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Lions Looking to Build on Road Victories

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10394883 (1).jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's volleyball team faced adversity two weeks ago as they fell to No. 15 Illinois in a 3-1 match, but the Lions roared back on the road last weekend to earn two-straight wins.

Now, Penn State is looking to carry that momentum into a pair of home matches.


Penn State headed to No. 14 Purdue last Friday evening and came out victorious in a tough five-set (26-24, 23-25, 22-25, 25-23, 15-9) battle. The Nittany Lions won the first set, but came up short in the next two sets. The team was able to regroup and collect themselves to regain momentum and win the following two sets and the match.

"We stayed confident in each other [when we were down a set] and trusted our ability in things we've done in practice and fighting hard for every point," said senior Dominique Gonzalez. "I think the belief that we have in each other and the confidence that we had that we could pull it out really helped us."

Penn State's momentum continued into the next night as the Nittany Lions swept Indiana (25-11, 25-19, 25-15) at University Gym.

"It was a huge team effort," said junior Aiyana Whitney. "The hunger proved ourselves that we can do great things and we can win matches, like those tight matches in hostile environments and that's something we really wanted, so we rallied as a team to better the team effort."

This weekend, the Nittany Lions hope to continue their drive from their two wins as they return to Rec Hall to take on Michigan at 7 p.m. on Friday evening and Michigan State at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday evening.

"I think [winning] builds a little team morale," said Gonzalez. "We kind of needed those wins. It was a battle at Purdue, so that helped out a lot, but going into this weekend, they're two different teams that fight very hard and they're coming to Rec Hall, but that doesn't mean anything if we don't play the way we should play. They're two really tough teams. Michigan beat Nebraska, which is a great win, so they're strong teams with great setters and great offense and defense and it's going to be a tough matchup, but we're preparing the best way we can."

In preparation for this weekend's matchups, focus has been high on the practice court this week.

"We have been working a lot on our blocking," said Whitney. "We've been putting a lot of time and effort into trying to make that more of a strength rather than a weakness, so I think that's something we want to emphasize on this weekend knowing that these are great attacking teams and that's something we definitely need to step up if we want to be successful this weekend."

With a good week of practice and more confidence, the team is ready for this weekend.

"We're feeling a little better about where we are. I think we're pretty focused in practice, so I would love for [our confidence and momentum] to carry into the matches this weekend," said Whitney.

Though there is still a long season ahead, the players want to focus on taking each match one at a time.

"We're trying to be focused on every match as best we can and focused on playing every team as hard as we can, said Gonzalez. "We have to take one match at a time. We can't look past any match or look onto the tournament until we get through conference."

Whitney echoes her teammate and believes that the team has a lot to build on for the future.

"I think this team has great potential. I know that everyone thinks we're super young and that's true, but I think we can do great things. We're working hard right now, so down the road, we're playing to our fullest potential," said Whitney.

VIDEO: James Franklin Practice Update - Ohio State Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin provided an update to the media following Wednesday's practice session at the Lasch Football Complex. The Nittany Lions return to action on Saturday (8 p.m. on ABC) against Ohio State.






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Newbill Ready to Lead Nittany Lions

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9857407.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- While the position may be familiar, the circumstances have certainly changed for D.J. Newbill.

For the second time in three years, the senior finds himself as the starting point guard of the Nittany Lion basketball team, having played there for nearly the entire 2012-'13 season. This time around however, he's a bit more prepared for the challenge.

In 2012, Newbill was thrown into the fire when star point guard Tim Frazier went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon four games into the season, and was forced to play a position he was unfamiliar with.

Two years later, with a year of experience playing the point and an All-Big Ten nod as a shooting guard last year under his belt, the Philadelphia native is ready to resume ball-handling duties once more.

"I think I'm very comfortable," Newbill said. "Coming into the season, I didn't know if I was [playing point] so I prepared myself just in case.

