Recently in All-Sports Blog Category

VIDEO: James Franklin Press Conference at CVC Golf Outing

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin spent some time with the media on Friday at the 19th Annual Coaches Vs. Cancer Golf Tournament.



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

10415401.jpeg

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior team captain Raquel Rodriguez (San Jose, Costa Rica) and the Costa Rican Women's National Team is hard at work preparing for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, its first appearance in the tournament. On May 25, Las Ticas were defeated, 2-1, by the Mexican Women's National Team in a Mexico City friendly, with a rematch scheduled May 28. Rodriguez recently updated GoPSUSports.com about the journey she is on, representing her country at the World Cup, hosted by Canada this summer.

Rocky's Take

Right now and throughout these past few weeks, we've been trying to get the rhythm back and the friendlies we've been playing serve that purpose. The team has been focusing on tactical strategies and practicing those. 

It's a little frustrating to have these games so close to the World Cup; however, there is no time to lose and much work to do. We've only played against Mexico so far and the games have been vital for us to get us back into a rhythm and practice what we want to apply at the World Cup.

As a player in Costa Rica, one would wish the environment would be just like the men's World Cup, but the reality of women soccer in our country is a different one. The media has been covering basic and general news, but it could definitely be better. Unfortunately, I don't think our country or the media in our country realizes the big deal this is, but this is part of what this team has been dealing with for years. Women's soccer in Costa Rica is improving and developing, and we recognize change doesn't come from night to morning. 

The team has been through tough moments together outside the field throughout several years now. This has created a family and has bonded our team for good and makes us fighters in the field. This group has been growing together and the unity that we have has been a product of that. 

When we have free time, we get together and joke around. The different personalities in the team are so varied and each of them contributes to the fun times we spend together. It's the little things that keep us together and loose, and I feel like our bond comes naturally. Additionally, there are two other players who play at colleges in the States. In the past, we would compare and contrast the styles and methods between the American and the Costa Rican and take the best out of both and recognize the not so best. 

Overall, we have the mentality that we want to compete instead of just participating. I'm looking forward to the matches against Colombia. 

--Rocky

Las Ticas continue preparation leading up to the Women's World Cup with a second friendly in Mexico City against the Mexican Women's National Team on May 28. The team will play a final pre-Women's World Cup friendly against Columbian Women's National Team on May 31 at Metro State in Denver, Colo., before beginning the Women's World Cup against Spain on June 9.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Months of physical preparation boil down to one weekend.

Eleven men and 15 women from the Penn State track and field squads will push themselves to the limit as they compete in the NCAA East Preliminary Round this Thursday through Saturday. 

This is the competition track and field athletes prepare for all season with the goal of a top-12 finish in their respective event to move on to the NCAA Championships.

Familiarity of the competition is part of an advantage first round veterans have.

"If you're at a facility that you've been at before where you've had success before, you know your way around, it really goes a long way with helping you relax, be confident and comfortable," said head coach John Gondak.

Penn State will be just that as 14 of the 26 student-athletes have competed in the NCAA first round in Jacksonville.

Mental preparation builds off of confidence; a characteristic Gondak and his staff work to build with each student-athlete throughout the season.

"At the end of the day, they're the ones that have to do it. They have to believe they're ready," said Gondak. 

Without a doubt, the Nittany Lions are ready.  

The men's team ranks 15th, contains three top-ranked athletes and seven returners. Ranked No. 1 in the shot put, Darrell Hill looks for a standout performance to move on for the second time in his career. Hill won the Big Ten title in the shot put just two weeks ago. 

Ranked fifth in the region and Big Ten Champion in the javelin throw, Michael Shuey will throw for a shot at competing in Oregon. Joining Shuey is redshirt freshman Ryan Kerr.

Also top-ranked and looking to punch his second ticket to Oregon, Brannon Kidder will run in the 800-meter. Joining Kidder is fellow Nittany Lion Robert Rhodes. 

