By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In front of a large hometown crowd in Holuba Hall, the Penn State men's lacrosse team (1-0) took down Robert Morris (0-1), 20-7, on Saturday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions' unrelenting offense notched six goals in the first quarter, alone. Redshirt junior attack man Matt Florence scored two of the six goals, notching his third goal later in the second period.
Penn State's second scoring streak of the day came during the second and third periods, with the Nittany Lions finding the back of the net 11 times before the Colonials were able to answer.
"I thought our guys came out of the lock room and onto the field today at that first whistle and just played a very inspired game of lacrosse, gained a ton of momentum in that second and third quarter and I'm just happy that those guys were able to kind of get that first win and start to move ahead," said head coach Jeff Tambroni.
Penn State had several standout players on the field at attack, including senior TJ Sanders who tallied four goals for the Nittany Lions, as well as three assists.
In addition to their veteran offensive prowess, the Nittany Lions had six different freshmen score during Saturday's contest.
Freshman Grant Ament notched two goals and five assists, with Tambroni noting how much Ament reminds him of a young Sanders when he was a freshman.
"It was a pretty incredible feeling," said Ament of his first collegiate goal with the Nittany Lions. "I got the assist from James Chakey who went to my high school, Haverford. It was really cool to share that moment with him because he was always looking out for me and always kind of has my back and that was kind of just a special way to start the season off."
Tambroni was quick to praise how immediate of an impact the freshman class has made even with just one game under its belt. Tambroni looks forward to seeing just how much this class can do with the rest of the season still upon them.
Another standout performance from Saturday's contest was that of sophomore Will Schreiner in net for the Nittany Lions.
Schreiner played more than 40 minutes between the pipes and made six saves.
"I think we communicated really well, we played as a team extremely well and I think we also kind of brought the power as well as the up-tempo of play," said Schreiner of the team's defensive play.
Tambroni noted earlier how one of his goals for the season is to have his players work hard for all 60 minutes of play and to not lose momentum. With almost the entire active roster having seen playing time on Saturday, the team was able to stay fresh and keep a disciplined eye on the bigger picture of Saturday's game.
"I thought they did a great job, the tendency when you're up by that much in the third or fourth quarter is to start thinking about yourself, how can you pad your stats, how can you do something that's in your best interest versus the team's best interest, and we said to these guys at halftime one of the things we wanted them to do us," said Tambroni. "Just stay disciplined, stay focused and this was going to be a true sense of their character to see if we can at this moment stay true to what we tried to do in the first half."
With the first game and win in the books the Nittany Lions look ahead to their next opponent, Hobart, on Saturday.
"I think we've got to evaluate the film and go back to work," said Tambroni. "I know that our team in the true sense of the cliché of taking it one day at a time believes in that, and I think it'll be important for us to step back from this, keep things in perspective and go back to work and tack it out Monday."
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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
By Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Off the mat distractions can derail even the best teams and wrestlers. Hosting the much anticipated dual meet against the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in a sold out Bryce Jordan Center could have provided enough fanfare for the Nittany Lions to get caught up in.
Penn State stayed focused and more importantly tough, as they earned a hard fought 24-14 victory. With another win against a very tough opponent, head coach Cael Sanderson was pleased with the effort from his team.
"I think overall, we wrestled well. That's a tough team and a tough team to score points on," said head coach Cael Sanderson. "Every win was big. Bo [Nickal]'s win was big. Matt [McCutcheon]'s win was big. We needed bonus points from Zain [Retherford] and also Nolf and they went out there and got that done. We needed bonus points from McIntosh and he got that done."
The biggest difference in the Nittany Lions keeping their record unblemished was not only wrestling hard for the full seven minutes, but wrestling an aggressive style as well.
"Every one of our guys are wrestling through and using every second, so I am happy with the way they are wrestling and when you are wrestling and taking more shots, you get better faster," said Sanderson. "It's just the way it works. If you take 20 shots a match, you are going to get a lot better than if you take two. If you do that every day and do that in practice every day, it will change the way you compete."
