By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 18 Penn State men's lacrosse team (8-6, 2-3 Big Ten) defeated Michigan (3-10, 0-5 Big Ten), 14-9 on Saturday afternoon, securing a spot in the Big Ten Tournament. Contributions from several attackers were key for the Nittany Lions in their last regular season home game.
Junior attacker Nick Aponte reached for the ball in mid air, and the pass from freshman attacker Grant Ament found Aponte's stick. Dodging around a defender, Aponte threw the ball over his shoulder and it found the back of the net.
Aponte had scored his fourth goal of the game, with 11:39 left to go in the third quarter. On that goal, Ament picked up his third assist of the game.
In total, Aponte had four goals and one assist, while Ament had four assists and one goal.
The duo of Aponte and Ament have been on a hot streak recently, due in part to their innate ability to communicate almost seamlessly. Combined this season, the two have 45 goals and 51 assists.
Aponte is second on the team in goals with 26, edged only by senior attacker TJ Sanders who has 27. Ament leads the team in assists with 32 in the regular season.
"It's been really fun playing with him and learning from him," said Ament of Aponte. "Obviously because he's a little bit older and I've been learning some of his moves and vice versa."
Head coach Jeff Tambroni has also noticed the pair's success, and credits the young players' drive for pushing them through a tough middle part of the season. Penn State lost the last three games by just one goal, and bouncing back against Michigan was key to securing a spot in the Big Ten Tournament.
In addition to Aponte and Ament's success, Tambroni noted how he believed Sanders had stepped up his game and was more aggressive at attack on Saturday, which contributed to success on offense.
"I think those guys individually have been good all year so it was great to see those guys play a little bit more in collaboration with one another," said Tambroni.
Tambroni explained how he believed Sanders hadn't been playing up to the standards he'd set for himself, but against Michigan came out strong and finished off Senior Day with a win. Sanders had three goals and two assists.
"He was involved much more around the ball, not just shooting," said Tambroni. "I think as a senior it was great to walk off the turf here this afternoon with that kind of performance. His leadership in the offensive end was one of the biggest attributes of today's game."
After securing the win over Michigan, the Nittany Lions now look forward to the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Johns Hopkins will host the tournament, which starts on Thursday.
For now, the Nittany Lions will use the shorter week to reset and prepare.
"We needed that win after three straight losses," said Ament. "We do the simple things very well. We're obviously not the flashiest team, we're a hardworking team and that's what's got us in position for some good wins and I think if we got back to those simple things and just play hard and play smart the rest will kind of take care of itself."
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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (25-20) dropped two of three to Big Ten foe Maryland (24-19) and now rests in seventh place in the conference over the weekend.
In the second game of the series, senior closer Jack Anderson completed a four-out save to place himself among Penn State's all-time elite relief pitchers. The save marked the 23rd of his career, breaking the record for most saves in school history.
"It's an honor to have my name in there," Anderson said. "But I think saves are really more of a team stat and a team record because I wouldn't be put in that position if I didn't have great guys around me. It's kind of a record that I hope is broken fairly shortly because then it would mean we're winning a lot of games and staying really competitive in the near future."
"This is the oldest sport on campus, and he's the all-time saves leader. That's a pretty cool thing," said head coach Rob Cooper.
Anderson has registered a 0.63 ERA this season, which would rank as the lowest in the country if he were qualified. He has pitched 42.2 innings in Penn State's 45 games, but Anderson would need to match his innings total with the team's games played to be qualified for lowest ERA.
In the opening game of the series, Penn State's bats were quieted by Maryland's starting pitcher Mike Shawaryn in a 7-1 loss. Shawaryn pitched a complete game and held PSU to four hits while striking out six.
"It was a well-pitched game by him," Cooper said. "But I thought our guys continued to stay in the game, continued to battle, and we competed. We got to have a short-term memory and turn around tomorrow."
Seemingly the only Nittany Lion to find success against the hard throwing right hander was second baseman Connor Klemann. He ripped a double and a single in his first two at-bats, but PSU couldn't capitalize on either opportunity.
"You got to hit early in the count because when you get late in the count [Shawaryn] mixes it up real good," said Klemann. "The key for that guy was just jumping on stuff early."
Klemann has started only 16 games and has appeared in 21 this season, but he has been productive when he's on the field. The freshman owns a .315 batting average and has totaled 17 hits in his first year.
