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After One Year, Farkes Reflects on Boston Marathon

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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Growing up in Boston, Penn State senior catcher Alex Farkes had his own little Patriot's Day tradition.

Every year, Farkes and his friends would attend the Boston Red Sox game in the afternoon and then walk to Boylston Street to catch the end of the Boston Marathon. For Farkes and many Boston natives, it was not just another day on the calendar, it was the city's own holiday.

"[Patriot's Day] is a very important day in Boston and it's part of the city's identity," Farkes said. "I'm blessed to be from [Boston] and I'm proud of it."

Last year, as Farkes spent his Patriot's Day afternoon preparing for practice, he received the same shocking news as the rest of the country: a bomb had gone off near the Marathon's finish line at Boylston Street.

Suddenly, all of the trivial things that had been on the Nittany Lions catcher's mind, such as his team's 8-1 loss to Michigan the day before, didn't seem to matter much. After speaking with the coaching staff, Farkes quickly called his three older brothers and his parents to make sure they were unharmed, which thankfully, they were.

While the reassurance of his family and friend's safety helped ease his mind somewhat, the news and the aftermath of the day were still hard for the junior to process.

"It's hard when you live so close that you can feel the ground shake when you talk to your family," Farkes said. "I just prayed for the victims and hoped that they would be rushed to safety and that everything would be okay."

Looking back on the fateful day a year later, Farkes is able to take pride in the resiliency that his hometown showed during the traumatic period. However, the week following the bombing remains one of the toughest of the 22-year-old's life.

With the city of Boston on lockdown as police searched nearby Watertown, Mass. looking for the culprits, Farkes tried to remain focused on the team's upcoming series against Iowa, something that wasn't easy to do with his family on his mind.

Luckily for Farkes, he had fellow Massachusetts natives in pitcher T.J. Jann and outfielder Sam August to lean on throughout the week. On April 20th, the day following the successful manhunt, Farkes managed to go 2-for-4 in a game against Iowa, though his mind was still largely elsewhere.

"[That week] was tough because my brothers live near Watertown and it was scary. It hit right at home...right there and it was pretty crazy," Farkes said. "I try to play the game the same way every time but it definitely put things in perspective and I just wanted everyone to be okay."

The 2013 season was still in full swing and Farkes did his best to go about his normal routine as usual. When the Nittany Lions final game on May 18 ended, however, Farkes knew there was something he needed to do.

Returning home a few days later, the loyal Boston native made a special stop before he did anything else. He walked to the spot of the finish line and took a moment to let everything sink in.

"I walked to Boylston Street, walked up the street for five minutes and I just stood there for a while," Farkes said. "There's a Marathon Sports (running store) there and I bought a "Run to Remember" t-shirt and stood there and just took it all in."

For Farkes, Boylston Street had always been a part of his childhood. In that moment, it dawned on him that the place now represented so much more.

"It's scary because I walked around there my whole life, to get a bagel or get food and those are the streets that I grew up on, and everyday my parents let me go out," Farkes said. "My heart slowed a little bit walking around there."

Over the past year, Farkes has watched his hometown rebound slowly but surely. The Stanley Cup Finals appearance by the Boston Bruins and the World Series victory by the Red Sox helped bring the city's community together and will forever remain highlights for him.

Though the senior said he never needed a reason to be proud to call Boston home, watching the response to the attacks by both civilians and hospitals as well as the actions by the Boston Police Department made him realize how lucky he is.

"I'm so blessed to know that those people were protecting me my whole life and I feel very lucky for that," Farkes said. "I was already proud of that city and I guess I'm even more proud now. I'm just thankful that they were able to save so many people."

Watching the tributes given this past Tuesday by Vice President Joe Biden and many others on the one-year anniversary of the day, Farkes was reminded of the importance of Patriot's Day and the Boston Marathon, two things that will always hold a special place in his heart.

He may currently be enjoying his senior season on a team striving to give new head coach Rob Cooper a winning season, but if there is one thing Farkes learned over the past year, it's that some things are more important than baseball.

"Some people can do some scary things," Farkes said. "If there's one thing I take away it's that each day is a blessing."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Chambers, Nittany Lions Working Towards 2014-'15 Season

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion basketball team's 2013-'14 season was marked by individual and collective progress.

