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Senior Day Honors Seven

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11906684.jpegBy 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. 

Strong Pitching Holds Nittany Lions from a Win

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11904436.jpegBy 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. 

Lacrosse Programs Eye Stadium Expansion

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11904386.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
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.

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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. 

 

 

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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.

Powell Settling Into New Position with Lady Lions

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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.


Nittany Lions Eyeing Future

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11900173.jpegBy Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It didn't go as planned for the Nittany Lions as they closed out the 2016 postseason earlier than many expected.

Penn State dropped a tough four set match to Saint Francis in the EIVA semifinals at Rec Hall. Arguably the second best team in the EIVA, Saint Francis was ranked fourth in the conference, but alongside the Nittany Lions, were one of two ranked teams in the EIVA at 15 in the nation.

"We were still in it, we had chances, we needed one point in game to go up 2-0 and maybe that changes the timber of the match. We never got that side out, and we were in a dogfight from there on," head coach Mark Pavlik said.

The match ended in four sets, but every set could have gone either way as the teams could not find separation until the later stages of each set. The disappointment for the Nittany Lions was palpable in the postgame press conference but there was still time for reflection from some of the seniors.

"The past five years this program is kind of all I have ever known," senior Matt Seifert said. "I thank Pav for all that he has given me and I will take a lot of the things I learned here with me. I think he cares about his players more than any other coach I've had."

Sometimes you work extremely hard and the results don't turn out in your favor. That was the sentiment shared from many of the Nittany Lions as they team scratched and clawed all season, but in the end couldn't fine the results they desired.

Despite the exit that many didn't see coming, the positives are still there for this season, as they always are. They just usually don't show themselves until a few days after a tough loss. Three Nittany Lions received first team All-EIVA honors in Chris Nugent, Matt Seifert and Taylor Hammond. Nugent was co-EIVA player of the year. Royce Clemens also garnered EIVA honors as the newcomer of the year.

"We have a very strong group of guys here and all of them help the team in some way," Seifert said. "It's nice for the team and a few guys to get recognized like that."

The positives don't just stop with the accolades that the Nittany Lions received this season, in fact they don't just stop with this season. Many of the main contributors and starters this season for Penn State were either juniors or sophomores. The core is young for this team as Pavlik has eluded too many times and this means the future is bright.

"We have gotten contributions up and down the lineup all season long," Pavlik said. "This one hurts, but for the guys coming back next season it should also serve as a motivator, that will be interesting to see how it works out in that way."

For Penn State, the returnees include Nugent, Aidan Albrecht, Jalen Penrose, Matt Callaway, Kevin Gear and Clemens. All these players were main factors in victories at one point or another for Penn State this season.

"Obviously we aren't happy with the way this season ended," Albrecht said. "But we know we have a group of guys who have experience and can help us build a very good team next season as well. We just have to work hard and make sure were ready."

Though the loss may sting for a few more days, the new season has already started for Pavlik and Penn State.

"This is a feeling we haven't felt in a while, now the job is to take this disappointment and make sure the program benefits from it," Pavlik said. 

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a fruitful four years with Penn State women's lacrosse (11-4, 3-1 Big Ten), which included winning the inaugural Big Ten tournament championship in 2015, the class of 2016 left their mark during Senior Day in Happy Valley. No. 14 Penn State defeated No. 12 Northwestern (7-8, 2-2 Big Ten) 17-13 on Saturday.

"The senior class has helped us turn a corner for our program and you could really see that physically out on the field today," said head coach Missy Doherty. "So those guys coming up big was certainly not a surprise to me because they've done it for four years."

Senior midfielder Madison Cyr led the Nittany Lions by scoring four goals against the Wildcats. Known for her domination in the offensive zone, Cyr also contributed three assists and six shots on Saturday.

At the other end of the field, senior goalkeeper Emi Smith kept the Wildcats at bay as she made nine saves during Saturday's contest.

