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Freshman Feature: Smirnov Eager to Contribute

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Freshman forward Denis Smirnov moved to the United States from Russia when he was 14 years old. Since then, the quick-moving Smirnov has worked his way through Junior hockey with the Indiana Ice and Fargo Force of the USHL, on his way to the Penn State men's hockey team, where he is one of the first two Russian student-athletes in program history.

It's more than 4,000 miles from Smirnov's hometown of Moscow, Russia to Pegula Ice Arena.

The Russian capital has a long and storied history of producing exceptional hockey players. To highlight a few recent Muscovites, two forwards were named to the Russian 2016 World Cup of Hockey team, Nikita Kucherov and Alexander Ovechkin.

Leaving Russia for the United States was a difficult decision, Smirnov explained. He credited his family's unwavering support to making his departure from Moscow just a little bit easier. The hardest part however, was jumping into a country whose style of hockey was a bit different than home.

"When you're little [in Russia] you just do a lot of skill work, and it's different because they use an Olympic sheet," said Smirnov.

Getting used to a smaller rink was something that challenged Smirnov, who had to learn to utilize passing more and skating the puck into the zone with possession, rather than a game of dump and chase. Smirnov also emphasized how physical North American hockey can be, but pointed out his speed is a weapon on the ice.

Despite the differences in Russian and American hockey, Smirnov was confident his choice to play hockey in the United States would pay off, which it did.

During the 2014-15 season with the Force, Smirnov was the team leader in goals, finding the back of the net 18 times in 53 games played. He also contributed 22 assists, which placed him second on the team.

The following season, Smirnov played in 60 of the Force's 70 games and once again, led the Force in goals (29), finishing second on the team in assists (32). 

Smirnov noted that his ability to quickly adjust to the physical style of hockey in the USHL was how he was able to make major impacts on his previous teams. He believes his ability to use his skill set and vision of the ice taught in Russia, combined with his knowledge of North American hockey will be critical for the season ahead. 

Alongside Smirnov, there are nine other young players also in their rookie seasons with the Nittany Lions. The freshman class includes four Canadians, four Americans, and two Russians, Smirnov and Nikita Pavlychev.

Despite their diverse geographic backgrounds, Smirnov believes that having players from across the globe is what contributed to year's team capability to achieve success.

"I think [the freshman class] will be good," said Smirnov. "The guys played on good teams last year in good leagues."

Penn State's First Five Minutes Key To Bucknell Victory

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Feature Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - After a slow start against Lock Haven Sunday afternoon, Penn State forward Shay Cannon said her team wanted to do the exact opposite against Bucknell Tuesday evening.

"For Bucknell, we want to dominate the first five minutes," Cannon said. "We want to keep bringing it up as the game goes on." 

Penn State did just that.

Before fans even had a chance to get settled into their seats, the Penn State offense was already forcing the ball into the circle to set up Gini Bramley for a goal just 59 seconds into the game. 

"It's really important for us to get off to a really good start and get our momentum up so everyone can get in and get a really good team effort," Bramley said.

Only one minute and nine seconds went by after the first goal before Cannon got a perfect look at the cage to put the Nittany Lions up 2-0. 

With just under three minutes remaining in Penn State's crucial first five minutes of play, the Nittany Lion offense wanted to produce more. The ball found it's way back into Cannon's hands four minutes and 41 seconds into the game as she sent the ball into the back of the cage for the second time of the night.

"I think we've spent a lot of time at practice working on preparing and being ready to take any shot," Cannon said. "Plays that I'm not expecting, I have been really preparing myself for any situation and lately it's been really successful. It's a testament to my other strikers and midfielders."

With Cannon's two quick goals, she has extended her scoring to five goals in the last three games. 

"Shay is just always around the cage," Penn State head coach Morett-Curtiss said. "She has quick hands and sometimes you don't even see the ball go from her stick into the cage. She is just a natural goal scorer, so I am just proud she has been able to finish."