While head coach Patrick Chambers and the players on the roster would be the first to tell you that they had hoped to win more games last season, the foundation laid and steps forward have given the squad a great deal of optimism as preparations for 2014-'15 begin.

The program moves forward without Tim Frazier, who graduates following a decorated career in Blue and White, but the Lions return one of the Big Ten's elite players in all-conference guard D.J. Newbill.

Following a tremendous junior campaign, the Philadelphia native will head into the fall as the conference's second-leading returning scorer.  After tweaking his shot mechanics during the offseason, Newbill set career-highs in field goal (45 percent) and three-point (33 percent) percentages.  Newbill's 17.8 points per game mark was second only to Nebraska's Terran Petteway.

"I definitely didn't achieve the goals I wanted to achieve, team-wise and record-wise," Newbill said.  "But there were so many close games, and we just have to learn from them.  We have to work harder than we did last year.  That's my mindset going into this offseason.  We worked hard last year, now, we've got to work even harder." 

A dynamic player with a tenacious attitude, Newbill is again primed for a big offseason and another step forward on the floor in 2014-'15.  He had 10 20-point games last season, including six in Big Ten games.  Among the conference's most complete scorers, Newbill will play a central role in Penn State's success next season.

"Our team chemistry was good, but it can get a lot better," Newbill said.  "Our defense needs to improve and we need to hit shots.  We need to have guys continuously getting into the gym and working on their jump shots.  That helps you shoot with confidence, and that is going to help us next year."

Collectively, the Nittany Lions return 78 percent of their scoring and 77 percent of their rebounds from last season in Newbill, Brandon Taylor, Ross Travis, Donovon Jack, John Johnson, Geno Thorpe, Jordan Dickerson, Julian Moore, Alan Wisniewski and Kevin Montminy.  Redshirt freshman Payton Banks will debut for Penn State in the fall.  Additionally, Penn State welcomes second-team JUCO All-American Devin Foster to the rotation and true freshmen Shep Garner and Isaiah Washington.

"It's repetition.  We're youthful," Chambers said.  "I think with every passing year, everything slows down a little bit, especially for guys like John Johnson, Jordan Dickerson, Geno Thorpe.  I think the pace of the game will slow down. I think that's when you're going to see shots go down.  Plus, with experience, I think you'll start to see shots go down. We're going to have seniors and juniors next year, which is exciting."

The Lions are on the brink of a breakout season after finishing with 16-18 overall mark and a 6-12 record in the Big Ten.  Penn State lost eight games by five or fewer points in 2013-'14, including four during Big Ten play.  The Lions' 16 wins reached a mark topped just three times this millennium.

Penn State won five road games, including three in Big Ten play, marking the most since the 2008-'09 season when they won six.  Penn State swept Ohio State for the first time since 1998, becoming the second team to beat the Buckeyes twice in the regular season in the last five years (Michigan State is the only other team).

"It takes time, and we all have to be patient, but I don't know if we were appreciated for what we did," Chambers said. "Not me, the players. I don't know that they were appreciated for how hard they competed on a nightly basis. Every game, other than a few, I felt like they competed to the best of their ability. To be sitting here again, 15-16 wins, is a great jump up from where we were."

Now, the Nittany Lions are looking to take the next step with another strong offseason of development in the practice gym from everyone on the roster.   Expectations are high for Chambers and the Lions as they continue the building process leading up to the 2014-'15 season.


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

A Closer Look at the Nittany Lions' Journey

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With only two matches left in the regular season for the Nittany Lions, the squad of 16 has been through a journey of streaks this year going from two losses to 12 wins followed by seven consecutive matches on the road.

"It seems to be a year of streaks - mostly travel streaks," head coach Mark Pavlik said. "We go to Hawaii with the idea of let's see where we are and how we stack up against Hawaii. It was very good for us. Then we came back and had the ability through who we played to get those who don't play much some action, refine our skills, and then we were on the road for a tough stretch."

Despite long stretches on the road with less than ideal traveling arrangements, the Nittany Lions have stayed mentally tough and taken the necessary steps to ensure their bodies could perform at their best.

"We've picked up our physicality, which I'm very glad to see the travel weariness has been handled well. We've done a good job keeping fresh in the gym and all in all it's been a pretty good season for us," Pavlik said.

Although it can be easy to focus on their record of wins and losses throughout the season, the coaches stress that the level of improvement is more important.

