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VIDEO: One-on-One with Sandy Barbour, Part I

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - February 18 marked the sixth-month anniversary of the day Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour began her journey in Happy Valley.

GoPSUsports.com recently spent some time with Barbour to talk about a wide range of topics in a two-part video interview series. In part one, Barbour talks about her first six months on the job, the Penn State student-athletes, coaches and more. Take a look.




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By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -The Penn State women's hockey team may have concluded the regular season on Saturday, but the team is ready for playoffs after earning the highest postseason seeding in program history.


Despite falling, 4-1, to conference foe Robert Morris (11-17-5, 8-8-4 CHA) on both Friday and Saturday, Penn State (15-15-4, 9-9-2 CHA) earned a No. 4 seed this year after earning No. 6 seeds each of the past two seasons.

"
This team has worked very hard, and we are going to have a home playoff series, and it's something everybody is looking forward to," said head coach Josh Brandwene.

Saturday's matinee also featured a Senior Day celebration for graduating junior Kendra Rasmussen and student manager Sammy Sarsfield. Both have been integral parts to the development of the young program and will certainly be missed.

"Two wonderful human beings surrounded by people who love them," said Brandwene and the graduates. "Just a really special moment on the ice that's for sure."

With such supportive fans all season long, it came as no surprise when the 821 fans in attendance Saturday afternoon stayed for the senior celebration to give thanks to two individuals who were both dynamic parts of the team.

"From the bottom of my heart, I cannot thank [the fans] enough for their support, and the energy they put behind this hockey team," said Brandwene. "This is a special community, students and folks who live here alike. And to see the support that we have is just really special."

Games aside, Penn State's Dance Marathon, or THON, took center stage in University Park. A short walk across University Drive from Pegula Ice Arena leads to the Bryce Jordan Center, the site where over 15,000 Penn State students effortlessly spent the weekend raising awareness and over $13 million for the fight against pediatric cancer.


"We're here to work hard. We're here to push ourselves and achieve, but when you take a step back and you know what's going on across the street, and the kind of money that's being raised for such an important cause, and so many families that have been so affected by this horrible disease, it just puts it all in perspective for you," said Brandwene.

What made THON 2015 so special for the women's hockey team is that this was the very first year the squad was home to dance in the Pep Rally. On Saturday night, the players certainly provided the 700-plus dancers, standing for 46 hours without sleeping, some much needed energy to keep going.

"It's that broader, bigger picture," said Brandwene. "You grind away day-to-day. You go to class. You come to the rink. You keep working and grinding, and when you get that moment where you can, not only step back and see what's going on, but to also actually be a part of it, it really makes it special."

Additionally, Brandwene expressed some heartfelt words to the dancers.

"First I'd thank [the dancers] and just express my gratitude for what they're doing," said Brandwene. "It's a pretty tall task for what they're doing. They put a lot of not only the physical energy but also the emotional energy to be on their feet that long and just knowing the kind of cause that they're working towards, and spending time and interacting with the families. It's incredibly special and just a powerful statement about what the Penn State community really is."

With a large portion of the Penn State community still recovering from THON weekend, the Nittany Lions are already looking ahead to their first ever home playoff series against fifth-seeded Lindenwood, a team the Blue and White split four games with this season.

"We're looking forward to [Lindenwood]," said Brandwene. "It's that moment of the season where the reset button gets hit for everybody...we're really chomping at the bit to get at it."

Penn State will commence its best-of-three series against the Lady Lions (10-19-2, 7-11-2 CHA) on Friday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. Game two will be played on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. and, if necessary, a decisive third contest on Sunday, March 1 at 2 p.m.

 

By Rachel Fatherly, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Saturday started off with a motivational quote from Coach [Patrick] Ebel, "Believe in yourself and let's get it done today.
 

This quote set the tone for the day whether it was in the circle, on the runway, or on the track. I think that today was definitely a tune up to say the least. We had many outstanding performances that will set us up nicely for the upcoming Big Ten Championships. The atmosphere today was great, like always. Everyone was engaged in all of the performances.

I think that many Penn Staters took huge steps today. For example, Jon Yohman throwing a season-best of 55-9.75 in the shot put. While warming up for shot put, it was nice to be able to cheer on Matt Fischer as he raced the clock in the 5k.

As Penn Staters, we definitely showed our pride as well as passion for each other. Across the board there were many improvements, personal bests, season bests and better performances overall.

As we enter the Big Team Championships, many were able to tune up or work on things that will help them later on in the week. What time is it? It's Big Ten Time!

