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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Connor Maloney settled himself and took a deep breath.

There was just under 24 minutes remaining in the Penn State men's soccer team's contest against Rutgers, and the star sophomore was having a frustrating night.

He and his teammates had dominated the ball possession and gotten off shot after shot, yet the game remained scoreless. To top it off, he had just been called for a yellow card after a foul. 

"It hurts the team if you get out of place," Maloney said. "You've got to keep your head in the game at all times and don't let your guard down."

Keeping his focus, Maloney once again delivered for the Nittany Lions as he has so many times this season.

With the game still scoreless and less than 12 minutes remaining, the 5-foot-6 forward found himself on a breakaway after receiving a long pass from Brian James. Without panicking, Maloney deftly moved to his right to get separation from Rutgers goalie David Greczek and put the ball into the back of the net, giving the Nittany Lions their only goal in a satisfying 1-0 victory.

"I saw the ball in flight, and coach always says, 'be a beast at all times, regardless if you're small or not,'" Maloney said. "I kind of waited and [Greczek] went down right away and I took a touch past him and it was in the goal." 

Maloney's game winner was Penn State's 20th shot of the game. By the end of the night, the Nittany Lions had outshot the Scarlet Nights by a whopping 22 to 5 margin. 

A minute into the game, it didn't seem like the Blue and White would need more than 78 minutes to score. Just 10 seconds after the opening whistle, Maloney ripped a shot that looked good until it ricocheted off the post.

"No I didn't think it would take that long [to score]," Maloney said. "It came to me and I thought why not have a shot first play of the game."

For the rest of the first half, the Nittany Lions would create numerous chances without being able to get the ball past Greczek, who played terrific and stopped five shots in the opening 45 minutes.

Six Lions would get shots off in the first half, with Maloney (two), Owen Griffith (two), Drew Klingenberg (two) and Mikey Minutillo (four) all taking multiple attempts. By the end of the period, Penn State had shot 12 times without allowing a single shot by Rutgers.

It would take until the 55th minute for the Scarlet Nights to finally get a ball on net, when JP Correa nailed a ball that Andrew Wolverton knocked away.

"It was weird because they had three strikers that were pressuring our backs pretty good," senior midfielder Owen Griffith said. "That's just a credit to those three backs (Eli Dennis, Mason Klerks, and Mike Robinson). Everything we can do is just dedication from those guys to help Wolvie get more shutouts."

As the second half wore on and the Lions' opportunites continued to come up just short, it seemed like just matter of time before they managed to break Rutgers' defense. 

Still, with the possibility of overtime looming, Griffith and his teammates knew they needed to stay focused.

"[The thought of overtime] is there, especially when you've got tired legs," Griffith said. "If we hadn't gotten them in regulation I think we would have gotten them in overtime."

Head coach Bob Warming agreed that while an eventual goal seemed likely, nothing is ever certain in soccer.

"Soccer is a funny game," Warming said. "We got 22 shots and they weren't like wild shots from 35 yards out. I don't know many college soccer teams that can play like we did tonight."

Now a member of the Big Ten, Rutgers gave Penn State the type of battle it is used to facing from its conference opponents, a low scoring, grind-it-out affair that wasn't decided until the very end.

If there was one thing that Warming was proud of besides his team, it was the performance of Penn State's fans and student section. A total of 2,532 fans turned up on a 40-degree night to watch the Nittany Lions improve to 10-0-1 on the season. 

"I love our students," Warming said. "They're so funny...the guy over there in the referee uniform and shorts when it's freezing out. They kept things clean and our kids did a great job." 

Lions Gain Experience from NHL Development Camps

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10408814.jpegBy Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Stepping onto the ice of a National Hockey League arena filled to capacity with screaming fans, all while dressed in the jersey of one of the league's 30 teams, is a dream every hockey player hopes to one day fulfill.

Six of the Nittany Lions took the first steps toward accomplishing that goal this summer when they attended the development camps of five different NHL organizations.

"I can tell you every one of them had a very positive experience," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "They all said that they learned things. Some were a little different. Some were surprised to find out that the areas that we stress were very similar to certain teams."

In attendance at the various camps were forward Casey Bailey, defenseman Patrick Koudys, goaltender Eamon McAdam, forward Zach Saar, forward Eric Scheid and goaltender Matthew Skoff.

