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Nittany Lions Continue Success in Maryland

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State women's lacrosse team took the field in Baltimore, it looked to rebound from its last performance. Against No. 8 Virginia the Nittany Lions lacked a defensive edge, which is something they worked on throughout the entirety of the week leading up to the Loyola match.

While going down 2-0 to open the game was not the start the Blue and White wanted, the team rallied. In the final, critical moments, No. 9 Penn State (4-1) held No. 17 Loyola scoreless (1-4), coming away with a 12-8 win.

"I think that was really important going into that game," said head coach Missy Doherty of tightening up on defense. "I was glad the team looked comfortable and took the chance to be a little bit more aggressive to come up with some really big plays at the end, especially in that last 20 minutes."

The Nittany Lions continued their streak of dominant offense, putting up 29 shots on goal to the Greyhounds' 20. Senior Tatum Coffey had a team-high seven shots, with one resulting in a point for the Lions.

Sophomore Steph Lazo trailed just behind Coffey with six total shots. She netted three of those attempts and now has 14 goals on the season. Lazo has provided a spark to the team's offense, stepping up into a much larger role than she filled during her freshman year.

"She's done a great job for us," Doherty said of Lazo. "She's scored some critical goals for us already early in the season, and she kind of takes the heat off of some of our other attackers. But, I think that's a strength of our team in general. When someone's a little off, there are more people to step up. It's really been a good balance of offense across the board."

In addition to Lazo and Coffey, Maggie McCormick and Jenna Mosketti each notched two goals, while Madison Cyr, Kelly Lechner, Abby Smucker and Ally Heavens scored once each. McCormick also picked up two assists in the game, her 12th and 13th on the year.

The Nittany Lions offense is not coming from one player. It's across the board, which pleases the head coach and gives the team depth.

"Every game we've been getting a lot of shots off," Doherty said. "A part of it is that Loyola's goalkeeper was very good, and we just want to make sure we get the most out of each shot opportunity. Again, they played balanced, they played well and they played aggressively when they needed to."

With the win over the Greyhounds, Penn State improved to 4-1 on the season. The team is off to an explosive, dominant start, which is in large part due to the hard work and effort put in day in and day out.

The Blue and White don't just want to win. This team wants to show it is skilled, determined and ready to battle.

"I just like our attitude and overall confidence on the field," said Doherty. "I think from the turnover side, we haven't had a ton of bad turnovers. I think we've taken care of the ball well. We've dictated a good amount of the pace of play. So, we're looking forward because we have a really tough stretch to finish out March. Pretty much every game we're going to need to be on. It's going to be a really good test, but the team is working hard, and it's paying off."

The Lions' next test of the season will come on Wednesday when they take on James Madison. JMU is 5-1, falling only to No. 2 North Carolina.

Penn State, however, is more than ready for another battle.

"James Madison is having a really good year," Doherty said. "They beat Loyola, and they've had some really good wins. They always come, and they play really hard. So, it's going to be really competitive."

Lions Sweep Michigan in Final Homestand of the Season

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the last time this season, the Penn State men's hockey team skated over to the Roar Zone, arms around each other, and sang the alma matter after a victory. With two wins over No. 16 Michigan, arguably the team's biggest rival, the Nittany Lions could not be happier with their final weekend in Pegula Ice Arena.

Friday, with sophomore Eamon McAdam in net, Penn State (18-12-4, 10-7-1 B1G) downed the Wolverines (19-13-0, 11-7-0 B1G), 6-4. The team made sure to stick to its winning ways in front of PJ Musico, who made the final home start of his career the following afternoon on senior day. Once again the Blue and White emerged victorious, holding on in the final seconds by a score of 4-3.

With the two wins, not only did the senior class finish in Hockey Valley on a high note, but the team also secured its first winning season.

"We certainly didn't think it would happen this quickly, so it's something that feels pretty good," head coach Guy Gadowsky said of the winning record. "I'm really glad that the senior group that is here now got it because a lot of people told them when they were making the decision to come to Penn State that they'd lose for four years. So, to have them be the class that did it feels really good."

