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Composure Key in 2-0 Opening Weekend

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
  It was less than a week ago that Penn State field hockey head coach Char Morett-Curtiss met with the media during fall sports media day, answering one reporter's question regarding what changes would be coming in 2016.

Her response was composure.

"We lost five games in the last five minutes just giving up goals," Morett-Curtiss said. "I think that's something that we have definitely been talking about and working on, is just that composure out of the back field a little more."

Opening the 2016 season at home with traditional opponent Old Dominion, No. 18 Penn State saw an early deficit as the No. 20 Monarchs scored in the second minute of play. A goal from junior Moira Putsch tied the score, but ODU's Danielle Grega scored again to make it 2-1. The Nittany Lions scored once more to even it up 2-2, heading to halftime with the score locked.

"I think we were really nervous," Morrett-Curtiss said. "It's the home opener, there are a lot of fresh faces out there and I think we just needed to settle down and just play our game."

Finding composure, the Nittany Lions came out of the break with four unanswered goals, including another from Putsch and one apiece from seniors Brooke Birosik and Kirsten Gochnauer.

With a 6-2 win in the season-opener under their belt, the Nittany Lions entered Sunday's mid-afternoon matchup looking to sustain the same composure against fifth-ranked Virginia.

The Nittany Lions struck first in the opening half as sophomore Aurelia Meijer fired high from the top of the circle to give Penn State a 1-0 lead.

Penn State continued to control possession throughout the remainder of the first half, with junior Skyler Fretz leading the back field and helping to limit the Cavaliers to just one first half corner opportunity.

"I was just thriving off of everyone's energy and I felt like we were all here and everyone be on and ready pumped everyone up," Fretz said.

The Nittany Lion attack started clicking in the second half as junior Shay Cannon made it a 2-0 advantage off a feed from Putsch. Sophomore Gini Bramley found the back of the cage less than five minutes later - on her birthday, widening the margin to three.  

Without surrendering a single goal and allowing just one more corner opportunity, Penn State held on for its first home victory against a top-five team since topping No. 3 Old Dominion 5-3 in 2012.

"I think just getting that first game under your belt is real important," Morrett-Curtiss sad. "We just talked about how we felt when that game started and those jitters are gone now and we grew as that game went on, but we need to make sure that we start at the beginning of the game and plan on playing hard for 70 minutes."

Sophomore goalie Jenny Rizzo also earned her second career shutout, while also closing out the day with four saves.

"Obliviously the shut out is on me, but I think my defense did a great job with Skyler [Fretz] and the rest of us back there just to keep them [Virginia] outside the circle, keep the shots low and if it wasn't for them - they had one defensive save so they really helped me out there," Rizzo said.

Morett-Curtiss was also quick to give recognition to the Nittany Lion defense.

"I thought Skyler Fretz played the best she's played in a Penn State field hockey game. She just played with such composure. So I think Skyler really set the tone for our back field and I think Jenny [Rizzo] was there and she had an answer for every shot."

At 2-0, Penn State will hit the road for its first road trip of the 2016 campaign next week, traveling first to Temple before traveling to Albany to square off against its second 2015 NCAA Tournament team of the season.

But for this weekend, Morett-Curtiss sees the progress her team has made in taking a big step toward full composure.

"With such a high quality opponent like Virginia, we didn't get frazzled and we really stuck to the game plan as we brought the ball out of our backfield," Morett-Curtiss said.

Nittany Lions at 2-1 after Penn State Classic

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Nittany Lions Win Two, Lose One in Penn State Classic
By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - The No. 9 Penn State women's volleyball team has started the 2016 season 2-1 after sweeping West Virginia (25-13, 25-13, 25-17) and Georgia Southern (25-13, 25-12, 25-7), but falling to No. 19 North Carolina in five sets (25-16, 22-25, 25-21, 23-25, 11-15). The Tarheels were crowned winners of the Penn State Classic this weekend.

Though the Nittany Lions fell short in their final match of the tournament, their constant determination and two victories would not have been possible if it weren't for the guidance and leadership from the returning veterans.

