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Monday Notebook: Nassib Stands Alone with Sack Record

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11469581.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior defensive end Carl Nassib's journey to the Penn State starting lineup is a tremendous success story by itself.

Now, the standout defensive end will add another chapter to what is becoming a storied legacy in Penn State lore after becoming the program's season record holder in sacks on Saturday afternoon.

It's almost unfathomable to think that Nassib had not started a single high school or college football game until the season-opener at Temple. He was not a five-star recruit coming out of high school, and he wasn't even sure he was interested in playing college football at the time.

But a driven mindset and an undying work ethic since the day he arrived in the football program has steered Nassib to a truly remarkable senior season.

With his solo sack in the fourth quarter at Northwestern on Saturday, Nassib passed Larry Kubin (1979) and Michael Haynes (2002) as the program's all-time season leader in sacks with 15.5.

Simply put, Nassib plays with the mindset that no one can stop him. No matter how many snaps Nassib is on the field, he plays like it is his last. He practices the same way. He lifts weights the same way. And he's truly unique in how much effort goes into the success he has achieved.

"He works hard. He's humble. He keeps his mouth shut," said defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. "You guys have probably seen it; he doesn't enjoy all of the attention. He's kind of turned off by it. He practices hard every day. He's a great teammate. He's a guy who is going to be successful in whatever happens."

A semifinalist for the Bednarik and Rotary Lombardi awards, Nassib has tallied at least one sack in every game this season. He's had more than one sack in five of Penn State's 10 games. He has 4.5 sacks more than the second-highest individual sack total in the nation.

Nassib has also been instrumental in helping the defense notch at least 2.0 sacks in 10 straight games and at least 5.0 tackles for loss in 18 consecutive games.

Congratulations to Nassib for a record-breaking season as the Nittany Lions now prepare for their final two contests of the regular season.

Late Bye Week
After four weeks of training camp and 10 weeks of games, the Nittany Lions are on a much-deserved bye week. Standing at 7-3 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play, the Lions will finish the season against No. 15 Michigan and No. 14 Michigan State, respectively. The bye comes at a unique time in the program's history. This is the latest a first-bye date has come on Penn State's schedule since 1958 when the team had it's only bye on Nov. 22. In addition to Penn State, Wisconsin is also on a bye this week. Nebraska's is the Big Ten team with the latest bye, with its lone bye coming on Nov. 21.

White-Hot Red Zone Offense Rolls On
The Nittany Lions continued a streak of superb efforts in the red zone on Saturday at Northwestern. During the last seven weeks, Penn State has converted 25 of its last 26 trips inside the 20 into points. For the season, the Lions own a 92 percent conversion rate (33-for-36). The Nittany Lions are ranked 12th nationally and second in the Big Ten in red zone offense through nine games this season.

Barkley Closing on Freshman Records
Following a 120-yard, two-touchdown effort in Saturday's game at Northwestern, true freshman running back Saquon Barkley is now closing in on a host of Penn State freshman rushing records. With four 100-yard performances, Barkley is now one shy of D.J. Dozier's record five in 1983. Additionally, Barkley is now tied with Dozier for the true freshman rushing touchdown record with seven. On the true freshman rushing yardage list, Barkley has 836. That mark is second only to Dozier, who finished with 1,002 yards in 1983.

Barkley has averaged 104.5 yards per game, which is ranked No. 18 in the nation and No. 2 in the Big Ten. He is second nationally in rushing yards by a freshman. Barkley has averaged 6.29 yards per carry this season, which is only second to Ezekiel Elliott's mark of 6.45 yards per carry in the Big Ten.

What's Ahead
The Nittany Lions will have a lighter practice week with it being the bye. Penn State practiced on Sunday, as it normally does, before an abbreviated week. The student-athletes will have some time off from practice towards the end of the week before resuming game preparations on Sunday.

The Lions will finish off their home schedule with a matchup against No. 15 Michigan on Nov. 21. The Wolverines are 7-2 overall and 4-1 in Big Ten play following a 49-16 victory over Rutgers on Saturday. The Michigan game will feature the Penn State White Out, along with Senior Day festivities.

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Lions Shut Out Rutgers to Win Big Ten Tournament Title

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11468814.jpegBy Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's soccer team will head into the NCAA Tournament riding a wave of momentum after shutting out Rutgers, 2-0, to secure its sixth Big Ten Tournament title and the second under head coach Erica Walsh.

The Nittany Lions notched two shutouts in the tournament and outscored their opponents 6-1 in three games. By scoring two goals against Rutgers, Penn State became just the second team to do so all year.

The offensive attack didn't take long to strike. Penn State's forwards were aggressive out of the gate, and they caused multiple set pieces in the opening minutes.