Junior Robby Creese is ready for a comeback performance after redshirting last spring. Entering the competition, the senior ranks No. 1 in the 1,500-meter run.

On the women's side, 15 Nittany Lions are set to compete, including seven veterans representing Penn State in 12 events.

Most recently breaking the Penn State school record with a silver medal throw (56-0) in the shot put at the Big Ten Championships; Rachel Fatherly enters the competition ranked No. 4. Joining Fatherly in the shot put competition are Alyssa Robinson and Obeng Marfo.

Also competing in the field, Lexi Masterson will compete in the women's pole vault; Danielle Gibson will take on the long jump and triple jump.

After notching a silver medal at the Big Ten Championships, Tori Gerlach will represent the Blue and White in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 5,000-meter run. Elizabeth Chikotas will make her first round debut in the 5,000-meter as a freshman. 

Fellow runners Dynasty McGee and Tichina Rhodes will compete in the 400-meter dash and the 4x400-m.

The 2015 NCAA Preliminary will begin on Thursday, May 28 and conclude on Saturday, May 30. Follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC for live updates.

  

 

 

2015 Coaches Caravan Day VI - Lehigh Valley & Wilkes-Barre

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Day IV Recap - Philadelphia & Langhorne | Day V Recap - New York & New Jersey

Photo Gallery - Lehigh Valley | Photo Gallery - Wilks-Barre

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - After more than 1,300 miles on the road, the 2015 Penn State Coaches Caravan drew to a close on Thursday evening inside Wilkes-Barre's F.M. Kirby Center before a crowd of 300 enthusiastic Penn State fans.

More than 2,500 fans attended the 12 stops during the month of May. The Caravan spanned across eight locations in Pennsylvania, in addition to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City and New Jersey. In all, five different head coaches and eight football assistant coaches joined head coach James Franklin during at least one stop since the Coaches Caravan began on May 3 in Harrisburg.

"The most important thing about the Caravan, in my opinion, is to say thank you to everyone," Franklin said. "Going out into these communities around the state, in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and D.C., and taking time to thank you and let you know how much we truly appreciate the support, the commitment and the passion you have for our great University and for our athletic programs is unbelievable."

The final two stops of the tour visited two areas full of Penn State followers. Thursday's lunch stop took place in front of nearly 250 fans in the Lehigh Valley (Breinigsville) before the final evening reception inside the historic F.M. Kirby Center, which was built in 1938 downtown Wilkes-Barre.

The coaching lineup for day six of the Coaches Caravan featured Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson. A visit to a restaurant appropriately named "Franklin's" in Wilkes-Barre, an appearance from the Nittany Lion on the bus and more stand-up comedy from Sanderson headlined the final day's festivities on the road.

The Wilkes-Barre stop marked the final Caravan event for Roger Williams, executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, who is set to retire on June 30. Williams, who as served as executive director for 12 years, has been an integral part of the Coaches Caravan programs since its inception in the spring of 2012. Williams has been a superb lead off man for all 59 Caravan stops during the last four years and his enthusiastic "We Are" chants and incredible passion will be missed. Rose asked the fans in Wilkes-Barre to give Williams a standing ovation for his final stop on the Caravan.


A big thank you goes out to the more than 2,500 loyal Penn State fans and alums that made the Coaches Caravan a resounding success for the fourth-straight spring. Like each of coaches said at one point or another during the two weeks on the road, the support Penn State Athletics received is truly unrivaled, and it's because of people like those who spent time attending stops on the Caravan.

And again, a big tip of the cap goes out to Fullington Trailways ace driver Gottfried Fodor, who did a superb job behind the wheel of the Caravan bus for the fourth-straight year. Since the inception of the Caravan in 2012, Fodor has wheeled the coaches and staff members across 6,937 miles through eight states and the District of Columbia.

We look forward to seeing the fans back on the road in 2016. Take a look through some photo highlights from the final two stops on Thursday.