Junior Simone Lee powered the offense throughout the weekend recording double figure in kills in two of three matches. Lee notched 10 kills against the Mountaineers on Friday evening, eight kills against the Eagles and 23 kills against the Tarheels on Saturday.

"I thought Simone was a hammer the whole [Saturday] night," head coach Russ Rose said. "I thought Simone was taking big swings all night long, and I thought that that was really cool for her."

Lee's 23 kills against North Carolina was also a career-high for her. In addition, she added 10 digs for her first career double-double.

"[The career-best] is a positive coming out of the game...but it shouldn't be just one person getting all the kills," Lee said. "I'm happy to see that I got a career-high of 23 kills, but it's about all of us. It's about all of us working hard together, all of us spreading the offense. It can't just be one person getting every single swing. I think in practice, that's what we need to work on."

Junior Haleigh Washington also made an impact this weekend registering10 kills, three blocks and a .714 hitting efficiency against West Virginia on Friday evening. In the match against Georgia Southern, Washington finished with a team-high five blocks and tied for second with seven kills. Saturday evening, Washington continued to help the team, tying for second on the squad with 11 kills and five total blocks.

Nonetheless, numerous underclassmen and newcomers marked their collegiate debut in a big way this weekend. Freshman Kendall White led the team with 16 digs in her collegiate debut against the Mountaineers and a career-high of 17 digs against the Tarheels. Junior Abby Detering handed out a team-high 29 assists on Friday evening and 23 assists in the opening set against the Tarheels.

Following the season opening win against the Mountaineers, Rose had positive things to say about White and Detering's performances.

"I thought we received a really good effort from two newcomers," Rose said. "I thought Kendall [White] did a good job passing and playing defense, and Abby [Detering] did a nice job moving the ball around and getting a few kills at the net."

A loss at Rec Hall was not what the Nittany Lions were looking for, but they're using it as a stepping stone to see what they need to work on for their upcoming matches.

"Obviously, it's not a good feeling to lose, especially on home court in front of all the people that support us for many years," Lee said. "I think what we need to do is, it's not about talking about it anymore...it's go time. Coach always talks about it. It's our decision when we step into the court for practice about whether or not we're going to go to the ball, going to take big swings, going to be there for our teammates or going to play together. It's time, and that's what we need to do. It's a terrible feeling to lose. It's a terrible feeling to lose at home, and I don't think anyone wants to experience that again."

Penn State is back in action next week, traveling to Boulder, Colorado for a pair of tough Pac-12 matchups. The Nittany Lions meet Colorado first before taking on No. 11 Stanford in the final match of the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge.

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By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State saw a record number of athletes competing at this summer's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and, with the start of classes, now has one of those athletes back on campus. 

Swimmer Shane Ryan competed for Ireland at the games in the 100-meter backstroke and 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle, and while he didn't bring home any hardware, he brought back a wealth of experience. 

"Not only did I just make the Olympics, I made the semifinal at the Olympics, so top 16 in the world," said the Haverford, Pa. native. "So all I can do is take what I can from that, even though I didn't swim as well as I wanted to in the semifinal, you always can learn from a swim. No matter if it's a bad swim or a good swim, you always can take what you can and move onto the next one."

As a senior on the Penn State swim team, Ryan now has a role as leader to the younger members. With his combined time as a collegiate and Olympic swimmer, Ryan is ready to pass along his expertise.

"I can take everything I learned to many other meets here at Penn State and try to mentor the younger guys here and try to pass my knowledge on to them," Ryan said. "So I'm just here to teach people and try to make myself better, and I'm trying to make them better as well."

Head coach Tim Murphy is looking forward to Ryan's new role as a leader on the team as well. And Murphy is excited that his team was able to bond over their support of Ryan while he was in Rio.

"Anytime you have an athlete of that caliber, it just helps the common bond of the team," Murphy said. "I think Shane having become more mature and experienced, the success that he has had more aligns with the goals that he has now and the goals he has for the team. It just helps bring the team that much more together and it's going to be a great year for us."

Ryan made the decision to try and compete for Ireland towards the end of his junior year at Penn State. He comes from an Irish background and has had his Irish passport for the past six years. Ryan's dad, Tom, came over from Ireland 30 years ago and "has yet to lose his accent," while his mom, Mary Beth, is on the board for Philadelphia's St. Patrick's Day Parade.

