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Monday Notebook: Senior Class Bonded by Loyalty

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seniors.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Saturday marked the final Beaver Stadium chapter for a group that has been paramount to Penn State football's storied history during some of its toughest times.

Nineteen senior student-athletes were honored prior to Saturday's kick during the Senior Day ceremony, giving the 107,000 fans inside the stadium an opportunity to say thank you for all they have done. The seniors have two more opportunities to suit up in the Blue and White, and the group will embrace its chance to remain together as a family for the next few weeks.

Alongside its predecessors in 2012, 2013 and 2014, the 2015 football senior class will go down as a group of individuals who deserve a special place in Penn State's illustrious history.

It's fitting that the group is a smaller in numbers. Under the circumstances, the size of the class enabled the seniors to forge a tight-knit connection with one another through some of the program's most challenging days. The 2015 seniors have seemingly been through everything, but their commitment never once wavered, and the special bond they have with one another will never be broken.

For the past three, and in some cases four years, this group's actions have spoken louder than any words. These seniors played for one another. They played for their families. They played for the players who wore the blue and white before them. They played for Penn State.

"I came here to get a college degree from one of the best schools in America," said defensive tackle Anthony Zettel. "I'm going to accomplish that. And I've always just wanted to give everything I had for this football program, not just on the football field but in the community. This opportunity is something no one will ever take away from us. It's something I will never forget. And I am forever grateful."

Where do you even begin to start when you think about what it must have been like to walk in the shoes of guys like Kyle Carter, Angelo Mangiro, Carl Nassib or Anthony Zettel. Despite the odds of competing in major college football with a roster of limited scholarships, the group's mindset never changed.

"It would have been easy to let things get to you, but that's not who we are. We had a job to do, and we did it because we love being a part of this family," Zettel said.

This group's college experience has been unique to say the least, which is why the group deserves the utmost respect from any supporter of the program or intercollegiate athletics. They worked hard for one another in the toughest of circumstances because that is the only thing they knew how to do.

The Lions will meet the Spartans at 3:30 p.m. (ESPN) on Saturday in Spartan Stadium in the final game of the regular season.

Full feature story on the senior class will be posted on GoPSUsports.com later this week.

Lions Lend a Hand to Begin Thanksgiving Week
Photo Gallery - Visit to The Village

The Nittany Lion football student-athletes have a lot to be thankful for as the calendar approaches the Thanksgiving holiday.

An opportunity to attend a world-renowned institution like Penn State and compete on the gridiron at the highest level is something the group takes very seriously. As figures in the community, the student-athletes understand the importance of giving back to the loyal supporters whenever the schedule permits.

With the academic calendar on Thanksgiving break for the week, Monday's off day was a terrific opportunity for the Nittany Lions to serve the community. Two buses filled with approximately 45 players traveled to The Village State College during the middle part of Monday to serve food, take photos, eat lunch and visit with the elderly.

"I just think it's a great opportunity for us to be with people who support us," said cornerback Grant Haley. "It's amazing to me. Some of these people are telling me that they have been coming to games since 1960. They are like, 'Your parents weren't even born.' I laughed. I think it just shows the support system we have. It's great to be here to give back to them."

The team will resume football game week duties on Tuesday.

Nassib Remains Nation's Leader in Three Categories
Despite very limited action against Michigan, senior defensive end Carl Nassib remains atop the NCAA rankings in three categories. Nassib will head into the final week of the regular season as the national leader in sacks (15.5), tackles for loss (19.5) and forced fumbles (6).

The Penn State season record holder in sacks, Nassib has averaged 1.41 sacks per game. He has at least one sack in 10 of the 11 games this season. Additionally, Nassib has averaged 2.0 tackles for loss per game.

Nassib is 2.0 sacks clear of Maryland junior defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who is second in the nation in sacks at 13.5 on the season. Clemson defensive lineman Shaq Lawson is second nationally in tackles for loss with 19.0.

Early Look at Michigan State
Led by head coach Mark Dantonio, Michigan State (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) is the sixth-ranked team in the Associated Press Top 25 this week. The Spartans turned in a masterful defensive performance in a road victory over No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday. Kicker Michael Geiger nailed a 41-yard field goal as time expired to knock off the Buckeyes, 17-14. The Spartan defense limited Ohio State to five first downs and 132 yards of total offense in the win.