In the ninth minute, Nickolette Driesse swung a corner kick into the box and RU's keeper, Casey Murphy, hesitated to charge. The ball found senior captain Raquel Rodriguez's head in the middle and redirected towards goal, but her shot deflected off sophomore Elizabeth Ball's head. Luckily, the deflection shot directly to the top corner and gave the Lions an early 1-0 lead.

"I was trying to actually move out of the way," said Ball. "I thought it was going to hit me and go over the net, but it just skimmed my head. It was really Rocky's goal to be honest."

Dissatisfied with just one goal, Penn State kept on the offensive. Senior captain Mallory Weber created space down the right side and forced yet another corner kick in the 26th minute.

The ensuing corner was headed away initially, but the ball ended up in sophomore Frannie Crouse's possession after the attempted clearance. Crouse took a touch and tried her luck from outside the box, but her attempt was blocked. Her shot rebounded right to midfielder Emily Ogle, who eyed up her target and struck a laser that curved into the near corner for the goal.

"Good things happen when Ogle touches the ball," Walsh said. "These two games were conducive to her finding the ball more I thought Raquel did a nice job creating space for her and attracting a crowd, but Ogle was outstanding all weekend."

Set pieces were the key to the Blue and White's first half success. Penn State mustered six corner kick in the first 45 minutes, while only surrendering one. Both goals came as a result of a corner.

"I give all the credit there to Tim Wassel," said Walsh. "He did a good job of analyzing their set pieces and putting a couple different wrinkles in. The team did a nice job of implementing them, and we had some success off of it."

Ogle and Crouse were named to the 2015 All-Tournament Team, along with goalie Britt Eckerstrom. Eckerstrom was awarded Defensive Player of the Tournament and Crouse won Offense Player of the Tournament.

Eckerstrom let up only one goal in the tournament and totaled 11 saves. Crouse scored two goals in the tournament.

"This team is really incredible," said Eckerstrom. "We ask for more out of the team and every time the team gives more. We've got big expectations, but we're still taking it one game at a time."

The Nittany Lions will enter the NCAA Tournament with a 16-3-2 mark. Penn State has won five straight contests, outscoring opponents 11-3 over that stretch.

"We're peaking at the right time," Ogle said. "We're not done yet. We have a bigger goal in mind. We're trying to win a national championship, but this is a great step towards that."

VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame Press Conference - at Northwestern

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EVANSTON, Ill. - Head coach James Franklin talks with the media following Penn State's 23-21 setback at Northwestern.

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VIDEO: Postgame Player Remarks - at Northwestern

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EVANSTON, Ill. - Hear from several Nittany Lions as they talk with the media following Saturday's 23-21 decision at Northwestern.

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2015 Gameday Live - Penn State at Northwestern

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EVANSTON, Ill. - Welcome to live, interactive coverage of the 2015 Penn State football season. The Nittany Lions will meet Northwestern at Ryan Field. Follow along for live updates from gameday.

Live Blog 2015 Gameday Live - Penn State at Northwestern

2015 Photo Blog - Penn State at Northwestern

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EVANSTON, Ill. - Welcome to live coverage of the 2015 Penn State football season. The Nittany Lions will meet Northwestern at Ryan Field. Follow along for photos from gameday.


Crouse's Second Half Strike Sends Lions to the Big Ten Title Match

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11462490.jpegBy Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's soccer team defeated Michigan, 1-0, on Friday evening to advance to the Big Ten Tournament championship match (Sunday at 2 p.m.).

Michigan made it much harder for Penn State than it did last week, however. The Nittany Lions cruised past the Wolverines 3-1 in the regular season finale, and Michigan made some major adjustments Friday night.

Most notably, the Wolverines camped three center backs and five total defenders on the back line. The midfield group also played behind the ball all game, leaving little space for Penn State's offensive attack to operate.

"I thought Ogle and Rodriguez were exceptional today," said head coach Erica Walsh. "You can't play against a packed defense without midfielders that can swing the ball and penetrate. Both of them showed the ability to do that. They were the key tonight."

Emily Ogle was the focal point of the offense Friday night. The sophomore touched the ball on seemingly every attack and controlled possession in the middle of the pitch all night. Her patience against the stacked box kept Penn State composed.

"Michigan came out with a totally new game plan," Ogle said. "We had to figure out a different way to break them down and one of the biggest things was being patient and swinging the ball and not forcing it."

After a slow first half that didn't feature many quality chances, Walsh looked to the back line to mix things up. In the 61st minute, Ellie Jean entered the game at left back and moved center back Elizabeth Ball to striker. Ball was a standout scorer in her high school days, so she represents the secret weapon for PSU offensively.

Ball wasn't able to get on the board, but the change left Michigan's defense partly confused. A minute later, Jean made a run forward and found Frannie Crouse on the left side of the box who struck a high-arching shot that cleared the goalkeeper's reach and found the far corner of the net.