After a close first half, the Nittany Lions were tied with the Wildcats at seven apiece. During the second half, the Nittany Lions once again found themselves with a tied game at 11 apiece with 18 minutes left to play. With constant lead changes, this was the sixth tie of the game.

With 17:27 left a timeout was called by the Wildcats and Penn State set up in its defensive zone. A turnover caused by senior midfielder Ally Heavens gave the Nittany Lions possession of the ball, and they immediately took it into the Wildcats' zone. 

Junior attacker Steph Lazo's shot on net was saved and again the Nittany Lions found themselves on defense. Despite their relentless efforts, the Wildcats were unable to find the back of the net as junior midfielder Abby Smucker caused a turnover.

Once again on offense, the Nittany Lions weaved their way through traffic and down the field. Still tied, Cyr made every effort to bring the ball into the zone. Passing to Lazo, Cyr and her fellow teammates set up their play. A few passes later and it was freshman attacker Madison Carter who gave the Nittany Lions the go-ahead goal, assisted by Cyr.

The Nittany Lions took the lead, 12-11 with 11:16 left to play.

Another lead change forced Penn State to buckle down just a minute later. With the Wildcats up 13-12 and less than ten minutes left in the game, the Nittany Lions surged forward on offense.

Five unanswered goals at the end of the second half gave the Nittany Lions the edge they needed, and beat out Northwestern 17-13. Seniors scored two of the final five goals, one from attacker Jenna Mosketti, her second goal of the game, and one from Cyr, a fitting end to a day celebrating the class of 2016.

"I think we buried our shots and we had some momentum," said Doherty. "We hadn't necessarily gotten momentum in some of our games, we didn't have bad momentum but we just didn't get it but today we go it from Emi [Smith] making some big saves and then we got it from putting our shots away toward the end of the game. It was good to see us capture that kind of momentum and make some big plays when it counted." 

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By Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- With only two games left in the regular season, the senior women's lacrosse players are reflecting back on their time with the team and making the best of the time they have left.

Seniors Madison Cyr, Heather Herman, Ally Heavens, Jenna Mosketti and Emi Smith all agree that they are not ready to be done with the team that has brought that so many memories over their careers.

They have devoted so much of their time at Penn State to practices, games, watching film, and traveling together, and that is something each and every senior does not want to end.

The girls are upset to have only two games left in their regular season, but they are excited that their last ever regular season games are on their home field.

"It's sad to be ending, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Having Northwestern and Maryland be our last two games and be at home is awesome and we are going to go out with a bang," said Smith.

Smith also thinks that the team plays better at home and truly does have that home-field advantage. With the vibes from the crowd and from the team as a whole, she believes that it helps them to play their best.

Heavens also agreed that being at home for the end of their season is the best thing for the team. 

"It'll be to our advantage being at home. We will have a good crowd cheering for us and that makes it so much better," said Heavens.

The game takes up a lot of the players' time, which has helped them to keep their minds off of graduation and the culmination of their time with the team.

"I have been so consumed with lacrosse and it's nice to have the game to distract myself with, so it hasn't really hit me yet," said Heavens.

Cyr agreed and said that with so much time being devoted to the game and her schoolwork she hasn't had enough time to sit down and think about the end of her career as a player and as a student.

Smith took a slightly different stance, in the fact that their playing time continues through graduation, which makes the transition more manageable.

"We keep playing when school is done, so it's not like when we're done, we're done. We still have some time to keep playing after we graduate, so I haven't really thought too much about it yet," said Smith.

The girls also reflected back on their season so far and the success they have had as a team up to this point.

"We have had an incredible season. Our team has never had a record like we do right now and we are still having a great season," said Smith. 

The one criticism the girls had of their season, was how hard they were on themselves after a loss.

"We focus way too much on our losses even though we've had a great season. But I guess that's a good part of our team because we expect so much from ourselves," said Heavens. 

