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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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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Christian Sload found the back of the net for Penn State's only goal of the match in a 3-1 loss to Saint Francis.

 

Sload came on as a sub late in the second half for his first collegiate appearance. Minutes later, he registered his first shot, which was a goal from 8 yards out.

 

"I owe that (goal) to Noah [Pilato]," said Sload. "He found me on a perfect run."

 

First goals are memorable and special despite the result of the game. "It was a little overwhelming at the time," said Sload. "I was filled with emotion at the time so I wasn't really sure what to feel."

 

Head coach Bob Warming speaks highly of Sload's athletic ability and improvement in his short time on campus. "Christian is an amazing athlete," said Warming. "He had 37 points in the district final as a basketball player. He has great athletic ability and tremendous upside and he will tell you that he's gotten better every week he's been here."

 

The Reading, Pa. native finally broke through the Saint Francis defense who played stingy all match. The Red Flash limited the Nittany Lions to eight shots. Penn State had scoring opportunities with numerous headers, but couldn't capitalize.

 

Saint Francis goals in the 22nd and 38th-minutes put Penn State down 2-0 at halftime. The Nittany Lions showed fight in the second half as the team picked up energy and limited Red Flash offensive pressure. Penn State's entire sideline was standing up and trying to push the team on a dreary, humid night at Jeffrey Field. It just wasn't enough as Saint Francis' Troye Kiernan netted his second goal of the game, a bullet of a shot into the net to make it 3-0.

 

"All the things you want to see in a good team, they did it tonight," said Warming. "I give a lot of credit to Saint Francis. The left-centerback, there's a reason he's an all-American, he did a great job at organizing the back line the whole time."

 

"On our side of the ball, when your best players don't complete any passes, some of our best players completed three or four passes in the night, you're not going to have a good night," said Warming.

 

Penn State will be back in action when they play in the Fourth Annual Mack Brady Game and Big Ten opener Tuesday, Sept. 13 against Ohio State.


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

2016 Gameday Live - Penn State at Pitt

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome back to our live, interactive coverage of the Penn State football season. The Nittany Lions are on the road at Pitt this week, taking on the Panthers at noon in Heinz Field. Follow along for live updates.


Live Blog Penn State Football at Pitt
 

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By: Jeff Sattora, GoPSUsports.com    
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-
The winningest coach in Penn State women's soccer history hit another milestone Friday night, as Erica Dambach notched her 200th career win, and 160th with the Blue and White, in a 3-0 victory over the San Diego State Aztecs at Jeffrey Field. 

Despite the milestone, it was her team's performance that made this 200th victory so sweet for Dambach. 

"It's special because the performance overall was special," she said on the victory.

"I'm really proud of the team tonight, one through 26 the entire roster," she added.  "The players that came off the bench I thought were fantastic tonight and obviously to get three goals and a shutout is really rewarding for all the work these guys have put in." 

That hard work showed up early as the Nittany Lions came out firing in this one, dominating possession much of the first half to set the tone.  In the first 45 minutes the home team out-shot San Diego State 16-2 in total shots, and 6-0 in shots on goal.  Those 16 first half shots were above Penn State's average season total per game of 14.8. 

"We talked before the game to press really hard and get our feet moving," said junior Frannie Crouse.  "We knew we would have opportunities to get shots off and every single person was just trying to get that goal."

After some early attempts were held off, Crouse was the first Nittany Lion to get that goal Friday night, as she slipped a ball into the bottom right corner from six yards out to give Penn State a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute of action.   

While that was the only mark on the scoreboard in the first half, the Lions kept pressing after the break, and that effort was rewarded. 

Megan Schafer scored from 18 yards out off a pass from Alina Ortega-Jurado to give PSU a 2-0 lead in the 52nd minute, and Crouse put the finishing touches on the win less than five minutes later with her second goal of the night to secure the 3-0 score. 

The two goals Friday night were Crouse's fourth and fifth of the season, and the win was her second-straight multi-goal game. 