Koudys, a Washington Capitals draft pick, and McAdam, a New York Islanders draft pick, both joined the camps of their prospective teams. The remaining four individuals received invitations from the following organizations: Bailey from the Calgary Flames, Saar from the Capitals, Scheid from the Minnesota Wild and Skoff from the San Jose Sharks.

"I think it was a really good camp for me," said Scheid of his experience with the Wild. "It was interesting to kind of be on the ice with some professional coaches and some guys that have played pro hockey, kind of just watching them and picking their brain a little bit."

While each NHL organization structures its camp in a different manner, the opportunities available to the players in attendance are unparalleled. These student-athletes not only participated in on and off-ice training with the coaches and training staff, but they also learned the expectations that go hand-in-hand with being a professional athlete.

One of those expectations is consistency.

"Those guys that are the leading scorers, like Sidney Crosby and guys like those, they're coming to play every single night," Scheid explained. "They don't get nights off because they're needed every single night, so the biggest thing I've been trying to work on, and that I would like to see myself improve on, is just being consistent and coming to play every single night and trying to make an impact the best I can every single night. If I can do that, I think I can help our team achieve a few more victories."

A little bit further west, Skoff also learned some very important lessons and tidbits while working with San Jose's goalie coaches.

The junior, who attended an NHL development camp for the second-consecutive year, made observations and took in every tip from the Sharks' staff in an attempt to further enhance his skills. More importantly, the experience gave Skoff hope for the future.

"I think it just sets a belief that someday you could be there," said Skoff regarding the experience. "Just working on little things, like habits, and looking at the returning guys that they had play in the NHL a couple games and how they go about in practice, it's nice to look up to. To see how they model themselves in practice and in the weight room is huge. That's a huge part of the game today if you want to play at that level."

While the opportunity to train with an NHL organization's prospects teaches lessons, it also helps build confidence, which is what the Lions want to carry into this season.

"Sometimes that's what an NHL camp can do," said Gadowsky. "It can give you a lot of confidence, so everybody had a great experience. They probably learned different things, but I'm sure their confidence is greater because of it."

With the lessons learned at these NHL camps coupled with the team's experiences last season, the Nittany Lions are looking forward to all this season has to bring.

"Confidence is a good thing to have all year round," said Skoff. "I think right now, confidence with the boys is pretty good."
    

Nittany Lions Defeat Georgia Tech in Season Opener

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10401366.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After weeks of preparation and practice, the Nittany Lions were able to put their hard work to the test in a meet against Georgia Tech on Friday. Both the men and women toppled the Yellow Jackets in the 2014-'15 season opener. The women finished with a score of 170-119, and the men had a 160.5-137.5 victory.

Flanked by multi-event winners and strong swimming on both the men's and women's side, the Nittany Lions improved their all time record against Georgia Tech to 2-0.

For the men, one of the most notable swims came early in the meet from freshman David Gross in the 1,000-yard freestyle.

"I was really happy with that swim, especially for this early in the year," Gross said. "But there's always room for improvement and that's what the rest of the season's going to be about. I have never swam the 1,000 and the 500 in the same day before, that was tough."

Head coach Tim Murphy was also pleased with Gross's performance.

"It's always interesting to watch freshmen," Murphy explained. "He put himself out there. It was a very bold swim. I've got no problem with someone putting themselves out there, we need to get better at being bold and doing that."

Another bold, standout swim came from the women's team with junior Haley Sinatro. Coming off an "in-season" best time and second place finish in the 100 breaststroke, Sinatro won the 200 individual medley.

"It was my best in season time by far and think the hard work I'm putting in the pool is really showing up, same with some other people on the team," Sinatro said. "It's a pretty early snapshot of what we've done so far and a lot of people are happy with today. But there is also a lot of work to be done as we move onto our next meet."

With two weeks of training until their next competition, the Nittany Lions have of time to make some changes before they race. Last year the team broke a combined 20 records and finished in the top 20 at NCAA championships for both men and women.

"This meet was a good wake up call for all of us," said Murphy. "We saw where we're at, what's showing up and what's not showing up. As always, we have a tremendous amount of work to do."

Current work goals include more racing in practice as well as technique work. The team recently broke up into their respective training groups, which caters to different swimmers and their events.

"We're tired and beat up, but skill wise, we've got to take it up a few notches if we expect to get better," Murphy said. "But it's only early October, we've got a long road ahead of us."