The fact that this winning season was finalized after two big performances against Michigan has not gone unnoticed by the team. The Nittany Lions have always found success when facing the Wolverines.

Last season, Penn State knocked the team out of the Big Ten Tournament during the first round, which also ended Michigan's chances to make the NCAA Tournament. Now this season, the Blue and White beat the Wolverines in three out of the four games they've played.

For some reason, the Nittany Lions consistently have Michigan's number.

"We always seem to play our best when we're against them," said captain Patrick Koudys. "I don't know what it is. We just play well. It's great to see PJ [Musico] make all those big saves, especially at the right times. But, we do find success against them, so we've got to just keep rolling with it."

Sophomore David Goodwin, in particular, had a tremendous weekend for the Blue and White. He finished with five points, two goals and three assists, and a plus-four rating. His line was also incredibly successful, racking up 10 points over the two games.

With the absence of Taylor Holstrom due to injury, many wondered if Goodwin and junior Casey Bailey would successfully generate the same amount of offense. Both forwards knew they would need to make some adjustments, but with the addition of Tommy Olczyk, they were confident and ready to take on Michigan.

"Casey Bailey and I talked before the weekend started, and we knew if we were going to have success we were going to have to pick it up a little bit, trying to fill that big hole in the lineup," said Goodwin. "But, Tommy Olczyk was a phenomenal addition to our line. He brought energy and speed, which is what we needed, which is what Holstrom brings for our line. It was a great weekend for our line, and I'm looking forward to building this week in practice with Casey and Tommy."

However, Goodwin credits the dominant play against Michigan to one other aspect, which the entire team can also agree with.

"I just really don't like them," Goodwin said of Michigan. "It really kind of lights a fire under me a little bit. It's just one of those things where they kind of get under my skin a little bit, and I like to retaliate by putting the puck in the net."

Overall, the weekend proved to be a big bounce back for this Penn State squad, which has struggled a bit as of late. The two wins helped boost team confidence and morale. Going into a weekend against Minnesota, positivity is exactly what the Nittany Lions needed.

"This is something that we won't forget," said Gadowsky. "I mean any time that you're able to sweep Michigan is huge. It feels great. I think it is something to look back on down the road and gain a lot of confidence from this. The fact that it happened on senior night, and at a time that we're in the conversation, it becomes an important time for both teams. It feels really good. I feel really good about what the guys were able to accomplish in very meaningful games."

The weekend was an emotional one, especially for the senior class, a group of student-athletes who have done so much for this program. Nevertheless, even with these victories, the entire team knows these next two weeks will be the biggest of them all.

This squad wants to continue to leave its marks on Penn State hockey.

"It was awesome," said Koudys of the sweep. "I mean, even looking back the first game us seniors played here we won and then the last game. So, it's pretty awesome. A lot of emotions in the locker room, that's for sure, but there's still lots to do."

2015 Big Ten Championships Session III: McIntosh Wins Crown

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Session I Video Highlights & Interviews | Session II Video Highlights & Interviews

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Junior Morgan McIntosh etched his place into Penn State wrestling history by earning a Big Ten title at 197 pounds on Sunday afternoon inside St. John Arena.

McIntosh powered past top-seeded Kyle Snyder from Ohio State for a 4-1 victory in the final match at 197 to earn Penn State's 35th Big Ten individual championship. The California native is the 20th different Nittany Lion wrestler to win a Big Ten title.

Senior Matt Brown came up short in his bid to become a two-time Big Ten champion in the finals at 174 pounds. Nonethetless, McIntosh and Brown wrestled well throughout the weekend and represented the Nittany Lions on the conference's biggest wrestling stage before a packed house in Columbus on Sunday.

In addition to Brown and McIntosh, Jordan Conaway (125) finished third, Jimmy Gulibon (133) placed sixth, Zack Beitz (149) finished fifth, Matt McCutcheon (184) finished fourth and Jimmy Lawson (285) came home in sixth.

In the team race, the Nittany Lions finished fifth in the final standings with 96.5 points. Iowa and Ohio State tied for the team title and were named co-champions with 120.0 points.