Nick Riotto and Ryan Sloniger were the only other Nittany Lions to notch hits in the game, and Tyler Kendal provided the team's lone RBI. Riotto, in his first game back from a hand injury that kept him out a few games, also made a full-stretch diving catch in the first inning to save a run.
Taylor Lehman started on the hill for the Blue and White and pitched four innings, giving up three earned runs and five total. Tom Mullin added four innings of relief and held the Terrapins scoreless until an eighth inning homerun.
"I'm so proud of [Mullin]. He pitched his tail off," Cooper said. "He went a big chunk of the season without seeing the mound, and he kept working and kept fighting. He kept us in that game."
Penn State came out with a sense of urgency in game two. It wasn't until the 22nd batter of game one that PSU was able to get a run across. In game two, it only took one batter and one swing.
On the sixth pitch Riotto saw, the junior belted an inside fastball over the right field wall to waste no time getting Penn State on the board. It was his second homerun of the season.
Riotto and Jim Haley led the charge with two hits apiece in game two. They have the highest batting averages among PSU starters in 2016.
It wasn't until the eighth inning when PSU was able to tack on an insurance run, but that was enough to pull out the 2-0 shutout.
Starter Sal Biasi turned in a solid performance to improve his record to 5-4 on the season. Biasi pitched five and two-thirds innings, surrendering four walks but holding the Terps scoreless.
In relief, Dakota Forsyth tallied two innings behind Biasi and Anderson closed the door for the save. It marked Anderson's Big Ten leading 11th save of the season.
Maryland threw the first punch in game three of the weekend series. The Terrapins tallied four runs in the first four innings off PSU starter Justin Hagenman and cruised to an 8-3 victory.
Hagenman suffered only his second loss of the season. He pitched an effective six innings giving up just two earned runs, but a few errors in the early innings and another silent offensive game doomed the Nittany Lions.
Throughout the game, Penn State totaled four errors that led to four unearned runs, but Hagenman still kept PSU in the game. Hagenman has gotten used to dealing with errors all season. Out of the 40 runs he has allowed this year, 18 of them are unearned.
"It doesn't faze him," Cooper said. "He does it the way you want most of your pitchers to do it, like 'Hey you know what, now I got a chance to pick up my infielder.' He's very mature and he understands that's not in his control."
The offense struggled yet again as Maryland starter Brian Shaffer recorded the win, surrendering only four hits and two runs in seven innings of work. Maryland needed just five pitchers the entire series.
The Nittany Lion bats managed just four hits total in game three and five runs in the series. Greg Guers led Penn State with two hits in game three, while James Coates and Willie Burger recorded RBIs.
Burger's two RBIs over the weekend pushed total to 32 on the year. He leads the team in that category even though the freshman missed 15 games due to injury.
The Nittany Lions have five days off to prepare for perennial powerhouse TCU's visit to Happy Valley next weekend. The Horned Frogs stand at 29-11 and are ranked ninth in the country.
By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK. Pa - As shortstop, Reina Furuya is always busy on the diamond. She's constantly running between second and third base, trying to prevent as many hits as possible from crossing over into the outfield.
She was especially busy in Penn State's (28-21, 13-7) three games against No. 2 Michigan, but none more so than in game one on Friday night, a close 4-2 loss to the visiting Wolverines.
With a steady rain coming down onto Beard Field, the senior shortstop dropped a popup to shallow left field, when it fell into her glove and popped right back out.
But the Hawaii product didn't let it get to her head; the next time the ball was hit to her, she got the final out of the inning by running the ball herself to third base.
"That's what Reina does," head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "She does a great job, she took them out of a couple innings and we had that momentum shift because of her defensive play. It was huge how she played tonight. She played like a senior tonight."
On the other end of the spectrum, Lehotak also saw some good play from the next generation of Nittany Lions: freshmen Tori Dubois and Meghan Williams.
Dubois played in all three games, as the designated player (DP) in the first two and as catcher and right fielder in the third; she also caught for a few innings in game two. Williams was put at first base in game three, replacing Kristina Brackpool.
"It was important for them to get that game like experience and for them to get to see that kind of pitching," Lehotak said. "[They got] to kind of see what they have to work into and hopefully what they're going to be one day. We had a couple of injuries so we had to move some people around today but I was very impressed with their poise. So for our kids to have poise like that and to go after Michigan as freshmen is big."