"But I'm sure coach is going to play me some at the point. All offseason I worked on ball handling and things like that so I'm feeling pretty comfortable."

Although head coach Patrick Chambers currently has Newbill penciled in as the team's point guard, it is likely that the senior will play both on and off the ball throughout the season.

One of the best offensive players in the Big Ten, Newbill finished second in the conference in scoring average last season with 17.8 points per game and has led the Lions in scoring the past two seasons.

The key for the Newbill this year will be increasing his assist total now that Frazier, the program's all-time assist leader, has graduated. While he averaged just 1.7 dimes last season playing mainly as the shooting guard, he averaged a more robust 4.0 when playing the point as a sophomore.

"Whatever's going to make our team the most successful, whether it's him on the ball or him off the ball," Chambers said. "Because he's very efficient, and you can see his numbers from last year, and he does a great job of reading ball screens."

Not only will Penn State need Newbill to help replace Frazier's passing skills, it will also need him to fill the leadership void left by the departed guard.

A five-year player, Frazier not only was one of the greatest players in Penn State history, but also the voice of the team and the face of the program.

Now that he has gone, the Lions will look to Newbill to help fill those roles and also assist fellow captains senior forward Ross Travis, junior forward Brandon Taylor and senior guard Kevin Montminy grow as leaders themselves.

"For all of us, it's coming to practice everyday and raising the level of competition and trying to maximize guy's ability everyday in practice," Newbill said. "Ultimately, we're all leaders of the team so I think it's good when the guys see us stepping up and taking that role, especially for the younger guys."

For Newbill, leading by example is especially important, as the Nittany Lions have a host of new guards for him to mentor.

Currently, Penn State has true freshmen Shep Garner and Isaiah Washington and junior and Vincennes University transfer Devin Foster battling for playing time.

"I think Devin might be one of the best passers I've seen in a long time," Newbill said. "His decision making coming out of the pick and roll is one of the best I've seen coming through this program.

"Isaiah, I think he's going to be a great defender for us, he's long and athletic. And Shep is just going to be a tough nosed guard, coming in playing hard every possession and defending and rebounding."

The development of those players will be key to the success of the Nittany Lions, as it will give Chambers the flexibility to play Newbill at both guards spots.

Even if Newbill does stay at the point full-time, he will need someone to spell him for a breather once in a while. As much as Chambers relies on the skills of the 6-foot-4 guard, he knows it isn't in the best interest of the team to overuse him.

"When you rely on Tim [Frazier] like we did and now we're trying to fight that with D.J.," Chambers said. "He's such a constant and he's so reliable and very efficient that you want him out there for 40 minutes. I take him out of practice now because we have to learn to play without him on the floor.

"We're starting to earn the trust [with the backups] where I believe they'll come in and lift us up."

What Chambers likes the most about his team's guard situation is that he has plenty of options to choose from. Making that possible is Newbill, who has stated he doesn't mind what spot he plays as long as the team is winning.


"D.J. Newbill wants to do what's best for this team," Chambers said. "Whether that is the one or the two." 

2014 Opponent Previews - Ohio State

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10458955.jpegOhio State | Beaver Stadium | 8 p.m. | ABC

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions take on No. 12/13 Ohio State on Saturday in a primetime matchup.  Get to know the Buckeyes in this week's scouting report.

Urban Meyer, who is in his third year leading the Buckeyes, owns a 29-3 record at the school and a career mark of 133-26.  The scarlet and gray are coming off a 2013 campaign in which they went 12-2, including 8-0 in the Big Ten and played in the Orange Bowl.  The Buckeyes returned 38 letterman and 10 starters.

