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Nittany Lions Back On Track With Win Against Cornell

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions took to the Penn State Lacrosse Field on Tuesday evening with only one thing on their minds - beat Cornell.


The Nittany Lions had dropped two hard-fought games against ALC rivals Florida and Northwestern, but they were determined to show their fans, their coaching staff, and themselves the kind of a team they are and the kind of team they can be. It's a team that doesn't quit, makes the smart play, and stays focused on its goals.

That was the team the Penn State faithful saw beat Cornell, 13-8, and get back to its winning ways.

The Nittany Lions and the Big Red went back and forth to start off the game. Cornell was having tremendous success off the draw, but that didn't seem to slow down the girls in blue and white. After Cornell sophomore Lindsay Toppe gave the Big Red a 3-4 lead with just over 11 minutes left in the first half, the Nittany Lions just took over the game.

Penn State scored six goals - four of which came from the stick of Madison Cyr - over the last 11 minutes to Cornell's two goals, and they ended the half with a 9-6 lead. Missy Doherty's squad started to win draw controls, 50-50 balls and took complete advantage of their opportunities.

"...But that's challenge of every game we have, is to be able to keep that energy up," the head coach said. "Especially with the three remaining games we have, they are going to be just like this one. It's a hard fought battle and we have to be ready to bring our best."


Cyr was the story to end the first half. The four goals she scored were the result of hustle and strong willpower. She received a well-deserved applause from teammates and fans when she took a break with two minutes left in the first half after spearheading the comeback.

In the second half, after a very inspiring speech from Doherty, the Nittany Lions continued their dominance and made all the necessary plays to secure the victory. Their possessions on offense were crisp, and well executed and the defense continued to be ball-hawks and create turnovers, while keeping the Cornell offense at bay.

Six Nittany Lions found their way onto the score sheet and helped contribute to the win. It was a total team effort on offense and defense and the Nittany Lions seemed to hit a stride and never look back. Attacker Jess Loizeaux continued to play well and helped contribute to the win with an early goal and a few helpers throughout the evening.

"Playing here," Loizeaux said, "it reminds me of having fun and playing the game. I know I'm playing better here than I did at [University of Virginia] and I think that's part of the reason why, because I'm having fun while I'm playing. I enjoy coming to practice every day and I think its fun to play with the teammates. I love playing with Maggie [McCormick], and Mackenzie [Cyr], and Madison [Cyr], and Jen [Mosketti] and all the other girls on the attack."

Along with Cyr and Loizeaux, midfielders Abby Smucker, Ally Heavens, and Tatum Coffey all finished the day with two goals. Coffey also recorded an assist on Heaven's goal to open the game, giving her 11 on the season and tying her career-high.

"I think that's one of the thing we wanted to take advantage of this year is not having three to four main scorers, [but] to have a lot of threats so they're not really sure where the goals are going to be coming from," Doherty said. "Thankfully for the girls, every game a different player steps up and it's been nice to see everybody contribute."

This win will be a huge momentum boost as Penn State prepare for a showdown with ALC Rival Ohio State. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions have gone back and forth over recent years, and both teams have a lot riding on the game. Doherty and her staff know the game will be a challenging one, but they also know they will be ready for what the Buckeyes bring.

"Ohio State is a big game," Doherty said. "They've done really well this season and it's always kind a grudge match there and we're just ready to come out, fight, and try to bring our best game."

VIDEO: 2014 NFL Pro Day Interviews

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Photo Gallery: 2014 NFL Pro Day


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Eleven former Nittany Lions participated in Penn State's 2014 Pro Day inside the Lasch Football Building and Holuba Hall on Tuesday.

The participants took part in mental and physical testing in front of representatives from 26 different NFL teams in preparation for the 2014 NFL Draft, which takes place in New York City on May 8-10.

9905530.jpegThe Pro Day schedule included film study, scout meetings with coaches, Wonderlic testing, team testing, player interviews, height, weight, reach testing, flexibility testing, 225-pound bench, physical testing on the practice field and individual player/group workouts.