The goal marked Crouse's second in the tournament and eighth of the season.

Michigan sent a barrage of 10 shots at goalie Britt Eckerstrom in the second half, but the redshirt senior stood her ground and recorded her seventh shutout win of 2015.

The Nittany Lions will meet No. 3 Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament championship on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Scarlet Knights defeated Penn State, 1-0, back on Oct. 18.

By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After the regular season concluded earlier this week, Penn State men's soccer enters the Big Ten Tournament as No. 9 seed but have high hopes and determination.


For the Lions' first match, they will face off against the No. 8 seed Michigan State at Ohio State on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. Following that match, the winner will move on to the quarterfinals against Ohio State on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 4 p.m.


Despite some minor setbacks and ties towards the end of the Lions' season, all remain hopeful and confident in the talent that Penn State has on their team and are viewing the postseason as a second chance.


"Like coach has always said, postseason is a new slate and second season for us. It's time to wipe away any bad thoughts and get our minds and bodies ready for the tournament, this is a second chance to prove what the team is capable of," stated senior Kyle MacDonald.


The Nittany Lions are no stranger to facing off against the Spartans in this tournament. The two schools have faced off ten times in the Big Ten Tournament before Saturday. 


Last time the two Big Ten schools played each other was during the regular season in which the Lions effort fell short to MSU in a 2-1 defeat at Michigan State.


Determined to make a statement, the Blue and White are staying focused on what they need to get the team's Big Ten dreams a reality.


"This time is crucial to get everyone healthy to make sure we have a full squad entering the tournament and rally together as we enter the tournament," said MacDonald.


The very nature of the Big Ten Tournament is that it's single elimination, meaning any school can assert its dominance and come out to take the title.


Last year Penn State got knocked out of the tournament in the quarterfinals when facing each other at Jeffrey Field.


Looking for another shot to defeat the Spartans, the Nittany Lions are viewing this tournament as a clean slate and are ready to pounce.


"Having another shot is huge right now. We're all just really determined to enter this postseason proving what we're capable of doing. The next game be do or die, we're all excited and focused to show what we can do. Any team in the Big Ten can come out on top and we just need to get stay determined," stated MacDonald.


If Penn State defeats Michigan State on Saturday, the team will advance to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament to face Ohio State on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 4 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The match is slated to air on the Big Ten Network.

By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There are some high expectations for the Lady Lion class of 2019, and with good reason. Head coach Coquese Washington and her staff brought in a Top 10 ranked recruiting class, with two players, Amari Carter and Teniya Page, ranked in the top 20 overall nationally. Carter and Page, along with Ashanti Thomas and Jaylen Williams, will provide a lot of young talent to a Lady Lion team that struggled last year.

Since arriving on campus in August, the four freshmen have been busy getting acclimated not only to college life, but also to life as a Division One student-athlete at a school as large as Penn State.

"It's just a lot to take in. Like any new environment, you have to get used to everything," said Carter, the number 16 recruit in the nation, hailing from Washington D.C. "It's a big campus, getting to know all your teammates, and all your professors, getting acclimated with classes and college life." 

Williams, from Easton, Massachusetts and the number 17 ranked post player nationally, agreed, but also noted that her teammates and other members of the basketball program have made a big difference in the transition to campus. 

"It's been hard but my teammates have really helped me with that, so I'm never alone. I have my great teammates, [and] there's just really a whole lot of people that are there with me," Williams said.

The highly touted freshmen class will be an important part of Penn State's season, as they work to improve upon last year's "rebuilding" season. The group brings a new wave of energy to the team that has not gone unnoticed by the veteran players. Junior Kaliyah Mitchell has been impressed with how dedicated they are to getting better outside of practice.

"They come to practice every day ready to work, they always have positive energy, positive attitudes, always looking to get better. They always stay after practice and see if someone wants to shoot with them, so I think that they came in with a lot of effort and I think they'll do [well] this year," Mitchell said.

Washington shared a similar sentiment, and has been impressed with how well the freshmen have taken to new things and how much information they've absorbed in their short time with the team. She also added that there isn't much they as coaches can do before preseason practice starts to prepare the freshmen for the changes they'll see from high school to college.

"We just throw them in the deep end and tell them sink or swim. It's an adjustment; there's not a lot you can do in high school to prepare for college. It's just going to be different," Washington said. "So the thing we try to get them to do most and first is be open to new things, be open to doing things differently and be open to messing up and to making mistakes and learning and growing from it. 

"The freshmen were sponges [when they first started] and they still are; they've been sponges since they walked on campus. I think when you have that kind of approach and attitude it makes it easier to develop the kind of chemistry that we're seeing so far."

The biggest adjustment that the freshmen have had to make has been the pace of the game, which is much faster in college than in high school. This includes an increase in conditioning in order to maintain the speed of the game going on around them.