Ohio State improved to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten last weekend with a 56-17 victory against Rutgers.  The Buckeyes compiled 585 yards, including 324 on the ground.  Quarterback J.T. Barrett continued a strong year, completing 19-of-31 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns.  The redshirt freshman added 107 yards and two scores rushing.  Six different Buckeyes got at least four carries, with Ezekiel Elliott leading the way with 69 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Curtis Samuel added 59 yards on four carries and Rod Smith scored on a 3-yard run.  Receiver Michael Thomas caught four passes for 55 yards, while fellow wideout Evan Spencer caught a touchdown pass.  Tight end Nick Vannett caught two touchdown passes, totaling 38 yards.

The Buckeye defense allowed 345 yards and forced three turnovers.  They also totaled nine tackles for loss and four sacks.  Cornerback Doran Grant and linebacker Joshua Perry tied for a team-leading seven tackles.  Grant added an interception.  Defensive end Joey Bosa made five stops, including two sacks.  Rashad Frazier and Damon Webb each forced a fumble, with Eli Apple returning a fumble four yards for a touchdown. 

Ohio State's offense ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 46.5 points per game and has scored at least 50 points in each of their last four games.  The Buckeyes lead the conference in total offense, averaging 533.8 yards per game.  They average 259.8 yards on the ground and 274 yards through the air, ranking fifth and third in the conference, respectively.

Replacing the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Braxton Miller, is not an easy task. But after Miller suffered a right shoulder injury during preseason practice, Barrett stepped up into the starting role and has not looked back.  Barrett leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency, passing touchdowns and total yards per game and ranks second in passing yards per game. The redshirt freshman has completed over 65 percent of his passes for 1,615 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions.  He has also added 383 yards and four touchdowns rushing.  In his last four games, Barrett has thrown 17 touchdown passes and only one interception, with at least four touchdowns in each game.

Elliott leads a host of options at running back with 531 yards and four touchdowns on 91 carries, good for an average of 5.8 yards per carry.  Elliott is also very involved in the passing game, with 14 catches for 137 yards.  Samuel, a 5-foot-11 freshman, averages seven yards per carry with a total of 251 yards and two scores. The 6-foot-3, 231-pound senior Smith has added four touchdowns and101 yards on 24 carries and also has a receiving touchdown.

In the passing game, nine different players are averaging at least one catch per game.  Thomas, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, leads the group with 21 catches for 377 yards and five touchdowns.  He averages 18 yards per reception. Six-foot-one senior Devin Smith averages nearly 30 yards per catch, with a total of 355 yards and five scores on 12 catches.  Senior Evan Spencer has added 73 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions. H-Back Dontre Wilson, a speedy player at 5-foot-10, has caught 14 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown, while fellow H-Back Jalin Marshall, 5-foot-11, has nine catches for 97 yards and two scores.  Vannett leads the tight ends with 10 receptions for 120 yards and three touchdowns.

The Buckeye offensive line includes a senior, two juniors, a redshirt sophomore and a redshirt freshman.

Defensively, Ohio State allows 20.2 points per game, ranking fourth in the Big Ten. They also rank fifth in the conference in total defense, giving up 319.5 yards per contest.  The Buckeyes allow only 181.7 yards passing, ranking 2nd in the conference, and 137.8 yards rushing, ranking sixth.  Ohio State has forced 14 turnovers, including 10 interceptions, and rank third in the conference with a plus-five turnover margin. Eight different Buckeyes have at least one interception.

The Buckeyes boast one of the top defensive lines in the nation, led by sophomore Joey Bosa.  The 6-foot-5, 278-pound Bosa has a rare blend of power and quickness, as shown by his nine tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in 2014.  He leads the Big Ten, averaging 1.5 TFL per game, and has forced three fumbles.  Joining Bosa is 6-foot-2, 288-pound senior tackle Michael Bennett, who has three tackles for loss, a sack and has batted down two passes. Fellow tackle Adolphus Washington has recorded 14 stops, four for loss and a sack.

At the linebacker position, Perry leads the defense with 45 tackles, including 27 solo, and three for loss. He also has 0.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.  Senior Curtis Grant has 32 stops this year, with 13 solo, three for loss and a sack.  Freshman Darron Lee has recorded 27 tackles, including six for loss, two sacks and an interception.  Lee also returned a fumble 61 yards for a touchdown against Navy.