Kasey Morano and Carly Celkos each added goals before the end of the first half followed by a goal by Aurelia Meijer in the first five minutes of the second half. Brooke Birosik joined Penn State's scoring party later in the second half.  

With a 5-0 lead at half time, Penn State was able to rotate in the majority of its players to get a lot of playing time.

"That was the difficult thing against Lock Haven because we couldn't get more kids in," Morett-Curtiss said. "We need to see how they perform as well at this level and get some starters some rest because in three days we will be going to Iowa."

The Nittany Lions (6-0) defeated the Bison (2-3) 9-1 Tuesday evening at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

"I just was really proud of the speed of play. I was really proud of the way they came out to start this game," Morett-Curtiss said. "One thing we talked about was just getting pressure in the first five minutes, getting shots on goal and if we can knock one in that's awesome. For them to get three goals in the first five minutes of the game, it's just a great start."

With Tuesday night's win, Penn State extends its record to 6-0 on the season for the third time in program history and the first time since 2002.

"This is something we have been working on since each of us got here," Colleen Conway said. "Seeing our team have this kind of start has been our dream since we first got here."

On top of keeping a perfect season, the Nittany Lions jumped one spot to No. 4 in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll released Tuesday afternoon.

"It's only giving us motivation to continue this success," Cannon said. "We know we can't take it for granted. It's just making us work harder because we know what we want the outcome to be at the end of the season."

The Penn State Nittany Lions will travel to Iowa City on Friday to take on the Hawkeyes.

2016 Tuesday Press Conference Roundup - Temple

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Transcript: Franklin | Transcript: Players | Game Notes | VIDEO: Player Q&A with Trace McSorley & Christian Campbell Photo Gallery

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football returns home to Beaver Stadium this week, set to meet its second consecutive in-state opponent. Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin met with members of the media Tuesday to preview Saturday's Stripe Out game against Temple, which kicks off at noon on BTN.

The Nittany Lions (1-1) and the Owls (1-1) are set to meet for the 45th time in program history and the third consecutive year. This week, Franklin took time to review a few items from last week's trip to Pitt before previewing the Temple matchup.

After taking time to look back at the Pitt tape, Franklin noted that he was especially proud of the team in its efforts to battle and preserve despite the final outcome in a challenging environment.

Among items to improve this week, consistency proved to be a major theme today as the Nittany Lions begin Temple preparations. Speaking about improving consistency in different areas, Franklin stressed the focus on offense securing the ball, tackling on defense and on special teams related to kick location.

Franklin also addressed the importance of getting out to a strong start early in the game.

"I think the first week was a typical first week," Franklin said. "Last week, it was a tough environment. That stadium was rocking. There was a lot of emotion. We anticipated all of those things. We did a lot of stuff to work with noise in the stadium and I made some comments to you guys after the game about some challenges that we had, but I'm going to move on from now. We didn't handle that as well as we would have liked."

Looking toward Temple, Franklin mentioned that the Owls would bring a great opportunity for the Nittany Lions in several areas come Saturday. Led by former Nittany Lion Matt Rhule, Temple presents tough physical traits on both sides of the ball.

Franklin specifically noted the duo of Temple senior quarterback Phillip Walker and 2015 all-conference running back Jahad Thomas. Walker helped the Owls to a 7-0 start last year as the team's top signal caller and recently moved to the top of the Temple record books as the program's all-time passing leader.

"I am very impressed with their quarterback, Phillip Walker," Franklin said.  "He's a playmaker for them. [Walker] and running back Jahad [Thomas], both of those guys went to the same high school. Both are big-time players out of Elizabeth High School in New Jersey."

On The Quote Board -

- Franklin opened his press conference offering condolences to the family of Army West Point sophomore cornerback Brandon Jackson, who was passed away in a car accident Sunday. Johnson totaled seven tackles against the Nittany Lions in the 2015 meeting, registering five solo and his first career sack. 

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Brandon Jackson family, and Army's head football coach Jeff Monken for their loss," Franklin said.