With the victory in Columbus, Saturday's game will be a high stakes contest for the Spartans. A win this week would send Michigan State to the Big Ten Championship as the East Division champion against Iowa. Additionally, the Spartans are firmly in the mix for a berth in the College Football Playoff.

Offensively, senior quarterback Connor Cook headlines the group. Cook is averaging 282.2 passing yards per game and is tied for the Big Ten lead with 21 passing touchdowns this season. Those numbers come despite missing last week's game in Columbus with a shoulder injury. Cook has thrown for 2,482 yards this season. Wide out Aaron Burbridge is the Big Ten's top receiver with 69 receptions for 1,083 yards and six touchdowns this season.

Defensively, Michigan State is ranked No. 26 in the nation in total defense. Linebacker Riley Bullough and defensive end Shilique Calhoun lead the defense. Bullough has made 83 tackles in 2015, while Calhoun is 18th in sacks with 8.5 on the season. The Spartans are No. 15 in rushing defense (117.8 ypg). The Spartans are No. 5 in turnover margin (plus-1.00) and No. 5 in fewest turnovers lost (10 on the season).

Penn State and Michigan State will meet for the 30th time on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are 14-14-1 all-time against the Spartans and 5-8 in games at Michigan State. Saturday marks Penn State's first visit to Spartan Stadium since a 42-14 victory in 2009.

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

Nittany Lions Find Success on the Last Frontier

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11513168.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
ANCHORAGE, Alaska. - After the lengthy journey across North America, the Nittany Lions returned to State College on Sunday after picking up a win and a tie against Anchorage Alaska over the weekend.

Penn State (7-2-3) rocketed past Alaska Anchorage (6-4-2) Friday night with three unanswered goals, tallying a 5-2 victory.

The Nittany Lions grabbed the lead quickly thanks to two goals from freshman Andrew Sturtz.

Sturtz's second goal, a wrist shot on the penalty kill, was his first shorthanded goal as a Nittany Lion and Penn State's fourth this season.

"It was a good play by [David Glen] who forced the defenseman across the blue line and he got by and turned the puck over and I took it down, kind of a 2-on-1, and I just drove it to the net and ended up getting one," said Sturtz.

Alaska Anchorage answered with two goals of its own, but the Nittany Lions rallied to pull away from the Seawolves. Three unanswered goals later, and Penn State had its victory.

"Playing on the road, we didn't really mind being tied 2-2 but we had to refocus and really bury down during the second period and we ended up getting the win," said Sturtz.

After their stellar performance Friday, the Nittany Lions returned to Sullivan Arena on Saturday night to finish off their series. This time, it would take more effort from the offense, and a goal by a seasoned defenseman to get Penn State on the board.

"I think the energy was really good, we're a very focused team so obviously we wanted to win both but unfortunately we got the tie," said Sturtz. "[UAA] played a really good game Saturday night and their goalie did very well and we were very fortunate that we got that power play together and Juha was able to get the tie for us."

Senior defenseman Luke Juha scored Penn State's lone goal Saturday night, and it came at a key moment to secure a 1-1 tie.

For Penn State, its two goaltenders were the backbone of the team's success this weekend.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky has been adamant that each goaltender will get their rightful amount of split starting time this season, and that system has worked well for the Nittany Lions.

"Whenever my name is called I just have to do my best to give my team the chance to win it," said senior goaltender Matt Skoff. "I think just being consistent, I think at this point in the season if you can get one percent better every day, that's huge." 

Junior Eamon McAdam started on Friday night, making 19 saves during his time between the pipes, while Skoff started in net Saturday night and made 20 saves. Both goaltenders showed confidence and poise in net, making several outstanding saves each to keep the Nittany Lions in the games.

"I thought we played a good game, [UAA] didn't get a lot of shots on net, fortunately," said Juha. "But it really just came down to us playing our game and we knew Skoff would save a lot of shots that were coming our way."