The physical testing on the practice field included two 40-yard dashes, two 20-yard shuttle runs, L cone drill, one 60-yard shuttle run, two broad jumps and two vertical jumps.

The participants on Monday consisted of the following 11 former Nittany Lions: WR - Allen Robinson and Brandon Felder, OL - John Urschel, Garry Gilliam and Adam Gress, TE - Matt Lehman, DL - DaQuan Jones, LB - Glenn Carson, DB - Stephen Obeng-Agyapong and Malcolm Willis, P - Alex Butterworth.

"I was happy to be able to get back here to Penn State. This is home for me," Urschel said.  "I worked on polishing a few things.  I think I took a little bit off my 40 (time) today, so that's a good thing.  I looked good in drills. So, all's well that ends well."

In addition to Pro Day, Jones, Robinson and Urschel participated in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis during February.  All three were pleased with progress and improvements they made from February to Tuesday's workout at Penn State.  Robinson's cousin and Ottawa Redblacks (Canadian Football League) quarterback Kevin Glenn threw for Robinson and Felder during passing drills.

"I feel great.  I feel in (great) shape," Robinson said.  "My body feels good."

Penn State head coach James Franklin was in attendance for the Pro Day festivities, in addition to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.

Several former Nittany Lion were among the observers, as well, including All-Americans Kyle Brady, Bobby Engram, Kenny Jackson and Stefen Wisniewski.
    


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Triple Overtime Setback to Drexel Provided Some 'Bright Spots'

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- For the Penn State men's lacrosse team, dropping a triple overtime thriller to Drexel last Saturday provided far more than just heartbreak. The team exhibited grittiness, determination and persistence from all depths of the roster.


"Look no further than guys like Michael Sutton and Danny Craig," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "Those guys have just stayed the course and have been persistent all year. They deserve all the playing time they get because of their resilient efforts."

The freshman duo of Craig and Sutton combined for nine points against the Dragons, displaying their will and deservedness to earn more minutes and starts.

"They were both tremendous bright spots," Tambroni said. "Our freshmen are starting to play with confidence and playing to what we thought their potential could be."

Sutton, a midfielder, netted five goals in the 13-12 setback on Saturday. His numbers weren't the only thing that impressed his coaches in his first start--but his demonstration of persistence and effort that has culminated all season long.

"Mike Sutton has never waivered in his own ability," Tambroni said. "He's continued to embrace his role whether it was on the scout team, deep within the second unit or now as a starter and very high contributor."

Sutton isn't alone in this display, as Craig and fellow freshman Nick Aponte also had big games against Drexel.

"Credit the guys that have been sitting on the bench all year, keep working hard and continue to believe in themselves," the fourth-year coach said.

The roller coaster game against Drexel marked the fourth loss in the last five for the Nittany Lions.

"It is not from a lack of trying," Tambroni said. "Our guys are continuing to give a great effort and keep moving forward with the belief of being successful."


A major theme in the last four losses has been that the team hasn't gotten off to the early start in each half that the coaches would like to see. Despite scoring three goals in the first quarter last Saturday, Tambroni would like to see a faster pace in the opening quarter.

"For whatever reason--the start of the game and the start of the third quarter have not been very kind to us in the majority of our games," Tambroni said. "If you take the first ten minutes of every game and the first five minutes of every third quarter--it's a lopsided affair."

With three games remaining on the schedule, the team is looking to tighten up this disconnect in the opening quarters of both halves.

"We have to do a better job as coaches and our guys have to do a better job as players of providing a little more focus to when that first whistle is blown."

The Blue and White are committed to finishing this season strong, which means a variety of things to players and coaches. Winning out, seeing more production from numerous players on the field and seeing growth from the freshmen class are among the team's goals.

"I believe this group is committed and we need to find a way to play up to our potential," Tambroni said. "We are dead set on finishing this season on a high note."