While he was training in Ireland, there was no shortage of family for Ryan to hang out with. Tom Ryan is one of ten children and is the only one that moved to the United States, so Shane Ryan was able to visit the rest of his family every weekend.

Once in Rio, Ryan bumped into Olympic legend Michael Phelps and got to talk to him for a few minutes when Phelps mistook the logo on Ryan's hat for something else. 

"Phelps came up to me and I was talking to him because I had an Irish hat on and it had kind of the same crest that the Pine Valley Club has in New Jersey," Ryan said. "I had played there once or twice so we got into talking about playing at Pine Valley. He's just a normal dude and it was really cool." 

As the new semester begins in Happy Valley, Ryan is back to bumping into classmates instead of bumping into Olympians, but he is ready to get back in the classroom and earn his degree.

"I've been excited to get back to class just so I can get my degree because there is a life after swimming," Ryan said. "I'm going to take swimming as far as I can after college but there is a life after swimming and just having a Penn State degree, you can't beat that."

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Frannie Crouse led a heroic second half comeback, but Penn State (1-1-1) conceded a late goal and fell to BYU 3-2 on Friday night at Jeffrey Field.

 

BYU's Ashley Hatch netted a hat trick to lead the Cougars to a rare victory at Jeffrey Field. The Nittany Lions have only lost five games at home since 2011.

 

After going down 2-0 in the 57th minute, all seemed finalized for Penn State. But Frannie Crouse had other ideas.

 

In the 62nd minute Crouse headed home a beautiful cross from Haleigh Echard to give PSU a glimmer of hope.

 

"The ball from Haleigh was absolutely perfect," said Crouse. "We've been working on getting on the end of those during practice. Once she beat the girl I kind of felt like I should finish it."

 

The goal was Crouse's first of 2016.

 

Four minutes later Crouse decided to share the love and let someone else get in on the fun. After beating her defender for a free ball, Crouse calmly sent a ball into the box in front of Charlotte Williams, who gathered and finished with a curling left-footed shot to tie the game at two.

 

"I had Charlotte who was wide open, and she was calling for it so I figured if I just slip her in she would have a wide open shot so luckily she finished it," said Crouse. "It was a great shot by her."

 

Williams' goal was her third on the young season. She leads the team in goals so far.

 

Crouse, being a junior, is stepping into a leadership role this season and illustrated it in this game. The team was down after surrendering two goals, but Crouse provided the spark to bring Penn State level.

 

"Frannie's always done that for us," said head coach Erica Dambach. "I think her pace is obviously terrifying for back lines, and when she starts to feel it then we can follow her."

 

With only seconds left on the clock, PSU almost tied the game again, but Laura Freigang's shot hit the crossbar and was cleared before anyone could recover the rebound.

 

The Nittany Lions are still trying to figure out the perfect substitutions and lineups with so many new players, but they showed a string of chemistry to come back and tie the game. The first half brought not enough pushing forward, but PSU looked much sharper in the second frame.

 

"We changed how we were playing," said Dambach. "In the first half we were trying to save some energy to attack, and that comes out in our defense right now. Certainly we can run, run, run if we have the depth to do it, but in some cases we don't, so we got to make sure we're smart on both sides of the ball."

 

Learning from early losses is a key part of developing as a team.

 

"You grow from these moments," said Dambach. "We're still trying to figure out the grit within this team, and if this team can come back from this loss and dig in, we've got a big road trip coming up ahead of us. We'll learn a lot from the way that we respond to this loss."

 

"This is a game we're going to have to learn from and take from," said Crouse. "Hopefully our games after this we'll take a little bit from this game and show it in the next couple and throughout the whole season."

 

Penn State gets a week off to work out the rust and get ready for UCLA and Long Beach State next weekend. The Nittany Lions will return to Jeffrey Field on September 9th to take on San Diego State.

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Home field advantage is a very real sports phenomenon.

 

There are stadiums and arenas around the country that strike fear into the hearts of visiting opponents, even before they board the plane or bus to make the journey.