With so many tough matches throughout the night, the aggressive style that the Nittany Lions wrestled with proved to be a big factor in pulling out some of the wins. For Bo Nickal, who used a big third period that included two takedowns and four near fall points, his mindset never waivered from the aggressive style.
"Well I don't think that how our coaches coach us to wrestle and how we like to wrestle as a team has anything to do with being passive," said Nickal. "Going through my head, I was just thinking like wrestle and keep doing how I do everyday in the practice room and stuff. I don't think that any of us like to keep it close or back up and do anything like that so, we just wrestle how we do everyday."
The match that Sanderson believes was one of the biggest was the second bout of the dual, as Jordan Conaway's win pulled the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes even at three team points apiece.
"That was a big match obviously if you are looking at the match by match," said Sanderson. "If we don't win that match, it gets a lot tougher to win the dual. [Conaway] did a great job and all of our guys wrestled hard. They move forward and they try and score points. They do it because they love it and want to be the best that they can be."
The match did not start in Conaway's favor, as the senior faced an early 4-0 deficit. Not panicking, Conaway was able to keep wrestling and turn the momentum in his favor.
"That was huge because those four points were real early and it looked like Jordan was going to have a hard time getting off the bottom, so things weren't looking real good," said Sanderson. "DiJulius is real tricky obviously and very good at what he does, but Jordan is a fighter and he's going to keep wrestling the whole time."
Playing a big factor in Conaway's eventual 8-4 decision as well as other matches was the conditioning of the Nittany Lions. Buckeye wrestlers were visibly tired at the end of matches, which is something Sanderson and the team pride themselves on.
"We are confident in our conditioning," said Sanderson. "We think these guys can wrestle, keep wrestling and score points and I think that's more of an attitude and conditioning comes along with that attitude because you have to wrestle like that in practice every day. Conditioning will always be a factor for us."
Matt McCutcheon, who returned for the first time since being injured at Illinois two weeks ago, had extra motivation for this match. Last season, McCutcheon fell to Kenny Courts at Nationals in sudden victory fashion. Riding out Courts for most of the match, the sophomore was able to revenge his loss and made his postgame interview that much sweeter.
"It means a lot. Last year, I thought about that match for a long time and this one was important to me, so coming back, it was pretty important to get back," said McCutcheon. You have your team going out there scoring points, it makes you want to go out there and score points, so it was pretty important to get back for this match."
Wrestling for the second time this season across the street at the Bryce Jordan Center, the atmosphere was as electric as any of the wrestlers have seen before. Packing in the sold out arena with 15,983 fans, Sanderson believes that is a testament to the wrestling style his team wrestles with, which makes it exciting to watch and keeps the fans coming back.
"I think our guys are doing a good job of really wrestling aggressively, so they are fun to watch," said Sanderson. "They are good kids and humble kids. Win or lose, they are going to be the same. They want to win, but they are going to fight to win."
Not only are the fans loud and passionate, the supporters are knowledgeable and have a real sense of what is going on. McCutcheon believes that the Nittany Lion supporters are the best fans in the country, which makes wrestling at Penn State so special. McCutcheon cites how the fans appreciate the effort level and even if the results don't go in their favor, the crowd is still supportive. Sanderson also recognizes the passion and support that surrounds his team, as getting stuck in traffic trying to get to the match made him realize the swarms of people that came out to support his squad.
"Pennsylvania wrestling is huge at all levels, at the youth level, at the high school level and at the collegiate level," said Sanderson. "The fans know what they are looking at and they love good wrestling. I think we want to make Pa. proud."
By Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -The Penn State women's lacrosse team took to Holuba Hall Saturday afternoon to start off their season with an exhibition game against Towson. While it was a close game, the Nittany Lions looked strong against the Tigers.