For Williams, she'll be relying on her speed more than she did in high school, and with the increased pace she "can't take breaks, there's no plays off, there's nothing like that, I have to work hard every minute that I'm in the game."

The physicality of the game is another aspect that is much different in college. With bigger girls on a college court than a high school one, the game can get much more physical than what the new players are used to. Chicago-native Page said that along with getting used to playing a more physical game, consistency will be key to a successful season.

"We're playing a lot faster than I played in high school so in the game, I'm going to play fast [and] the team's going to play fast," Page said. "Adjusting to the physicality of the game [has been a big change], and just trying to consistently play at the same pace the whole time." 

Page was rated among the nation's premier point guards by all five of the recruiting services, so her presence will give the Lady Lions another leader on the court next to returning point guard Lindsey Spann. After the exhibition game against California (Pa.), Spann commented on how working with two point guards was beneficial to the team.

"We both see a lot of the same things and we're just executing what coach wants us to do and basically playing our roles, feeding off each other. With two point guards out there, I think it's fun," Spann said.

As the first official game of the season quickly approaches, all four girls are excited to get their first taste of playing in the Bryce Jordan Center with their new team. 

"The fans, and playing in the big arena, that's the biggest thing I'm looking forward to," Carter said. "But also just playing on a different team with new faces."

"I'm looking forward to playing with my team. We've all worked so hard together and I feel like we've come pretty far," said Thomas, who, as the number 96 overall prospect, has high expectations from Washington on both ends of the floor at post.

"Ashanti's really tough, she's a tough kid, she's got that physical edge to her where she doesn't mind mixing it up in there," Washington said. "I think she's going to be impactful on both ends of the floor. She's able to score, she rebounds, she defends, and she blocks shots."

The class of 2019 will officially make their collegiate debut on Nov. 13 against Holy Cross at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tip is set for 6 p.m.

By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four years ago, the Penn State women's hockey program was born. In the years of the team's existence, they have steadily climbed the ranks of college hockey and garnered more and more attention as each season passes. Four years ago as well, senior Jill Holdcroft had just made the decision to go to Penn State, largely because of the fact that the team had just implemented the hockey program.

Holdcroft was born in Pennsylvania Furnace, Pennsylvania, just a hop, skip and a jump from State College. Living only 20 minutes down the road, Penn State had always been a consideration for Holdcroft as to the college she wanted to attend. However, she was also a prominent high school hockey player, playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elitie Tier 1 AAA girls team and also playing two years for the State College High boys team, and at the time Penn State's lack of a hockey program made it a tougher decision. When Holdcroft learned that Penn State was starting a program and actively recruiting her, the decision was a no brainer.

"Penn State was always in the back of my head," said Holdcroft. "I really liked the school and as soon as they decided to have a Division I team it was kind of no comparison and I wanted to come here right away."

Holdcroft is one of the founding members of the Penn State women's hockey team, in the sense that she has been with the team from the beginning. Coach Josh Brandwene has also been with the team from the beginning and he understands just how important players like Holdcroft are to building a successful program.

"This senior class, they are pioneers," said Brandwene. "They wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves and that's really Penn State at its core."

In her first season on the team, Holdcroft had 10 goals, second on the Nittany Lions team. However she has proved a versatile member of the team for all four years she has been here, stepping into any role she is assigned and flourishing in it.

"I not only remember her first couple years here, I remember so many details about her in the recruiting process and her willingness to improve through that," said Brandwene. "It's no secret that she is one of the most coachable players and it's a credit to her work ethic and her personality. To see her flourish as a hometown kid done good is awesome."

That work ethic shows in Holdcroft's style of play as she is constantly one of the fastest moving, hardest working Nittany Lions on the ice. This season she has been teamed up primarily with Amy Petersen and Laura Bowman. Holdcroft says she just tries to create space for her two linemates and she feels like her job is to go to the net and create traffic in front.

"I do like to get in front of the net when they are shooting just to create problems for the goalie," said Holdcroft. "In general I would definitely say that my style of play is grinding it out."

Now in her final year with the program, Holdcroft expects even better things than last year for the Nittany Lions. That outcome would be consistent with the trend that the team has followed every year so far, as they have steadily improved as a program in each of their four years.

"We have grown tremendously as a program in all four years," said Holdcroft. "Just from where we were, in the rink that I grew up in in Greenberg to coming to Penn State it's just been fun to watch the Nittany Lion hockey culture grow." "It hasn't always been easy but it's been a lot of fun and you can just look back on it as a senior and think of what an amazing journey it has been."

The Nittany Lion's journey will continue this weekend at home in Pegula Ice Arena as they take on conference foe Mercyhurst. The first game is set for a 7pm puck drop on Friday night and game two will be at 2pm on Saturday.