We Are... Penn State


Seniors Pay Tribute To Supporters In Final Outing at Rec Hall

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10815014.jpegBy Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It has been said that Rec Hall is the most electric sports venue in collegiate wrestling. The fans are inches away from the mat; their voices echo amongst the championship banners and the building is routinely packed.

Sunday's match against Rider was no different. As the fans funneled in in normal fashion, packing the venue an hour before the match even started, the seniors were prepared to wrestle in Rec Hall for the last time.


Senior day is always an emotional one and it can't be any easier for a team that is as close as the Penn State wrestling family. For these wrestlers, the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex is their home away from home, often foregoing scheduled breaks to continue to work at their craft. 

This senior class has helped the program win four-straight NCAA titles and four-straight Big Ten Conference titles. While Sunday's match might have been the last time fans witnessed these seniors wear their blue and white singlet, the impact that they have made will never be forgotten. The 11 seniors gathered on Rec Hall's mat one last time together at the beginning of the match, along side their families, before they went out in true fashion...with a win.

Luke Frey: "Today was a special day."
After redshirting his freshman campaign, Frey has opted to not wrestle next season. He has helped the Nittany Lions in the lower weights all season, filling the shoes of 2014 graduate, James Vollrath, at 157 and sharing the rotation with fellow senior Dylan Alton.

Sunday's match was a good day for Frey. Not only was he able to leave Rec Hall with his first 'W' but earned a 10-4 bout score for the Nittany Lions against Rider's Chad Walsh.

"Today was my debut in Rec Hall," Frey said. "To be able to get the win is a great, great feeling. I found out Friday that I was going to wrestle. Being able to have my family with me today is great. It's a weird feeling for me today, knowing that it is my last time in Rec Hall. But, getting to see the families of all the seniors was just great."

Jimmy Lawson: "It has been a blessing to wrestle here."
Lawson has had a stellar year. He is tough, resilient and has endless potential in postseason tournaments. After recovering from a knee injury last year, one that fans battled through with him as it happened at Rec Hall, he came back ready for redemption this season.

"You will never forget wrestling in a place like this," Lawson said. "The fans come out here and support you no matter what, they deserve for us to give them our very best. It has been an honor to wear the blue and white singlet all these years. I am going to miss it."


Despite the emotions of Sunday's dual, Lawson performed, giving fans a show in a weight class where major decisions don't typically happen. The Nittany Lion was able to score early, taking a 2-1 lead over Rider's Greg Velasco in the first 30 seconds. By the time the clock ran out in his final match at Rec Hall, Lawson finished with a 12-4 bout score and earned 3:44 of riding time.

"Lawson is the type of kid that needs to create action on his feet," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "Whether you are shooting or he is shooting, he has the ability to come out on top. He just needs to create those scrambles. He seems really confident heading into Big Tens and confidence is half the battle."

Matt Brown: "This experience has been a lot of fun."
Brown is one of those wrestlers that people drive hundreds of miles to see. He is relentless, a fighter and a special member of the Penn State wrestling family, leaving behind a legacy that will not be forgotten.

Brown, ranked No.2 heading into Sunday's match against Rider, was quick to attribute his success to the support he has outside of wrestling practices.

"It is a team effort outside of wrestling too," Brown said. "We get to go out and wrestle, but that is only because we have had support growing up our whole lives. Our parents and siblings taking us to practice and the countless hours of traveling, so it is good that those people can be recognized. Even now, my wife always helps out. When we get home late from a match, she is there to pick me up. You really can't do this by yourself. Our families play a big role in that."

The sold out Rec Hall was on it's feet before Brown even took the mat, as the wrestling community will miss seeing him wrestle, just as much as he will miss wrestling in front of them. Sunday's match wasn't unusual for Brown: he scored fast and tired out his opponent quickly. He was able to ride out Rider's Ryan Wolfe to a 14-3 major decision.

"I remember seeing Matt [Brown] wrestle at a camp I was helping run," Sanderson said. "I couldn't take my eye off of him, he was just go, go, go. Sometimes you see kids who train hard and work hard, but it never pans out. It has panned out for him and for us. Matt is a great example of consistency. We are really grateful that he came to Penn State."

Conway, Juha Push Penn State Past No. 15 Minnesota

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a disappointing Friday night loss to No. 15 Minnesota, the Penn State men's hockey team knew winning Saturday's game was a necessity. With such few series remaining in the regular season, the Nittany Lions wanted to get back on track, break their three-game losing streak and get their first program win against the Gophers.