The Nittany Lions take on Virginia Tech on October 18 in Blacksburg.

Hamilton Thriving in Role for Nittany Lions

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10267703.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - DaeSean Hamilton has a knack for making just about everything look easy.

A gifted athlete on the field of play and a polite, personable guy off the field, Hamilton always walks with a sense of confidence.

A breakout player during the first five games of 2014, the redshirt freshman leads the Big Ten in receptions with 36, is averaging more than 100 yards receiving per contest and has been instrumental in Penn State's 4-1 start.

But his road to the starting lineup has been anything but easy.

Born in Okinawa, Japan, Hamilton hails from a military family and has lived all over the world. His parents, Johnie and Madgeline Hamilton, both served more than 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Hamilton's childhood included living in Japan, Hawaii, Greece and Illinois before the family settled at its current residence in Fredericksburg, Virginia.


"I was young so I don't remember a ton of it, but it was a good experience being able to see the world," Hamilton said.

The life lessons Hamilton learned through his parents are things he carries with him to this day.

"It molded me into the person I am today because I learned a lot about always having good judgment and staying out of trouble," Hamilton said. "I always have them in the back of my mind. You ask yourself, 'would you be doing the same things in front of them if I was away from them?' The discipline and them raising me helped me be a better man today."

10395530.jpegHad it not been for his gifted athleticism and talent on the football field, Hamilton may have considered following the footsteps of his parents with a career in the military.

But with offers from Virginia Tech, Maryland, West Virginia, Miami, Duke, Michigan State and Penn State, among others, Hamilton knew he wanted to continue his football career at the collegiate level.

As a high school senior in 2012, Hamilton wasn't leaning in one direction when it came to picking a school until he visited Penn State in December of that year.

"I fell in love with all of the coaches and all of the teammates I would be playing with," Hamilton said. "I fell in love with the recruiting class I would be coming in with. And I became really good friends with them."

Hamilton arrived on campus in July of 2013 excited to begin his college career. But things did not get off to the start he had hoped for.

Hamilton had surgery to repair a wrist injury he had suffered mid-way through his senior season at Mountain View High School. When the injury happened on a routine play, Hamilton continued on as if the injury was a sprain. He played through the pain and finished the season before preparing for the start of his Penn State career.

Following a medical evaluation in Happy Valley when he got on campus in July, it was determined that Hamilton's left wrist had been broken since October and had not healed properly. Without surgery to repair the injury, Hamilton could have been left without feeling in his left hand and movement in his fingers.

"That first year was rough," Hamilton said. "I came in during the summer, and I had to have surgery about a month after I enrolled here. Just watching the guys play the sport that they love was rough. I focused on academics. I came to Penn State to get a great education and play football, so it was tough not being able to play."

Rather than begin training camp with the rest of his recruiting class, Hamilton was forced to spend all of 2013 building the strength back into his wrist. Hamilton had a choice to make if he was going to use the recovery period as an opportunity to get better or not.

"That's when my parents played a big part in helping me stay on track," Hamilton said. "Seeing games in Beaver Stadium and being a part of campus was a good experience."

With words and messages of encouragement from his parents on a weekly basis, Hamilton powered through the fall on a mission to make the most of the opportunity he had. He was active in position meetings and worked out with the strength and conditioning staff on the turf adjacent to the practice field for countless hours during the season.

The work ethic stood out to his peers during the process.

10395533.jpeg"He approached each workout like a practice," quarterback Christian Hackenberg said. "His attitude during that process and now is a reflection of how well he has played."

Hamilton was not going to take no for an answer. He knew what type of player he could become, and he set out to maximize the opportunity, albeit without having a chance to be on the practice field.

"I just wanted to make myself better," Hamilton said. "When I saw all of the other guys on the field working hard, I didn't want to fall behind."

Often pushing sleds and conditioning during practice time, Hamilton worked tirelessly to get better.

"If I gave anything less than my best effort during those workouts, it would have just been rougher on me," Hamilton said.

Hamilton's hard work during the recovery period set the tone for a big offseason. He went right to work building a rapport with Hackenberg and the rest of the receivers.

"The offseason was a huge time for me," Hamilton said. "The other guys had a season under their belts and were seasoned vets. I hadn't played in a single college football game. I would text Hack all the time and ask him if he wanted to put some extra work in with me. I would sometimes go out during the mornings and put in work by myself. I knew that I had to have a great offseason in the weight room and on the field to be able to make an impact as a significant player on the team."