- In its second year, the Nittany Lions will host an annual Stripe Out in Beaver Stadium, encouraging fans to visit PennStateStripeOut.com to see if their section calls for blue or white attire on Saturday. 

"The Stripe Out, I think it's going to be very exciting," cornerback Christian Campbell said. "I really like our fans. I don't worry about the Stripe Out. I just worry about how many fans are at Beaver Stadium, because I really think it's so exciting. That wins us games, two. It's like a 12th man, because of the fans."

- When asked about Penn State's offensive identity, quarterback Trace McSorley spoke to his role in helping the offense become confident.

"Every time we go out, [we] feel we're going to score points, and we're going to be successful every single drive we have, and for us to kind of have that little bit of competitive edge where we're not going to accept punting the ball," McSorley said.

VIDEO: Temple Week Player Q&As

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUSports.com talks with quarterback Trace McSorley and cornerback Christian Campbell previewing Saturday's Stripe Out in Beaver Stadium against Temple. 

Trace McSorley

Christian Campbell

Monday Notebook: Week Two Takeaways

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football saw its first setback of the 2016 season on the road Saturday at Pitt. The Nittany Lions rallied with 18 points in the fourth quarter, but the comeback fell short.

Reflecting on the ups and downs in an outing where the Nittany Lions trailed by as many as 21 and narrowed the deficit to as few as four, junior tight end Mike Gesicki recapped the sideline mentality.

"We have more heart than in my three years, more than we've ever had," Gesicki said. "We're not going to give up, we're not going to quit. We're going to do whatever it takes to come back and win. We owe it to each other and we owe it to our fans, but more importantly, we put far too much time into it to go down 28-7 and say, 'Alright. See you next week.' No. That's not happening anymore. That's not Penn State, that's not who we are. For us to fight back, turn that into a game and have the ball moving down the field on that last drive and converting a fourth down, that's who Penn State is. That's who we're going to be in the future."

Among takeaways and lessons learned, senior safety Malik Golden also took time following the game to address the first bit of adversity for the Nittany Lions in 2016.

"You've got to keep coming back and fighting," Golden said. "The game is never over so I never really consider any losses. I just think you learn a lot and that's about it."

The game will continue to roll on as the Nittany Lions prepare to take what they have learned and look toward hosting their second in-state opponent, welcoming Temple to Beaver Stadium for a noon kickoff Saturday on BTN.

A few more takeaways from Pitt ...

Gillikin Continues to Shine
True freshman Blake Gillikin has continued to prove why he earned the job as Penn State's starting punter in a close preseason battle. Gillikin averaged 46.6 yards per punt on five attempts against Pitt, placing three inside the 20-yard line. In the heated Heinz Field environment, Gillikin placed his first punt from the 35-yard line during Penn State's opening drive on the Pitt one. He also added a pair of punts for at least 50 yards, including a career-long 69-yard punt to the Pitt 7-yard line in the fourth quarter. Averaging 46.8 yards per punt on the year, he enters the week ranked 10th nationally and second in the Big Ten.

Davis Extending the Streak
Heading into last week, junior kicker Tyler Davis entered Pitt game week at 10-for-10 in his career. He also entered with a 14-for-14 mark in extra point attempts for a combined 24-for-24 in field goals and PATs. He extended his streak against the Panthers, adding another field goal and four PATs to bring his combined total to 29-for-29. He's still firmly out to the best kicking start in Nittany Lion program history since at least 1970. Davis is one of 38 FBS players to top the national standings with a perfect field goal percentage in 2016. His 1.50 field goals per game average also ranks 25th nationally.

Thompkins Stepping Up
In week one we saw a glimpse of what sophomore wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins is capable of with his season-high 43-yard reception from quarterback Trace McSorley in the season opener against Kent State. Stepping into a starting role at Pitt, Thompkins led the team with 87 yards on three receptions. Two of his three receptions were for at least 30 yards, highlighting the day with a 39-yard grab in the fourth quarter that eventually led to a Penn State touchdown.