Final Team Standings
1. Iowa - 120.0
2. Ohio State - 120.0
3. Minnesota -108.0
4. Michigan - 101.5
5. Penn State - 96.5

The evening belonged to McIntosh, who put on a show in the 197-pound final. McIntosh dropped a 6-1 decision to Snyder when the two teams met during the dual season, but the Nittany Lion junior said he learned a few things from the first match that he needed to clean up heading into Sunday's final.

After a scoreless first, McIntosh struck first when he completed a takedown along the left edge of the mat. The move handed McIntosh a 2-1 lead after one period. Starting the third period on the bottom, McIntosh wasted little time snapping out for an escape point. With a 3-1 edge and 1:12 of riding time in hand, McIntosh captured his first Big Ten title with a superb performance.

"It feels good, and it's obviously nice to go out there and get a win against a guy I had already lost to," McIntosh said. "I'm just so grateful for my coaches and my family. It's been a fun ride, and it was fun to go out there and wrestle in front of a huge crowd."

"I thought Morgan looked really good," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He did what he needed to do. He used his abilities on top to earn a point there....He's a Big Ten champ now and that is a great weight class. It's one of the tougher weight classes in the Big Ten. That should set him up well seeding-wise going into nationals."

Brown came up short against No. 1 Robert Kokesh of Nebraska in the 174-pound final. The unbeaten Nebraska senior got on the board first with a takedown along the edge of the mat during the first period. Brown quickly escaped out, setting the score at 2-1. Brown then opened the second frame with an escape, which squared the match at 2-2. But Kokesh's takedown in the final seconds of the second period proved to be pivotal.

Brown nearly had a takedown and near fall points, but Kokesh scrambled to a takedown at the buzzer for a 4-2 lead after two. He added another takedown in the third period to set the final tally at 7-3. Brown will head to the national tournament with a 24-3 mark after placing second in Columbus.

Conaway turned in a strong tournament for the Nittany Lions at 125 pounds. He finished the weekend with a 3-1 mark following two wins on Sunday. Conaway bounced back from a narrow 5-4 setback to top-seeded Thomas Gilman from Iowa in the semifinals on Saturday with a gritty 2-1 win over Michigan's Conor Youtsey in the consolation semifinals on Sunday. Conaway then earned third place in the draw with a win by forfeit in the final bout of the day.

"It's been fun," Conaway said. "I wanted to be in the finals wrestling for first, but that's not how it happened. So battling back for third was the next best thing.

With the Big Ten Championships complete, the Nittany Lions will now shift focus towards the season's ultimate prize. The 2015 NCAA Championships begin on March 19 in St. Louis.

"I'm pumped (for nationals)," McIntosh said. "I'm excited to get back to work and head on the road with this team. We have an awesome group of guys."

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #5 Jordan Conaway (23-6) - 3-1 - Third Place (NCAA Qualifier)

133: #3 Jimmy Gulibon (22-7) - 2-3 - Sixth Place (NCAA Qualifier)

141: #9 Kade Moss (17-16) - 0-2 - Tournament Complete

149: #6 Zack Beitz (18-9) - 3-2 - Fifth Place (NCAA Qualifier)

157: #9 Luke Frey (14-8) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

165: #6 Garett Hammond (22-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #2 Matt Brown (24-3) - 2-1 - Second Place (NCAA Qualifier)

184: #8 Matt McCutcheon (24-12) - 3-1 - Fourth Place (NCAA Qualifier)

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (25-2) - 2-0 - ___ (NCAA Qualifier)

285: #5 Jimmy Lawson (15-3) - 3-2 - Sixth Place (NCAA Qualifier)

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 Big Ten Championships Session II Roundup

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Session I Video Highlights & Interviews

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Senior Matt Brown (174) and junior Morgan McIntosh (197) will wrestle for Big Ten titles on Sunday following victories in Saturday evening's Big Ten semifinals inside St. John Arena.

Each wrestling in their third Big Ten tournament, Brown and McIntosh will lead the Penn State charge into the final day of the two-day event. Brown will be seeking his second Big Ten crown, while McIntosh will make his first appearance in the title match on Sunday afternoon (3 p.m. on BTN).