Next up for Penn State is their final series of the season, when Illinois travels to Beard Field for a three game series next weekend. Game one is slated for Friday at 6 p.m.
By: Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- As the rain poured down over the lacrosse field yesterday evening, the Penn State Nittany Lions took on the undefeated Maryland Terrapins in a tough battle looking to tie for the top spot in the Big Ten. Although Penn State fell to Maryland with a final score of 10-9, the girls put up a tough fight and gave the Terrapins a run for their money.
Penn State is one of only two teams to get within one goal of Maryland in the final score this season, which just goes to show that the Lions made themselves a worthy opponent last night.
At the start of the game Maryland won the draw, bringing the ball down to Penn State's goal.
The Lions were able to gain back possession for a while, as a result of some slipping and falling due to the weather, but unfortunately, Maryland got the ball back and earned themselves the first goal of the game.
Maryland followed up with another two goals to bring the score to 3-0.
Penn State won the next draw allowing Jenna Mosketti to net a goal off an assist from Madison Cyr.
Another goal followed that at the hand of Steph Lazo as she came in from the side and beat out her defender to the net.
The team was proving that they could hold their own against the No. 1 team in the country, and they were able to maintain a close score throughout the game.
Lazo spoke about their performance against Maryland and how well they were able to keep up with the reigning Big Ten regular season champions.
"Maryland is number one and it's a great challenge to rise against, but we hung with them and I'm so proud of the team today," said Lazo.
Throughout the rest of the first half, both Maryland and Penn State each netted three goals apiece, with Penn State getting the last two goals of the half.
Going into halftime down only one goal, the team was feeling confident for what was to come in the second half, and the girls were ready to keep fighting hard on both sides of the field to keep up with their Big Ten rivals.
A huge contributing factor to the team's performance in the first half was the efforts of their defense and goalkeeper Emi Smith, who praised her team for helping her to succeed in stopping Maryland's shots.
"My defense did an insane job today; the shots I saw were because of them and they hustled the entire time and stopped a lot of Maryland's shooting opportunities," said Smith.
The second half did not start off in Penn State's favor, as Maryland scored the first goal of the half, once again bringing them further into the lead.
To follow that up Penn State was forced to play with a man down after senior Ally Heavens got a yellow card.
With the ball down by Maryland's goal, the girls passed it around until Heavens was back on the field.
With the all their girls back in play, Penn State pulled it together and netted another three goals, bringing the Lions into the lead.
A majority of those goals were with the help of Steph Lazo, who assisted both Jenna Mosketti and Kelly Daggett in pulling the team ahead.
Head coach Missy Doherty commended Lazo for her performance in the game and her ability to see her open teammates and feed them the ball, while also seeing opportunities for herself and being able to put away her own shots on goal.
Unfortunately, the girls were not able to keep their lead and Maryland scored three consecutive goals to bring back their lead.
Penn State got off one more successful shot to bring them within one goal of tying up the game, but despite their best efforts they were unable to tie up the game and force the contest into overtime.
Although they lost, the entire team and their coaches agreed that they played one of their best games all season last night.
"Losing isn't the greatest feeling, but to know that they are the number one team in the nation and that we can hang with them, that is great for us," said Lazo.
Next week the team will enter into postseason play in the Big Ten Tournament, and with that the team is noting the improvements they can make based off of tonight's game to come back and try to win another tournament title.
"I think we just really needed to put our shots away. We had some good looks on cage, but we didn't put our shots away," said Doherty.
Lazo also spoke of the improvements that can be made on the offensive end heading into the tournament.
"We're a very diverse and powerhouse offense and we just needed to stay calm and composed because we can get those shots," said Lazo.
The team will begin postseason play next week in their quarterfinal game of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday, May 5th at Northwestern. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before faceoff on Saturday against Michigan (3-9, 0-4 Big Ten), the Penn State men's lacrosse team (7-6, 1-3 Big Ten) will recognize seven graduating seniors for their dedication to the program.
Tommy O'Neill, Ryan Guittare, James Chakey, James Burke, TJ Sanders, John Von Nessen and Connor Darcey will all be honored. Matt Sexton will be returning next campaign after spending this season, his academic senior year, as a medical redshirt.