"The team has steadily improved and we don't pay a lot of attention to wins and losses," Pavlik said. "We pay attention to are we getting better and what do we have to do to get better. This team has really made a commitment to getting better and you look at every one of the guys on this team and you can point out aspects in their game that have improved. That's all we can really ask for."

Through their journey, the team has learned from each and every chance they have had to compete. Their level of improvement is a testament to the resiliency of this group.

"They roll with the punches really well. This is a group that is confident; they understand how hard it is to be good. They learn that within this group they can push each other and hold each other accountable. I like the growth they've had this year and I'm excited about the future for this core group of student-athletes," Pavlik said.

Even though this particular group of 16 players started playing together in the fall, their development goes back a year where they grew under the six seniors that graduated in 2013.

"The development of this team can be traced back to the six seniors we had last year. They were there if we needed them in a certain situation and they were always ready to go. Our current group saw that. They saw the selflessness and they saw how much the program meant to that group of seniors. This team has picked up on the strength of those seniors last year and have carried it on and they've made it stronger this year," Pavlik said.

It may seem like their season is winding down from the fan perspective with the EIVA championships right around the corner, however, the most exciting part of the season is still to come.

"This is the fun part - everything is winding up," Pavlik said. "This is what you come to Penn State for. We're going to gear up and we're going to make sure we aren't overtaxing these guys. If they keep it sharp, we're going to stay in the gym only as long as they need to be."

At this point in the season, the team starts "tapering" which means they reduce the amount of practice time and focus more on quality and their execution.

"This is not the time to keep them in the gym for practice sake. They're responding well to this. We've had some great short practices over these past few weeks. We want them to be at their best when the whistle blows," Pavlik said.

The Nittany Lions secured the No. 1 overall seed and home court advantage as they host the upcoming EIVA tournament after their win against Saint Francis. This win also gave the Nittany Lions their 30th EIVA/ECVL regular season title.

"Hosting keeps them in their routines," Pavlik said. "They're comfortable there and everything that they normally do, they can do. That's huge for college athletes and even more so with men's volleyball across the country. Teams have really been good at home and it's been tough to win on the road. I like the fact that we don't have to go anywhere for the two biggest EIVA matches of the year."

VIDEO: Women's Gymnastics NCAA Practice Session

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's gymnastics team took part in their practice session at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex on Thursday, April 17. Head coach Jeff Thompson and freshman Emma Sibson talked to GoPSUsports.com following the team's tune-up.

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Confidence Drives Doubleheader Sweep of Bucknell

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Team_9935420.jpegBy Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Riding the hot bat of freshman Shelby Miller, the Nittany Lions (14-23, 5-7 Big Ten) swept intrastate rival Bucknell (15-20, 7-5 Patriot League) in Wednesday evening's doubleheader at Beard Field, 6-3 and 10-5. After a slow start to the season, Penn State has now won eight of its last nine games.

"We know we can win now," said Miller. "We've seen that we can do it, and we're doing it."

In Game one of the doubleheader, Penn State used a complete game performance by Marlaina Laubach to lead the Nittany Lions to a 6-3 win.

Laubach went the distance, throwing 118 pitches, while allowing three runs, two earned. The 5-foot-8 right-handed freshman walked just one batter and tied a season-high with six strikeouts. She improved to 9-10 on the season and recorded her eighth complete game of the year.

"We're much more confident as a staff," said Laubach. "We all have a lot more confidence in one another. When I'm on the mound, I go out and try to act the most confident that I can."

On the offensive front, the Nittany Lions scored in all but one inning in the first game.

Batting seventh, Miller was a perfect 3-for-3 at the dish, driving in one run and scoring another.

"We're kind of protecting her [Miller] down there," said first-year head coach Amanda Lehotak. "She's getting better pitches. She's kind of our second leadoff to get that bottom of the order sparked again."

The Blue and White carried the momentum into game two of the doubleheader, jumping out to a 9-0 lead after just two innings of play.

"Game two we attacked early, which was exactly what we wanted," said Lehotak. "The top of the order really came out and followed the game plan to a 'T' and when we do that we can put up 10 runs."

Like the first game, Miller was a big reason why Penn State was so dominant offensively against the Bison. The second baseman went 2-for-3 with a triple and four runs batted in.