The Nittany Lions will travel to Maryland next Saturday to take on Towson. Opening faceoff against the Tigers is set for 7 p.m.

Lions Take Home Momentum With Them on the Road

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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As soon their home schedule began in the middle of March, it didn't take long to realize that the Penn State baseball team clearly enjoyed the comforts of Medlar Field.

Having achieved their best home start since 1980 with a 7-0 record, the Nittany Lions faced a new challenge. Could they manage to win on the road in the Big Ten after going just 5-12 away from State College during the opening month of the season?

Taking on Purdue in their second Big Ten series of the season, the Lions kept the momentum that saw them win eight of their last nine going, taking two out of three from the Boilermakers over the weekend. Penn State won twice on Saturday by scores of 2-1 and 6-5 before their six game winning streak ended on Sunday with a 4-0 loss.

"It's hard to win on the road but it's part of the process and we have to choose to compete every day whether we're home or away," head coach Rob Cooper said. "Our guys fought and on Sunday they had a chance to win at the end."

As it has been the last few weeks, the key to success for Penn State laid with their bullpen, which over the three games combined pitched 15 and one-thirds innings and gave up just two runs.

During the first game of a double-header on Saturday, the Boilermaker offense couldn't figure out either starter Tim Dunn or reliever Dakota Forsyth, who combined to give up just one run on one hit. Forsyth, who tossed four hitless innings with just one walk in getting the victory, now has given up just two runs in his last two appearances, which span nine and two-thirds innings.

In the second game, Ian Parvin entered in the fourth inning and managed to cool down a Purdue rally and went two and one-third innings to get the win before closer Jack Anderson pitched three scoreless innings of his own for the save. Even Ryan Harper shone in Sunday's defeat, going five innings and giving up only one run on three hits.

"We had an unbelievable effort from our bullpen [this weekend] and they were lights out," Cooper said. "When you can turn the ball over to those guys it shortens the game. Our starters haven't always gone far but we're winning because we have guys who can come into the game in big situations and succeed."

Offensively the Penn State hitters were challenged by the Purdue pitching staff, but still managed to produce the runs they needed in the first two contests.

In the first game, the Lions mustered only four hits but a clutch single from utility infielder Nick Riotto in the fifth and a double from shortstop Jim Haley in the seventh helped Penn State overcome an early 1-0 deficit.

The next contest, the Blue and White gave themselves some breathing room early, getting all six of their runs and six of their seven hits in the second inning, highlighted by James Coates three-run home run, the team's third homer of the season.

Looking back, Cooper was impressed with his team's one-inning hitting explosion but stressed that they team can't allow itself to get complacent with a big lead and allow their opponent to sneak back into the game the way the Boilermakers did by scoring the game's next five runs.

"We took them out of the game pretty early but give Purdue credit for fighting back," Cooper said. "We need to do a better job of continuing to play."

On Sunday, the Lions swung the bats as well as they did all weekend but just couldn't get come through in big moments, recording 11 hits but failing to score a run.

Cooper credited the Purdue pitching staff for getting the clutch outs they need, and although he is never satisfied with a loss, the first year Penn State manager cannot help but be satisfied with where his team is currently at, having now won 10 of their last 12.

At 15-14, the Blue and White have already topped last season's win total of 14, not that Cooper is paying any attention to things like that.

For Cooper and his staff, the past is the past, and the Nittany Lion's goal is to be the best team they can be, not simply be better than last year.

"What they did last year is last year and it takes too much time and energy to worry about those things," Cooper said. "We need to concentrate on making each day and every practice the best it can be. I owe it to our guys to do that."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Nittany Lions' Return Strong Nucleus

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At his final press conference of the season, it was easy to hear the excitement in Guy Gadowsky's voice when the Penn State head coach talked about the group of players returning to the ice for the men's hockey program next season.