The class of 2016 entered Penn State with hopes and expectations for the future, as individuals and as members of the lacrosse program. None of them knew starting their journey that their class would have such an impact.
Overcoming adversity during every campaign, the seniors have learned to be humble through the good and determined through the bad, and have set the tone this season for the underclassmen. A class that leads by example, each one of the graduating seniors used their individual personalities to bring something unique to their leadership.
"I feel like coaching is one of the most rewarding professions," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "You have an opportunity as a pivotal age to be around young men and you grow from them and hopefully they grow from you. This particular group of young men, since they got to campus back in the fall of 2012, we have seen them grow up, but with this group I think it's been a little bit different based on the experiences they've gone through."
O'Neill, one of the captains this year, is a natural born leader who emulates maturity, head coach Jeff Tambroni explained. Alongside O'Neill, fellow captain Burke defined his role as a fierce competitor, unafraid of holding players accountable.
Guittare has become the face of persistence on the team. Securing a starting spot his sophomore year, then having to overcome the challenges to obtain that spot once again, has displayed Guittare's dedication to the team and determination within himself.
"When things aren't going well and you aren't playing it's more challenging to be selfless in your contributions," said Tambroni. "All of these guys are great teammates but [Guittare] has been selfless and mature through the latter part of his career and it's put him in a position where I would imagine he'd want to be, back on the field contributing at a very high level."
Von Nessen, who also had to overcome challenges of his own, has displayed his true love for the game of lacrosse since day one. Starting as a offensive midfielder, and moving to long-stick midfielder before settling in as a face off midfielder, Von Nessen has showed his versatility on the field, and willingness to step in where needed, two qualities of a player Tambroni greatly appreciates.
Chakey is the epitome of persistence, Tambroni explained. As Chakey navigated the difficult task of being a student-athlete over the past four years, he's also had to deal with regulating his Crohn's disease.
"I can't imagine he's ever had a day where he's felt 100 percent healthy, and you would never know it," said Tambroni. "What was going on underneath the skin was never what you saw outside and he always portrayed himself as a young man with great poise."
Sanders, who has made a name for himself on the field, isn't someone who should be judge solely on statistics. Sanders is a quiet leader that is tremendously talented, whose compassion for others fuels his love for the game of lacrosse and his teammates.
When asked what they'll miss most about their time with Penn State lacrosse, one moment came to mind for three seniors. Burke, O'Neill, and Chakey all agreed that what they'd miss most would be the time spent in the locker room after the team's 6 a.m. Friday morning workouts.
"Those workouts were brutal," said Burke. "That's definitely up there when it comes to memories."
Other players noted how on the field their favorite memories are between hosting the first round of the NCAA tournament their freshman year in 2013 and beating then-No. 1 Denver this past March.
The senior class knows their time at Penn State is almost up, but their season isn't over yet and the focus must remain on their final home matchup.
With no other games after the regular season guaranteed, the senior class knows Senior Day will be filled with emotions, but hope they can continue to set the tone for their teammates and focus on the bigger task at hand.
"It's tough knowing it's the last guaranteed game with these guys," said Chakey. "But it's awesome that it's Michigan because our first college game was against Michigan before the Big Ten even started. As a class we don't want to keep the focus on us we want to play as a team and we're really looking forward to it."
Penn State hosts Michigan on Saturday at noon. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.
By Michele Jaroszewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State baseball was back at Medlar Field on Wednesday facing Kent State for the second time this season.
The two teams played against each other exactly one week ago at Schoonover Stadium, with the Golden Flashes coming out on top in both games. With a late scoring by the Nittany Lions in the bottom of the eighth, the home team came up short falling 6-2.
The visiting team was first on the board in the top of the third inning, with a RBI single by Mason Mamarella. The centerfielder made the last pitch on a full count matter, cranking the ball into right field. Runner on base Luke Burch made it home after advancing to second on a ball and third on a wild pitch.
Mamarella got the next tally two batters later on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Dylan Rosa.
With four innings down and two runs on the board, Penn State's Eli Nabholz stepped up to the pitcher's mound to relieve starter Nick Hedge. In the top of the fifth, Rosa swung on the second pitch for a two run RBI single passing a diving Jim Haley at shortstop. Teammates Reilly Hawkins and Burch got the tallies making the score 4-0 Kent.
Pete Schuler was up next, hitting the same spot getting on first base after an infield error by Haley. Zalewski came off of second, picking up speed to make it home for the fifth run of the game.