Stop No. 11 - Lehigh Valley (Holiday Inn Allentown - I-78)
caravan2015_LV_3.jpgcaravan2015_LV_1.jpgVideo: Lehigh Valley Press Conference



Stop No. 12 - Wilkes-Barre (F.M. Kirby Center)
caravan2015_WB_1.jpgcaravan2015_WB_2.jpgcaravan2015_WB_3.jpgVideo: Wilkes-Barre Press Conference



2015 Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day I - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles
Day VI - 270 miles

Caravan Total - 1,312 miles


caravan_WB_bus.jpg

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

11117782.jpegBy Jen Heisel, GoPSUsports.com Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior team captain Raquel Rodriguez recently returned to her native Costa Rica to train with the Women's National Team in preparation for Las Ticas' first FIFA Women's World Cup appearance after a historic second-place finish at the 2014 Women's CONCACAF Tournament. GoPSUSports.com recently caught up with the reigning Big Ten Midfielder of the Year about her experience preparing for the international tournament, hosted by Canada this summer.

Rocky's Take

Since I finished all of my finals, I've been with the national team. We started training last week and will continue to do so this week. Staying together, getting the rhythm back again and bringing back our chemistry are what we're focusing on. 

We will be playing a few friendlies against Mexico and Columbia before the tournament to prepare. The games will be vital for this and, of course, to apply what we've been training. All training is soccer specific so skills and real game application is always present in our trainings. 

I think our national team coaching staff does a great. I do share soccer things I've learned at Penn State, such as communicating in the field by giving instruction. Our coach has been trying to balance the time we spend together during these two weeks because in the next month or so, we will be together 24/7. However, we will go to the movies tomorrow night. I think this group doesn't need bonding-specific activities to unify; we already enjoy each other's company a lot. 

After CONCACAF, we have raised our standards and we won't settle for anything less than what we've shown we can do. Our mindset has changed and we already decided we will go and compete and stay together like we did in CONCACAF and respect each other. The expectations are also higher than they've been in the past. The idea is to always improve and progress. I expect a good performance from our team, a confident and smart team

--Rocky

Next Up

Las Ticas play the Mexican Women's National Team on May 25 and 28 in Mexico City and the Columbian Women's National Team on May 31 at Metro State in Denver, Colo. The team opens the Women's World Cup against Spain on June 9.

11118398.jpeg

2015 Coaches Caravan Day V - New York City & New Jersey

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


Coaches Caravan Registration | Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Photo Gallery - New York City | Photo Gallery - New Jersey

Day IV Recap (Philadelphia & Langhorne) - Photos, Video & More

NEW YORK - The Coaches Caravan paid its annual visits to New York City and New Jersey on day two of the second leg on Wednesday.

After two great events in the Philadelphia area, the bus traveled north to Midtown Manhattan for a stop inside the Edison Ballroom. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 9 - New York City (Edison Ballroom)
For the second time in three years on the Caravan, Edison Ballroom on 47th Street in Midtown played host to the Coaches Caravan stop in New York. It's always special when the Nittany Lion contingent pays a visit to the Big Apple, and with a superb lineup of coaches again on Wednesday - Patrick Chambers, James Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson - Wednesday's lunch was terrific.

On the heels of the thrilling Pinstripe Bowl victory in December, the folks in the room gave a rousing cheer when Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour opened the speeches by talking about the special night in Yankee Stadium.

With more than 32,000 alums in the metro area, it's shaping up to be a big year ahead for Penn State Athletics and New York City. Chambers and the Nittany Lion basketball team are slated to meet Michigan in a unique doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. On January 30, 2016, the Nittany Lions will take on the Wolverines on the hardwood and ice.

"We love coming to New York, and we hope everyone in this room makes MSG like Yankee Stadium was during the Pinstripe Bowl," Chambers said.