In addition to Brown and McIntosh in the finals, Jordan Conaway (125), Jimmy Gulibon (133), Zack Beitz (149), Matt McCutcheon (184) and Jimmy Lawson (285) are all still alive in the race for third place at their respective weight classes. Those five Nittany Lions will wrestle in the consolation semifinals beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

In the team race, the Nittany Lions head into the final day of the Big Ten Championships in sixth spot. Host Ohio State holds a slim 1.5-point lead over Iowa in the standings following Saturday evening's action.

Session II Standings - (Wrestlers Left in Finals/Consolation Draw)
1. Ohio State - 102.5 (4 in finals, 4 in consolation semifinals)
2. Iowa - 101.0 (4 in finals, 4 in consolation semifinals)
3. Minnesota - 86.5 (3 in finals, 4 in consolation semifinals)
4. Michigan - 80.5 (1 in finals, 6 in consolation semifinals)
5. Illinois - 79.0 (1 in finals, 6 in consolation semifinals)
6. Penn State - 78.5 (2 in finals, 5 in consolation semifinals)

Saturday evening belonged to Brown and McIntosh, Penn State's two locker room leaders. Brown turned in another dominant third-period ride out to power past Iowa's Mike Evans. The duo met in the Bryce Jordan Center on Feb. 8, with Brown scoring a 2-0 win after a ride out in the third. Brown again dictated the pace in the semifinals for a repeat performance. He notched an escape in the second before starting the third in the top position. The West Valley City, Utah, native never relinquished the top spot on his way to the Big Ten title bout.

"He's tough to ride, and I've been able to just kind of work hard. It's called a grind ride," Brown said. "It's paid off the last two matches (against him)...I felt confident heading into the third period that if he did get away, I was going to take him down, to be honest. That's something I wanted to do is take him down. I didn't get that this match, but I got the 'W'."

At 197 pounds, McIntosh jumped out to a 3-1 lead over Minnesota's Scott Schiller after a takedown and a penalty point for unsportsmanlike conduct. McIntosh added an escape to begin the second period and led 4-1 heading into the third. Schiller made a late charge with an escape and a takedown, which squared the score at 4-4. However, McIntosh exploded out of the bottom position for a match-winning escape point with 12 seconds to go. The late move sent the California native to the final.

"Schiller is a tough kid, and I enjoy going out there and wrestling him," McIntosh. "I know every time you go out there with him, it's going to be a fight on the mat. I wish I would have wrestled a little more aggressively...But I'm grateful and the opportunity that I have to be here (in the championship match)."

The Nittany Lions competed from start to finish in the second session, but came up just short in a host of close matches, including three bouts decided by two points or fewer in the tournament semifinals. Conaway dropped a narrow 5-4 decision to top-seeded Thomas Gilman from Iowa, Gulibon fell in sudden victory (7-5) to second-seeded Ryan Taylor from Wisconsin and Hammond came up just shy of a win in a 4-2 decision against Minnesota's Brett Pfarr.

The margin for error in a tournament as deep as the Big Ten Championships is razor thin. Nonetheless, the Lions head into Sunday with two finalists and five grapplers capable of placing third. Stay tuned for more from Columbus on Sunday.

"Everybody has fought, and that's something you can't take away from them," Brown said.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #5 Jordan Conaway (21-6) - 1-1 - Consolation Semifinals
Up Next:
Conaway will meet sixth-seeded Conor Youtsey from Michigan in the consolation semifinals on Sunday. He is still alive in the race for third.

133: #3 Jimmy Gulibon (22-5) - 2-1 - Consolation Semifinals
Up Next:
Gulibon will face fourth-seeded Johnni DiJulius from Ohio State in the consolation semifinals on Sunday. He is still alive in the race for third.

141: #9 Kade Moss (17-16) - 0-2 - Tournament Complete

149: #6 Zack Beitz (17-8) - 2-1 - Consolation Semifinals
Up Next:
Beitz will wrestle in the consolation semifinals against fifth-seeded Alec Pantaleo of Michigan on Sunday. He is still alive in the race for third.