The Nittany Lions are very confident behind the two young men splitting time between the pipes.

Although this week is Thanksgiving, the Nittany Lions will be traveling to Philadelphia for the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff this Sunday against Vermont. In the meantime the Nittany Lions will rest up from their cross-country travels and refocus their energy on the game ahead. 

Yet Another Total Team Effort Propels Penn State to Quarterfinals

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11512339.jpegBy Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 1-seeded Penn State women's soccer team kept things rolling Sunday afternoon with a decisive 4-0 victory over Big Ten rival Ohio State.

The win sends the Nittany Lions to the quarterfinal round of the 2015 NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament. The Blue and White has reached the quarterfinals in three of the past four years.

The Lions have been absolutely dominant in their first three tournament matches, outscoring opponents 15-0. Senior goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom hasn't surrendered a goal in the last five contests. It's the first time in Penn State history that a team has recorded shutouts in each of the first three rounds of the tournament.

"We're trying to keep opponents off the score sheet, and that's a total team effort," said head coach Erica Walsh. "Starting with Megan Schafer up top, and (Emily) Ogle is the organizer in the middle, and obviously Britt Eckerstrom and that back line have been huge. I think the cohesion from front to back has been a big part of our success."

The aforementioned Schafer continued her solid goal scoring season on Sunday, scoring from 12 yards out in the 43rd minute for her team-leading 13th goal of the year. The sophomore has scored in every tournament game so far.

Schafer's strike was Penn State's only first half goal. Although Penn State outshot the Buckeyes 11-2 in the first frame and dominated possession, the game felt very tight. OSU hit the post on a header in the 19th minute that would've changed the dynamic of the match, but luckily the ball bounced away and the Nittany Lions were able to take a narrow lead to the locker room.

In the second half, Penn State refused to take a defensive approach to protect its lead. As they've done all year, the Lions attacked from the whistle to build a more comfortable margin. Senior Rocky Rodriguez did just that 51 seconds into the half with a header off a corner kick.

"I thought they came out in the first half and gave us trouble with our build up," Walsh said. "I thought their game plan was outstanding. I thought the second half we found different ways to break them down and we started to loosen up a little bit and our rhythm got a whole lot better."

Merely five minutes later, sophomore Emily Ogle tallied her third goal of the tournament and sixth of the year with a laser to the top right corner from 23 yards away. Penn State's first three goals of the match all came within a period of 8:36 of game time.

Haleigh Echard came off the bench to finish off the Buckeyes in the 75th minute with her second goal in as many games.

"I think it all starts with our captains," said Ogle. "We have three of the best in Mal Weber, Rocky Rodriguez, and Britt Eckerstrom. They're really bringing the team together at the right time and helping us to continue to build. With them leading us, we're taking incremental steps and trying to achieve a bigger goal."

"I think we're playing our best soccer of the season, and our depth has been outstanding," Walsh said. "I thought our reserves coming off the bench today gave us a huge boost. We're exactly where we want to be going into an Elite Eight game."

Next Up: No. 2 West Virginia

There's no doubt both Penn State and West Virginia have had this possible quarterfinal matchup circled on their calendars since the tournament bracket was announced, and here we are. This one should be fun.

The Nittany Lions and Mountaineers met back on September 4 and produced a hard fought, physical game in which WVU pulled out a close 1-0 win.

West Virginia has been almost as impressive as Penn State so far in the tournament, outscoring its opponents 13-2. The Mountaineers most recently defeated Loyola Marymount 5-2 in the third round.

WVU presents an incredibly tough test to Penn State's recent five-game shutout streak. Its potent offense is led by a two-headed monster up top in Kailey Utley and Michaela Abam. Utley and Abam lead the Mountaineers with 12 goals apiece this season.

Utley has been on a notable roll lately, headlined by a hat trick in WVU's third round victory over LMU.

Even though West Virginia's offense has carried its team thus far in the postseason, WVU's resounding strength is its defense. The Mountaineers own the second best defense in the country in terms of giving up goals. Goalkeeper Hannah Steadman has only let nine shots past her this season, good for a 0.43 GAA.