It's a strong group, one now filled with experience, desire and plenty of talent. Outside of senior Mike McDonagh, Gadowsky and his coaching staff expect to have back all 26 of the Nittany Lions with remaining eligibility and they believe they are set to build off their strong 2013 season.

"We lose a tremendous person in Mike McDonagh, but we don't have significant other losses," Gadowsky said. "I think that's encouraging. If we continue to improve individually and as a team, I think it's very safe to say that we should only expect to get better."

Ask any one of the Nittany Lions, be it a player or coach, and they will tell you the experiences they took away from this season will be part of what goes into the preparations for next season and the next 10 seasons.

Whether it is working hard against a team like No. 1 Minnesota or battling ranked opponent after ranked opponent, the Nittany Lions went through a lot of growing pains over the past two seasons and that will only help them moving forward.

"The biggest thing for us is to keep those lessons in mind," sophomore netminder Matt Skoff said. "It's good that over 90 percent of the team is coming back with those lessons learned. I think that when you have so many guys coming back the only way we can go from here is up."

Part of the key for the Nittany Lions heading into next season is to remember how hard they worked this season. The last few games Penn State played this year - a 4-2 win over Ohio State and a 2-1 double overtime win over Michigan - will be on the minds of the players as they start to cool down from this season and prepare for next.

"From the beginning, we didn't know what to expect entering a new league with such historic programs," Skoff said. "Now we know that we can play against all of them, we can compete; we can beat them on a night-to-night basis. I think that is what we have to prove next year. We proved at the end of the year that we can compete with anyone at the most important time of the year."

The core of the team is what defines Gadowsky's unit. Part of what makes them special is the leadership the men in blue and white discovered over the season. Student-athletes like Skoff, Tommy Olczyk, Nate Jensen, and David Glen all now know what it takes to be successful at this level. They have been through the ups-and-downs of a rigorous season and are now prepared to take them on again.

"At any level of hockey, experience counts for so much," Olczyk said. "Having guys on your team that have found a way to win big games, and just win games in general is big in college hockey. Whether they are conference or non-conference games, they are all still really important. Having a lot of guys in the locker room that know how to win is very key and experience and chemistry count for a lot, too."

With that experience, and the knowledge of how of how to prepare and compete, the Nittany Lions are armed with lessons learned. Those lessons will help them against the elite teams on their schedule next season, including the Big Ten opponents they will see on a yearly basis.

"We played ranked teams like UMass Lowell, Union, Boston College in our [non-conference games], and we were able to compete with those teams," Olczyk said. "So I think that gives us a great piece of mind moving into next year and the [results] we had in Big Ten play were very positive and something to build on moving forward."

It won't be long before Hockey Valley is piling back into Pegula Ice Arena to watch the Nittany Lions once again. The foundation is being built, and the right pieces are in place. The Nittany Lions' nucleus is strong and ready for whatever challenges may come.

"We still have a long way to go, but I feel it's a great start," Gadowsky said. "I thought the guys proved [they could be competitive] when they really played their game. When we perform at a high level we can go blow-for-blow with the best teams in the nation and that was extremely encouraging for our team and our coaching staff."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Nittany Lions Punch Their Ticket to the NCAA Championships

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By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a superb performance at the NCAA Regional Championships on Saturday in Rec Hall, the Nittany Lion women's gymnastics team is headed to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2009.

"Well, if you were in the building you know how exciting that was," head coach Jeff Thompson said. "We had the right rotation tonight."

Florida, Oregon State, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire and Penn State were the teams competing in the overall team competition, with gymnasts from Brown, Cornell, Pittsburgh and the Bridgeport competing as individuals.

The NCAA gymnastics championships are very different from March Madness. According to NCAA rules, the top two performing teams and the top two all-around competitors (who are not from an advancing team) from each regional site receive automatic birth to the NCAA Championships.

After six rotations, Florida and Penn State secured those top positions with scores of 197.050 and 196.725, respectively.