The girls are looking forward to the rest of the season ahead, and hope that they can look back after it is all over and be proud of the work they have done this year.

Penn State has been their home for the past four years and has given the girls an incredible opportunity to become a part of the community, build relationships, and integrate themselves into the amazing Penn State culture.

Although graduation is quickly coming upon them, the players are excited to be a part of the alumni base and to experience a different part of the school's culture.

"There is no place like Penn State and being on a team that has brought us all together from so many different places is awesome," said Heavens.

Smith also talked about how big the alumni base is and that she loves that no matter where she ends up she will always have someone yelling "We Are" at her whens she's wearing Penn State. 

These past four years also mean that the girls have had lots of time to bond and get to know each other. They spend all of their time together and they have become like their own little family.

"We are not just teammates, we are sisters and Missy (Head coach Missy Doherty) is like our mom," said Cyr.

These close bonds make it hard for the underclassmen to see the seniors go, but they are making sure to celebrate and honor the work they have put into the team with a Senior Day celebration this upcoming weekend prior to their game.

Before the game, the seniors will receive gifts and videos from their underclassmen teammates and will be walked onto the field by friends and family.

This will be a great way to honor the seniors who have put so much time, energy, and love into the team. 

The Nittany Lions will take the field this Saturday, April 23 at 12 p.m. against Northwestern.

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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Dannielle Gibson has broken through this year with remarkable performances, but it's her competitive moxie that drives her for nothing short of greatness.

 

The junior jumper from the Bahamas has picked up right where she left off during the indoor season. Gibson earned triple jump victories in the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Invitational and the Pepsi Invitational so far this outdoor season. She has used the indoor season as motivation to improve.

 

To wrap up the indoor season, Gibson finished a not too shabby tenth in the triple jump in this March's NCAA Indoor Championship with a leap of 42' 3.25" (12.88m). She displayed vast improvement from her sophomore to junior year. Gibson, a fiery competitor, still wasn't satisfied with her indoor finish and she has made it known that she wants to be one of the best collegiate triple jumpers in the country. Ultimately, Gibson wants to stand at the top of the podium when it's all said and done.

 

"Coming into the outdoor season, I had the goal of wanting to go undefeated," said Gibson.

 

Gibson doesn't settle for anything short of excellence on the jumping runway as she practices her craft with jumping coach Fritz Spence. Coach Spence and Gibson continuously work on technique and jumping phases to get winning results.

 

"It's all about competing, I have the physical skills but right now we're just working on my mental approach," said Gibson.

 

Gibson stands at eighth in the country and second among East athletes in the outdoor women's triple jump with a high mark of 42' 11" (13.08m). In the Nittany Lion record books, Gibson finds herself fourth all-time in the triple jump.  A list she looks forward to sometime sitting at the top of some day soon.

 

Among other factors that positively influence her performance on the jumping runway is her pride for Penn State. The balance of elite academics and athletics impacted her coming to Penn State. Her father Dwight thought Penn State was a perfect fit.

 

"I love it here, especially the family atmosphere and community and I've never been a part of anything like this before coming here," said Gibson.

 

Gibson and the Penn State track and field squad will compete this weekend when the team splits up for the Stanford Twilight in Stanford, California on Friday and the Bucknell Team Classic in Lewisburg, Pa. on Saturday.

 

The men's team comes into this weekend No. 12 in the country and No. 1 in the Mid-Atlantic region. They look to be hitting their stride after sharing co-champion honors with No. 2 Oregon in the Pepsi Invitational at the University of Oregon on April 9th.

 

Currently, Isaiah Harris (800m), Brannon Kidder (800m), and Brian Leap (triple jump) all have top-four marks in the country in their events. Leap earned Big Ten Men's Field Athlete of the Week last week with a personal best triple jump of 53' 4.5" (16.27m) in last weekend's Texas Invitational victory.


For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.

 
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