"Frannie Crouse is playing as well as I've seen here play in a Penn State jersey," Dambach said on her junior forward.  "She's quietly having a really good season which is no surprise to us.  She always gets the job done."

For Crouse, that job was all about working with her teammates Friday night.    

"It's basically just cutting from my teammates," she said on what it took to find the back of the net.  "When you have teammates that can make those plays you have to finish them off."

While 29 total shots and 13 shots on goal in the offensive end stands out when looking at the box score, it was a quiet defense that helped secure the shutout win.  

"It was all about the way we imposed ourselves (on the defensive end)," Dambach said.  "It was about making sure from the opening whistle we were on top of them." 

That imposing defense showed, as the Nittany Lions held the Aztecs to five shots total and just one shot on goal the entire night. 

A dominating night on the field both offensively and defensively was the perfect way for this group of Nittany Lions to reward their coach on this special night.  While Dambach might have downplayed the 200th victory, for Crouse, the impact Dambach has made coaching is undeniable. 

"She's the best coach I've ever had and probably will ever had," she said.  "Our team really wanted to get this win for her and we know that there will be plenty more wins for her to come.  Playing for her there is nothing like it."

Dambach and the Nittany Lions will look to add to that win total Sunday afternoon as they take on La Salle at 1:00 p.m. at Jeffrey Field. 

Freshman Feature: Jones Working to Earn Spot in Net

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the departure of two goaltenders last season, Penn State men's hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky will look toward veteran Chris Funkey and newcomer Peyton Jones to fill the void.

Jones, a Pennsylvania native, is coming off of a successful 2015-16 season with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. Jones played in 35 games with the Stars and ended the season with a .922 save percentage, placing him fourth in the league.

Standing at 6 feet 4 inches, Jones has learned over recent years how to utilize his size inside the crease.

"I used to be a smaller goalie, so when I did grow I still played like a smaller goalie," said Jones. "I had to get used to not coming out and challenging as much."

During Jones' final year in Lincoln, Nebraska he focused on watching video of bigger goalies and how they play efficiently. Watching a lot of film, along with working with his goaltending coach Clay Adams, is what Jones credits his success to during his final season with the Stars. 

Jones describes himself as a quick goaltender who moves well laterally. Both skills will be an asset once the season starts, especially during Big Ten play. Up against quick-moving offenses like Minnesota, Jones' talents could be a key for shutting the opposition down. 

While the season may be a few weeks away, Jones is working now on getting better little by little every day. He emphasized that if he can improve each week before the season, it will put him in the best position possible to earn a starting spot. 

Jones also explained how he is thankful he'll have his family come to many of the games once the season gets rolling. Hockey Valley is a simple drive from his home in Langhorne, Pennsylvania compared to the last two years he spent in Lincoln.

Although familial support is vital, Jones also has the support of two others.

Helping Jones play up to his size in net are two very close friends. He wears the numbers 20 and 24 on the back of his helmet to honor two of his friends from high school who passed away.

In the world of sports, goaltender helmets are one of the final elements of individuality, an opportunity for players to showcase what is important to them. Goaltenders often design the paint job on their own masks and it is very telling that Jones wanted to include the numbers of his two friends. 

In addition, Jones' helmet also has several Penn State logos on the sides, along with the logo of Pegula Ice Arena itself. The words "We Are...Penn State" are painted on either side of the traditional blue stripe down the middle of the helmet.

With the clock winding down on preseason workouts, Jones is eager to skate out on the ice for the Blue and White. Having never attended a game in Pegula Ice Arena prior to committing to the University, one of the things Jones is looking forward to is the game day atmosphere.

Knowing the Nittany Lions' contests have consistently been sold out since Pegula opened four years ago, as well as having the support of the vocal and dedicated Roar Zone, Jones is ready to put on a show and work hard for all in attendance.

"I've heard nothing but good things," Jones said. "I'm excited to play in front of the fans."

 
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