 

Oracle Arena, CenturyLink Field and Lambeau Field, among others, possess unmatched atmospheres created by die-hard fans that fuel their teams to perform at its highest possible level. A great fan base can quite literally add wins to a team's season.

 

In the realm of women's college soccer there is no place that illustrates this more than Jeffrey Field. It's an intimidating ground that chews up even the strongest enemies and spits them out when it's finished with them.

 

Since 2011, Penn State is 56-4-5 on Jeffrey Field. For head coach Erica Dambach and her troops, it seems like more of a home field certainty than a home field advantage at this point.

 

"Every time we go out on the field we always say protect Jeffrey," said forward Megan Shafer. "That's one of the biggest things coach always says. It's a sacred ground to play on. It's just an honor to wear that jersey on that field."

 

The biggest fuel to the fire that is the Jeffrey Field atmosphere is the student section called the Park Avenue Army. The Park Avenue Army is a wild group of loud, dedicated Penn State students with large drums and seemingly unending singing voices that show up early to every home contest and keep the crowd engaged all game.

 

"They drive the environment at Jeffrey Field," Dambach said. "They drive the atmosphere. They are one of the main reasons why opponents hate coming in to play us. I think that college players want to play in front of their peers. When we walk out and we can hear The Park Avenue Army on Jeffrey Field it just raises the energy."

 

This season, the group is even more prevalent than in previous years. For the home opener against No. 6 West Virginia, the rowdy crew led the team onto the field and will do so for every home game.

 

This was new for everyone on the team, but for freshman Laura Suero, it was her first ever experience at Jeffrey Field wearing blue and white.

 

"My nerves are going crazy before walking out," said Suero. "You can hear them in the locker room and you can hear the crowd. It was probably one of the most amazing experiences walking out onto Jeffrey Field."

 

Penn State played West Virginia to a 1-1 draw in front of a record setting 5,791 fans, the most ever for a women's soccer game at Jeffrey Field.

 

"It was just an incredible feeling," said Shafer. "This atmosphere to play on Jeffrey Field, we couldn't ask for anything better, especially on opening night."

 

The environment was electric, and it all starts with The Park Avenue Army. It had the crowd chanting "We are... Penn State" and various songs to keep the energy from ever dying down.

 

Coach Dambach, although she has a job to do, sometimes gets caught up in the fun. Her favorite songs The Army performs are "Sweet Frannie Crouse" because of her deep Neil Diamond fandom and, of course, "Walsh's World."

 

Defending home field is a goal of every team in the country, but for Penn State it's a necessity. Coach Dambach believes her team is better than any team in the country on Jeffrey Field, and she has made a point to schedule tougher teams at home to test her squad.

 

West Virginia is a top-ten team capable of winning a championship, and Penn State will play No. 15 BYU next in Happy Valley. It's a challenging start to a new year, but that's just the way Penn State likes it.

 

"Because of the environment that's created, it doesn't scare us to bring anybody in to this place," said Dambach. "We feel like the atmosphere can lift us over any opponent. For us, if you come into our home it's protect Jeffrey. I dare you."'

 

If the United States Women's National Team came to Jeffrey Field and suited up against Penn State, the Nittany Lions would expect to put up a fight with The Park Avenune Army and almost 6,000 fans behind them.

 

The friendly confines of Jeffrey Field drastically improves the team's energy and all-around play. It's an unrivaled atmosphere in college soccer.

 

"Every time we step out on the field, defending Jeffrey is one of our biggest aspects," said Suero. "Playing your heart out, playing for your teammates, for your community, for your coaches and each other it's just one big family and it is awesome playing out on Jeffrey."

 

Dambach puts it best.

 

"There is literally no better place on a Friday night than Jeffrey Field."

By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fresh off a pair of early exhibition matches, Penn State field hockey is ready to officially open its 2016 season.  Ranked No. 18 in the latest National Field Hockey Coaches Association Poll (NFHCA), the Nittany Lion schedule features matchups against eight teams ranked within the top 20 this season.

Prior to preseason, Penn State took some time to travel overseas as a team, heading to Holland for a nine day trip, spanning five cities to train and tour. Having spent some time bonding, the Nittany Lions are back and determined to continue building team comradery heading into a challenging 2016 campaign.