Steadman has been a rock in the back, but much of WVU's defensive success this season has been due to stellar play across the back line. The West Virginia defense has only allowed 129 shots in 2015, while its offense has taken 530.

The Nittany Lions and Mountaineers will kick off their quarterfinal match at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Jeffrey Field.

VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame Press Conference - vs. Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin talks with the media following Penn State's 28-16 setback to No. 12 Michigan.

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

VIDEO: Postgame Player Remarks - Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Hear from several Nittany Lions as they talk with the media following Saturday's 28-16 decision against Michigan on Senior Day.

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There is, perhaps, no feat more exciting in hockey than a hat trick. It is, not incredibly rare, but certainly hard to come by. It is even more hard to come by in the world of collegiate hockey, simply due to the fact that teams don't play nearly as many games as NHL teams do. This past weekend, senior forward Micayla Catanzariti recorded just the third hat trick in Nittany Lions program history, to lead the team to their first conference win.

Catanzariti is one of the many Nittany Lions on the team this year that have been with the program for the four years of its existence. Catanzariti's style of play lends it more to a grinder's mentality, though she possesses a complete arsenal of tools. Her scoring touch was on display Saturday, as it has been all season long. She is second on the team, behind Laura Bowman, with four goals. Despite the fantastic individual effort, Catanzariti was quick to deflect the praise towards her line mates.

"Obviously it was nice to get the hat trick," said Catanzariti. "A lot of it was my line mates though and most of the plays I just found myself in the right spot at the right time."

Not only did Catanzariti record the hat trick, but as a player her scoring prowess has increased this season. She has already doubled her goal output from last season and tied her point total, with still more than half of the season to go. Catanzariti is also scoring at an impressive rate. She has put in one puck, for every three shots she has taken.

"I honestly didn't even know I was shooting at that number," said Catanzariti. "I guess I don't typically take a lot of shots in general but as far as continuing with that pace I'm focused on doing what I'm doing and what I can do."

Catanzariti was also quick to say, that although a hat trick is a cool accomplishment, the focus for her is still on winning games.

"I mean it's pretty cool, but the biggest thing is that we won the game and again, a lot of it was the people I was playing with," said Catanzariti. "It was a full team effort."

Coach Josh Brandwene, who was once again very pleased with the overall effort of the team, said he felt like it was a case of simply getting more bounces to go the way of the Nittany Lions. As far as Catanzariti's performance was concerned, Brandwene was quick to praise the totality of her game and not just the scoring aspect.

"In addition to the goal production from Micayla, her totality of her game on Saturday was outstanding," said Brandwene. "[She did] an outstanding job defensively without the puck in our end, a terrific job on the fore-check in their end and a tremendous job on the penalty kill. To me it's about celebrating the complete game and she had that on Saturday."

Catanzariti's increased play as a goal scorer this season, coupled with her well rounded abilities add yet another dimension to the Nittany Lions point producers and compliments the rest of the teams depth well. The team will head back on the road Monday where they will face St. Lawrence University. The first out of conference game will begin at 7:00 p.m., followed by a 4:00 p.m. puck drop the next day. 

2015 Gameday Live - Penn State vs. Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live, interactive coverage of the 2015 Penn State football season. The Nittany Lions will meet Michigan inside Beaver Stadium on Senior Day. Follow along for live updates from gameday.

Live Blog 2015 Gameday Live - Penn State vs. Michigan

2015 Photo Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live coverage of the 2015 Penn State football season. The Nittany Lions will meet Michigan inside Beaver Stadium on Senior Day. Follow along for photos from gameday.


Balanced Offensive Attack Powers Lions to NCAA Third Round

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11509072.jpegBy Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's soccer team defeated Boston U., 6-0, on Friday night to advance to the third round in the NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament.

The victory was a total team effort, as all six goals were scored by different Nittany Lions.

Balance has been the staple for Penn State offensively so far in the postseason. In the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the Blue and White have scored 11 goals. Eight Nittany Lions have recorded at least one of those scores. Megan Schafer, Charlotte Williams, and Emily Ogle each have scored twice in the tournament.

