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Lions Come Up Short Against Illinois

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10431045.jpegBy Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERISTY PARK, Pa.-- The stage was set for a great first start at home for freshman Haleigh Washington: a Big Ten matchup in Rec Hall, an energetic crowd and an excited band. But the Nittany Lions fell to the Illinois in four sets.

Despite the outcome, Washington's first start in Rec Hall was an exciting experience for the young middle blocker. Leading up to the match, she kept her composure while trying to shake her nerves. But as soon as it was game time, she knew it was time to go out there and "do her thing."

"I was trying to do the best that I could and bring whatever I could to this team," Washington said. "Everybody has a job and I was just trying to do mine."

In the first set, the Nittany Lions had a 19-8 lead over Illinois. After multiple scoring streaks, the Fighting Illini fought back to make the score 23-17. With five unanswered points and a four-point scoring streak at the end of the set, the Illini took the first frame, 26-24.

"We scored a lot of points [in the first game], we blocked better. We had some areas where I thought we were going to do some things and surprisingly enough, [Illinois] battled a little better than we did," head coach Russ Rose said. "In the beginning of the year, I had Illinois as the team to win the conference."

In the second set, the Nittany Lions beat the Illini 25-16. Illinois came back to take sets three and four, 25-23 and 25-22 respectively.

Penn State had momentum in end of the final frame that kept the Nittany Lions within two points at 24-22, but the Illini finished off the match with a block.

"We had fire at the end of the game. Then there's that little hope and it's just crushed and that's the worst feeling; when you're so close and you're thinking that it's good and it ends up being too little too late," Washington said. "It's disappointment and a chance to work harder at practice. We don't really linger. We're ready to come back and work harder."

Although the Nittany Lions fell to the 15th-ranked Illini, Rose noted that Washington played especially well for her first start in Rec Hall.

"Her energy is always good. She is a confident, young person. She hit really well [and] took some good swings," Rose said. "Considering it was a big match with a lot of people and a lot of importance, she really represented herself well."

Washington had a career-high 14 kills on a .538 hitting percentage. She had seven blocks, but said she needs to improve her blocking.

[My blocking has] got to be a better game. In a conference like the Big Ten, blocking is a really big, important aspect of your game. I'm trying to improve on that," Washington said.

Throughout the entire match, Washington's energy was very positive, even when the team was down.

"I had to go in and play my game. I was trying to take care of what I could take care of and control what I could control," Washington said.

Washington and the Nittany Lions travel to Indiana next to face Purdue on Friday at 8 p.m. 

Lions Come Up Short Against Rutgers Despite Late Surge

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10428378.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a tale of two halves for the Penn State women's soccer team on Saturday against Rutgers.

Taking on No. 20 team in the nation at home, the Nittany Lions got off to a slow start against a hungry Scarlet Nights squad and went into halftime down 1-0. From that point on, however, they looked like a different team.

"I didn't necessarily need to [say anything at halftime]," head coach Erica Walsh said. "They knew that they didn't perform. The details were better in the second half. I'm pretty proud of this team in the last 30 minutes, and that's the kind of team I want to coach."

After being out-shot seven to two in the first half and giving up a goal to Madison Tiernan at the 28:36 mark, the Nittany Lions turned the tide of the game in the final 45 minutes, out-shooting Rutgers eight to three, yet ultimately being unable to score and falling for just the second time this season, by a score of 1-0.

In the final 10 minutes, with the Scarlet Knights keeping all 11 players back on the defense, the Lions generated numerous opportunites but were unable to get a ball past goalie Casey Murphy.

"At the end I felt like we, I don't know if the word is deserved, but I felt like we were going to get one," Walsh said. "I liked the morale at that point. I thought we were pushing hard enough to get a win."

First, reserve freshman midfielder Haleigh Echard crossed a nice ball into the box that junior Mallory Peterson just missed getting into the net.

Minutes later, Katy Keen ripped a shot that forced Murphy to make a terrific diving save. Then, with just 2:43 remaining, Frannie Crouse headed a ball off the foot of Megan Schafer that went just wide of the net.

Although the setback marks the Lions' first Big Ten loss this season, it came against a talented opponent.

With the win, Rutgers improved to 10-1-1 on the season and registered its ninth shutout. In total, the Scarlet Knights have given up just four goals in 12 games this season.