"I was just seeing it, and my biggest goal today was just, and every time I go up to bat, was just to relax," said Miller. "Just take a couple deep breaths, go up there, and do what I need to do."

Unlike the first game, however, the Nittany Lions used a trio of pitchers to get past Bucknell. Christy Von Pusch, Marissa Diescher and Macy Jones took to the mound to combine to give up five runs, three earned, on seven hits, five walks and six strikeouts.

Looking ahead, the Nittany Lions host Big Ten foe Wisconsin this weekend for a three-game series. Nevertheless, according to Lehotak, adjustments will need to be made to get past the aggressive Badgers.

"Bottom of the order has to get on," said Lehotak. "We have a couple big holes. We have to take care of the ball defensively. Wisconsin is very aggressive. They are very top heavy in the top of the order, batting average, numbers-wise. They swing hard, and they're going to come right after us. Our pitching is going to have to hit their spots. We have to keep limiting our walks."

Loizeaux Making Her Comeback Complete

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's very rare to see a transfer player come in and make an immediate impact. They have to pick up a new system, develop new chemistry, and understand what exactly it is that the players around them want to do.

It is especially challenging in a sport like lacrosse, where you have to be on the same page with your teammates on the field throughout the entire 60-minute game.

But for junior-transfer Jess Loizeaux, the transition has been no problem.

As a matter of fact, she has made the transition look easy and she has done it very smoothly, and with her own style.

The attacker is coming off an injury that caused her to miss her sophomore season at Virginia, and so far she has thrived in her new offense with her new team.

"I like it more," she said. "It's really hard to be out for a full season with an injury, mentally. It definitely messes with your mind. In the fall, it kind of gave me that period to get back to playing full swing and in competition in the fall ball games.

"Playing games is so much more fun for me. Just being able to compete and go to practice everyday and compete is just so much fun. "

Through the Nittany Lions' 14 games this season, Loizeaux's consistent play has proven to be invaluable, as she has become one of offensive leaders on this team. Currently, she boasts a 12-game point streak and is sixth on the team in points.

In her freshman season as a Cavalier, she scored eight times and assisted on three goals. As a Nittany Lion, her production has nearly tripled as she has 18 goals and 12 assists on the season.

Part of what has made her so effective in this offense is how well she has gelled with the other girls in blue and white, and how her playing style is very similar to the one head coach Missy Doherty has installed over her four years at the helm.


When the Mullica Hill, N.J., native has the ball in her stick, the aggression and tenacity she displays is tremendous, but her intelligence also stands out. She is always looking to get the ball to goal and beat the opposing goaltender. But at the same time, Loizeaux is very selective with her shots and will always pass up something forced for a better play.

Her style is similar to that of her teammates and the connection was instant from the first moment they stepped on the field together. 

"I really, really enjoy playing with Maggie [McCormick] and Mackenzie [Cyr], especially on attack," Loizeaux said. "I think we all kind of play similar. Everyone on the team is unselfish. No one is a ball-hog or anything like that. It works really well with how I play.

"I like to get feeds inside and that kind of stuff. I think that our team all plays very similar and we are all equally good and we are not selfish, so I think I fit in pretty easily. But it was hard to get back into remembering how to play the game and that sort of thing."

Getting back on your feet and making an immediate impact is no easy task, as Loizeaux will attest to, but so far so good for the New Nittany Lion.

Loizeaux and the Nittany Lions return to action when they welcome ALC rival Johns Hopkins on Friday night for a pivotal game. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

Floor Routines Send Lions to Birmingham with Confidence

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By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At the center of most gymnastics arenas and practice facilities lies a blue, chalk dusted, white-tape-outlined, square area. In the 39-foot by 39-foot space, gymnasts combine tumbling, dance, and stunts, while doing their best not to land, leap, or "stick it" out of bounds. For the Penn State women's gymnastics team, this complex event secured its trip to the NCAA Championships.

Gymnastics, a sport that was once dominated by men, didn't officially become an Olympic sport until 1924. Women were not allowed to compete in Olympic gymnastics until 1928, where they were allowed to compete in only one event. Floor performance was one of the last rotations added to the Olympic slate of gymnastics events; women weren't allowed to compete in floor routines until 1948.

Floor performance is the primary event where gymnasts are given a canvas for artistic expression, a canvas that coaches Jeff and Rachelle Thompson allow their gymnast to paint themselves.