Senior Doran Grant leads the secondary. The cornerback has made 24 tackles this year (19 solo).  He also has two interceptions and four pass breakups.  On the other side of the field is freshman cornerback Eli Apple, who has two interceptions and three pass breakups.  Safeties Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell have recorded 35 and 33 tackles, respectively, and each has an interception.

Kicker Sean Nuernberger has connected on six of his nine attempts, including a long of 46 yards.  Kyle Clinton handles the kickoff duties, averaging 62 yards per kick with 16 touchbacks.  Punter Cameron Johnston averages 44.2 yards per punt and has placed eight inside the 20-yard-line.  Dontre Wilson is responsible for kick and punt returns.  He averages 22.2 yards per kick return.


What Urban Meyer is saying about Penn State:

"Number one rush defense in the country. They are very well coached up front. They have good personnel up front."

"Obviously we have a lot of respect for that big quarterback, Hackenberg. Tremendous player. Statistically came out of the chute high with a high completion percentage."

"We did go on the road once (this year), but obviously 110,000 is different than 50,000 some. We were there (in 2012). I remember Shelley and I were both like, that's one of the top five atmospheres we ever played in. We can expect that same type of reception."


Contributions on all of the 2014 Opponent Previews provided by GoPSUsports.com Student Writer Paul Marboe.

Nittany Lions Take on Back-to-Back Travel Meets

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9423877.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are making a quick turnaround from the Virginia Tech Challenge this past weekend as they look ahead to another road competition.

The women returned home victorious, toppling Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, Liberty and James Madison. The men fell to the Hokies, but defeated Old Dominion. This was the first away meet of the season, and it followed the season opening win for both the men and women against Georgia Tech.

Following the trip to Virginia Tech, the Nittany Lions are travel to Morgantown, West Virginia, to take on the Mountaineers in a Thursday evening match-up this week.


"We've got recruits coming this weekend, and it's our last weekend for recruiting for the season," explained head coach Tim Murphy. "We had to move the West Virginia meet up so we could get back, get some training in and be ready to host."

The Nittany Lions have a strong record against the Mountaineers. The women have been undefeated against West Virginia for the past decade, while the men have been victorious in their past three meetings with the Mountaineers.

The biggest challenge for Penn State will be adjusting from back to back travel meets in a short span of time.

"It's definitely going to be hard on our bodies," senior Carolyn Fittin said. "But we know how to race and I think we will be ready to go once we get there."

Fittin had a strong performance at the Virginia Tech Challenge, posting a win in 50-yard freestyle and contributing to first place finishes in the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay.

"I think we had some really great swims this past weekend," said Fittin. "But, we definitely have some things to work on as a team in order to keep getting better."

This is an important part of the season for the Nittany Lions in terms of training. Between building endurance in the pool and lifting, they are focusing on the bigger picture-- their mid season meet in December and championship meet in February. Each dual meet represents an opportunity to race and improve under tough training.

Looking towards Thursday in Morgantown, Fittin shared some goals for the women's team.

"Some of us are going to be swimming off events," Fittin said. "We really have to focus on ignoring how tired we may be from a long week of traveling and get into racing, regardless of whether or not we're swimming one of our main events."

Following their meet against West Virginia, Penn State will have a week before Villanova visits Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions will host the Wildcats on the 31 at 3 p.m. for a Halloween match-up in McCoy Natatorium.


By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics and the Red Cross will team up once again to demonstrate their 'One Team' bond in a blood drive that will honor Penn State track and field jumps and multi-events coach Fritz Spence.

Spence has been a part of the Penn State family for eight years and carries a long record of success including having coached 15 All-American athletes, various NCAA qualifying athletes, and many, many winners.

However, Spence doesn't just coach victors - he is a part of them.