157: #9 Luke Frey (13-7) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

165: #6 Garett Hammond (22-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #2 Matt Brown (24-2) - 2-0 - Tournament Final
Up Next:
Brown will face top-seeded Robert Kokesh from Nebraska in the Big Ten title bout.

184: #8 Matt McCutcheon (23-12) - 2-1 - Consolation Semifinals
Up Next:
McCutcheon is set to face sixth-seeded T.J. Dudley from Nebraska in the consolation semifinals.

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (25-2) - 2-0 - Tournament Final
Up Next:
McIntosh will collide with top-seeded Kyle Snyder from Ohio State in the tournament title bout.

285: #5 Jimmy Lawson (15-2) - 3-1 - Consolation Semifinals

Up Next: Lawson will face second-seeded Adam Coon from Michigan in the consolation semifinals.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 Big Ten Championships Session I Roundup

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - The four-time defending Big Ten champion Nittany Lion wrestling team will have five wrestlers in the semifinals of the Big Ten Championships on Saturday night following a strong first session of action inside St. John Arena on Saturday morning.

Headlined by a dramatic victory redshirt freshman Matt McCutcheon over top-seeded Sam Brooks from Iowa in the quarterfinals, the Nittany Lions tallied a 10-5 overall mark in the first session on Saturday. McCutcheon's victory came in a sudden victory period thanks to a takedown in the waning seconds of the third.

Jordan Conaway (125), Jimmy Gulibon (133), Matt Brown (174), McCutcheon (184) and Morgan McIntosh (197) will represent the Nittany Lions in the semifinals on Saturday evening. The second session of the day begins at 6 p.m. with a round of consolation matches before the semifinals. Kade Moss (141), Zack Beitz (149), Luke Frey (157), Garett Hammond (165) and Jimmy Lawson (285) will be in consolation action.

In the team race, the Nittany Lions head into the evening tied for third with host Ohio State. Iowa owns a 10-point lead after one round of action. The Hawkeyes will have seven wrestlers in the semifinals.

Session I Standings - (Wrestlers Left in Semifinals/Consolation Draw)
1. Iowa - 65.0 (7 in semifinals, 3 in consolation)
2. Minnesota - 55.0 (6 in semifinals, 4 in consolation)
3. Ohio State - 48.0 (5 in semifinals, 5 in consolation)
3. Penn State - 48.0 (5 in semifinals, 5 in consolation)
5. Wisconsin - 39.5 (4 in semifinals, 6 in consolation)

Penn State opened the morning with five victories in six matches during the first round of the draw. With the handful of wins and four wrestlers earning byes, that sent nine Nittany Lions to the quarterfinals. Conaway kicked things off in the quarters with a 7-4 win against fourth-seeded Tim Lambert from Nebraska. Boosted by a takedown in the final seconds of the first period, Conaway took a 2-0 lead into the second. He added an escape and another takedown in the second frame. He never looked back from there.

"It feels good to be in the semifinals," Conaway said. "I was here two years ago, so it's nice to be back. Now, I want to get in the finals."

Gulibon followed Conaway in the quarterfinal matches. The Nittany Lion sophomore battled sixth-seeded Zane Richards (Illinois) in a tightly contested bout. Following a scoreless first, Richards opened the scoring with an escape in the second. The score remained 1-0 until the third when Gulibon tallied an escape to make it 1-1. He was not done there, as the Latrobe native finished a takedown with just eight seconds to wrestle en route to a dramatic 3-1 victory and a spot in the semifinals.

McCutcheon became the third Nittany Lion to qualify for the semifinals with an improbable finish to his match against top-seeded Sam Brooks (Iowa). The Lion freshman trailed 2-1 after the first period. McCutecheon evened the score at 2-2 after two. Brooks added an escape point for a 3-2 lead, and he had riding time locked up, which seemingly handed the Iowa sophomore a 4-2 edge.

Needing a takedown in the final seconds of action, McCutcheon finished off a double-leg attempt to send the match into sudden victory. From there, the Nittany Lion wasted little time in scoring a second takedown, this time to win the match and earn a spot in the semifinals during his first trip to the Big Ten Championships.