Temple Ties
The Owls are led by fourth-year head coach Matt Rhule, who guided Temple to a 10-4 record, a bowl appearance and an America Athletic Conference East Division title in 2015, marking one of the program's best seasons in history. Rhule also has close ties to Penn State, having played linebacker for the Nittany Lions from 1994-97. An Academic All-Big Ten honoree, he earned a Penn State degree in political science upon graduation.

Stripe Out
Following last year's successful turnout, Penn State is set to host its second annual "Stripe Out" game in Beaver Stadium Saturday. Fans will have the opportunity to once again find out if their seating location calls for blue or white attire. Fans can the website PennStateStripeOut.com to enter their second and find out which color to wear to the Stripe Out.  

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Lady Lions are back on campus and prepping for the season ahead of them after strong workouts this summer.

 Under new NCAA rules, the team was allowed to practice as a whole over the summer, so from the end of June to mid-August, the Lady Lions were in the gym working out as a full squad.

"All summer we had full team practices and it didn't really matter that they were only an hour or two hours a week," said sophomore captain Sarah McMurtry. "We got a lot done, we worked on a lot of offense and transition and stuff like that. We got a lot faster and now we look faster moving up and down the court."

With most Penn State students home for break and with a smaller workload in the classroom, the players were able to focus strictly on basketball and improving upon last season.

"It's very different from the season, we don't lift as hard or do as much straight-up conditioning as we do in the season," McMurtry said. "Although the season was hard and long and time consuming, the summer's a little more strenuous on your body. Day-by-day it might seem long but all of a sudden six weeks are up and you did so much work all summer so it felt really productive."

The summer was also the first time that the Lady Lions were able to bring in and workout with the true freshmen. Jaida Travascio-Green and Siyeh Frazier were in State College for the second half of the summer to start getting acclimated with the team.

"Bringing in the freshman has been great because it's always nice to get new faces," said senior Peyton Whitted, also a team captain. "With Jaida and Siyeh they're very special because they've really taken in everything that we worked on this summer a lot faster than what you probably would think for a freshman. They work hard and they're going to help us a lot and I'm excited." 

Travascio-Green and Frazier were able to learn and grow thanks to help from veteran players, who went out of their way to make the transition easier for them.

"It was definitely not as bad of a transition as I was expecting just because all of my teammates were really helpful about getting places and helping us get acquainted with everything," Travascio-Green said. "And at practice, [head coach Coquese Washington] and all the coaches were really helpful with making sure we knew what we're doing before we started."

Now that the fall semester has started, the team is back to its normal offseason procedures, balancing more credits with a stricter practice regiment. While it was great for the freshmen to get their toes wet in the summer, it's much different now with the added work. 

"In the summertime versus the fall semester, the sidewalks weren't as crowded, it's super crowded now, but workouts were hard of course, but they helped us get accustomed really fast," Frazier said. "Now that the semester is started, it's been fine because we have study hall, so I usually do all my work there, and that helps so much." 

The Lady Lions will continue their offseason routine in the coming weeks as they prepare for their season to open in November.

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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's Big Ten opener against Ohio State is no ordinary game. It's much bigger than a game itself. It's bigger than the players on the field.

 

Tuesday's game at Jeffrey Field marks the playing of the fourth annual Mack Brady Game. It's a game and night that holds a special place in the hearts of many within the Penn State men's soccer program. It's a day when the team "lives the dreams of Mack and the dreams of a lot of other people. It's a day of appreciation and thankfulness for the opportunity that all of us have to live other people's dreams," according to head coach Bob Warming.  

 

Penn State plays in honor of Mack Brady. Mack and his father Christian Brady, former Dean of the Schreyer Honors College, attended Penn State soccer games frequently. Mack played soccer on a local youth team and dreamed like many young children. At age five, he dreamed of becoming a goalkeeper for Penn State and eventually becoming a goalkeeper for the U.S. national team. Tragically, Mack passed away unexpectedly from a blood infection called sepsis on December 31, 2012, just two days after seeing a doctor.