"When we came to Penn State, we decided to take a backseat to the choreographing of floor routines," Rachelle said. "We allow our girls to have the most input in this event."

The Nittany Lions' first regular season meet of the 2013-'14 season was at Iowa State, where the team scored 48.600 on floor. Over the course of the next few meets, Penn State was improving dramatically in their overall floor scores.

"We didn't expect floor to become our best event," Rachelle said. "This has always been an event that is unpredictable at the start of the season. Last year we were really weak on floor, but this year, we planned ahead and got the girls ready to compete on floor early."

The coaching philosophies of the Thompsons are unique; their primary focus is building a community within their team. At the beginning of each season they break the team up into event-based teams - floor, bar, beam and vault.

"This system allows for the girls to help each other," Rachelle said. "The floor team developed sooner than any other team. I would have never guessed in October that floor would be our strongest event, but it is.

There wasn't a meet all season that the Nittany Lions didn't improve on floor. Their consistency and improvement on floor shined in the Feb. 15 meet against No.15 Illinois. Penn State, who was ranked No. 21 at the time, was not favored to win this meet. But, heading into the final rotation of the competition, the Nittany Lions were tied with the Illini. The Thompsons and their gymnasts left Rec Hall that day with a "W" and their highest floor score of the season, 49.375.

Their fate at the NCAA Regional Championships wasn't much different; their qualification to the NCAA Championships rested on their ability to "stick" a near perfect floor rotation. And they did.

"That was a roller coaster of emotions," Rachelle said. "As a coach, I refused to look at the score board. I wanted to stay in the moment and I wanted the girls to stay in the moment. I know floor is our best event, but anything could happen."

The Nittany Lions finished their floor rotation with a score of 49.425 and secured their slot at the NCAA Championships.

"I am excited to see how we match up to the other schools of floor," senior Lindsay Musgrove said. "At this meet [NCAA Championships] we start off the competition on floor. I am hoping that that will get us on a good roll."

The Penn State women's gymnastics team was "Birmingham Bound" Tuesday night, where the team will begin competition on Friday. This is the first time since 2009 that the team earned a spot at the NCAA Championships.

"Our message all year has been 'Just be us,'" Rachelle said. "When we didn't advance last year, we asked the girls to buy into our new system and they committed to it. We tell them all the time to stay present and if we can do that in Alabama, the Super Six is in our reach. What we have accomplished this season has raised the bar for Penn State gymnastics. This is what we do at Penn State."  

Coming Full Circle in Alabama

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By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- As freshmen in 2011, Penn State gymnasts Lindsay Musgrove and Kassidy Stauder competed in their first collegiate gymnastics competition in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Three years later, the two will return to the southern state this weekend to compete in the NCAA Championships and their final meet as Penn State gymnasts.

Appropriately, this week's Word of the Week is "Full Circle", which attributes the seniors' journey starting and ending in Alabama.

The NCAA championship meet is the meet of all meets for collegiate gymnastics teams. This meet is unlike any other. Musgrove is looking forward to the championship atmosphere most.

"It's a completely different atmosphere. Thousands of people in the stands, crazy lights, glow sticks and you get to compete on podium, which is a big stage in front of the crowd" Musgrove said.

The second Word of the Week is "Us". The team is focusing on being themselves and competing how they practice everyday.

"We are coming in [to practice] and knocking out routines every day, so we just need to transfer that to the meet just like we did at Regionals and have our best meet," Musgrove said. "We've [also] been focusing on not looking at teams like Florida and Alabama and trying to be like them or be 'as good as them'. Who we are at Penn State is good enough to run with those guys."

The Nittany Lions saw No. 1 Florida compete at Regionals just two weeks ago and know that they can put up a fight against the Gators.

"Going into [Regionals] we knew they were ranked No. 1 and at the end of the meet, finishing just three-tenths behind them just shows how good we are. We have just as good of a chance as any other team to make it to Super Six," junior Randi Lau said.

Making it to Super Six means being a top six team on the first day of the competition and competing in the second day of the event. The Nittany Lions have never made it to the Super Six.

Penn State will start the competition this weekend on floor. Musgrove is looking forward to this event most.