Following a strong training camp, Hamilton was eager to start the season in Ireland. Having not played in a college game, the redshirt freshman went into the season-opener against UCF with an open mind.

"From the beginning of the season, I just wanted be a person to make an impact," Hamilton said. "I ended up playing well in Ireland. The game has slowed down for me. My confidence has grown, and I think that's a big part of my success right now."

Hamilton busted onto the scene with a tremendous opening game in Dublin. He tallied a completion on the first Penn State play from scrimmage and has not looked back since. Hamilton had 11 catches for 165 yards in his debut and now leads the team with 502 yards.

It was a long journey to the starting lineup, but Hamilton is grateful for everything he has accomplished.

"I'm thankful for my parents and all of the opportunities I have been given," Hamilton said. "I am glad I can maximize the opportunity I have."

Hamilton takes pride in the process of becoming a better player. He wants to perfect his craft. Ask any one of the players in the Penn State secondary who practice against Hamilton and they will all talk about his ability to make things difficult for a defender, namely disguising the routes that he runs.

"Football is a game about tendencies," Hamilton said. "You can't do the same thing on every route. I don't want to be predictable. I disguise things as best I can. I don't run the same route the same way every time."

10395537.jpegOff the field, Hamilton is a laid back guy with confident personality. A communications major, Hamilton has aspirations of finding his way onto the set of ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown when his playing days are over. If he joins the ranks of the on-air talent, you won't have any trouble recognizing the Virginia native on TV.

Hamilton's hairstyle stands out among the other guys in the locker room.

When he arrived in Happy Valley, Hamilton couldn't find a steady barber that suited him. His solution was to let his hair grow.

"It got kind of wild and crazy, so I just let it go and have fun with it," Hamilton said.

It's been more than a year since he had a haircut. Despite fellow teammate Bill Belton's reputation as the team's unofficial barber, Hamilton is quite comfortable with how things look.

"I don't want him touching my hair," Hamilton joked.

On the field, the work is far from done for Hamilton. While he is relishing the opportunity to be a key figure for the Nittany Lions, Hamilton has an eye on the future.

"The next step for me is being consistent," Hamilton said. "I don't want to have a good first half of the season and then come out flat in the second half. I never want to be satisfied. I always want to work harder and harder every day to become a better player."




Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Robinson Prepared for First Season as a Lion

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Three years ago, James Robinson, David Glen, Dylan Richard and Mike Williamson were all on the roster of the same team in Alberta.

Following that season, the four went their separate ways. They have now been reunited at Penn State, as Robinson has rejoined the group and is prepared to begin his first season as a Nittany Lion.

Robinson's decision to attend Penn State was simple in his mind, especially since he was very familiar with a few of the people he had once called, and would again call, his teammates.

"Having three other guys from Alberta and knowing that they made the transition pretty simply and like it down here, I figured that I could relate to them pretty well," said the forward. "I was in touch with them throughout the recruiting process, so they definitely helped me through it. I think I definitely made the right decision."

Although familiarity with some of the other student-athletes played a role in the forward's commitment to Penn State, he knew the hockey opportunities available would be unparalleled.

Nevertheless, Robinson chose Penn State for more than its athletics.

"School has always been a big part of my life, so with the academic support they have here at Penn State and then again, the athletics here are just second to none and really the student body," Robinson said. "Between the three aspects there, it was a no-brainer for me."

Stepping back into the classroom has been an adjustment for the freshman, who spent the last two years focusing solely on his hockey career. The transition from athlete to student-athlete has taken time, but Robinson is slowly growing accustomed to the academic demands of college life.

"The school aspect has been going well, and the hockey aspect has been going well too," Robinson said. "I took two years off of school, so that's kind of been a bit of a difficult process getting back into it, but it's been going well."

During his two-year hiatus from the student lifestyle, the 6-foot-1 forward played for the Langley Rivermen of the British Colombia Hockey League. Last year, Robinson notched 42 points in the team's regular season with 15 goals and 27 assists. He also collected 42 points the previous season.

Throughout his time with the Rivermen, Robinson served as an assistant captain twice, demonstrating his leadership abilities. Robinson hopes to contribute the lessons learned from those experiences as a captain to the Nittany Lions this season.