We caught up with head coach Char Morett-Curtiss, senior Brooke Birosik and sophomore Aurelia Meijer to talk 2016, the trip to Holland and the season opener.

Here are five things you need to know before heading out to the season opener Friday, Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. vs. Old Dominion in the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

1.     Season Opening Tradition.

Since her days as an assistant under former Old Dominion head coach Beth Anders, head coach Char Morett-Curtiss noticed that Penn State had not really played ODU in program history and decided to make a change. The Nittany Lions have opened with a matchup against the Monarchs every year dating back to 2003.

2.     Senior Class.

Morett-Curtiss praised seniors Emilee Ehret, Carly Celkos, Kirsten Gochnauer and Brook Birosik for their leadership, while also mentioning how each individual holds an important role on the team this year.

3.     World Travelers.

Penn State's trip to Holland featured a stop Aurelia Meijer's home in Hattem, Netherlands. The Nittany Lions were able to train with Meijer's club team and of course, enjoy a family meal together.

4.    Tough slate.

      In her 30th season at the helm of the program, Morett-Curtiss has once again put together a tough schedule for the Nittany Lions. The 2016 campaign features seven NCAA Tournament teams that made the field in 2015.

5.    Hall of Fame. 

      Morett-Curtiss and former football kicker Craig Fayak are both set to be inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in late October. The two are part of the organization's 54th annual ceremony. Originally from Aldan, Pennsylvania, Morett-Curtiss is also a member of the Delaware County Hall of Fame. 



By: Arielle Sarget, GoPSUsports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Another season of Penn State men's soccer has nearly arrived and the focus for the Nittany Lions this year is all about embracing a challenge. With the focus firmly on the future, seventh-year head coach Bob Warming is prepared to open the 2016 campaign on the West Coast this year. 

Penn State's stacked schedule features eight teams from the 2015 NCAA Tournament field and six teams that have combined for a total of 16 NCAA national championships. First on the list, Penn State travels to No. 1 Stanford to take on the defending NCAA national champions in the season opener Friday, Aug. 26.

The Nittany Lions will also meet UC Berkley in California, wrapping up the week one road trip Sunday, Aug. 28 with a 6 p.m. matchup. 

With a squad featuring six returning starters and 11 newcomers, the Nittany Lion staff also looks a little different this year. Warming promoted sixth-year assistant coach Chad Duernberger to associate head coach and welcomed former volunteer assistant Own Griffith as the team's newest assistant coach. 

We caught up with Warming as well as senior Connor Maloney and senior Evan Finney to talk, 2016, the big opener and even a little bit about Jeffrey Field.

In the meantime, here's five things you need to know before Friday's kickoff.

1. Fitness is key.

Warming praised his team for returning to campus ready to get to work in preseason, arriving in solid physical condition. "We had guys break fitness records this year and a lot of guys had personal best marks," said Warming.

2.  The Big Opener

Not only is top-ranked Stanford the returning national champion, but the Cardinal also enters the season at 19-1-5 at home in the last three years. Stanford did not surrender a single goal during the College Cup, defeating Clemson 4-0 in the title match to claim the championship crown.

 3. Canada Eh?

This summer, Penn State men's soccer traveled north to Canada for a foreign tour, training and touring Montreal and Quebec. Among 10 days of training and competition, the Nittany Lions also happened to be in Montreal for St. Jean Baptiste Day.

4. Transfers

Penn State picked up three transfers this off season, including Tulsa transfer Aymar Sigue. An Alberta, Canada native, Sigue spent time playing on the Canadian National Team on four separate occasions (U15, U16, U18, U20).

5. All In.

Warming notes that this year's team motto is "all in," and had each member of the team write a statement about what it means to them to be all in. Placing the statements next to each player's picture on a giant poster, Warming says it's a daily reminder that we are not satisfied.

BLOG: Williams, Reserves Key In Hofstra Win

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  The damp and dreary weather cleared up just in time for Penn State women's soccer to secure the first victory of the 2016-17 Penn State sports season. The No. 2 Nittany Lions defeated Hofstra, 3-1 to complete their season opening weekend with a 1-0-1 mark. 