"This is something that we have been working for since the day that I walked onto campus," senior Kassidy Stauder said. "We've been so close the last three years and to finally qualify in Rec Hall is the best feeling ever. It really showed the hard work that this team has put in since preseason started. It shows how close we have become as a team throughout this year and how much trust we have in one another."

The Nittany Lions started off their first rotation on vaults, where freshman Emma Sibson and junior Sydney Sanabria-Robles earned scores of 9.90. Also competing for Penn State on vault were Stauder, Randi Lau, Krystal Welsh and Lindsay Musgrove. The team finished with an overall vault score of 49.300.

"I think we all knew what we had to hit [tonight]," Sanabria-Robles said. "We had that focus and excitement in us. We knew we could do it and we just went out there and did what [our coaches] have been telling us all along: just be us and have fun."

Stauder led the team with a score of 9.875 on bars, with junior Alex Witt and Sanabria-Robles who contributed scores of 9.850 and 9.800. Also competing for Penn State on bars were Welsh, Nicole Medvitz and Samantha Musto. The team finished with an overall bars score of 49.050.

Penn State was then slated to compete on beam, which coach Thompson believed was the team's "shaky" event.

"Beam scores were a little tight and they stayed tight all night," Thompson said.

Lau and Sibson were the top beam performers for the Nittany Lions with scores of 9.800 and 9.825. The team finished their beam rotation with a total score of 48.950.

Penn State received a bye-rotation after their beam performance, giving coach Thompson ample time for a locker room pep talk.

"When I walked into the locker room [during our bye in the fifth rotation], I said to the girls 'Do you want to know the score?'" Thompson said.  "And they said 'Yes, I mean we are going to see it anyways.' I told them we were down by one-tenth of a point. We knew Oregon State was going into their best event; they are ranked eighth in the country on balance beam. We also knew we were going into our best event ranked ninth on the floor exercise."

The Nittany Lions shined in their floor rotation. Sanabria-Robles, Lau and Musgrove each earned scores of 9.90, with Sibson, Welsh and Stauder earning scores of 9.850 or above. The team earned the highest floor score of the regional tournament with a 49.425, securing the birth to the NCAA Championships.

"There is no other way I would rather to leave Rec Hall than to qualify to the NCAA Championships with my team," Stauder said. "It was an incredible way to go out."

"After the season ended last year, we had a meeting and the coaches talked to us about some changes that we were going happen; a culture change and other adjustments that we were going to make," Sanabria-Robles said. "We made the commitment and now we are headed to nationals. Obviously it worked."

The Nittany Lions will make their way to the NCAA Championships in Birmingham, Ala., on April 18-20. For the first time in five years, Penn State will be competing as a full team.

"We have a lot of fun," Thompson said. "We accomplished our goal. Now we have a new goal, the Super Six."

Lions' Trip to East Lansing a Sweeping Success

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Laubach_9901213.jpegBy Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Headed into the weekend, the Nittany Lions knew the importance of their series against Michigan State.  Looking for its first conference win, the team buckled down, dug deep, and played hard, all of which garnered exceptional results.  At the conclusion of the three games, not only did Penn State softball earn its first Big Ten win, but the team also successfully completed a sweep of the Spartans.

From offense to defense, hitting to pitching, the Lions saw results from a number of student-athletes, all of whom contributed to the four-game winning streak.  Penn State overtook the Spartans on Friday by a score of 9-3, on Saturday by a score of 7-3, and on Sunday by a score of 6-0.

These types of results and dominant play are exactly what head coach Amanda Lehotak wants to see and expects to see from her team at this point in the season.

"For awhile we've been talking about how we have not had timely hitting, and we finally had timely hitting in all three games," said Lehotak.  "We had different people step up.  The bottom of our order was getting on, and the top of our order was sticking with the game plan and able to come through." 

One Lion in particular who really stepped up and demonstrated her dominance at the plate was sophomore Lexi Knief, who has been a very consistent figure for the Lions this season.  During Sunday afternoon's game alone, the outfielder registered a double, a triple, and her first collegiate homerun.