"This team has so many different attacking weapons," said head coach Erica Walsh. "BU was doing a good job shutting us down and then Frannie Crouse just decides it's her turn to score a goal and does what she does. That's what the NCAAs are all about, those special moments."

Crouse's goal in the 27th minute to open the scoring for PSU was something to behold. Using a burst of unparalleled speed, Crouse broke free of her defender down the sideline, made a strong run to the middle of the box, and finished near side for her ninth goal of the year.

The scores snowballed after that. Later in the first half, Nickolette Driesse tacked on her fourth goal of the year with a stunner from outside the box to the top left corner.

In the second frame, Schafer, Williams, Elizabeth Ball, and Haleigh Echard all scored to pad PSU's lead and down the Terriers.

It's easy to praise the offense after consecutive dominating performances, but the defense has been just as dominant of late. Penn State has notched four straight shutouts and 11 total on the year. Britt Eckerstrom in goal, along with a deep, tough-minded backline, has been historically great this season.

The defensive juggernaut lowered its goals against average in 2015 to 0.61 following the win, which is tied for third all-time at Penn State with the 2007 squad.

"We're one right now," said Eckerstrom. "We're talking, we're moving together, and it's been a whole team defensive effort. It's awesome the way we're playing right now."

As a whole, Penn State seems to be peaking at the right time. Its last two victories mark the team's two largest winning margins in 2015. The Nittany Lions hadn't won a game by five goals all year. They've now done it in two straight contests.

Next Up: Ohio State

After facing two unacquainted opponents in the first two rounds of the tournament, Penn State finds itself up against an all-too-familiar foe in Big Ten rival Ohio State.

The Buckeyes upset No. 4 Virginia Tech 1-0 in the second round after defeating Butler 2-1 in their opening contest. In the regular season, Penn State beat OSU 2-1 in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes have won four of five matches since that loss.

Like Penn State, Ohio State possesses a balanced offensive attack that features four players who've scored at least five goals on the year. Nichelle Prince leads the way with 19 points in 2015. She's the clear focal point of the offense, as her 83 shots this year nearly double the second highest total on the team (47).

The Buckeyes feature two solid goalkeepers, Jillian McVicker and Devon Kerr. Both have produced lower than a 1.10 goals allowed average, and both have logged at least 850 minutes this season.

Ohio State is somewhat unpredictable on offense and defense. They can plug in multiple bodies off the bench and not lose a step on the field. Penn State does exactly the same, so the bench play could be the biggest factor in the decision of this surely entertaining matchup.

The Nittany Lions and Buckeyes will kick off their third round contest on 1 p.m. on Sunday at Jeffrey Field.


By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2015 season was full of ups and downs for Penn State men's soccer team. Despite the dedication and handwork from all,the team fell in a heartbreaking overtime loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Quarterfinals


However, this season was much more than a Cinderella story ended early. The men who created the 2015 Nittany Lions were family both on and off the field and played as such. Ending with an overall record of 7-8-2, the Blue and White have no regrets about how the team played this season.


"Despite any downs we had this season the team always kept our heads high," said veteran player Connor Maloney.


The Lions started the season strong and continued to battle throughout. They started the season with hosting opening weekend and clinching a win against San Francisco and tying with Navy. Throughout the season the team faced many tough components but always battled.


"Although the season didn't end the way we wanted it to I'm still extremely proud of the guys and we're going to miss a lot of the seniors next year," stated Maloney.


For the 2015 season, the team was led by nine seniors who will all greatly be missed next season. One thing that goes beyond the statistics is how close the members of this season's team were to one another.


"Both on and off the field these guys are some of my best friends-they're my family," said Maloney. "Being as close of a team we were, it makes everything easier. We get through the tough times together but on the same note we celebrate the big wins together as one family."


Throughout the season the Lions had their share of tough loses and ties, however they never lost hope. The team  was the definition of what it means to play as a family and they represented that throughout every match.


Moving on from the season, the Lions are taking what they learned from this year to grow.


"I think the guys now know what we're working with coming into the next year. We have the ability and the chemistry so I think we have potential to grow from this past season," stated Maloney.


Although the season didn't end exactly how the Nittany Lions wanted, this team will be remembered for never giving up and fighting together as one team.