"That's a very good Rutgers team, I mean a really good Rutgers team, and there were times when they were playing around us," Walsh said. "We played as if we had a bulls eye on our back today and our details weren't good enough."

Walsh has been at the helm of Penn State for eight years now. She knows that the grind of a season can take its toll on players and that it is next to impossible to win every game.

Still, Walsh believes that there is much the Lions can learn from Saturday's loss. Their success over the past few seasons has established them as one of the premiere programs in the country, and as a result, opponents will always be motivated to beat them.

"These games against Penn State are massive games for these teams and we're going to get everybody's best game," Walsh said. "We need to learn it this way and we are a young team."

With a unique blend of young talent and veteran experience, evidenced by Saturday's starting lineup that featured six returning starters and five freshmen, the Nittany Lions are built for success in both the present and the future.

The focus for Penn State now will be bringing a consistent effort for 90 minutes over its remaining five regular season games, all against Big Ten rivals. Walsh knows her team can do that, having seen them play that way for nearly the entire season.

"As long as we grow from this experience we're going to be better in the end," Walsh said. "The biggest thing is just the leadership and the belief going forward." 

VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame at Michigan

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Head coach James Franklin addresses the media following Saturday's game at Michigan.





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VIDEO: Postgame Player Remarks vs. Michigan

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Several Nittany Lions addresses the media following Saturday's game at Michigan.






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2014 Photo Blog - Penn State at Michigan

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's coverage of the 2014 football season. Check back often for an inside look at the Penn State's primetime trip to Michigan.


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2014 Game Blog - Penn State at Michigan

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014 football season. Tune in for live blog coverage from all 12 games on the schedule. Following a bye week, the Nittany Lions travel to Michigan Stadium for a primetime battle with the Wolverines.


Live Blog 2014 Game Blog - Penn State at Michigan
 



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Lions Rally Late to Tie UConn in Season Opener

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With just under a minute left in the third period of the season opener, the Nittany Lions found themselves trailing UConn, 2-1, in front of the 6,017 fans in attendance at Pegula Ice Arena.

Goalie Matthew Skoff quickly skated off the ice, an extra attacker taking his place, and Penn State made one final push to even the score. As the clock wound down to 48 seconds, the Lions accomplished their mission. David Goodwin found the back of the Huskies' net, forcing an overtime battle.

"I was just kind of there, just kind of whacking and grinding there in front," Goodwin explained. "Honestly, I saw the Roar Zone put their hands up before anything. I saw that and then I put my hands up, and I scored. It was a good sequence of events, but I think [Casey] Bailey shot it and hit [Dylan] Richard's chest. Then [Taylor] Holstrom took it to the net."

Although the game ultimately ended in a 2-2 tie following overtime and an exhibition shootout, head coach Guy Gadowsky had a number of positives to take away from the matchup.

Surprisingly, he also had another list of program "firsts" to add to the Penn State hockey history books.

"Positives would be we scored a shootout goal, which we hadn't in the past," said Gadowsky. "We scored a penalty shot goal, which we hadn't in the past. We came back and scored with 43 seconds, whatever it was, to come back and tie a game. Those are all positives."

The penalty shot, taken by Tommy Olczyk, and the shootout goal, scored by Bailey, both were defining moments for not only the game, but also for the program.

Last season, Penn State's lone penalty shot opportunity was also awarded to Olczyk in a game against Boston College. While he was unable to beat the goalie in that situation, he made his efforts count during the second period Friday night and tallied Penn State's first penalty shot goal.

"I'm definitely not known for my goal scoring, but it's nice to get one there in the way that it happened," said Olczyk. "I'd been in that situation before. The one against BC I was a lot more nervous, so this one I didn't really have any nerves. I just went for it."

Another first, Bailey's shootout goal, ended Penn State's 0-9 shootout attempt streak.

Gadowsky credits much of the team's late-game success to Penn State's student section, which remained lively and active throughout the game, making its presence known.

"You know what, boy the student body was awesome tonight," said Gadowsky following the game. "I actually think they had a lot to do with us tying it up late, which was nice to see. I thought we played really well in the first and didn't have the same jump in the second, but in the end, I mean came back in the third when we were down, pulled the goalie. I think, as I said, the student body deserves a lot of credit for that. They helped a ton."