Penn State started the game off strong, keeping the ball by Towson's goal and earning themselves an early lead. This lead was produced by some young players with three of the nine goals in the first half being made by freshman Madison Carter, who scored four goals in her debut with the team.
Head coach Missy Doherty talked about the strengths of her offensive end in the first half and how they adjusted well to Towson's unique defensive strategies.
"In the first half our offense was really finding each other well. Towson plays a different defense than you normally see. So to be able to adjust in the game, I think they did really well," said head coach Missy Doherty.
While the team started off strong in the first half, Towson came back in the second to give the Nittany Lions a run for their money.
Doherty talked about how the team wanted to push their offensive transitions in the second half to get shots off quicker, which was not as successful as they would have hoped. This contributed most to Towson catching up in the score.
"We wanted them to push the offensive transition and work on that. I think when we did that though we had some unfortunate turnovers. I like that they are pushing it, but I think we need to be better at executing when we do that," said Doherty.
This season is set to bring some major challenges, with Penn State being in a conference with some tough competitors. The team is definitely up to the task though and the coaches are making sure of that.
"We have a pretty hard schedule overall, almost every single game we play in the Big Ten is against a top ten or twenty overall. Even outside of the Big Ten our coaches schedule some tough teams just to keep us on our feet," said senior Erika Spilker.
Another senior player, Ally Heavens, also talked about how although this upcoming season looks to be tough, the team is looking forward to the challenge and is ready to keep up their A-game.
"What's so exciting about this season is that there is never going to be a lull. With a difficult schedule ahead, every game is going to require us bringing our all," said Heavens.
This exhibition game has been a great opportunity for the team to get some real playing experience before the regular season starts. With just a week before their first game of the season, the girls have a good idea of the areas they need to work on before playing in their first official game of the season next Saturday, February 13 at Lehigh University.
By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Some leaders use their voices, while others use their skills, but for men's gymnastics team captain Leroy Clarke, Jr. it is all about using his consistent drive for success to lead the Nittany Lions. After walking on the team in 2013, Clarke is now the team captain in his redshirt-junior season
Clarke has scored career bests of 14.900 on the pommel horse, 15.300 on still rings, 15.300 on parallel bars, and an impressive 15.050 on the high bar.
Something that sets Clarke apart is his humble work ethic. Regardless of how he scores, he is always looking for ways to improve and help his team.
"Leroy's been a great kid to work with in terms of his work ethic and how he handles himself," said head coach Randy Jepson."He's such a humble guy and works hard, the kind of guy every coach wants."
"Although he didn't compete that much his first year, it was a blessing in disguise since he was able to develop so much. He simply puts in constant effort and does what he's told and that's why he improved so much,"Jepson continued.
The Maplewood, N.J native, has been involved with gymnastics ever since he was a little kid. What started off as him having too much energy, quickly turned into a lifetime commitment to the sport.
"I got started when I was about four or five years old and my mom put me in the YMCA then shortly after I got noticed by a club gym coach and I've just been doing it since," said Clarke. "I've been coming to Penn State since high school to compete and I just fell in love with the university and it's always been my first love and just committed myself here."
Before becoming a Nittany Lion, Clarke trained at Surgent's Elite Gymnastics for club. Competing since his was a young child, Clarke says it's the rush of landing his routines and flipping through the air that attracted him to the sport.
"I love being active and flipping, but the best is the adrenaline rush of learning a new skill," said Clarke. "It's such a great feeling knowing you landed a difficult routine, off that one of my favorite things about gymnastics is the competition."
"Showing everyone what you've been working hard at all year is an incredible thing," he added. "It's your time to show everyone how hard you've been working and your dedication to the sport."
Although Clarke isn't the loudest on the team, he is always trying to set a positive example for his teammates and cheers them on.
"Gymnastics is unique, although it's only you performing you have an entire team routing for you," said Clarke. "I know I always have my teammates and I want to make them proud and help as much as I can."
So far Penn State men's gymnastic team stands at 7-1 and 1-1 in the Big Ten Conference.