Mamarella got his second RBI with a single that resulted in a triple. The batter singled a line driver into right field, later advancing to second then third on a fielding error by James Coates. Making this the final run for the Golden Flashes in the top of the sixth.
A change in the lineup was in favor of the home team, as relief pitcher Eli Martin started the top of the eighth inning. Haley was first on base finding the sweet spot in centerfield for a single. Tyler Kendall followed shortly after with another hit to left center, advancing Haley to third.
It wasn't until two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week Willie Burger stepped up to the plate to get a pair of runs for the Nittany Lions. The idea of a comeback shook Kent State, bringing in new pitcher Tim Faix for the last batter of the inning.
The Flashes saw three Nittany Lion pitchers in the span of three innings during the latter stages of the game. Nick Distasio came in for relief in the sixth, while Tom Mullin followed shortly after in the seventh, staying until the eighth. The game finished with Tim Scholly stepping in as the fifth and final pitcher for Penn State, holding the opponents until the end.
"We didn't do well getting on base to begin. Got to have opportunities to score runners," said Head Coach Rob Cooper about the teams' performance. "Their guy [Joey Murray] did a good job keeping us off balance."
Coach Cooper said that it was Murray's late life in his curve balls that threw off batters at the plate. Making the players chase for the balls. The winning pitcher had nine strikeouts and allowed four hits. Keeping the Lions of the boards for a sold seven innings.
"It was good, he had two different arm angles," said Tyler Kendall. "I think as a group we kind of let fast balls early and some breaking balls left. We were taking and put us in some holes. We're going to learn from it. Come back tomorrow, practice it, and be ready for the weekend."
As for the many faces at the pitcher's mound for Penn State, Cooper said that it was an initial plan to take Hedge out early in the game and have pitchers like Mullin and Scholly get more playing time.
"We wanted Hedge to get another start. Eli we knew we wanted him to touch the ball..." Cooper said. "We said all along that we got a deep bench and a lot of young guys that haven't as much playing time as they would like. Just trying to get some guys off their feet."
Both Cooper and players noted that Wednesday's game was not their best performance. With four fielding errors, the Nittany Lions are looking to reduce this number when playing Maryland in the next series.
"As a whole it was kind of a sloppy game. They're a good hitting team and they're a great pitching team, spotting them a couple of walks, errors, and some base running errors was not part of our game plan," Kendall said. "But it happens, its baseball. Everybody that made errors tonight is a good player and will come back tomorrow with confidence."
"At the end of the days it comes down to us. Come down to us taking care of ourselves, and it comes down to making sure that we do the things that we need to do," Cooper said. "Pitch well, get ahead of guys, and find a way to score. If we do that, it'll take us up against anything."
The first game of the Maryland series will start Friday at 6:30 p.m.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State lacrosse programs are looking ahead to the potential expansion of the current lacrosse field into a state-of-the-art facility for both the men's and women's teams.
The current field, which has bleacher seating on one side and a grass hill on the other, provides few amenities beyond the basics. However, Penn State is looking to enhance both player and fans' game day experiences by adding a new structure to the complex.
The expansion will include stadium style seating where the hill currently is, while keeping the integrity of the hill fans have grown to love.
Men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni knows the important role facilities play for student-athletes of all programs, and he hopes fans recognize that the design of the new facility pays homage to the tradition of Penn State lacrosse, while also allowing for future program growth.
"I think what we saw was an opportunity to match some things in the landscape here at Penn State and make it very classy, putting a first-class facility up there," said Tambroni. "But at the same time keeping the integrity of the hill and allowing some of that seating to still run out into that grassy hill and overlook some of the greatest facilities in the country with the Bryce Jordan Center to the left and Beaver Stadium as well."
In addition to new seats for fans, the expansion will also boast permanent concessions, more bathrooms, and a ticket office, amenities unavailable with the current stadium set up.
"I think if you just look at everything that fits under the umbrella of the fan experience," said Tambroni. "Coming to the game and being able to grab something to eat in a reasonable location, being able to sit comfortably perched up on the hill, being able to go to the bathroom in a convenient location, those are things you maybe take for granted that are in all stadiums that we just don't have."
Lastly, a press box will be built above the new seating, with full broadcasting capabilities for radio and television.