The Nittany Lions and Huskies will conclude their two-game series Saturday at 3 p.m. at Pegula Ice Arena.

Men's Hockey Blog - PSU vs. UConn (10/10)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Today, the Nittany Lions open their season at home against UConn.

Live Blog Penn State Men's Hockey Blog - vs. UConn (10/10/14)
 


By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four coaches from four distinct parts of the world made their way to Happy Valley this week to work with the Penn State track and field coaching staff and student-athletes as part of the International Coaching Enrichment Certificate Program (ICECP).

ICECP, which begins at the University of Delaware and works through the Unites States Olympic Committee, is a five-week intensive coaches' education program that gives candidates from around the world an opportunity to attend lectures and presentations in the United States for the benefit of their education and career.

Head coach John Gondak and company hosted Letitia Vriesde (Suriname), Andris Eikens (Latvia), Faris Abdulla (Maldives), and Nigatli Worku (Ethiopia) for the entire week sharing with them the track and field facilities, workout routines, coaching strategies, and introducing them to Penn State student-athletes.

Unlike any of their past trainings, the coaches were able to do hands-on work, which they eagerly described as their favorite experience thus far.

 "What I see at Penn State I don't think I will be able to see ever again," said Abdulla, a kids' coordinator for an athletics association. "It is so complex and everything I see here is so wonderful and I hope one day that we will get to this level. Our experience here is different because we finally got hands on experience. This is more practical and technical."

At their future stops, the coaches will be attending lectures and presentations so they were opportunistic in their time here.

"Here we have shared with coaches their practical knowledge and that's very different from attending lectures and doing projects," said Worku, a track and field coach at the national and junior levels. "I have attended a lot of training courses and this is by far the best one."

In their respective home countries, all of the coaches explained the lack of organization between academics and athletics commending the way Penn State intertwines the two. They explained that the structured system the University implements is by far the best method to success they have seen.

"The first thing I noticed at Penn State is that they have a very good system for athletes," said Abdulla.  Their scholarships and the coaching system...they have a systematic way of developing athletes. It is so hard to convince people and parents [back home] that sport is a way of life."

The coaches are pleased to see that Penn State develops athletes to represent themselves and also, their respective schools making athletics and academics a source of pride, which is very different from their normality.

"You are not competing for your university and it's not part of a system," said Vriesde, a coach at the Atlantic Club of the Future. "You go to school and, then, if you like to run, you go and join a club."

They were also blown away by the facilities available to the program. It became apparent to them why the student-athletes are so ambitious and motivated.

"The facilities available for the athletes make me think that there is no reason not to make it to the world class [level]. It's very impressive because back home we basically don't have any facilities, said Vriesde. "We run on grass. It's good to see everything that is done for sport achievement."

"I'm very pleased to see how highly motivated all the athletes are to compete here," said Eikens, a decathlon coach for his country's national team. "There are very, very good facilities and options."

The Nittany Lions impressed them and even though they say it will be decades before they see any change in their countries, they hope to one day work with athletes, parents, and schools as one to shed light on the importance of unity between academics and athletics.

The coaches have three more weeks left in the program and will travel to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado upon their departure from State College.


 

2014 Gameday Preview - Nittany Lions Travel to Michigan

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GAME BLOG: Michigan

Game Notes | Gameday Central | Michigan Scouting Report | Coach Franklin Wednesday

Press Conference Roundup | Coach Hand Q&A | Player Q&A Video

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a bye week, Penn State (4-1, 1-1) returns to action under the lights against Michigan (2-4, 0-2) on Saturday. Kick is slated for 7 p.m. with television coverage on ESPN2.

10418083.jpegThe Lions have posted four-straight on-field victories against the Wolverines, including a thrilling 43-40 four overtime win last season in Happy Valley. Michigan holds a 10-7 edge in the all-time series between the two schools, which both rank in the top 12 of all-time winning percentage in NCAA history.

Through five games, the Penn State defense has been tremendous. The Nittany Lions rank among the top-25 nationally in six defensive categories, including the top 10 in rushing, scoring and total defense. Additionally, Penn State is leading the Big Ten in scoring defense at 14.6 points per game. The unit has allowed 300 yards of total offense in just one game this season.

Sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg continues to rank among the top signal callers in the Big Ten. He is ranked second in the conference with 295.4 passing yards, 22.6 completions and 302.2 yards of total offense per game. The wide receiver duo of DaeSean Hamilton and Geno Lews is only the only set of teammates to rank among the top-25 nationally in receiving yards per game at 100.4 and 99.0, respectively.

Michigan enters Saturday's game looking to snap a three-game losing streak. The Wolverines suffered a narrow 26-24 setback to Rutgers last week. The Wolverines average 354.0 yards per game and remain the Big Ten's only offensive unit to convert all 15 of its red zone chances into points (12 TDs and 3 FGs). Michigan leads the Big Ten and is second nationally in fewest penalties per game at 3.33.

Saturday's game will feature two of the nation's premier college football programs. In addition to ranking among the top 12 in winning percentage, Penn State and Michigan are two of the winningest programs in NCAA history. The two teams are also among the most ranked programs in AP poll history, with the duo combining for 1,378 weeks in the national rankings.

Get primed for the 18th meeting between the Nittany Lions and Wolverines. Welcome to the Gameday Preview for the week six matchup against Michigan.

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Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
10418072.jpeg1. Since joining the Big Ten in 1993, the Nittany Lions are 15-11 in games contested after a bye week. The Lions took full advantage of maximizing last week's practice days. In addition resting the bodies of the primary contributors, head coach James Franklin and the coaching staff stressed film review and corrections as a mode of self-scouting the Nittany Lions as the season nears the mid-way point. Penn State lifted weights and practiced three times before taking a few days off at the latter stages of the week. The Lions returned to practice on Sunday refreshed and focused on the practice week at hand.

2. A big point of emphasis for the Nittany Lions leading up to the sixth game on the schedule is consistency. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg talked to the media earlier this week about the importance of each player on both sides of the ball doing his job on each play. From the pre-snap reads to the play itself, the Nittany Lions are seeking more consistency from each member of the depth chart. With consistency across the starting lineup comes a higher level of execution, which is what the Lions are focused on this week at Michigan.

3. Senior linebacker Mike Hull has been among the most productive defensive players in the Big Ten thus far in 2014. Leading the conference in tackling at 10.6 hits per game, Hull has been a disciplined and effective player throughout Penn State's first five games. The Pittsburgh native has a nose for the football and is a fundamentally sound player when it comes to tackling and putting himself in the proper position to make tackles. The quarterback of the defense, Hull has made 53 tackles in 2014, including 32 solo hits.

What to Watch For - Michigan
10418131.jpeg1. Without the services of starting running back Derrick Green (collarbone), quarterback Devin Gardner and sophomore running back De'Veon Smith become the focal points of the Michigan running game. Gardner is a dynamic player with good size (6-4, 216) and playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. Gardner has completed 63 percent of his passes in 2014, to go along with 131 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

2. The Michigan defense has been stout during the first six games of 2014. The Wolverines are ranked 19th in the nation in total defense, allowing 315.5 yards per game. That figure includes 100.2 rushing yards per game, which ranks 12th in the nation. Michigan has allowed just three rushing touchdowns this season and is holding its opponents to 2.93 yards per rush. Linebackers Joe Bolden and Jake Ryan lead the Wolverine defense with 48 and 46 tackles, respectively.

3. Junior Dennis Norfleet is ranked second in Michigan history in kickoff return yards at 1,977. He is one of just three players in Michigan history with more than 2,000 total return yards. Norfleet is averaging 23.6 yards per return on kickoffs this season. Norfleet also handles the punt return duties for Michigan.


The Final Word:
The Nittany Lions will play their second of three primetime games on Saturday in Michigan. Following the game, Penn State will have played in two road night games for the first time since 2008 (Wisconsin and Ohio State). The 2014 season marks the seventh time since 2000 that the Lions will play multiple night games in the season. It is the 15th-straight season that Penn State has played in at least one night game. Penn State owns a 40-26 on-field record in night games. That includes a 20-10 mark in road games under the lights. This week is just the third night game in Michigan Stadium history, but the first Big Ten night game. This game marks the fourth night game between Penn State and Michigan since 2000. Kick is slated for 7:02 p.m. on ESPN2.


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