"I think leadership is something that can be provided by someone whether you're wearing a letter or not," the freshman said. "I think it's just how you carry yourself as a person. I like to think of myself as a leader, whether I lead by example or speaking up in the room, whatever it is. I just take pride in being a leader."

Leadership is not the only contribution Robinson hopes to offer the team this season, as he also hopes to make plays and be an effective forward for the Lions in their second year at Pegula Ice Arena.

"I think my style of play is that I can play all ends of the ice," the forward said. "I'm a hard worker. I like to take care of my D-zone first. I like to kill penalties, but when I'm in the offensive zone, I like to get pucks to the net and try to provide chances for the team."

As Robinson looks forward, he is more than ready to take the ice for his first game as a Nittany Lion. Attending Penn State has started a new chapter of his hockey career, and the freshman is prepared to take on whatever may come his way.

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.On the heels of a strong start during exhibition action last weekend, the Nittany Lion women's hockey team heads into the regular season behind not one, but two confident goalies.

With Penn State opening up regular season play this weekend, head coach Josh Brandwene plans to balance play between junior goalie Celine Whitlinger and freshman goalie Hannah Ehresmann throughout the course of the year.

"Our modus operandi is that we let [our goalies] know on Thursday prior to practice what the situation is for the weekend," said Brandwene.

In last Friday's 5-2 exhibition win over Western at Pegula Ice Arena, Whitlinger and Ehresmann split time, each accumulating about 30 minutes of play between the pipes.

"I was really pleased on Friday with the way both of them, Celine and Hannah, conducted themselves," said Brandwene. "They played fantastically."

As a result of the equitable time allotted to both goalies in the lone exhibition, the question regarding the starting goaltender for the season surfaced.

"We take things one day at a time here," said Brandwene. "We expect everybody to come and grind it out everyday in practice."

A substantial explanation as to why Brandwene has been compelled to rotate between a veteran and a rookie in the crease is due to the additional coaching that the goalies have received.

This past offseason, Brandwene added former Mercyhurst net minder Courtney Drennen to his coaching staff. Drennen brings with her the expertise and experience to help blossom the team's goalies.

"Courtney [Drennen] is doing a great job," said Brandwene. "She's doing an awesome job developing and continuing to grow them as athletes and their craft as goaltenders."

Brandwene adds that his goalies are hungry for feedback and want to get better. In lieu of the quote-on-quote competition, Whitlinger and Ehresmann plan to continue playing and communicating at high levels.

"We're just working hard everyday on the ice, off the ice trying to get better," said Whitlinger. "So, that competition aspect definitely pushes us a little more, but at the end of the day, we're still friends."

The younger Ehresmann sees similarities between her game and Whitlinger's, an observation that helps make sense of Brandwene's decision to share playing time.

"We're both similar goalies," said Ehresmann. "We're both butterfly goalies. We tend to go down more than stay up. So I just look at [Whitlinger's] game and see what techniques she uses, and I mirror them sometimes."

Gratitude is a word that Brandwene spoke about at Wednesday's media availability. And, for Whitlinger and Ehresmann, having that trait while competing and sharing time is integral to Penn State's success this season.

Just two years ago, Whitlinger laced up her skates as a freshman. She knows what adjustments need to be made to find success at the collegiate level. As a result, she has taken the necessary strides to mentor the younger Ehresmann.

"[Whitlinger] has definitely helped me a lot," said Ehresmann. "She's taught me the ropes of what we do before the games...and other specific goalie things."

Brandwene echoed the words of Ehresmann when asked about Whitlinger's leadership.

"[Whitlinger] sets a tremendous example," said Brandwene. "She's a terrific worker, and she just comes to work everyday in practice and gets better and better."

Penn State's season commences with a challenging road trip to Minnesota this weekend. Tonight the Nittany Lions take on the top-ranked Golden Gophers and tomorrow night the Blue and White go against St. Cloud State. Both games will take place at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.

Whitlinger is expected to start in net against Minnesota and Ehresmann the nod versus St. Cloud State.

"I like where our team is right now, and I'm looking forward to the 60-minute challenge," said Brandwene.

"[Whitlinger] has definitely helped me a lot," said Ehresmann. "She's taught me the ropes of what we do before the games...and other specific goalie things."

Brandwene echoed the words of Ehresmann when asked about Whitlinger's leadership.