As both Penn State lacrosse programs continue to excel in the Big Ten, it is only fitting the teams have a top-notch stadium to match. The enhancement to the lacrosse facility, budgeted at $8.4 million, and with a fundraising goal of $5.5 million, would bring the current field into the modern age and allow student-athletes to further their successes at the University.
Both the men's and women's programs will benefit from the expansion, as the two teams will remain the sole users of the future facility. It's rare for a collegiate lacrosse team to have it's own facility that isn't shared with sports such as soccer or field hockey, but Penn State continues to stand out.
By providing all the above enhancements to a facility for two already stellar programs, Tambroni explained it would add further incentive for potential recruits to join Penn State lacrosse down the road.
"There's an enormous difference between a vision conjured up in your own mind and progress you can actually see," said Tambroni. "It's symbolic of our own program, you can communicate your vision of where you want this program, the program's culture to be, today, tomorrow, next year, but until someone actually sees it growing and developing it's just human nature for it to be tough to believe."
Tambroni explained how when talking with recruits he is realistic, knowing that they haven't broken ground just yet on the expansion.
"You can talk all you want about the expansion of phase one to phase two, but until someone actually sees the shovel going to the ground it's tough for people to believe it."
Tambroni and the rest of the coaching staff don't make any promises to recruits when talking about the stadium project because details of the groundbreaking aren't set in stone.
More information about the project can be found under the "Facilities" tab of both the men's and women's lacrosse pages on GoPSUsports.com or by clicking here - Lacrosse Stadium Project.
By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Marlaina Laubach and Madison Seifert tossed a pair of gems Wednesday night against St. Francis (Pa.). But was there something tropical that helped them hurl such great games?
Blow up palm trees can be seen all around Beard Field during each home game, and the superstition serves as a reminder to the players to hang tough during the game.
"The palm tree represents our culture here. Palm trees are a type of tree that weather the storm, we call it. So when its stormy out and if it bends over, it always comes back straight up," said Seifert.
Clearly, the plastic, 10 feet long timber brings the mojo to Beard Field. But there is no substitution for sheer dominance in the circle. Laubach worked quickly in throwing a complete game shutout in game one winning 6-0, and was locked in all evening; according to head coach Amanda Lehotak.
"She attacked the zone. Laubach missed two spots all night."
While Laubach works quickly when she's on the rubber, Seifert takes a little more time in between pitches. Not necessarily a bad thing when she only made one mistake pitch all night long en route to another complete game win. Seifert paces around the mound and concentrates in on the catcher's mitt before letting one fly.
"I like to wipe the slate clean. I like to think of each pitch as the next pitch and really dial in. You can't really control the pitch before [or] the pitch next. You just have to think each pitch," said Seifert.
The strategy worked. The Blue & White took game two by a score of 4-2.
Team camaraderie was in full effect Wednesday night as well. The dugout was loud, supportive, and constantly chattering, while the fans were really into both games even as the temperature dropped steadily. The pre-inning huddle at the pitcher's circle puts on display the team buying into each other, and Seifert explained exactly what is said during those mound visits composed of the entire infield.
"If we just scored, we want to shut them down. If we're kind of dead, we're trying to get each other pumped back up and then if it's towards the end of the game, we call it a countdown. It's like the countdown to the end, the end of the game is the most important part. We've got to be the most focused then, so that's what we talk about."
Good situational hitting was the key to putting runs on the board for the Nittany Lions. Sac-flies that turned into RBIs, and grounders to the opposite side of the infield moved runners over that eventually came in to score.
"To me, the last 15 games, we've really tightened that up and we've done a good job. The kids have been staying calm and have not tried to be the hero. To me, they're really having selfless at-bats right now," praised Lehotak.
At this point in the season a year ago, Penn State was 24-24 (6-11), but now they smell the NCAA tournament with a 28-18 record, 13-4 in conference play.
"We should not lose [at home]," Lehotak added. "We should have that attitude."
The squad must carry that mindset into the weekend, where a potential season-deciding series with second-ranked Michigan will go a long way to determining the Lions' NCAA tournament hopes. For now, dominant pitching and selfless at-bats should do the trick moving forward.
By: Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- With the last game of their regular season against a Big Ten rival, the Nittany Lions women's lacrosse team is pumped up and ready to take on the Terrapins on their home field. This is a big game for Penn State, and if they clinch themselves a win they will tie with Maryland for the top spot in the Big Ten.