In February of 2008, Spence was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a cancer that begins in the bone marrow and is known to spread very quickly.

After what seemed like endless treatments, long nights in the hospital, and a tough bone marrow transplant, Spence prevailed and now stands as a strong and proud cancer survivor.

The blood drive, which is sponsored by Penn State Track and Field, is run by volunteers and student-athletes who dedicate their time to make sure the event runs smoothly and successfully.

Senior Michael McClelland (Washington, Pa.) runs the event on the student-athlete side making sure there are volunteers available to work the event. He is also in charge of letting all Penn State Athletics teams know about the blood drive and he is a primary spokesperson for the drive informing all volunteers and donors of the importance of the event.

"Michael has done a really good job of organizing the event and getting the student-athletes to volunteer and come out, he is one of my key committee members. He's really very supportive," said Spence.

"I'd say people all across campus are motivated to make this event a success. I'm invested [in the event] and I think [everyone] can tell," said McClelland. "Coach Spence is not a super emotional guy but I can tell he's appreciative. I can tell this means a lot to him and he's really thankful for the work I'm doing and the entire team is doing to make sure this is successful."

McClelland says the goal for the blood drive is to get 50 volunteers to donate 35-36 units, which has proven to not be a problem. Last year, they had such a big turn out that they had to reject donors.

Spence is overwhelmed by the success of the event, which he hopes becomes a long-lasting tradition for the University.

The blood drive is also a very important part of Spence's life. He points out that this is his way of giving back to the community that was so supportive of him when he was in need and he hopes that every donor and volunteer understands the significance of events like these.

"It's important to give and to give back because you never know when it will be your turn or your family's turn to get blood," he said. "The statistics are one in seven [people] that will need blood in their lifetime. [You] will know someone, sometime in your lifetime that will need blood."

The blood drive will take place in Rooms E and F of the Bryce Jordan Center on Mon., Oct. 27th from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 
There will be a double red donation opportunity.

To schedule an appointment visit psuredcross.org and click on the blood drive tab or go to redcrossblood.org and use the sponsor code: psu.

 

VIDEO: Ohio State Week Player Q&A - Geno Lewis

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with wide receiver Geno Lewis to preview the Ohio State game.

Week Seven Press Conference Roundup - Ohio State Week

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cjf_OSU.jpgJames Franklin Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 21

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions play host to Ohio State on Saturday evening for a primetime kick against the Buckeyes (8 p.m. on ABC).

Head coach James Franklin previewed the matchup against Ohio State on Tuesday afternoon inside the Beaver Stadium Media Room.

On the heels of a second bye, Franklin is pleased with how the team improved on the off week. With the season moving into its ninth week overall, Franklin said that practices are beginning to be scaled back. But the team took full advantage of the extra time during the bye.

"Obviously, really excited for this week's game and this opponent coming off a bye week, which we got a lot of stuff done," Franklin said. "We were able to rest our players, we were able to work on technique and fundamentals and some scheme things that need to improve. We were able to get on the road recruiting. We were able to scrimmage the young guys. We were able to get a lot of work done, so really productive bye week."


Moving to Ohio State prep, Franklin noted the Buckeyes as the most athletic team the Nittany Lions have played this season to date. Ohio State enters the week on a four-game winning streak, which includes Big Ten victories over Maryland and Rutgers.

"Ohio State and Coach Urban Meyer, you look at their program and their team doing a tremendous job, probably the fastest, most athletic team and also tremendous size, probably the best combination that we've seen so far this year," Franklin said.


Two names that stand out among the talented Buckeyes are quarterback J.T. Barrett and defensive end Joey Bosa. Barrett has thrown 17 touchdowns and has just one interception during the last four games. He has been responsible for at least four touchdowns during each of the last four contests. Bosa is leading the Big Ten in tackles for loss (1.50 per game) and fumbles forced (0.50 per game).