The scene was much different than Friday's record-setting atmosphere, where 5,791 fans watched the Nittany Lions battle to a 1-1 draw against sixth-ranked West Virginia on a picturesque evening in Happy Valley.  

With heavy rain all throughout the afternoon, the ominous clouds did dissolve in time for Penn State's 2:30 p.m. kick at home in Jeffrey Field

Things did not immediately look pleasant for the Nittany Lions as Hofstra took an early 1-0 lead less than 10 minutes in off a corner kick opportunity.

"We looked pretty sharp early on and then started to die off and had a huge impact from our reserves," head coach Erica Dambach said. "They are kind of the story that I would take out of the day, as well as Charlotte Williams, obviously. I thought our reserves were the difference in this match."

Among the stellar play from Nittany Lion reserves, lets talk about sophomore Charlotte Williams first.

Williams, who powered the team with her first career multi-goal outing, scored twice in the first half to help the Nittany Lions out of an early deficit.

With Penn State trailing the Pride 1-0, Williams found the back of the net in the 24th minute, following up a shot that hit the post with a rebound for her first goal of the season.

Seizing another opportunity, Williams scored again in the 39th minute off a set piece from nearly 20 yards out following a red card assessed to Hofstra's Rhian Cleverly.

Prior to the go-ahead goal, Williams was dialed in and ready to make the most of the chance, saying she knew where she wanted to put the ball and all that was left was to follow through.

"Today was a display of what Charlotte is capable of doing and we have felt it over the past year and now she's starting to finally believe it," Dambach said.  "She's someone who is creative as can be and she can create changes on her own -  and today she put a few in the back of the net."

Now on to just a few of the key reserves. 

With the Nittany Lions leading 2-1, redshirt junior Salina Williford placed her first goal of the season and sixth of her career in the left side of the goal past the Hofstra goalkeeper in the 84th minute to give Penn State a 3-1 advantage. Freshman reserve Laura Suero earned an assist on the goal, marking her first career point.

Following her first collegiate goal in the opener against West Virginia, freshman Laura Freigang also finished the afternoon with a career-high six shots.

After the Williford goal, the Nittany Lions did not look back, holding on to the lead to secure their first win of the 2016 campaign.

"There were a lot of positives that came out of today," Dambach said. "I think the biggest was the impact that the bench had on the play with the energy and their movement. Obviously there's fatigue from Friday night - there was a lot of excitement, but those guys came off the bench and gave us a huge lift and that's what you want from your reserves."

While excited to have led the team with a pair of goals, Williams was also quick to point out the bench impact.  

"We came from a big game on Friday playing against West Virginia with a huge presence in the stands to a game that's not as high energy from the crowds," Williams said. "But I thought that we brought it and then a lot of players who came off the bench brought a huge boost and I think that's how - it took everybody to respond."

No. 2 Penn State women's soccer remains home next week, welcoming No. 16 BYU to Jeffrey Field for a 7 p.m. matchup under the lights Friday, Aug. 26.

Among other fall teams competing on Friday night, Penn State field hockey opens its 2016 season at home at 6 p.m. against Old Dominion, while the Nittany Lion women's volleyball team kicks off 2016 against West Virginia at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall. 

BLOG: Freigang Makes Immediate Impact

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's soccer true freshman Laura Freigang arrived just in time to lead the second-ranked Nittany Lions to a 1-1 draw in the 2016 season opener against West Virginia Friday evening at Jeffrey Field.

Making her collegiate debut in the Blue and White, Freigang entered the match at 30:47, stepping on to Jeffrey Field for the first time in front of a record-setting crowd of 5,791 fans in attendance.

Remaining in the game at the start of the second half, it was Freigang who netted her first collegiate goal just 10:10 into the second frame to break open a tied score (0-0).

Curving just enough after her release, Freigang's shot bounced off the left post and into the goal past West Virginia keeper Rylee Foster to give the Nittany Lions at 1-0 lead.

"I was pretty lucky to be honest," Freigang said. "It [the ball] took a curve to the left and just hit the post. That was pretty close, but I'm lucky."