Up next Clarke and the rest of the Blue and White hit the road to Ohio State University on Saturday, Feb. 13 to face the Buckeyes at 4 p.m.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Nearly 16,000 fans packed the Bryce Jordan Center on Friday evening to watch the
top-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team (13-0, 8-0 Big Ten) power past No. 3 Ohio
State (9-3, 6-2) by a scored of 24-14.
The Nittany Lions claimed victories in six of the 10 matches, including a pin from No. 1 Zain Retherford (149 pounds), a technical fall from Morgan McIntosh (197 pounds), a major decision from No. 1 Jason Nolf (157 pounds) and a come-from-behind victory from No. 5 Jordan Conaway (133 pounds).
After the Buckeyes scored a tight win in the opening bout, Conaway stromed from 4-0 down for an 8-4 decision at 133 pounds. The Nittany Lions won three of the next four bouts and never looked back from there.
Watch highlights from the buzzing atmosphere inside the sold out BJC and head into the media room for remarks from head coach Cael Sanderson, Conaway, Nolf and Matt McCutcheon.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By ANNA PITINGOLO,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a grueling five weeks that saw them traveling multiple times across the Midwest, the Lady Lions are back in State College and ready to hit the refresh button.
With recent trips to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska, the return to Happy Valley garnered the team a well deserved day off to help them rejuvenate before they face Rutgers on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
"It was more than clearing their heads, [they were] resting their bodies," head coach Coquese Washington said. "I think the double-overtime game [against Purdue] coupled with the trip to Nebraska...was tiring. So they definitely needed the day off to get their bodies rested and to get ready for Rutgers on Sunday."
Playing two to three games a week can be tiring, so Washington gave the Lady Lions Wednesday off, and then had them just watch film on Thursday. Washington is focusing on her team's energy, which has been up and down throughout games.
"Hopefully getting a couple days rest will help with [getting a good balance of energy throughout the game]," Washington said. "I thought we played with pretty good energy for the most part against Purdue, and I think with our shortened bench we just ran out of gas against Nebraska in some respects. I think the timing of this game and being able to have a couple of days off to rest and rejuvenate will help us to have energy the full four quarters."
With injuries and exhaustion plaguing the team, senior Brianna Banks is happy that the break came when it did.
"Since we're not really heavy in depth on the team, we're kind of exhausted a little bit, [our] legs and stuff, so we're trying to use this 'bye-week' to try and get our legs back and get everybody back healthy so we can have a full team ready to go for Rutgers," Banks said.
The matchup against Rutgers will be the third time that the teams have faced off in the Big Ten since the Scarlet Knights joined the conference last year. Rutgers was able to walk away with a victory in both games last season.
Despite the newness of the conference series between the two teams, Washington enjoys the natural rivalry that comes with it.
"I definitely think there's some schools that you have some natural rivalries with, in particular due to proximity and I certainly thing that's one of the pluses of having both Rutgers and Maryland join our conference," Washington said. "We've got two schools on the East Coast that we can build rivalries with and I think both of those schools provide us with that opportunity because of proximity."
Being back at the BJC after a road trip is exciting for the team, especially given the support they receive from the hometown fans. Playing in opposing environments can be taxing on a team, so to be playing back in Happy Valley is a welcome change.
"Our kids love playing in front of our crowd," Washington said. "They're passionate, they're energetic and they certainly are that sixth man for us and give us that shot that we need during different stretches of the game. [The team is] excited to be back home for at least one game and be back in the friendly confines of the BJC."
By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With both the Penn State men's and women's track and field teams ranked in the top-25, the Nittany Lions look to keep using their depth as an advantage in this weekend's Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup.
According to this week's United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's (USTFCCCA) National Computer Rankings, the men's side held the No. 21 ranking and the women made their debut in the top-25 by checking in at No. 25.
"Both teams being ranked really shows the depth that we have for both the men's and women's teams. If I sat here and listed everybody, I'd be talking about 50 people which shows the depth that we have this year," said head coach John Gondak.