"He was getting tired. I could feel it," McCutcheon said. "I just needed to pick up my pace. I didn't wrestle a great match, but now you just have to win...I'm happy right now, but in about 20 minutes it's back to business to get ready for the semifinals."

With the Penn State cheering section on its feet after McCutcheon's win, Brown and McIntosh turned in dominant efforts at 174 and 197, respectively. Brown built 3:36 of riding time in a 15-7 major decision against Indiana's Nathan Jackson. McIntosh registered a five-point throw in the first period on his way to a 13-3 major against Michigan State's Nick McDiarmid.

"I was just trying to score points," McIntosh said. "This is going to be a good team race, and I wanted to score as many points as I could to give the crowd a good show. He's a tough kid. I've had a couple close matches with him in the past, but I just had to figure out ways to open him up and get in on his legs."

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #5 Jordan Conaway (21-5) - 1-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next:
Conaway meets top-seeded Thomas Gilman from Iowa in the semifinals.

133: #3 Jimmy Gulibon (22-4) - 2-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next:
Gulibon will face second seeded Ryan Taylor from Wisconsin in the semifinals.

141: #9 Kade Moss (17-15) - 0-1 - Consolation Round 2
Up Next:
Moss is slated to wrestle seventh-seeded Jameson Oster from Northwestern in the second round of the consolation draw.

149: #6 Zack Beitz (15-8) - 0-1 - Consolation Round 2
Up Next:
Beitz will wrestle unseeded Trevor Moody from Indiana in the second round of the consolation draw.

157: #9 Luke Frey (13-6) - 1-1 - Consolation 2nd Round
Up Next:
Frey is set to wrestle 10th-seeded Lou Mascola from Maryland in the second round of the consolation draw.

165: #6 Garett Hammond (22-10) - 1-1 - Consolation 2nd Round
Up Next:
Hammond will face off against 12th-seeded Garett Sutton from Michigan in the consolation second round.

174: #2 Matt Brown (23-2) - 1-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next:
Brown will face Iowa's Mike Evans in the semifinals on Saturday evening.

184: #8 Matt McCutcheon (23-11) - 2-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next:
McCutcheon is set to face fourth-seeded Brett Pfarr from Minnesota in the semifinals.

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (24-2) - 1-0 - Tournament Semifinals
Up Next:
McIntosh will meet third-seeded Scott Schiller from Minnesota in the semifinals.

285: #5 Jimmy Lawson (13-2) - 1-1 - Consolation 2nd Round

Up Next: Lawson will collide with Nebraska's Collin Jensen in the consolation second round.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Men's Hockey Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan (3/7)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to's live coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Today, the Nittany Lions will close their series against the University of Michigan. The game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. and marks the team's final time home this season. Seven seniors, including Jake Friedman, Taylor Holstrom, Max Gardiner, Nate Jensen, Patrick Koudys, PJ Musico and Peter Sweetland, will be honored prior to the start.

Live Blog Men's Hockey Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan (3/7)

Men's Hockey Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan (3/6)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to's live coverage of Penn State men's hockey. Tonight, the Nittany Lions will open their series with the University of Michigan. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Live Blog Men's Hockey Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan (3/6)

McCormick a Strong Offensive Presence for the Blue and White

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a stinging loss to Virginia still fresh in its mind, the Penn State women's lacrosse team took the week to refocus, to practice and to improve. In a way, the defeat allowed for growth as the team singled out weaknesses and worked to become a stronger unit.

Now, the No. 9 Nittany Lions (3-1) are ready to take on No.17 Loyola (1-3), and although they won't be taking the field in Happy Valley, they know Penn State support is inevitable. With 15 student-athlete from Maryland, much of the team is returning home this Saturday.

"I love going back home to Maryland, and I think a lot of girls on the team do," senior Maggie McCormick said. "It's just a familiar area. It's heavy on Penn State fans there too, so you get a lot of friend support, a lot of family support. It's definitely a fun place to play."