The Blue and White immediately put the 2-1 loss behind them and began focusing on the task ahead. The Gophers (17-10-3, 8-3-3 B1G) had not been beaten in seven games, but a few Penn State (16-10-4, 8-5-1 B1G) adjustments and one hard-fought rematch was about to change that.

Penn State downed the Gophers, 4-3, in thrilling fashion with an overtime, power play goal.

The Nittany Lions struck first when Curtis Loik capitalized on the man advantage seven minutes into the game. Five minutes later, they extended their lead to two after Scott Conway, who assisted Loik's tally, scored a highlight-reel goal, the first of two on the night for the freshman.

"I think that might have been his best all-around game, and that was a big, big, big time goal," said head coach Guy Gadowsky of Conway. "The first one of his was just big time. The second one was nice too, but he really played one heck of a hockey game. He's a confident kid, and he was just so obviously not satisfied to just be on the same ice. He played to win that game."

The strong play from Conway was exactly what Gadowsky was looking for after benching the forward last weekend against Michigan State. With some time to think, Conway knew he needed to refocus.

The changes he made led him to a plus-two, three-point night.

"I think Coach made a good decision putting me in the stands," said Conway. "I took a step back and just thought about stuff, what I should be doing and what I shouldn't be doing. That mainly brought my focus to these games, and I tried to do my best."

Although the Lions maintained a lead throughout the majority of the game, Minnesota refused to go down easily. The Gophers battled back and scored their third and tying goal in the final minute of the play.

While the goal was disappointing, Gadowsky and the Lions remained confident. The team had played a strong game, and it was ready to continue on. For the Nittany Lions, this was a must win.

Not even two minutes into the overtime, Minnesota took a penalty. Luke Juha got the puck and stuck to the Penn State hockey mentality.

The defenseman shot the puck.

"Minnesota was all over us for a little while there," said Juha. "They had a bunch of momentum, and we got a power play. So, we knew we had to capitalize on that to get three points. [Casey] Bailey got it on the far wall and passed it to me. I had tons of time and was looking for sticks."

With David Glen screening the Gopher's goalie, the puck found its way into the back of the net. With the win, Penn State officially beat every team in the Big Ten Conference this season.

As for Juha, Gadowsky was thankful to have him in the lineup. The blueliner was questionable for this matchup against Minnesota after an injury sidelined him for much of the week.

"He had a lower body injury that kept him off the ice until Thursday actually," Gadowsky explained. "It's funny because we had a discussion after Thursday's practice, and we were touch and go whether we would have him play. Good thing we did."

While the win was important, the team also played for more than itself this weekend.

With THON in full swing across the street in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lions wanted to be victorious for the kids, for every child and family that has dealt with the effects of pediatric cancer.


"As hockey players, you have to battle through injuries sometimes," Juha said. "It was a little tougher for me. I didn't feel like I had a full stride. But, at the end of the day, especially on THON weekend, these kids battle so hard, and I think for this weekend we did the same thing. We're lucky that we got a win at the end of the day. So, it's a great weekend for us. THON is such an inspirational thing for our school, and it's an uplifting event. After this, we're going to go practice our Pep Rally dance and hopefully win that too."

Merely hours later, they did just that. Men's hockey was crowned the THON 2015 Pep Rally champions, raking in its second win of the night and making the weekend one to remember for the entire team.

Lady Lions Ready for Busy Slate of Big Ten Matchups

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By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This season was going to be a test for the young Lady Lions basketball team, a realization both the coaching staff and team made early on. But, their inexperience wasn't going to define them, as they keep getting better every week, working harder day in and day out.

Over the course of the next seven days, the Lady Lions will play three games against Big Ten opponents, opening the slate on the road against Maryland Monday at 7 p.m. (BTN).

"You have to be able to make adjustments," head coach Coquese Washington said. "We have to make sure what we are doing in practice is transitions well on the court. We have to make sure we have the legs to get through this week."

Building On Last Matchup With The Terrapins
After leading by as much as seven in the first half of the initial meeting between the two teams, the Lady Lions knew they could compete with Maryland. The Terps surged towards the latter stages of the first half, but the Lions had confidence despite being down 41-24 at the break on Feb. 5. By adjusting to the Terrapin pace on the court and their press, Penn State played a strong second half, outscoring the Terps, 38-36 in the final 20 minutes.

"Maryland is an up tempo team and so are we," assistant coach Kia Damon said. "We got off to a great start last time, then things kind of got away from us. We want to start the game off the way we finished it and we will see what happens from there."