Gondak noted the overall solid performances across the board in the sprints, mid-distance, women's pole vault, women's long and triple jump, women's shot put and weight throw.
"Our national level kids are really doing a great job and some of our developmental kids are really coming into their own and producing at a high level," said Gondak.
Record-breaking performances from seniors Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) and Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) have led to several recent accolades. This week, Kidder earned USTFCCCA Division I Athlete of the Week and Big Ten Athlete of the Week honors with his phenomenal performances in the 800-meter event and in Penn State's distance medley relay as the anchor leg during last week's Penn State National.
In the 800-meters, Kidder competed against one of the strongest fields of the weekend and won with a time of 1:47.01. The time is third in the NCAA and first in the Big Ten. During the distance medley relay (DMR), Kidder used a strong kick to come from behind to beat Stanford's Sean McGorty. Kidder split 3:55, which helped Penn State not only win the race, but move up to fourth on the all-time collegiate list.
Kidder was also named to The Bowerman Men's Watch List. He's the first Nittany Lion athlete to ever be named to the list. The Bowerman names the most outstanding male and female collegiate track & field athletes in the nation.
Also this week, Gerlach was nominated as a Big Ten Athlete of the Week for breaking the school record in the mile with a time of 4:37.83 during the Penn State National. She won the race easily by more than seven seconds. The Penn State women's mile record was previously held by 2012 Olympian Bridget Franek. Gerlach's time currently ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 7 in the NCAA.
As for this weekend's meet, the Nittany Lions are competing in the annual Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup on Friday and Saturday. The pentathlon starts Friday at 1:30 p.m. and the track and field events start at 5 p.m. Saturday's portion of the competition starts with field events at 11 a.m. and track events at noon.
It's the first scored team competition of the year for the Nittany Lions. Among competition with eight schools, Penn State will get a chance to see where they stand in team scored events which can help the Nittany Lions get a preview for team postseason competitions further down the road.
The Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup marks the fourth of five home meets of Penn State's 2016 indoor season schedule. The Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup is named after the late "Dutch" Sykes and the late Dr. Ralph Sabock who were two long-time Penn State track and field officials. The event is in honor of their dedicated love for Penn State track and field and to the students of Penn State University.
Sykes and Sabock each served for over 30 years as Penn State track and field and cross country officials working as clerks of the course, starters and finish judges. They officiated NCAA Championships, all regular season meets, Special Olympics, and physically challenged events. Sykes was Intramural Director and Sabock was a professor in the Department of Kinesiology during their Penn State tenures. Sykes was impactful on the planning and construction of the original Intramural Building. Sabock was the author of the internationally known book "Coaching: A Realistic Perspective," currently in its tenth edition which is used at Penn State and in college coaching courses globally.
For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
After seven of the first 10 Big Ten games away from the Bryce Jordan Center,
the Nittany Lion basketball team (11-12, 2-8 Big Ten) will play a much-needed
home game against No. 22 Indiana (18-4, 9-1 Big Ten) on Saturday at 8 p.m.
In dire need of a game on their home floor and shooting at familiar baskets, the Nittany Lions have traveled 6,112 miles since Big Ten play began in late December. Penn State will head into the stretch run of the regular season with five of the last eight at home.
"We haven't been home in a long time. We've been playing on the road a ton," said Chambers. "Seven out of 10 is a lot. This is the hand that we were dealt. Hopefully, being in the Bryce Jordan Center, we can see the ball go in the basket a little bit more."
The Nittany Lions head into Saturday's matchup with the red-hot Hoosiers looking to snap a four-game skid. In addition to a rigorous string of travel, the Nittany Lions have played on the road against four of the top five teams in the Big Ten standings, including No. 5 Iowa on Wednesday night.