"We're ranked the ninth in the nation on floor. Ending on floor at regionals, every single person hitting their routines, was so awesome," Musgrove said. "At this meet, we get to start on floor, so hopefully that will get us on a good roll to finish out the whole meet."

This weekend, No. 15 Penn State will compete in the evening session on Friday with No. 1 Florida, No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Utah, No. 8 UCLA and No. 9 Nebraska. The Nittany Lions will begin with a bye, then proceed to the floor exercise, followed by vault, another bye, uneven bars and finish with balance beam.

The Big Ten has four teams competing this weekend (Penn State, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan). The Big Ten and the SEC have the most teams competing in the 2014 Championships (Florida, Alabama, LSU, Georgia).

As this season comes to an end, the team is beginning to reflect on the past season. At the end of the 2012-'13 season, coaches Jeff and Rachelle Thompson devised a new plan for the team. The values and fundamentals of the team were going to change for the upcoming season. The gymnasts had to sign on to this new program, without knowing what was to come. Lau, who transferred last year from LSU, said she had to buy in to the Thompson's program, but it really paid off.

"The Thompsons really care about you on a personal level. I believe in their program and what they think. Their coaching styles are so encouraging," Lau said. "I trusted them as coaches to know that their program would work and it did. Here we are on the road to nationals."

The Blue and White's mission for the their first-ever trip to the Super Six begins on Friday at 8 pm.

"This opportunity is so amazing and we made it all happen ourselves," Lau said. 

VIDEO: Lady Lions Season Review Press Conference

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Coquese Washington and the Lady Lion players met the media on Wednesday to review the 2013-'14 season.  Penn State won its third-straight Big Ten title and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in the past three seasons.  Take a look.


Defense Gets Confidence Boost Heading Into Final Home Stand

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Senior goalie Austin Kaut's monster game Saturday night at Towson has given the Penn State defense just what they need to finish the season strong - a boost in poise and tenacity.


"It really gives our guys a lot of confidence defensively to know that Austin is going to make those saves," said assistant coach Peter Toner. "That was a great boost for the defense and certainly a great thing for him to find a groove.

Kaut rejected all 11 Tiger shots that came his way en route to a dominant 8-1 Nittany Lion victory, which moved the team's record to within one game of .500.

"It seemed like everywhere they shot the ball he was a step or two ahead of them," Toner said.

The only Towson goal came with just over a minute remaining after Kaut was pulled and replaced by freshman netminder Connor Darcey. Although the defense was just a minute away from the program's first shutout in almost 50 years, giving up that lone goal doesn't take away from their dominant showing.

"It just seemed like we were always the aggressor defensively whether it was defending the ball, sliding into a double team or picking up ground balls," Toner said.

Kaut, 2013's NCAA goalie of the year, was determined and focused last week in practice on finishing his senior season strong.

"We come out and work as hard as we can and never give up--that's our motto as a senior class," Kaut said.

The senior's showing on Saturday demonstrated that playoffs or not--this team is still motivated and always hungry for a win.

"I think he just made a decision during the week that he was going to take a step in the right direction and that's why he was dominant Saturday night," Toner said.

Towson's offense, led by senior Thomas DeNapoli, was denied three times in each of the first three quarters. The few times that the Tiger attack broke through the Nittany Lion defense, Kaut was there to deny their shooters.

"[DeNapoli] is definitely a catalyst to their offense and Towson does a lot to move him around and get him shots," Toner said.

Senior defender Tyler Travis was matched up against DeNapoli, which is a paring he has become familiar with. Travis has defended the prolific Tiger attackman in multiple games over the last few seasons, including last year's CAA championship loss.

"Tyler did a really good job on DeNapoli," Toner said. "That's a matchup he's had the last couple of years and it was a big part of our defensive game plan to stop DeNapoli. Tyler got a lot of help from the guys around him."

The Blue and White are down to just two games left on their 2014 slate--both of which will be CAA battles at home. When Delaware and Towson come to Happy Valley the next two weekends, fans can expect to see a focused, gameplan-oriented defense.

"As the year goes on it's good for these guys to get some confidence and have a sound game plan going in," Toner said. "They've done a very nice job of buying into finishing this season on a good note."

Faceoff against Delaware is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Blue Hens come into Happy Valley with a 6-7 overall record and a 0-3 mark in conference play. This will be the second-to-last CAA matchup for the Nittany Lions before they join the Big Ten in 2015.