In addition to the hoops and hockey games in MSG, the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships are set to take place in The Garden from May 17-19. It will mark the first time that the championships will take place in Manhattan, and Sanderson is looking forward to a strong Penn State contingent cheering on the Blue and White.

"That's something we are really excited about. When we saw that, we were very excited about that," Sanderson said. "We are going to have a solid team, so we are excited to come back."

New York is a place Coach Rose always loves visiting. It's a place he has spent a great deal of time at, and on Wednesday he shared a great tale of a trip to Manhattan with legendary head coach Joe Paterno. Rose said the last time he was in town for a big sporting event was when the Nittany Lion basketball team captured the 2009 NIT title. He traveled to the game in Manhattan with Coach Paterno and shared about the time the two walked the streets of Midtown on the way to the game, with Coach Paterno stopping for a hot dog while mingling with folks on the streets of NYC.

Much of Wednesday's program felt like a comedy act, especially from Sanderson, whose one-liners had the room roaring during his 12-minute speech. Chambers also took some time to share a few things he has learned on the bus during the trip. The list included that he has learned what wrestlers wear for matches are not known as "tights", rather they are called singlets and that he was nine when Coach Rose began his tenure at Penn State in 1979.

The quartet of coaches is a tremendous group of ambassadors for the athletic program, and they are all individuals who love to have fun. Their personalities feed off of one another, and the New York crowd was treated to an event filled with laughter and insight as to why Penn State is in great hands with the current coaching lineup.

caravan2015_NYC_1.jpgcaravan2015_NYC_3.jpg
VIDEO: New York City Press Conference


Stop No. 10 - New Jersey (Hilton Hotel Parsippany)
For the first time in the Caravan's four-year history, an evening reception was held in New Jersey on Wednesday. In previous years, the Caravan visited the Garden State and the host of Penn State alums during lunch stops.

Much like New York, Coach Chambers triggered the crowd with an opening speech that had the room roaring with approval. He called the Nittany Lion up on to the stage to help lead a series of cheers to get the crowd engaged and then had the Lion knock out some one-armed pushups.

Wednesday night marked the final stop for Chambers during his stint on the Caravan this year. The leader of Nittany Lion Basketball has been part of the events since the idea began in 2012. He is a tremendous speaker in a public setting, and Chambers is a superbly passionate individual about his role as an ambassador and leader for not only men's basketball, but Penn State in general.

caravanNJ_2015_1.jpg No one has more respect for what he has accomplished at Penn State than Coach Rose. He has led the Nittany Lions to seven national titles, including six of the last eight years. A big piece to the volleyball team's success has been the talent Rose has recruited out of New Jersey, including Ridgewood, New Jersey, native and All-American Ariel Scott.

"New Jersey has been very good to the Penn State volleyball team during the time I have been in Happy Valley," said Rose.

Sanderson followed Rose with another stand-up act with jokes about everyone on stage. The rooms tend to laugh from start to finish during Sanderson's speeches, and he rarely refers to his notes. As fierce of a competitor as college sports has ever seen, Sanderson is equally as personable when he gets in front of a crowd. That's in large part due to his love for the fan base.

"The thing that inspires me is when we get out on the road and you hear the passion for the University and the programs we coach," Sanderson said. "That's what makes Penn State a special place. You just see the support everywhere you go."

Speaking of passion, Franklin wrapped up the evening's speakers with a speech that left everyone in the room excited for the seasons ahead. The foundation is in place for the football program Franklin envisioned when he took the job 16 months ago.

He's said from stop one on the Caravan, but it rings true every time he addresses a crowd, "I'm more excited about the future for Penn State Football today than I was when I got the job. Why is that? Because I believe in Penn State."

The 2015 Coaches Caravan will conclude on Thursday with stops in the Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre.

caravanNJ_2015_2.jpg
Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles

Caravan Total - 1,042 miles


caravan_bus_langhorne.jpg


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

By Michael Shuey, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This past weekend we traveled to the Big Ten Championships in East Lansing, Michigan. The weather for all three days was somewhat cloudy and around 70 degrees. Safe to say that this year's weather at the Big Ten meet was far better than the last time Michigan State hosted it when it snowed.