McCormick, who has been a dominant attacker for the Blue and White throughout her career, is having a stellar start to the season. She already racked up 16 points through the team's first four games, emerging as a leader among the offense.

Even more impressive, of the senior's 16 points, 11 have come from assists as she is constantly behind the net, looking for passes and open teammates. McCormick prides herself on this role and loves watching plays unfold before her eyes.

"It's just what I do best," the attacker said. "That's definitely one of the main parts of my game. I love seeing open cutters, and fortunately, I'm on a team that has very good cutters. It makes my life a lot easier."

The senior's skill has not gone unnoticed. She was name the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, an honor McCormick was a bit surprised she earned. In the week's two matches, she notched 12 points with four goals and eight assists.

Although McCormick may not have expected the weekly honor, head coach Missy Doherty believes the senior deserves it with the work she has put into playing at the highest level possible for the Nittany Lions.

"She's a great leader for us," said Doherty. "I think she's come through this year and worked as hard as she's ever worked in her four years. It's really paying off for us, not just in the scoring but also in re-defending and getting the ball back. She's just reinserted herself as an impact player, and the players around her really respond to her leadership."

McCormick and the rest of the Nittany Lions will take the field Saturday hungry for a battle. The team knows it can and will play for a complete 60 minutes.

There may be some back and forth, which is only natural when playing such a tough opponent, but that is the type of game the Blue and White love. The Lions thrive in competitive atmospheres.

"We're just excited to play," said Doherty. "Loyola is always a really good game for us. Our schedule in March, every game we have to be ready to play our best. We want to keep getting better, and I think that's our goal for Loyola. We want to tighten up and be a little bit better defensively. Offensively, we want to keep a good rhythm and tempo like we did against Virginia."

The task at hand will not be easy, but the Nittany Lions know what they need from this weekend against Loyola Maryland.

"A win," said McCormick. "Definitely a win."

Lions Looking to Build Momentum in Regular Season Finale

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10856285.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion basketball team (15-15, 3-14 Big Ten) heads to Minnesota (17-13, 6-11) on Sunday (1 p.m. on BTN) seeking to build momentum for next week's Big Ten Tournament.

Looking to snap a six-game slide, the Lions will collide with the Gophers in Williams Arena on the final day of the regular season for the second-straight year. Penn State is one game away from a level playing field with all 14 teams in the Big Ten, and the Lions want to use Sunday's game as a springboard into the conference tournament.

"It would be huge (to finish strong)," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "I think going to Minnesota on Senior Night, they've really taken it to us. It would mean everything to go there, compete and give ourselves a chance. It would give us some confidence heading into the Big Ten."

After eclipsing 2,000 career points during Wednesday's 77-67 setback to Ohio State on senior night, D.J. Newbill is on the brink of finishing the regular season as the Big Ten's top scorer. The Philly native heads into the final game averaging 20.3 points per game.

Newbill, who has led the Lions in scoring during 25 of the season's 30 games, has been dynamic with the ball in his hands throughout the season. He scores from just about anywhere on the floor and is a tremendous finisher after contact. Newbill's efficiency is what has separated him from most in the Big Ten this year. He is averaging more than 20 points per game, but is only averaging 15.3 shots per contest.

Additionally, Newbill is the team's second-leading rebounder at 4.8 per game and leader in assists at 3.1 per contest.

"He's really efficient and he gets stuff done," Chambers said. "You look at the way he plays and D.J. is so efficient going about his business."

Fellow senior Ross Travis has played his best basketball of the season during the past two weeks. Travis is averaging 12 points and 8.5 rebounds during Penn State's last two contests. The Minnesota native will finish off his regular season career with a trip to his home state on Sunday looking to remain red-hot. Travis has been active on both ends of the floor for the Nittany Lions and has shot 10-for-18 in the last two games.

Coach Chambers has talked about glimpses into the future during the past two weeks. Look no further than the backcourt duo of sophomore Geno Thorpe and freshman Shep Garner. The young backcourt combo is beginning to hit its stride during the stretch run of the season.

Thorpe and Garner have averaged a combined 26.5 points per game during the last two outings, which is roughly 40 percent of the team's total scoring output. Neither guard is lacking confidence, and both players have had a knack for making big plays when the team needs a boost.