The 'Moore,' The Merrier
Redshirt sophomore guard Sierra Moore has had a stellar run the past few games, holding onto the ball and helping with shot set up. The Duke transfer has been an asset to the Lady Lions on both ends of the court. In last week's matchup against Minnesota, Moore led the team in scoring with 17 points, tallying eight assists and no turnovers.

"I think I have matured a lot this season," Moore said. "I think I am getting better at finding the girls and getting them the shots they want."

B1G Time Hoops
ESPN's postseason projections from Feb. 17 had seven of the 14 Big Ten women's hoops teams earning a spot in the bracket. That being said, Coach Washington appreciates the talent this conference presents on a nightly basis for the Lady Lions.

"The Big Ten is a competitive conference," Washington said. "Each team we play against has depth and talent. The coaches in the Big Ten really know how to use their personnel. That is what makes this conference so great."

Looking Ahead
The Lady Lions are in Maryland on Monday, before coming back to the Bryce Jordan Center to finish off the regular season. Penn State welcomes Ohio State on Thursday and Wisconsin on Sunday, marking a span of three games in seven days.

Penn State Athletics THON 2015 Coverage

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THON_2015_Morning.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics was again heavily involved with the 43rd IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center over the weekend.

THON's 708 dancers will began standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and did not sit down or sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.


Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer. To date, more than $127 million has been raised by THON. THON again raised more than $13 million in a tremendous year of fundraising as part of 2015 dance marathon. Each year, more than 15,000 Penn State student volunteers dedicate their time to THON, making it the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Three Penn State student-athletes represented Penn State's Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) as dancers: Elyse Archambault from women's golf and Laura Gebhart and Bethany Mink from field hockey.


Additionally, Rachel Bove and Alicia Popescu from the Lionettes squad and from Penn State cheerleading Caitlin Clearie, Sarah McEnroe, Michael Valania will be danced in THON.

In addition to the dancers and several committee members, numerous other student-athletes both attend THON and participated in Student-Athlete Hour and a THON favorite, the Pep Rally. The football program hosted approximately 30 THON families at the Lasch Building in conjunction with the THON Explorers Program on Saturday.

We would also like to congratulate Penn State Athletic Communications student assistants Rachel Casciano and Lauren Moyer after dancing over the weekend and the several student assistants actively involved with THON.

Complete Penn State Athletics coverage from THON 2015 is below.


Friday - 6 p.m. - THON 2015 Begins
The 46-hour dance marathon kicked off at 6 p.m. on Friday evening when the 708 dancers stood. They will remain on their feet until Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.

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Saturday - 9 a.m. - Student-Athlete Interviews
With Bryce Jordan Center buzzing with energy during the 16th hour of THON 2015, GoPSUsports.com spent some time with student-athletes and THON dancers Elyse Archambault (women's golf), Bethany Mink (field hockey and Laura Gebhart (field hockey). Representing Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB), the trio is thrilled to carry the Penn State Athletics banner as dancers in the 2015 THON. Take a look at some of their remarks from the floor at the BJC.




Saturday - 2 p.m. - Football Hosts THON Explorers Event
Nearly 50 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed approximately 30 THON Four Diamonds children and their families to a special tour of the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON Explorers program.

The THON event in Lasch is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year.  The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.

The Nittany Lions formed a high-five tunnel for the families upon entry into the building before the student-athletes took the families around the football facility.  Take a look at the THON Explorers event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.

Football THON Explorers Event Photo Gallery

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Saturday - 5 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour
Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the Bryce Jordan Center during athlete hour on Saturday.  Here are a few snapshots and video highlights from the event.



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10:30 p.m. - VIDEO: Men's Hockey Wins Pep Rally Dance Competition
One of the THON highlights every year comes on Saturday night when the teams of Penn State Athletics hop on stage and compete in a dancing competition during the annual pep rally.  In all, 12 different teams competed in the 2015 version of the dance-off.

With resounding approval from a packed house in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lion men's hockey team was named champion of the team dancing competition. It was a big night for the hockey team. The winning dance came just a couple hours following a thrilling overtime victory over No. 15 Minnesota across the street in Pegula Ice Arena.  We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON. 