"You talk about a guy who is 6-5, 280 pounds and really has some quickness and is sudden," Franklin said. "He's able to play with quickness and he's able to play with power, and a lot of times you can find guys that are extremely strong and powerful and explosive at the point of attack but maybe don't have the quickness as a pass rusher. He's got a rare combination that he can beat you with speed and quickness but he can also beat you with power."

With Saturday being the annual Penn State White Out game, Coach Franklin said on Tuesday that he is excited to see the crowd inside Beaver Stadium, and he is looking for the fans to provide a boost to the team.

"Obviously we would love to have a huge, home field advantage, which I anticipate us having," Franklin said. "107,000 Penn State fans wearing white, screaming and going crazy, making it really difficult for them to communicate."

In the 30th meeting between Penn State and Ohio State, Franklin said balance on the offensive side of the ball would be key for the Nittany Lions.

"Obviously balance on offense, we've been talking about that all year long," Franklin said. "The games that we have had some balance and have been able to establish somewhat of a running game we've been able to do some nice things. That's something we're not going to shy away from.  We're still committed to doing that."


Press Conference Notes
- Franklin on the Ohio State offense:
"I think the coaching staff does a great job of tailoring their scheme to the players. They're No. 1 in the Big Ten right now in yards per game. They're averaging 46 points per game. Third down percentage, they're doing a great job at 49 percent, which is ninth in the nation. They run a spread offense, run a spread offense, have a lot of speed, a lot of athleticism, like us they're young on the offensive line coming into the season, one of those players most of their guys have been in the program for a long time with that scheme and with that system and have stepped in nicely for them."


- Franklin on the Ohio State defense:
"They're a 4‑3 defense, they're going to press you on the outside and challenge your receivers. They're typically a quarters team, what we call 'full press', creative in their third down package. They're excellent up front. I would say across the board they run extremely well, offense, defense, and special teams."

- Franklin on the Ohio State special teams:

"
Kerry Coombs, who I think does a really good job coaching their corners as well, they've done some really, really nice things, I know Urban is really involved on special teams as well, they're leading the Big Ten in kickoff coverage, you look at their special teams, they run extremely well, they're long and rangy, they do a good job of being physical in their return units and Dontre Wilson is a guy we're going to have to be aware of as a kick returner."


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By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-
With Sports Center Top 10 worthy goals and Big Ten coverage, this weekend not only proved that Penn State is at the top of their game, but that their nine seniors are integral to their success.

Prior to Sunday's game against the Hoosiers, nine Nittany Lions were honored at Senior Day. They have played in the NCAA quarterfinals twice and won two Big Ten regular season titles and two Big Ten tournaments.

After discussing her team's success this weekend, coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss reminisced on her time coaching this group of seniors.

"I can't believe four years have gone by with this group," said coach Morett-Curtiss. "They are a bunch of different characters and they embrace the team. They each bring so much to this program."

It was obvious in this weekend's victories that from the offense and the mid-field to the defense and the goal line, senior leadership is the driving force behind Penn State's success. Coach Morett-Curtiss described what each senior has brought to this program over the past four years.

"Amanda is diligent."
Amanda Dinunzio, a product of State College High School, has been a key contributor for the Nittany Lions on the forward line. Her "diligence" is obvious in her circle play. Dinunzio doesn't lift her stick off the ground while near the goal and is consistent in Penn State's offensive pressure. In this weekend's match-ups against Rutgers and Indiana, Dinunzio helped dish off passes inside the circle and the 25-yard line. One of those passes was to Jenna Chrismer, who found Taylor Herold seconds later, putting the Nittany Lions up on the board.

"Jenna has a great work ethic."
Jenna Chrismer is one of the most consistent players on Penn State's forward line. She never falters inside the circle and always does whatever she can to force a scoring opportunity. This past weekend, Chrismer contributed to two of the five goals scored for Penn State. Her work ethic is clear in her ability to pull the defense and make the goalie move. Chrismer's stick work is unparalleled inside the circle; it's almost as if she is thinking three steps ahead of the play.