Day one of the championships started off with men's hammer throw where redshirt freshman Kory Decesaris had a huge 11-foot PR with his throw of 198-5. This mark moved him to No. 6 all-time at Penn State. Also with a PR in the hammer, was Justin Berg with a mark of 185-5. The women's hammer throw had their share of PRs for Penn State with Rachel Fatherly placing eighth with a throw of 191-9. Wrapping up day one was the 10k with Glen Burkhardt and Matt Fischer. Burkhardt finished fourth in his first outdoor Big Tens and Fischer placed sixth.

Day two started off with an exciting finish of the women's heptathlon by Tal Ben-Artzi with a fifth place finish by scoring 4,937. On the track Tichina Rhodes had a huge PR in the 400-meter dash by running 53.65, which moved her in to finals along with Dynasty McGee. In the women's discus, Obeng Marfo threw a 15-foot PR, 170-1, which placed her sixth. Finishing day two was the women's 3000 meter steeplechase with Tori Gerlach capturing a second place finish with a time of 10:13.33.

Day three started off with the first champion on the men's side with Darrel Hill defending his title by throwing the shot put 66-3.25. On the women's side Dannielle Gibson placed third in the women's triple jump with a jump of 42-3.5. On the track, Sancho Barret posted a fifth-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.71, followed by the finish of the 400-meter dash where Dynasty McGee was third with a time of 53.59. The second champion was Brannon Kidder in the men's 800-meter run with a time of 1:47.56. In the field action, Rachel Fatherly finished second in the shot put with a school record mark of 56-3.25 and Obeng Marfo placed fourth with a personal-best throw of 52-6. In the men's javelin, I won the title with a throw of 236-8 and my teammate Ryan Kerr finished third with a throw of 229-2. The 5,000-meter race finished with Glen Burkhardt capturing his second fourth-place finish of the championships.

Neither the men's or women's side came out of the championships with a team win, but at the end of the day we had strong performances all over the board and showed great Penn State pride throughout the three days of competition.

VIDEO: Coaches Caravan Interview with John Donovan

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Offensive coordinator and tight ends coach John Donovan talked with GoPSUsports.com during the Coaches Caravan stop in Lancaster to provide an update on recruiting and review spring practice from the offensive side of the ball. Take a look.





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

2015 Coaches Caravan Day IV - Philadelphia & Langhorne

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


Coaches Caravan Registration | Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Photo Gallery - Philadelphia | Photo Gallery - Langhorne

PHILADELPHIA - Leg two of the 2015 Coaches Caravan kicked off on Tuesday with a pair of stops before two great crowds in the Philadelphia area.

The Penn State Fullington Trailways rolled out of the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot just after 6:45 a.m. en route to downtown Philadelphia for stop No. 7 of the Caravan inside the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 7 - Philadelphia (Hyatt at the Bellevue)
Week two of the Coaches Caravan is set to be a treat for the fans in attendance. The coaching lineup is a who's who of leaders in Happy Valley, featuring Patrick Chambers (men's basketball), James Franklin (football), Russ Rose (women's volleyball) and Cael Sanderson (wrestling). It's rare to have four of the highest profile head coaches sitting in the same room and speaking to a crowd of passionate Penn Staters.

Nearly 100,000 Penn State alums call the Philadelphia area home, and for Chambers and Franklin the stops in Philly are a homecoming. Hailing from Newtown Square, Chambers is always fired up to spend time talking in front of his hometown crowd.

"It's a lot of fun to have a bunch of Philly guys with us here today," Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said during the program's introduction.

Chambers kicked off the coach speeches on Tuesday with some humor.

"They chose me because I have the most hair of all the coaches," Chambers joked.