THON Pep Rally Photo Gallery



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Team Dances
Men's Hockey (Champion) - Full Dance
Men's Gymnastics (Finalist) - 
Full Dance
Men's Soccer (Finalist) - 
Full Dance
Football (Finalist) - 
Full Dance
Women's Volleyball - 
Full Dance 
Fencing - Full Dance
Field Hockey - Full Dance
Women's Golf - Full Dance
Women's Hockey - Full Dance
Women's Lacrosse - Full Dance
Women's Soccer - Full Dance
Rugby - Full Dance


Sunday - 1 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin and Family Address THON 2015
Head coach James Franklin and his family, along with wide receiver Matt Zanellato and Noah Benner took the stage at THON on Sunday afternoon, urging the dancers to continuing working hard in their final push at the 46-hour marathon.  Franklin spoke before a capacity crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center.  Take a look.




4:09 p.m. - THON 2015 Raises $13 Million
For the second-straight year, THON's fundraising efforts raised more than $13 million. The grand total for THON in 2015 was  $13,026,653.23 for fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2015.  Here is a look at the reveal from Rec Hall following Sunday's Penn State wrestling victory over Rider.

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VIDEO: Wrestling Post-Match vs. Rider

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before a sold out inside Rec Hall, the Nittany Lion wrestling team (11-4, 6-3 Big Ten) capped off its regular season with a 30-3 victory over Rider on Sunday afternoon. The program paid tribute to 11 seniors, including a trio of Lions who tallied victories in their final matches inside Rec Hall. Check out highlights of seniors Luke Frey (157 pounds), Matt Brown (174 pounds) and Jimmy Lawson (285 pounds) and post-match interviews.

Lions Looking to Rebound Following Villanova Game

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10811512.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Penn State men's lacrosse team fell to in-state foe Villanova, 11-7, on Saturday afternoon at Villanova Stadium.

A strong start from the Wildcats put Penn State on its heels early in the game, placing the Nittany Lions in a position to try and mount a comeback.  Creating an additional challenge, the weather did not cooperate Saturday with the Penn State men's lacrosse team, as blizzard-like conditions created significant problems and added to the level of game difficulty.

"It certainly made for a sloppy game," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "Both teams had difficulties; it wasn't like it was an advantage for Penn State or an advantage for Villanova. I thought they managed the game better than we did in the snow but clearly it was a different kind of game because of the weather."

Despite the weather in the eastern part of the Commonwealth, the Nittany Lions focused their attention on their performance, rather than field conditions. 

The biggest concern for Penn State is their inability to start the game off strong.  Two first quarter penalties resulted in two Villanova goals.  Much like their matchup last weekend on the road at Loyola (Md.), the Nittany Lions defensive breakdowns resulted in early goals and the offense was unable to capitalize at the other end.

"For two weeks in a row we just didn't get off to a good start," said Tambroni. "Two weeks in a row we dug a pretty difficult hole to get ourselves out of."

Penn State trailed 6-3 at the end of the first half, after being outscored 5-1 in the first quarter.

A bright spot for the Nittany Lions was sophomore Nick Aponte, and his first multi-goal game of the season.  Aponte was responsible for four of the Nittany Lions' seven goals, finding the back of the net on all four of his shots on goal.  Another solid performance came from face off specialist Drake Kreinz, who went 14-of-21 from the dot, including his 7-of-8 performance in the fourth quarter.

During the second half, Penn State's defense focused more on double-teaming Villanova attack men in attempts to force turnovers.

"I think we just felt like we needed more possession time," said Tambroni. "We weren't doing a great job off the ground and felt like we needed to pick up the pace a little bit because it was a rather sluggish game."

Villanova's defense was successfully able to put the pressure on Penn State's offense when they came close to scoring range, holding the Nittany Lions to 10 shots in the first half. Penn State took 19 shots in the second half, but the Nittany Lions couldn't overcome the first half deficit.

"I think a lot of our woes came with our inability to pick the ball up off the ground," said Tambroni. "I didn't think we did a good job with some of the details and possessions were clearly one of them. Villanova took advantage of the overall possession time."

In addition to possession time, Coach Tambroni explained that the Nittany Lions need to improve their ability to play from behind, and be overcome the pressure.

"I don't think we did a good job at handling the pressure," said Tambroni. "We were down 5-1 and probably created a more urgent style of lacrosse and then didn't necessarily perform the way we were capable of under those circumstances."

Although the outcome wasn't what the Nittany Lions had hoped for, there is much to be learned from and improved on moving forward.

"The good and the bad is that it's still early in the season and there's a lot of lacrosse left to play," said Tambroni. 

VIDEO: THON 2015 Pep Rally Dance - Women's Golf

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Check out the Nittany Lions dancing on stage during the THON 2015 Pep Rally on Saturday night.




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