"We've been playing some terrific teams. Iowa is a top five team," said Chambers. "Michigan is a really good team. Indiana is a terrific basketball team. We just need to slow down and play at our pace to make those shots. I'm not making excuses, but being on the road and seeing so many foreign baskets and gymnasiums, I think that plays a little bit with these kids' minds. We aren't going to do anything terribly different. We just need to see the ball go through the basket."
Snapping out of the shooting slump all boils down to confidence. The Lions have been able to generate good looks on the offensive end of the floor for the better part of three weeks. Shots just have not gone down consistently. Penn State made nine threes in Madison Square Garden on Jan. 30, but then just one in Iowa City.
"I'm a firm believe or repetition, and I'm a firm believer in preparation. Nothing changes," said head coach Patrick Chambers. "Just keep doing what you are doing. The shots are going to go in. And I have to give them the confidence to take that shot. And I am going to. They know that."
Indiana comes into the BJC atop the Big Ten standings after a dominant performance at Michigan on Tuesday night (80-67). The Hoosiers have won 14 of their last 15 games dating back to early December. Indiana is 9-1 in Big Ten play, which includes a 4-1 mark in road games.
Offensively, the Hoosiers have played at an elite level. Indiana is ranked No. 2 in the nation in field goal percentage at a blistering 51.6 percent, No. 5 in three-point field goal percentage (42.7) and No. 7 in scoring offense (85.0 ppg).
Senior Yogi Ferrell has been outstanding for Indiana in 2015-16. The dynamic point guard is No. 3 in the Big Ten in scoring (17.4 ppg), No. 4 in the Big Ten in assists (5.8 apg) and No. 3 in field goal percentage (48.4). Troy Williams is second on the team in scoring at 13.0 points per game.
Penn State and Indiana have split the last two meetings. Each of the last three games between the Nittany Lions and Hoosiers were decided by three points or less.
"It's confidence. The kids just have to continue playing with confidence," said head coach Patrick Chambers. "They truly deserve to see success with the work ethic they are putting forth."
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
2016 Signing Day Central
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the third-straight February, head coach James Franklin and the football staff have assembled a signing class ranked in the nation's top 25 by all four national recruiting outlets.
Ranked as high as 18th by ESPN, the 2016 class features 20 signees, including 12 future Nittany Lion student-athletes tabbed as either four or five-star prospects. The signing class of 2016 continues a movement of Penn State adding a host of talent and depth to its roster.
"We really want [recruiting] to be about relationships and about the things that we think it should be about, which is getting a world class education and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals that want to go on and be really successful," said Franklin.
Of the 20 signees slated to be on the roster in August, 16 of them hail from within a 350-mile radius of the University Park campus. The trend of recruiting success within the footprint around Happy Valley has been a common thread throughout Coach Franklin's time in Happy Valley.
Since Franklin arrived in January 2014, the Nittany Lions have signed 70 prospects during the last three recruiting cycles. That figure includes 25 in 2014, 25 in 2015 and 20 in 2016. The 70 players signed have come from 17 states and Canada. Forty-three of the 70 signed players are from 350 miles or less from State College.
Sixty-one players are from the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Midwest, with seven players from the Deep South, one from California and one from Ontario. The states represented in the last three recruiting classes are as follows: Pennsylvania (19), Maryland (10), New Jersey (10), Virginia (6), Georgia (4), Ohio (4), Alabama (2), Delaware (2), Illinois (2), Massachusetts (2), North Carolina (2), California (1), Connecticut (1), Florida (1), Indiana (1), New York (1), Wisconsin (1) and Ontario (1)
"I would make the argument that every year that we want to obviously do a great job of recruiting the state of Pennsylvania," said Franklin. "That's very, very important to us, and the region."
In addition to the vast list of signees from the region, the Nittany Lion coaching staff has signed 26 players tabbed as either four or five-star prospects during the last three recruiting classes. In the two years prior to 2014, Penn State signed just six.
Penn State continues winter workouts leading up to the start of spring practice in mid-March and the annual Blue-White Game, which is slated for April 16 in Beaver Stadium.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
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