The room roared as he continued to poke fun at the other coaches on stage. Chambers has a great deal of positivity to convey about the direction of the Nittany Lion basketball program. From the team's finish at the Big Ten Tournament to the program's incoming recruiting class that ranks as the program's all-time best, the men's hoops program is on its way to a place Chambers is excited about.

"We are taking the right steps," Chambers said. "We are headed in the right direction. We are getting there. It is a process."

caravan2015_philly_1.jpgRose followed Chambers with remarks about a University he has called home for the past 36 years. The women's volleyball program's accolades speak for themselves, as do Rose's individual accomplishments. But what makes Rose so unique is that he does not care about the individual awards and honors, he cares more about the well being of Penn State as a whole.

"When Penn State wins a championship in any of our sports, we all win," Rose said. "It's not about individuals or individual teams. When one team wins, we all win."

Continuing with that theme, Sanderson has set the benchmark for success in college athletics, but never draws attention to individual accomplishments. The process of reaching the peak of success is all about approach to Coach Sanderson.

"Whatever you tell your student-athletes, you tell yourself the same thing," Sanderson. "These guys (up here on stage) live what they preach."

Franklin is a living example of what Sanderson talked about. He has spent the first 16 months on campus laying the foundation of the Penn State football program. Franklin believes in the process, and he is embracing the work that goes into being a successful program on the field and in the classroom.

"One of things we love so much about Penn State is the standard (everyone sets)," Franklin said as he looked at his fellow coaches on stage.

All four coaches on the Caravan are tremendous ambassadors for the University, largely because of their passion for the jobs they do. They all love the school and know what it means to be a Penn Stater long after the time when individuals receive their diplomas, much like the crowd in the room.

"It's part of a family and a relationship that carries on for much longer than the four years (people are on campus). That's why it is so special," said Sanderson.

caravan2015_philly_2.jpg
VIDEO: Philadelphia Press Conference




Stop No. 8 - Langhorne (Sheraton Bucks County Hotel)
Following lunch on Broad Street in Center City, the Caravan bus moved to Langhorne for the week's first evening reception. Just four miles from the childhood home of Coach Franklin, a crowd of more than 250 loyal fans attended the program inside the Sheraton Bucks County Hotel.

Several friends and family members of Coach Franklin, including his sister Debbie, spent the evening with the Coaches Caravan in Langhorne. It was a special day all around for Franklin. Visitor after visitor said hello to the leader of the Nittany Lions during both stops throughout a day in his hometown. At the lunch stop, Franklin's second grade school teacher waited in the photo booth line before surprising Franklin.

"It's really cool to be back here today," Franklin said. "This has been a big part of my life, and it's really cool to be back.

The Langhorne crowd was among the best thus far during the two weeks of the Caravan. The group was engaged and lively from start to finish during the program. Barbour opened the evening by explaining to the room how important the "why" is for the growth and development of the department.

"It all begins with the why," Barbour said. "Our purpose at Penn State is about delivering a world class student-athlete experience for more than 800 student-athletes.

You can't begin to think of four better representatives of Penn State's "why" than Chambers, Rose, Sanderson and Franklin.

Chambers has a way of making everyone in the room feeling so positive about Penn State. He led a rousing chant at the beginning of his speech that brought the room to a roar.

He yelled, "it's a great day to be a...." before the fans in the audience finished the remark, "to be a Nittany Lion." Chambers brings so much enthusiasm to a room that is infectious. And when it happens in Philly, his hometown fans love it.


Rose followed Chambers with a speech on why Penn State is truly unique as an athletic department. Every team matters to him. Why? It's because Penn State means everything to Rose, and that's why he has been so prideful as a leader for 36 years.

"I want to thank you for all of the things you do and the dreams and passion you bring to the University," Rose told the crowd.

Sanderson had the crowd in stiches with his one-liners and humor on Tuesday evening, but like the other coaches on stage, his message and passion are clear.

"Penn State is unique, and it's unique because of people like you," said Sanderson.

