigh, as is the norm, hit better and got some blocks," Rose said.

Washington added four blocks and 10 kills, hitting at a .667 clip, leading both teams in kills and percentage.

While the Nittany Lions may have cruised to a win on the surface, nine service errors caught Rose's attention as he stressed the errors as a point to work on for the future. 

"It's a learning experience for the players. I thought we blocked well and served poorly," Rose said.

The Nittany Lions started out slow in the first two sets, trailing 10-7 in the first and 7-5 in the second before turning those frames around.

Penn State played its best volleyball in terms of hitting in the third set, registering a scorching .632 hitting percentage in the final frame, siding out at 87 percent.

Washington's four kills on four attacks set the tone for the Nittany Lions in that third set, and her leadership showed all night even as Penn State was struggling to distance itself from Indiana early in sets.

It's a quality that she has had all year and something critical to this team's success in both the immediate future and the postseason as well.

"As a leader, it's about instilling that sense of urgency, that focus and that drive that everything matters," Washington said. "It's not just when we play, it's when we practice too. We're going to have teams we play in the first round of the tournament that will be serving us tough and hitting really hard. Everybody competes and everybody goes hard." 

Rose also highlighted the importance of putting a quality effort together, as errors and mental mistakes cannot be absorbed if this team wants to make a run at a championship, a very realistic goal as things currently stand.

"Everybody cares in the NCAA Tournament, it's just how much you care," Rose said. "A 'C' effort won't get us very far in the NCAA Tournament. It certainly wasn't a great performance by everybody today but if you're trying to get some momentum going down the stretch, you'd like to think that you'd be able to start your own engines and get out there and do it."

The Nittany Lions travel to Rutgers this weekend before a trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin after Thanksgiving to close out the regular season.

Practice Report: Nebraska Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin met with members of the media following practice Wednesday evening. Nittany Lions Marcus Allen and DaeSean Hamilton also took time for a pair of post-practice media sessions during Nebraska week.

Check in for a few updates from Penn State's final mid-week media availability before Saturday's home finale.

A Legacy in Terms of Work
For Franklin, there's isn't one particular story that he'll remember Hamilton by, rather pointing out that he'll leave behind a legacy surrounding an impressive work ethic. 

"He's a guy, as much as any guy I've been around in my career, that has maximized his potential through work ethic, through preparation, through attitude," Franklin said." I mean, I think I've told you guys stories, when I was a bachelor living here by myself for nine months and I'd come out at 6 a.m. and he'd be out on the turf running routes by himself or on the JUGS machine or what else." 

Marcus Allen Then and Now
When asked to describe himself looking back at when he was a freshman to where he is now as a senior, Allen was both reflective and appreciative of those who have helped him along the way. 

"Raw talent, a gullible kid, just playing with straight emotion. I didn't really know the game of football." Allen said describing his freshman self. "Senior Marcus, still play with emotion and passion, but really I learned way more about football in general. I got taught the ins and outs of football. Down and distance, formation recognition, checks, calls." 

It Was a Scramble
Franklin also detailed a bit of the hectic process related to tying up a recruiting class having just barely arrived on campus.

"It was a scramble, we were locked up in the Penn Stater," Franklin said. "We lived in the Penn Stater and going through HR and everything. Half of our staff wasn't even allowed to come to Lasch until we cleared all the background checks and all that kind of stuff. Legitimately we were sequestered in the Penn Stater and it was basically me coming over, walking around Lasch Building by myself. But it was a scramble, calling all those kids."

Nebraska Secondary
When asked about the Husker secondary, Hamilton noted that it's probably among the biggest he's faced. 

"A lot of teams in the Big Ten west, their DB's and their whole team is huge," Hamilton said. "We approach them the same way, we are aware of who our matchup are and things like that. We know they are a pretty skilled group, they've been playing together for I'm pretty sure a long time and they're real disciplined as well so that's the main thing we're focusing on.

Program Spotlight: Going For It

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - If Andrea Smith had a dollar for every time someone asked her how her husband could transform into a fierce and ferocious competitor on Saturday's in the fall, she'd likely be rich. Her husband of course, is 6-foot, fifth-year senior linebacker Brandon Smith.  Read More


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