 

The day celebrates Mack's life with special events, giveaways, t-shirts, gloves for sale and ultimately the match itself.

 

"It's not a saddening vibe; if anything it's uplifting," said senior goalkeeper Evan Finney. "Playing for someone that's passed away who aspired to be a goalkeeper here, that means a lot. I've been here for four years now and every Mack Brady Game is something special."

 

Mack has left his mark on Penn State men's soccer permanently. Shortly after Mack's passing, his father Christian Brady thought it would be a brilliant idea to start the Mack Brady Memorial Men's Soccer Fund at Penn State, a scholarship and endowment fund. It was created in partnership with the Penn State men's soccer program to provide funding for scholarships, equipment and aid, especially for the goalkeeping position Mack fell in love with.

 

"Dean [Christian] Brady is someone who has been very special in my life the last couple years," said freshman goalkeeper Arie Ammann. "Every time I came out to games he was there and introducing himself. We've had communication back and forth about just regular things which is very touching when I found out about Mack. This game means more than just ourselves now. It's something else. It's for Mack. It's something that's going to drive me and will keep driving the team for a win."

 

In the previous three Mack Brady Games, the Nittany Lions have won all three. It seems fitting that Penn State has only given up one goal in the matches. Mack would have appreciated quality goalkeeping play from "Goalkeeper U". Every game, the Penn State keepers sport a diamond with four leaf clovers and the number "7" on their sleeve in honor of Mack.

 

This year's unit of goalkeepers continues a Penn State tradition paved by former Nittany Lion and current LA Galaxy goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton. Through two weeks of this season, preseason All-Big Ten selection Finney and the highly touted freshman Ammann have each earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades. The solid play of the backline and midfield has made their jobs a whole lot easier.  

 

"The goalkeeping position is by far the most important position in soccer and it's not even close," said Warming, a former goalkeeper himself. "The fact that we have a great goalkeeper core, it gives everyone in front of them a lot of confidence. We're one of the few teams in Division I who play with three guys in the back. We have so much confidence in our guys in the back and our goalkeeping that we can do that. We play with two forwards, nowadays most teams play with one forward. The point is if the goalkeepers are good, it makes the rest of the team better."

 

Ammann has filled in for Evan Finney, who has been sitting out due to injury after the season opener. He picked up right where Finney left off.

 

"This wasn't just another recruit or another guy joining the program," said Warming. "This is a guy who trained in a professional environment and played against pros in Watford (England). There are very few guys who can go to Europe at age 16 and jump into a pro-environment. The goalkeeping core is in great hands for the future with the addition of him."

 

The goalkeepers take pride in being a part of "Goalkeeper U" and representing Mack Brady. With Mack on their side, the Nittany Lions look to push their record to 4-0 on his night.

 

If you would like to support the Mack Brady Memorial Men's Soccer Fund, memorial gifts may be made online http://givenow.psu.edu/MackBrady or by sending a check, payable to Penn State with "In memory of Mack Brady" in the memo line, to: Penn State University, One Old Main, University Park, PA 16802. You can also visit http://www.mackbrady.com/ for more information about the fund.


For more information on Nittany Lion men's soccer, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.

Depth, Attitude lifts Penn State Past Lock Haven

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By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - For the first time since 2002, Penn State field hockey is 5-0 to start its season, following a 4-1 win against Lock Haven (3-1) Sunday afternoon.

Depth and attitude allowed the Nittany Lions to accomplish the feat that has only happened five other times in Penn State history.

Penn State's four goals were scored by four different Nittany Lions: Moira Putsch, Gini Bramley, Shay Cannon, and Kasey Morano.

"The strikers and forwards, it's their job to score. We've been hammering them all week" Penn State head coach Char Morrett-Curtiss said. "We've been working on scoring with them because, again, it goes back to it being their role. They just have that hunger to score and as you move through the season, you can't key on one person. They are very unselfish players. They pass the ball and sometimes we even want them to shoot a little bit more. But they did a really nice job around the goal today."