"Nat brings enthusiasm."
Natalie Buttinger is never afraid to commit to a defensive attack from the forward line. The former track star uses her speed to aid the Nittany Lion defense and quickly switch gears into scoring mode. She might not always earn an assist or score, but Buttinger is solid in her passing game. She is able to trap the ball on her stick and accurately place wherever she wants to on the field, a skill the Nittany Lions benefit from inside the 25-yard line.

"Taylor is determined"
Taylor Herold is almost indescribable; she is the entire package. From her speed to her stick handling and her ability to work the ball in open space, Herold always delivers a stellar performance. Performance is often the only word to describe her contributions on the field because more often than not, her goals are unbelievable. In Friday's game against Rutgers, Herold's unassisted goal made ESPN Sports Center's Top 10. She carried the ball on her stick from the end line to the post of the net, where she reverse-shot the ball into the cage. If you blinked, you missed it. Goals like this aren't uncommon for the senior, as she is notorious for making jaw-dropping plays.

"Casey steps up."
Casey Haegele is an asset to the Nittany Lions inside the circle. She always finds a way to find a foot in the circle and force a corner. Her speed is a weapon on the forward line. Coach Morett-Curtiss says that Heagele is one of the most coachable players on the team. Much like in baseball, Haegele is the equivalent of a relief pitcher, offering a fresh set of legs for the Nittany Lions; she always helps Penn State close on a win.

 "Laura brings passion."
Laura Gebhart is one of the most seasoned members of the Penn State field hockey team. She has not only played in every game of her career, but has fostered her craft on the U.S. National Team, as well. Gebhart is the backbone of the Nittany Lions offensive and defensive strategy, as she is always in control from the center mid position. Gebhart is as versatile as they come and plays wherever her team needs her. When she isn't scoring from the top of the circle while laying flat on her stomach, Gebhart is in constant communication with her teammates on the field. Her passion for the game shines with every pass and every pre-game pep talk.

"Katie B. is confident."
Katie Breneman floats between the mid and defensive position for the Nittany Lions. One of her biggest contributions is her confidence, as she is never afraid to commit. Breneman is solid from the attack position of defense and takes risks with her block tackle. There are times when Breneman is almost parallel to the ground while trying to steal the ball from the opposing team; more often than not, she is successful.

"Katie A. is tenacious."
Katie Andrews has been solid for the Nittany Lions in the center back position. Her tenacity shined this weekend and against Bucknell last Tuesday when she assisted on the scoring drive. She always looks for an opportunity to spread the field, often calling for the back pass to help reposition the offense. When she sees an opportunity to take the ball up the field, she does. Andrews is solid for the Nittany Lions' defense inside the circle and a key contributor in this season's five shut outs.

"Kylie has a competitive spirit."
As a red shirt senior, her experience inside the cage has prepared her for pretty much anything. The most unique quality about Licata is her trust in her defense. She is a versatile goalie who can make the save from above the stroke mark. This season she has managed to earn five shut outs and only allowed one goal in this weekend's contests.

These nine seniors are leaving behind big shoes to fill, but their story is not finished yet. With their leadership, there is no question that Penn State will have a successful post-season as they currently have its 13-3 record on their side. The Nittany Lions three losses this season were incredibly close; two of them came from over-time play and the other was a one-goal deficit.

Penn State heads to Iowa this Saturday, before returning home the following week to take on Northwestern at home on Oct. 31.

"Everyone from the seniors to our coaching staff played a part in our wins this weekend," Andrews said. "It doesn't get much better than winning on senior day."

 

VIDEO: #WGYMonday - Meet Lauren Li

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's gymnastics team is just 12 weeks away from opening their 2015 campaign and each Monday we will introduce you to a member of the squad. Our #WGYMonday series will kick off with Lauren Li from Plano, Texas.