"They are getting into (the practice gym) getting shots up and working harder," Chambers said. "They know we need them. I like to think that we are doing a pretty good job developing these two. Especially Geno Thorpe. When you see him in December and you see him now, you see a completely different player."

Penn State scored its second Big Ten win of the season against Minnesota in the first meeting of the season back on Jan. 28 inside the BJC. In that game, Penn State led by as much as 12 in the second half before Minnesota took a one-point edge with 8:37 to play. Nonetheless, the Lions answered with a surge and held off the Gophers late for a 63-58 win.

Minnesota heads into the final game with three players averaging double-figures. Seniors Andre Hollins (14.3) and Maurice Walker (11.5) lead the team offensively and will be playing in their final home game on Sunday. Walker is also the team's leading rebounder at 6.5 per game. Junior Carlos Morris is the third Gopher averaging double-figures at 11.3 points per game.

The Gophers snapped three-game losing streak with a dramatic 96-90 overtime win at Michigan State on Feb. 26. Minnesota dropped a 76-63 decision to Wisconsin on Thursday evening.

The Nittany Lions are 11-32 all-time against Minnesota. That mark includes two Penn State victories in Williams Arena, with the last coming in the final game of the 2010-'11 season (66-63).

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After finishing up the last home meet of the regular season with a win against then No. 7 Iowa, the Penn State men's gymnastics team will travel to Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rican Gymnastics Challenge for the fifth consecutive year today.

The Nittany Lions will compete against gymnasts of the Puerto Rican and Mexican National Teams as well as Big Ten rival University of Michigan.

Back in January, Penn State took on Michigan in the only double dual of the season and came out on top with a 444.700-436.250 win. Though, the two teams have previously met, the final results from their last meet is no indication of what the outcome will be for this weekend.

"It was early then," said head coach Randy Jepson. "We were certainly more prepared than they were. They're going to be a solid team, ready to go this time around, so I'm expecting a really good competition with them as well."

Senior Ismael Sanabria echoes his coach in that results and standings can always change as the season progresses.

"[The meet against Michigan earlier this season] gave somewhat of a clue, but then again, they didn't have their whole lineup," said Sanabria. "Neither did we though. Especially for me though, it doesn't matter to me what happened before."

This Friday will be a homecoming for seniors Sanabria and Nestor Rodriguez and they couldn't be more ecstatic about it.

"I'm pretty excited," said Sanabria. "I'm competing with my friends again, with my teammates back home...I'll be going back [to Puerto Rico] later, but for the team, it will be the last time. I'm excited for it, but it's also bittersweet because I won't be competing there again and it will be my last competition in Puerto Rico."

In last year's Puerto Rican Gymnastics Challenge, Penn State finished second (428.550). The men's gymnastics team outscored the Puerto Rican national team (405.450), but came up short against Michigan (438.800). Sanabria tied with junior Alexis Torres for eighth on the vault and expectations are high for Sanabria, but coach Jepson believes that he will do a stellar job in his events.

"It's nice for [Sanabria]," said coach Jepson. "He's a senior and this is the last time he'll get to compete with us in Puerto Rico. I know he's got some plans outside of gymnastics after this, so this might be the last time competing in front of his friends and family at home, so I know that he is primed to do a good job there."

Torres led the team with individual titles last year in Puerto Rico. In addition to placing first on still rings, he recorded three more top-5 finishes in floor exercise, parallel bars, and high bar. Torres will not be heading to Puerto Rico this weekend since he will be competing in the American Cup in Arlington, Texas.

"It will be a little different weekend since we don't have everyone together," said coach Jepson. "We're sending Alexis Torres off to the American Cup and he'll compete in Texas on Saturday. It's a very prestigious meet. It's actually on NBC at 1 and will be nationally-televised. It will be nice to have him out competing, but it will take something out of our team, obviously."

With a teammate gone for the weekend, Sanabria had some advice for the underclassmen.

"Just stay focused. Do what you do at the gym. It's the same [as other meets], said Sanabria.