After 33 minutes of scoreless play, Putsch put the first goal on the board, followed by a quick goal by Bramley at the beginning of the second half. 

"I think [our depth] says a lot. A lot of our games where we score a lot of goals, the goals are so spread out," Putsch said. "I think that says a lot about us and who we are as a team and how strong we are. We don't rely on just one or two players. It's everyone coming together, which is really big for us. It's awesome to have this depth. It feels really good."

The Nittany Lions (5-0) proved they do not rely solely on one or two players to win games when 20 of the 27 players checked in to Sunday's game.  

"We talked before the game that we want to get a good lead so we can get everybody in. It's the goal we always have," Cannon said. "It's a testament to how hard everyone works because we all get in and it pays off."

During the first half, the Penn State offense could not find a way around Lock Haven's tightly packed defense.

"They played us really well by packing into our offensive 25, so it was definitely more challenging for us because we like to use the space," Putsch said. "We had to kind of change our game a little bit, but I think learning and adapting how we did that today was really good."

Despite the changes that the Nittany Lions had to make in the locker room at half time, the team's positive attitude is something that has held steady since the beginning of the 2016 season. 

"I think last year we would get down on ourselves and play frantically after they would score. But this year, we've come right back and dominated and scored. It hasn't stopped us yet," Cannon said. "If something were to happen where they score, we know not to get down on ourselves because we have the composure and confidence to score right away."

Penn State will try to extend its record to 6-0 for the third time in program history against Bucknell Tuesday before facing its first Big Ten opponent of the season on Friday.

"Tuesday night, it's a quick turnaround for us to play two Pennsylvania teams. I think our fitness level is very good," Morett-Curtiss said. "Fortunately it was cool today - it got a little hotter in the second half. Hopefully Tuesday night is a little bit cooler as well."

Penn State will host Bucknell at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex. 

Barkley Shows Resiliency at Pitt

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9450278.jpegBy Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.  - In a game filled with highs and lows, there's a lot to process from Penn State's first trip to Pittsburgh since 2000.

In front of a sold out crowd of nearly 70,000 at Heinz Stadium, the Nittany Lions lost their first game of the 2016 season, as their comeback effort fell short in a 42-39 decision.

Among high emotions and a bitter ending, it's hard not to focus on what went wrong when looking back. That's not how Penn State Football operates though, with one of the program's four core values leading off with a positive attitude.

Looking toward the positives, Penn State's Saquon Barkley stood out among a group of Nittany Lions who refused to give up in front of the city of Pittsburgh's largest crowd ever at a sporting event.

During his weekly availability, Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi named Barkley as one of the best running backs in the country, making it clear the Pitt defense would be keying in on the talented sophomore running back.

From week one to week two, Penn State head coach James Franklin was also keenly aware that no matter who the opponent, Barkley would be the focus.

"Their head coach [Pat Narduzzi] has a defensive coordinator background and they do really good on the defensive side of the ball," Franklin said early in the week leading up to the game. "His personality in my conversations with him in the past - he wants to stop the run - and obviously with Saquon Barkley that's going to be an emphasis that we're going to see every week."

Facing troublesome deficits throughout the game, Barkley stepped up on each occasion for the Nittany Lions, striking back when the Panthers scored, finishing with four rushing touchdowns and one receiving, marking his first career five touchdown outing.

"You never want to be down, but we knew we were down and it's always a fight," Barkley said.

Down but certainly not out, fight is what the Nittany Lions decided to do, with Barkley leading the way.

Barkley's 30 points are tied for fourth place in the records books and are the most since Ki-Jana Carter's 30-point outing in 1994. Logging four rushing touchdowns, he's also the first Nittany Lion to do so since Larry Johnson had four against Michigan State in 2002.