Prior to her impressive Nittany Lion debut, Freigang had been in the United States for less than a week, having arrived in Happy Valley on Monday, Aug. 15.

Freigang's arrival to Penn State was delayed by the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) Women's Under-19 Championship, where she was playing with the women's German Under-19 team.

Traveling from Europe to University Park was no easy task though, as she had just a few days to meet her teammates and prepare to open the season against the sixth-ranked Mountaineers.

"The transition was pretty crazy at first because there was long travel and I had a bit of jetlag for a few days," Freigang said.

Jetlag and significant travel time presented no reason to be concerned, as the Oppenheim, Germany native mentioned that she's now arrived and feeling fine, having made an immediate impact for the Nittany Lion offense.  

"I feel very welcomed and I think we have a great team," Freigang said. "I think we played a good game, we just didn't finish like we should have."

The Nittany Lions looked to hold on to the lead following Freigang's goal, but West Virginia struck back with the equalizer at 76:59. With several opportunities in regulation and a pair of overtime periods, Penn State could not convert on its opportunities seeing its season opener end in a draw.

The future is bright for Freigang though, who will return with the rest of the No. 2 Nittany Lions to take on Hofstra Sunday, Aug. 21 at 2:30 p.m. in Jeffrey Field.

"Obviously with Laura's international experience and playing with the German national team, she brings a wealth of experience," head coach Erica Dambach said. "And you could see, she stepped in there and it's as if she had been with us for months and months."

"I think she's going to find herself in a couple different positions for us and play a good role for us," Dambach added. We're going to ask her to continue doing what she did tonight."

Check out Freigang's first collegiate goal below. 

Defending National Champions Set for 2016

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While some might believe the faint sound of the Penn State Blue Band practicing well into the evening signifies the start of fall, those who know Nittany Lion athletics know that it's the bright lights of Jeffrey Field that mean fall has officially arrived at Penn State.

Those lights will illuminate Park Avenue Friday, Aug. 19 as No. 2 Penn State women's soccer kicks off its 2016 campaign against sixth-ranked West Virginia at home in Jeffrey Field. Fresh off their first NCAA national championship in program history, the Nittany Lions return ready to defend their title with 10th year head coach Erica Dambach at the helm of the program.

Prior to Friday's opener, the Nittany Lions, who went 22-3-2 last year, will raise an NCAA championship banner and unveil a new championship tarp on the stands, welcoming Penn State women's soccer alums from around the nation.

We caught up with Coach Dambach and captains Brittany Basinger and Nickolette Driesse to talk 2016, the season opener and of course, Jeffrey Field.

In the meantime, here's five things to know before making your way out to Jeffrey Field to see Penn State women's soccer open the 2016 season. 

1.     Continuing the Culture
Coach Dambach mentioned that a key to the 2015 NCAA title, even with all the talent on the roster, was having the right culture. This year the focus is all about keeping with the foundation of a family environment to continue building championship culture.

2.     A Familiar Foe
The top-10 meeting between second-ranked Penn State and No. 6 West Virginia is not the first time the two teams have met. In fact, it's the 15th time in program history and the first time since the Nittany Lions knocked the Mountaineers out of the 2015 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals to advance to the College Cup. 

3.     Tough Competition
Four of five non-conference opponents on deck are teams that made the 2015 NCAA Tournament. After the Mountaineer matchup, the Nittany Lions will regroup and play Hofstra at home Sunday, Aug. 21. The Pride advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round just a year ago, having also played Penn State in its 2015 season opener. 

4.     There's No Place Like Home
Senior captain Nickolette Driesse says Jeffrey Field is like no other place in the world, echoing Dambach who added that there is no better feeling than walking through the tunnel on gameday. With a 215-24-10 all-time record at Jeffrey Field, the Nittany Lions tied a program-best mark with 14 home wins in 2015.

5.     Speaking of Jeffrey Field ...
Penn State women's soccer drew some of it's largest home crowds in 2015, helped out by the Park Avenue Army, the official Nittany Lion women's soccer supporter's club. Flags, chants and face paint means you can't miss this enthusiastic group that attends all home games and even a few on the road. Check them out or give them a follow on Twitter @ParkAvenueArmy. 

 
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