"[Whitlinger] sets a tremendous example," said Brandwene. "She's a terrific worker, and she just comes to work everyday in practice and gets better and better."

Penn State's season commences with a challenging road trip to Minnesota this weekend. Tonight the Nittany Lions take on the top-ranked Golden Gophers and tomorrow night the Blue and White go against St. Cloud State. Both games will take place at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.

Whitlinger is expected to start in net against Minnesota and Ehresmann the nod versus St. Cloud State.

"I like where our team is right now, and I'm looking forward to the 60-minute challenge," said Brandwene.

 

By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- When it comes to Penn State men's soccer goalie Andrew Wolverton, numbers go a long way in telling his story.    

Like the fact that he has started 60 of a possible 70 games for the Nittany Lions over the past four seasons. Or that he holds Penn State's record for career shutouts (30), single-season shutouts (12 in 2011) and career goals-against-average (.72 entering this season).

Still, numbers don't tell the entire tale of what Wolverton has meant to the Nittany Lions. For the past four years, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound goalkeeper has been a role model to his teammates as an example of hard work, dedication and leadership.

How integral is Wolverton to the Nittany Lions success? At the team's preseason press conference in August, a reporter remarked to head coach Bob Warming that Wolverton had seemingly been on the team for "decades," to which Warming responded, "thank god."

Everyone in the room chuckled, but at the same time, it was an indicator of just how much the Lions value their goalie. For a team that has won 11 games by a score of 1-0 over the past two years, there really is no substitute for having someone with Wolverton's combination of size and agility between the pipes.

With the Atlanta native having registered his team record 29th shutout last Sunday against Michigan before adding his 30th on Wednesday against Bucknell, we caught up with him to hear some of his thoughts on his Penn State career.

Q: When did you start playing soccer and were you always a goalie?
Wolverton:
"I've played soccer pretty much my entire life. My older sister always played and I kind of just took after her. I started playing goalie pretty young, like nine or 10 I think. One of my coaches just threw me there and it just fit. Before that, I wouldn't really say I had a set position because I was so young."

Q: Who was your favorite athlete growing up?
Wolverton:
"I would have to say Michael Jordan. I always loved basketball and played it growing up and he was obviously the best at it. I played basketball until my freshmen year of high school, then I focused on soccer."

Q: What led you to come to Penn State?
Wolverton:
"I visited the school when I was in high school before Coach Warming came here (in 2010). At the time I wanted to major in engineering (he switched to management) and I knew it was a great school as well as a great soccer program. What drew me to Penn State was just the unity and all the bonding in the community that was here."

Q: Who has had the biggest impact on you as a player during your time in college?
Wolverton: "
For my first three years it was definitely [former goalie coach] Bo Oshoniyi. But this year [new goalie coach] Mike Behonick has helped me out a lot. Mike has a little different style of teaching goalkeeping, but they both have helped push me to get better and to stay focused." 

Q: What has been your biggest challenge during your time at Penn State?
Wolverton:
"Just continuing to be a leader. I've always tried to lead and make good decisions for the team. Luckily we've got a great staff and a lot of other good leaders like Owen [Griffith] to help me out. I know a lot of players can lose focus after a while and stop caring, so just continuing to care and trying to always get better has been big for me."

Q: What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
Wolverton: "
I don't know if I could single out one moment, but last year (Big Ten Championship, Sweet 16 appearance) was pretty cool. We had some big wins on the road that were a lot of fun for our team, especially in the NCAA Tournament in California (beating UC Santa Barbra 1-0). Obviously, winning the Big Ten the past two years was sweet."

While Wolverton may not have a single favorite moment of his own, he has produced many highlights and memories for his teammates, both on and off the field. The Nittany Lions current starting defenders, Eli Dennis, Mason Klerks and Mike Robinson, as well as senior co-captain and defensive center midfielder Owen Griffith, all shared their favorite Wolverton moment.

Redshirt Senior Eli Dennis:
"When he's on the field, he's loud and always communicating, but off he field, he's not really much of a public speaker usually. Before the Indiana game this season, he gave us a pep talk because he couldn't travel with us (Wolverton had been given a red card the previous game). He had trouble saying it at first and we all just cracked up. He had a great message though. Basically, he told us we can play against anybody and it doesn't matter which 11 guys are on the field. No matter who was out there, he thought we could get it done."