We all know the ending and while it's not reflected in the final score on the stat sheet, Barkley showcased much more than just five touchdowns - he displayed determination and fight from beginning to end.

"He had a great game," quarterback Trace McSorley said. "He ran hard and he was a warrior getting banged up on all plays. He kept pushing and fighting and was big in both the run game and the pass game. He played great."

 "I thought he battled," Franklin said. "People are going to talk about the five touchdowns. That defense, they have done a good job historically of stopping the run. I thought he battled from the beginning to the end; he ran hard."

Praise didn't only come from his teammates and coaches though, as Pitt strong safety Jordan Whitehead noted after the game that playing Barkley was among the toughest battles he's ever had.

"Going back to high school we knew each other pretty well so during the game we were battling," Whitehead said.

Ready to reset, Penn State Football turns its attention toward another in-state opponent, preparing to host Temple Saturday, Sept. 17 at noon in Beaver Stadium.

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By Alyssa Palfey, GGoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's cross country team won their fifth-straight Harry Groves Spiked Shoe invitational this Saturday at their home Blue and White Courses.

 

The Penn State women had four runners place in the top ten. Redshirt-sophomore Tessa Barrett won the meet, breaking the 16-year-old meet record set by Katie Jazwinski of Michigan in 2000. Barrett ran the 6k in a time of 20:31, over a minute faster than she ran last year in this meet.

 

"I'm really happy with how I performed today. We've been working hard as a team these past few weeks, so it's great to see all the hard work come to fruition," said Barrett. "I had no idea what the course record was, I was just trying to run as strong as a race as I could to put my team in the best position possible. I'm so proud of how we did today as a team."

 

Junior Elizabeth Chikotas came in second overall with a time of 20:53. Chikotas also made her way on the meet record board, setting the third-fastest time ever ran at this meet.

 

"It feels really good. We stayed as a pack, we worked together," said Chikotas. "It's just good to come together and run well on a really hot day on our hard course and get a good one under our belts." 

 

Jillian Hunsberger came in next for the Nittany Lions, placing fourth overall (21:13). Freshmen Kathryn Munks came in tenth overall (21:29). Following was redshirt-sophomore, Greta Lindsley (22:03), Victoria Crawford (22:13) and Rachel Banks (23:08) coming in 20th, 24th, and 33rd, respectively.

 

"It feels awesome. The 6k is a real grinder, you know it's really hard, very big difference from the 5k even though it's not too much more," said Munks. "We have a great team and a really young team this year, they push us in workouts and races. It's awesome to be around them. This is the best team I could've picked. I'm so happy I did."

 

The women were pleased with their first big meet of the season, but still felt the meet on the home course was challenging.

 

"It's a hard course, but it is forgiving because you do have these downhill segments to open up your legs. At the same time, it's pure cross country because your gate is constantly changing. You don't get to get in a good rhythm like you do if you're on a track," said Chikotas. "You're just constantly opening up then going short strides. It's brutal, but I definitely say the whole thing is hard."

 

"The most challenging part of the course is the final gradual incline after the three-mile mark. At this point, the legs are feeling pretty heavy and you still have a ways to go until the finish line," said Barrett. "We have a challenging course, but I'm happy about that because it makes us tougher competitors and gives us a great home course advantage."

 

The men's team was led by junior, Tim McGowan, who placed fifth overall (26:35). McGowan felt good about his first big meet of the season on the tough course.

 

"It's awesome. We always try to say, save it for the end, not to hammer it, but I felt pretty conservative," said McGowan. "The last 3k, it started to go at 3 miles, initially you feel good, but then you really start to try to find a happy place, as they say."

 

After McGowan for the Nittany Lions was redshirt-senior, Bobby Hill (27:29), John McGowan (27:31), Jaxson Hoey (27:47) and Colin Abert (28:49), who finished 26th, 27th, 33rd and 55th-place, respectively.

 

The men's team came in fifth overall.

 

The Penn State cross country team will next be action in Minnesota for the Annual Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 24th.

 
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