Knief, who leads the team in batting with a .392 average, wanted nothing more than to put pressure on the Spartans' defense throughout the weekend and waited patiently for the right pitches to come her way, a plan that truly worked to her advantage. 

"When I got into the box, the pitcher was throwing me inside," said Knief of her homerun at-bat.  "I got a little bit off of the plate, and then when I hit it, I didn't think it was going over.  Then I saw it go over, and I was just happy for another run for our team."

The sophomore's competitive nature and impressive results were highly important to the team's success, a fact that did not go unnoticed by her coach.  Knief remained calm at all times, giving herself the best chances to assist her team.

"She was so fun to watch this weekend," said Lehotak of Knief.  "Lexi really just was a competitor all weekend.  Nothing really got her down.  Even when she got down in the count, she was aggressive when she needed to be aggressive, and she was patient when she needed to be patient.  She was just on fire all weekend, which was really great to see and really fun to watch."

While offense was one piece of the puzzle, another large part was the Penn State pitching staff, which came out strong and ready to fight. 

Freshman Marlaina Laubach made two appearances in the series, going 2-0 by pitching a complete, seven-inning game on Friday and closing out the Lions' shutout on Sunday. In her 12-innings this weekend, Laubach allowed only three runs, bringing her ERA down to a 3.70, the lowest on the team.

"I felt pretty good coming out," said Laubach.  "I think being able to get out on the field against another Big Ten school really enhances the sense of competition.  It's a big game, and being able to come out and throw as well as I did, and as well as the rest of the pitching staff did, it's very exciting.  The wins on top of that are great too."

These desirable results and weekend sweep did not come easy for this Penn State squad.  The student-athletes demonstrated their resiliency, especially in Saturday's game, and showed just how determined and competitive they can be in tough, mental situations.  This team quality is something their coach is highly impressed by every time they take the field.

"I really admire their resiliency," said Lehotak.  "Going 0-6 in conference to come back and go 3-6.  They are never giving up, and they're getting better in different areas of the game constantly.  They want to turn this program around, and they want to be top of the conference.  They're fighters, and they're playing like it, they're practicing like it, and they're working at it."

The away wins really helped change the mindset for the Penn State student-athletes, as the victories alleviated a great deal of pressure and formed a great deal of confidence.

"Obviously getting our first Big Ten win and getting a Big Ten sweep, that's a big deal," said Laubach.  "I think as a pitching staff, we're all very excited about it, and as a team we're excited about it too."

"I definitely think this give us and the rest of the team the confidence we needed in order to finish out the season," Laubach added.  "This series definitely is a game-changer for Penn State softball, and I think it's going to help us grow as a team."

 

From My View - Crimson Tide Invite

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By Bernard Bennett-Green, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The outdoor season has officially begun! This past weekend we were able to take a huge part of our team down to the University of Alabama to compete at their team invite. Traveling for outdoor is completely different compared to indoor. We usually only have one or two travel trips indoor that are within driving distance.

During the outdoor season, we try and chase warm weather early so we fly down south or to the west coast for our first few meets. Flying with such a large team is always a fun and enjoyable experience when we arrive at airports because people don't normally see such a large group of athletes traveling together.

I enjoyed our trip down to Alabama this weekend a lot. The people down south showed so much love and hospitality. The hotel staff and the meet management really showed what the south is truly about.

Our first outdoor meet as a team was very successful. The women's team won as a team, and the men's team finished second. The women started off the season strong coming off their Big Ten championship.

I ran the open 400 to start off my season and finished third with a time of 47.81. It was not my best performance at all but it helped show what I need to practice and improve on the next couple of days before we hit the road again.

I got a chance to watch the men's and women's 400-meter hurdle races where Penn State did a phenomenal job. The women finished 1-2-3 with Kiah Seymour leading the way in a NCAA leading time of 57.12. On the men's side, freshmen Byron Robinson won his race in a time of 50.75 with no one even close the last 50 meters of his race. My teammates put on such an impressive showing and have gotten me excited and motivated to improve my performance next week at Arizona State.