The Caravan heads to New York City and New Jersey on Wednesday.
    

caravan2015_langhorne_1.jpgcaravan2015_Langhorne_2.jpg

VIDEO: Langhorne Press Conference Video




Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles

Caravan Total - 935 miles


caravan_bus_langhorne.jpg


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


Nittany Lions Look Back on Historic Season

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
11055365-2.jpeg
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Playing its first season in the Big Ten Conference, the Penn State women's lacrosse team knew this year would be filled with challenges and triumphs. The team battled hard, winning 16 games for the first time since 1989 and making the NCAA Quarterfinals for the third time in four years.

Nevertheless, the team's greatest feat came in the form of a first for the program and its conference. Despite the competition, the Nittany Lions were crowned the first-ever Big Ten Champions. With all of these accomplishments, it is clear that this program is destined to excel.

"It was a really fun year," said head coach Missy Doherty. "I think from day one it was a really good energy on the team. When we started, we had to shift a couple players due to injury and asked a lot of some young players. I think they really did their job stepping up, and thankfully we had some really great wins this year. We're Big Ten Champs, and I certainly think we have a lot to be proud of."

The growth and dominance of the team's defense is one aspect Doherty and the rest of the Nittany Lions are especially proud of because at the start of the season, it was not a strong point. Injuries required a lot of shuffling, and when all was said and done the team's core defenders were made up of a number of former attackers.

Sophomore Natalie Schmitt shifted to defense, as did Abby Smucker. The two really bolstered the Lions on the back end and had to make numerous adjustments as they gained a greater understanding for the position throughout the season.

Smucker, who seemed to captain the young defense, really stood out as her performances solidified the team. She was even named the Big Ten Tournament MVP for her play, showing just how hard she and the rest of the defense worked to improve.

This strong play from the D, in addition to the team's balance offense, played a key role in the team's success, especially in the newly formed Big Ten Conference.

"I think that we're really a tough conference, and I think we're continuing to grow with all the exposure that we get through the Big Ten Network," said Doherty. "It just really feels like our sport is taking off across the country, which is awesome. So, we had some great exposure. I thought the tournament was exciting, and our season finale against Maryland was really exciting. I think everyone can see that we're a really competitive conference."

With teams like Northwestern and Maryland as conference rivals, winning the Big Ten Tournament was all the more special for the Nittany Lions. Penn State had to work hard and play its best games possible to come out on top, and that is exactly what it did.

The Nittany Lions will forever be the first Big Ten Champions, and that is an accomplishment that can never be taken away from them.

"I would probably say winning the Big Ten Tournament," said Doherty of the team's biggest accomplishment in the 2015 season. "It was the first year for our conference and we went in with really great teams. We beat Northwestern twice, which was a really amazing feat given their history and how good they are. I think that was a big step for us, and then getting a tough draw for NCAAs and making it through the Virginia weekend was just another really good weekend for us."

These big wins and strong play would not have been possible without the dominant Nittany Lion offense. Captain Maggie McCormick led the way with 67 points, becoming Penn State's all-time leader in assists with 137 in her four-year career. She registered 43 this season alone.

McCormick was not the team's only offensive weapon, as it had nine players reach at least 10 goals. Tatum Coffey, Steph Lazo and Madison Cyr each had 43, 41 and 38 goals respectively. When one player was shut down, Penn State always had another attacker ready.

The Lions were dangerous all season long. They played a number of close games, were ranked nationally on a consistent basis and were the first Big Ten Champions. The team will lose nine seniors next year but returns a majority of its starters. The future of Penn State lacrosse is as bright as ever.

"I think after this year specifically, we've begun to establish ourselves as a top team nationally," said Doherty. "I think sometimes it's hard to keep pushing open doors and keep turning corners, but I think this year, especially with our Big Ten win and our wins over some really great teams, really helped establish our program as a team that's going to compete for those top spots. The girls know the energy we put into this season and how hard we worked. They're ready to do that again."