Sophomore Mason Klerks: "
On the field, I guess he's made a lot of good saves, but the one that sticks out is last year against Northwestern. We beat them (2-1 in double OT) to win the Big Ten title and he made this awesome diving save (in the 36th minute) to keep us in the game.

"Off the field, when I came here on my recruiting trip, I stayed with him one night. He was just a real cool guy and we had a great time. It was one of the reasons I came here."

Senior Mike Robinson:
"The Northwestern game, that's a good one. My favorite game memory would probably be the Michigan game that just happened when he set the shutout record. I was closest to the ball when it looked like it was going in (in the 82nd minute). Just when it looks like it's going in the goal he makes this incredible save. It just goes to show you that even when you think you've seen everything he can do, he ends up surprising you with a little more."

Senior Owen Griffith
: "Probably for me would be the Northwestern game. He made a huge save and we would have lost the Big Ten if it weren't for that.

"Our sophomore year though, we had our first apartment together. We ended up getting a [husky] dog that Andrew still has to this day. We named him Rooney. We always had to let him out of the apartment like 10 times a day."

With plenty of soccer still to be played this season, it is likely that Wolverton has yet to produce his finest moment. At the same, he has already given Nittany Lion soccer fans plenty to cheer about. 

Nittany Lions Spend Off Day Volunteering at United Way Day of Caring

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dayofcaring_1.jpgPhoto Gallery - Day of Caring

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Approximately 50 members of the Nittany Lion football team used the off day on Thursday as an opportunity to give back to the community by participating in the United Way Day of Caring event in State College.

The volunteers helped with the upkeep of Centre Furnace Mansion on East College Avenue. Groups participated in the volunteer effort in three shifts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"It's great to give back to the community," freshman Johnathan Thomas said. "It's great to be out here with our teammates to help build some team chemistry and we get to help the community while doing it."

The work around Centre Furnace Mansion focused on landscaping and upkeep of the property. The student-athletes helped spread mulch, rake leaves and perform yard work in the garden around the historic site.

"This is a really great opportunity to give back to the community and the people who support us every weekend," freshman Charlie Shuman said. "When we get an opportunity on an off day to give back to the community and help them out, it's awesome."

Core value No. 1 for Penn State Football is to compete in everything you do. That is evident on the practice field every day. It was also evident at the Day of Caring festivities.

"Compete in everything you do. That's how we operate," Shuman said. "We are out here competing to see who can pull the most weeds, dump the most mulch, and we are having fun with it."

The Nittany Lions take the responsibility of giving back to the community very seriously. The nearly 50 players at the Centre Furnace Mansion jumped at the opportunity to spend time with one another while giving back to the community.

"We always have fun, and we have a special bond as a group," Shuman said. "No matter what we are doing, it is another opportunity to bond."

In addition to the football team, members of the baseball, women's and men's basketball squads participated in various activities around State College as part of the Day of Caring.

The Nittany Lions return to action on the field at Michigan on Oct. 11.



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From Finland to Penn State: Autio's Journey

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 4,209 miles separating State College and Espoo, Finland, Erik Autio has found himself worlds away from his home this year. The Finland-native has not only had to transition to a new team, but he has had to emerge himself in a new culture, a new language and a new style of hockey.

Deciding to make the move to the United States and to collegiate hockey was one that made perfect sense to the freshmen. Autio quickly realized choosing Penn State would offer him the opportunity to not only play a highly competitive level of hockey, but it would also allow him to work toward advancing academically.

"The level of play in Finland, if you want to play on the best level, you don't have time to do studying at the same time," Autio said. "Coming over here gives me the opportunity to get my education as well as play good hockey, so that's what I wanted to come here for."

While the academics and hockey at Penn State have been treating the defenseman well, other aspects of the move have been a bit more difficult. With time Autio will grow accustomed to the American culture, but for now, he is happy to have the support of his teammates and coaches.

"I'm still working on it and getting used to stuff, but the guys are helping me out a lot," Autio said. "I like that, and their support makes it so much easier for me to do everyday stuff."

Autio hopes to repay the favor by contributing on-ice as much as possible during the 2014-'15 run, using his experiences to help propel the team to success.

Since 2010, Autio has been a member of the Espoo Blues at a number of junior levels. Most recently, the defenseman competed for the team's under-20 squad and served as an assistant captain.