With our first meet in the books it has helped show the team that we need to build off of our performance this past weekend and continue to work hard at practice so we can accomplish the goals we have set out individually and as a team. 

Nittany Lions Fall to Northwestern, 5-4

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a cold, rainy night in State College, the Penn State Nittany Lions and Northwestern Wildcats went back and forth in a classic American Lacrosse Conference game at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

It was their fourth matchup within a year, and the Nittany Lions were hungry for a win against the team that ended their season last year. As game time got closer and closer, the intense feeling between the teams was palpable and both were ready for the challenges ahead.

The game kicked off with the Wildcats scoring two goals in the game's first 10 minutes. The Penn State defense was playing well, but tremendous plays from the Wildcats led to the early lead. The Nittany Lions, however, kept their heads high and were determined to battle back into the game.

And battle back they did.

Penn State started to take control off the draw and create turnovers, leading to offensive chances. Emi Smith tightened up her play in net, and the Nittany Lion offense seemed to start to discover a groove against their rival.

Kelly Lechner got the scoring going for Penn State when she took a draw control right down the field and beat Wildcat goalie, Bridget Bianco, with a goal to her high right side. The goal captured the energy of the Nittany Lions, as Lechner was knocked down while shooting but got right back up. Her tenacity clearly inspired the team and the momentum was starting to swing in favor of the girls in blue and white.

Then, with just over three minutes remaining in the first half, Tatum Coffey fed a cutting Madison Cyr for a one-timer to bring the game to 3-2. Penn State battled hard to get back into the game and carried the game's momentum into half time.

"I think I focused on the crashing aspect more this game," Madison Cyr said. "Last game we were crashing more stick and this time we were more focused on crashing the body and being there for each other. If someone got beat on a one-on-one, we wanted to be there for each other and I think it all worked out in the end because they did only score I think five goals. We held them to it."

The Nittany Lions and Wildcats went back and forth in the early parts of the second half with each team answering their opponent's goals.

"They are really a patient team," head coach Missy Doherty said. "I don't really know that approach and its obviously working for them. We like and enjoy playing high tempo and high pressure and I don't think that's really going to change.

"Tonight, we just couldn't really put our shots away. I think when you're not on attack as much, and you're playing a lot of [defense], the attack gets a little bit antsy. Even though we had some great shots, their goalie played great and we just weren't able to put our shots away."

Penn State had one final chance to equalize the game when Lauren Purvis made a terrific interception - man down, nonetheless - and found teammate Erika Spilker to start the rush. Spilker hit Madison Cyr in the midfield, who took the ball to net. Cyr, already with two goals, drove the net hard and put up a shot with just seconds remaining, but Bainco made the save to preserve the lead.

Cyr's effort on the play was tremendous and she came within mere inches of tying the game. Her two goals extended her impressive point-streak to nine games.

At the end of the day, according to Doherty, this is another excellent learning opportunity for the Nittany Lions as they prepare to take on more teams like the Wildcats before postseason play begins.

"They did a great job," Doherty said. "Our [defense] came up with some good stops and I think when they were trying to score, we did a great job of getting on their top scorers. I think attack really could have dictated this game a little bit more and maybe put some shots away. Instead of losing 5-4, maybe we win 8-4. That was disappointing today, but the girls fought the whole game, so it's hard to be mad at them. I told them after the game our goal is not to lose close games to good teams we want to start beating some of those teams. We still have a lot of time and a lot of teams to do that on our schedule."

VIDEO: James Franklin Spring Practice Update - April 5

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin addressed the media following Penn State's 11th spring practice.  The Nittany Lions scrimmaged inside Holuba Hall on Saturday.  The Blue-White Game is slated for 1:30 p.m. on April 12.  Check out a spring practice update from Coach Franklin.






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