For team co-captain Abby Smucker, who is a Maryland native, this is an exciting game as the end of the season nears.
The team plans to go into the game as if it is any other team and play the best that they can, but Smucker admits that there is a different feeling going into this last game of the season.
"As a player, personally it brings more of an emotional and motivational factor knowing that it is a chance to play for the Big Ten regular season championship," said Smucker.
She has come a long way from her first season on the team and she cannot believe how quickly the time has gone by.
With the seniors graduating in a little over a week, it is only a matter of time before the reins are turned over to the rising seniors.
"I think just yesterday I was a freshman and the years have just flown by. Next year we are still going to have a great group of upperclassmen that are willing to lead the way and show the underclassmen the ropes," said Smucker.
Playing Maryland is a big deal to the team, they are excited to end their season against such a good team and believe that they are more than prepared to take on the Terripans.
"I love playing Maryland last. It's an awesome way to end our season and I think we are ready to take them on," said Smucker.
"We've had our ups and downs this season, but I think we've played that out. We've grown a lot as a team and we're peaking at the best point in our season against Maryland."
The girls have a lot to take on, as Maryland is a very fast and talented team, but Smucker is confident that with all of the practice the team has put in, that they are ready to take on a top rival.
"Maryland is very fast in transition and they are going to have all seven attackers that can come at us hard," said Smucker.
"We are looking to play good, hard defense and really have each other's back to make those 1 v. 1 stops."
Smucker said the team is also going to continue to focus on communication and keeping up quick ball movement in their last game in an effort to outplay Maryland.
Although it is the beginning of the end for the seniors, they are going to push their hardest against Maryland and through the postseason to make the most of their time left with the team.
Smucker said she was going to miss the upperclassmen that have led the team for the past year, and thanks them for their dedication to the program over the past four years.
"The seniors have done an amazing job of inspiring all of the underclassmen and showing us the way and I wish them all the best in their future endeavors," said Smucker.
The Nittany Lions are so close to snagging that number one spot in the Big Ten alongside Maryland, and the team is highly motivated to get that spot.
The two teams will face off in University Park on Thursday, April 27 starting at 7 p.m.
By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the Lady Lions in the midst of the offseason, there is a new, yet familiar, face walking the halls of the Bryce Jordan Center.
Miriam Powell, the former executive director of Pink Zone, has increased her role with the program and is now the Director of Community Outreach, a position she stepped into in January.
In her new objective with the program, Powell's main focus is creating powerful and impactful relationships within the Penn State and surrounding communities, through service and volunteerism
"My biggest goal is more visibility for Lady Lion basketball outside of the Bryce Jordan Center," Powell said.
Powell has worked closely with the women's basketball team ever since she first became the Pink Zone executive director five years ago. The decision to join Pink Zone was all about timing for Powell, who had moved to the area with one young child and another on the way.
"I was just looking to keep my sanity as a new young mom, and was doing volunteer work in community for the American Cancer Society," Powell said. "One of the other volunteers told me about the Pink Zone opening and thought that based on what I had done for ACS that I would be a good fit."
The position proved to be a really good fit at that time, allowing Powell to work from home and still be around her kids. It also allowed her to build relationships with the community and the Lady Lion program.
Now that her kids are a little bit older, Powell was ready to get back into an office setting. Having always felt that volunteering and community service are important to building character, Powell jumped at the opportunity to apply for the position with the Lady Lions.
"The one thing that I loved most about my years with Pink Zone was getting to know the community better," Powell said. "I just really loved getting to know the people in the other communities so when this job became available and the focus was on community outreach and community service, it was a good fit."
As she settles into her new job, Powell's been busy wrapping her head around all parts of Penn State athletics in what she describes as a "fun and busy" first couple of months. She's excited for what the future holds for the Lady Lion program, both on the court and in the office.
"It's been really fun getting to work more closely with the Lady Lion players, I've loved that part of it," she said. "I love coming to work every day. Every day is different and the people who work in this office specifically are awesome."
As the Director of Community Outreach, Powell plans to use her strength of connecting with people to focus on connecting Lady Lion basketball even more to the community.
"My goal is creating more visibility, and getting the players and the coaches out engaging with the fans that are supporting them now, or lining them up with new fans because of the community service that they do," Powell said.
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