Additionally, Autio helped lead the Blues to the
2014 Finnish Jr. A SM-liiga championship and recorded a plus-26 rating during the regular season.

This past August, the defenseman also competed with Finland's national under-20 team at USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp, where he was able to go up against some of the world's best young players. The experience is one Autio feels greatly benefited the growth of his hockey career.

"It was a great opportunity for me to play against the best players in the world of my age," said the freshman. "It's always a big honor for me, great honor for me to represent my own country, so I'm hoping that maybe later on this year I might be playing for the under-20 team in National Championships in Toronto. That's one of my biggest goals for this season."

If Autio accomplishes this task, he will be the first Nittany Lion to compete in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, which is scheduled to begin in late December. Finland is the reigning world champion.

Although the tournament is in the near future, Autio's main priority and focus is on being the best defenseman he can be for the Nittany Lions.

Standing at 5-foot-10, Autio tends to shy away from big hits, instead focusing on his ability to move the puck quickly and to jumpstart the offensive game.

"I'm just looking at the first game right now and trying to focus on that," Autio said. "It's going to be my first game, but I'm really excited for the home-opener. I've never been to a Penn State hockey game before, so it's going to be a lot of new stuff for me."

"I hear they're really loud," he added of the student-section. "I want to hear them this season."

Espoo, Finland may be 4,209 miles away from State College, but Autio is finding a new home in Penn State, and he's excited to see where this journey will lead. 

Gonzalez Leading the Lions in the Back Row

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10394883.jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At most sporting events, the fans in the crowd believe that the flashiest plays are the most notable ones. In volleyball, the kills and the great digs get the crowd excited and up off their feet, but what about the technical aspect of things?

A match cannot have any true momentum to it without the back row having strong serve receives. Penn State's back row has been doing a terrific job with that this season, especially from senior libero Dominique Gonzalez.


Gonzalez earned the Defensive Player of the Week for the Big Ten after helping the team notch two wins against then fifth-ranked Wisconsin and then 17th-ranked Minnesota. She led the team with 6.71 digs per set, including 21 digs during the Wisconsin match and a season-high of 26 digs against the Gophers. The win against Minnesota marked the fourth match of the season where Gonzalez had 20 or more digs.

"It's a great feeling," said Gonzalez. "It's the first time I've gotten it in my career, so that was pretty cool."

Though she is honored to have won this week's title, Gonzalez has other things on her mind.

"I think the more important things to focus on are the wins that we had and getting better at things we need to get better at and focusing on this week. The awards and stuff are cool, but winning as a team is better in my eyes," said Gonzalez. "As a team, I think we've got to improve on consistency. We missed a lot of serves at crucial times, so going back to the service line, being confident, and just being sure, We had a great match against Wisconsin and our play kind of slipped a little bit against Minnesota, so maintaining that consistent level of volleyball at all times."

Gonzalez began her collegiate athletic career nearly five years ago when she decided to leave San Antonio, Texas, to continue her passion for volleyball at Penn State. The 1,600 miles between home and Happy Valley made no difference to her as she knew that Penn State was her top choice.

"The community, the excellence it has in volleyball, I mean, you have a legendary coach, so in my eyes, there was nothing more," said Gonzalez. "Playing [for] Penn State volleyball was what I wanted. Playing for coach and being part of such a tradition. You look at all the success the program has had in the past and that's something I wanted to be a part of and wanted to be the best player that I could be and I knew that coach could bring that out in us."

Her family helps to provide a strong support system, as well.

"It's my last season and my parents are retired now, so they're making more of an effort to go to away matches, which is great to have people in the crowd supporting us in such big venues where a lot of the crowd is against us."

Since being and playing as a freshman, Gonzalez's game has grown exponentially, but she continues to look for improvement throughout her final season.

"When you come in as a freshman, there are a lot of overwhelming feelings when you're on the court. The game is faster - you're playing with girls that are anywhere between 18 to 22 years old and they're experienced as well," Said Gonzalez. "I try to improve a lot on my consistency and not being too high or being too low when you play well or play bad."

The Nittany Lions are almost midway through the season and still have a lot to look forward to.

"I think we always set our standards at the highest point we can so as a team I think we want to win as many matches as we can and get better each time we play and hopefully win a Big Ten Championship," said Gonzalez. We just want to do what we can to make a good run in the tournament."