By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Excitement and applause filled the room on Tuesday night during the NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Selection Show viewing party at Damon's in State College when the Nittany Lions earned a spot in a national tournament for the sixth time in program history and the first time since 2008.
The team was ecstatic to see Penn State appear on the draw in their first NCAA Tournament appearance as Nittany Lions.
"This is my first time in the NCAA [Championship] and we are really excited. We didn't mind going anywhere we were just really excited to get an opportunity to go," said senior Chris Young.
"I'm excited for the boys. They worked hard this year and I think it's going to be a great experience going to the University of Virginia. They have great facilities, a great program, and they are defending national champions. It will be fun," said head coach Jeff Zinn.
The team has been working hard all year, and their road to the first round of the NCAA Tournament did not come without a lot of resilience and dedication.
Penn State fell to No. 43 Michigan in the Big Ten quarters during its last outing, but the Lions are beaming with confidence heading into the postseason.
"I think towards the end we got tired out a little bit and [there was] a little disappointment with Michigan, but Michigan plays very well. Right now we are working really hard and getting ready to play some ball," said assistant coach Paul Tobin. "UNC Wilmington is going to be a tough first round. [Virginia] an area that they're used to, it's their neck of the woods, and they're known to fight but I'm very excited. We had a great year and I think the players did real well."
Penn State is slated to meet UNC Wilmington in the first round. The Seahawks are 15-6 in 2014 and won were regular season and CAA tournament.
"They will be fired up to play us and we are definitely fired up to play them. We are ready for them and I'm very confident," senior Chris Young.
"We have a lot of good players that will be good ambassadors and I think we will do well. We are just going to keep doing what we know how to do," said Tobin.
So far, what they know how to do is to succeed.
The Nittany Lions had an incredible season, going 21-5 overall, which was a program record for wins in a season. They finished 8-3 and in third place in the Big Ten, also a program record.
Additionally, sophomore Leonard Stakhovsky and senior Russell Bader were named All-Big Ten selections, marking the first time the program has had two All-Big Ten honorees in one season.
The road ahead of the Nittany Lions will be tough, but they are focused on the task at hand.
"We use everything as a learning experience to get us where we want to be and this is just another step in that direction," said Zinn.
"We are so excited and we are looking forward to it," said Young.
The Nittany Lions will travel to Charlottesville, Va., next week where they will face UNC Wilmington for the first round of the tournament on Saturday, May 10 at 9 a.m.
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Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Growing up in Wilkes-Barre, Zach Ell was raised to bleed Penn State blue and white.
As a child and during his years at Holy Redeemer High School, Ell would frequently make the two-hour trek to State College on the weekends with his friends to attend not only Penn State football games, but baseball games, as well.
Although he was a star baseball player in high school, playing at the next level for his favorite college team was always something of a pipedream that Ell never truly believed would happen. That was until he began getting recruited by former head coach Robbie Wine, at which point the decision of where to go to school became an easy one.
"It never really occurred to me but once they started recruiting me I envisioned this dream of how cool it would be to play for my favorite team and I knew from the start I wanted to go here," Ell said. "Not just for the baseball aspect but this was the school I wanted to go to academically. I love the atmosphere at Penn State and the community is amazing."
Over the past four years, the kid from Wilkes-Barre has more than lived out his childhood dream, receiving significant playing time as a freshman before becoming a three-year starter in right field for the Nittany Lions.
While Ell has gone through many ups and downs with the Penn State baseball program, being a part of a team that won 32 games when he was a freshman and one that had just 14 victories last season, the senior has thoroughly enjoyed his career.
"Playing here is an honor and it's unbelievable it's almost over," Ell said. "I've made some great relationships that I'll keep for the rest of my life and I've grown up not just as a baseball player, but as a person."
One of the most experienced players on the team, Ell has long been looked up to by younger players as one the Nittany Lions leaders. While the squad does not have official captains, most individuals in the program consider him and senior catcher Alex Farkes to be the unofficial holders of that title.
Sophomore outfielder James Coates, who was hosted by Ell on his recruiting visit to Penn State two years ago, said that his fellow starting outfielder taught him the necessary work ethic to be a college baseball player.
"He's always led by example but he's also one of the best vocal leaders of the team," Coates said. "He's always in a good mood and cheering people up and he works incredibly hard."
Ell's stature in the program is such that when new head coach Rob Cooper was in process of being hired, the athletic department asked the right fielder to be one of a handful of players to meet with Cooper before the hire was finalized.
The pair hit it off from the start and if Cooper has any regrets about his first season at Penn State, only having the opportunity to coach Ell for one year is certainly one of them.
With his general effort and sense of accountability, Ell's willingness to buy into Cooper's system has made the transition process much smoother for the head coach.
"It would be really easy for him as a senior to just play his time out but he always plays hard and he's going to be able to say that he was a big part of getting us to the next level," Cooper said. "I really wish I had more than one year to coach him."
Known as a hitting guru, Cooper has helped Ell become a much more selective hitter, and the progress has been evident, with the senior's batting average having jumped from .241 last year to .279 this season.
As usual though, the outfielder's biggest impact continues to come in the field, where he has only committed two errors his entire career and just one the past three years.
"We like to call ourselves the graveyard because nothing gets by us in the outfield," Ell said. "I have the attitude that I'm going to catch anything and no one will run on me."
If that wasn't enough, Ell volunteered himself at the beginning of the season to Cooper and pitching coach Brian Anderson to pitch in relief for the team, even though he hadn't consistently thrown from the mound since high school except for one two-inning appearance as a junior.
Rusty at first, Ell has proven himself to be a viable option out of the bullpen, registering a 2.25 ERA in four appearances this season.
"People always said I had a pretty decent arm and with new coaches and a new start I figured I might as well try it," Ell said. "In the beginning it was just throwing fastballs but coach Anderson has helped me develop the mechanics and the mentality of a pitcher."
His time in blue and white may be nearing its end, but for a guy who went from sitting in the Medlar Field stands as a high school kid to patrolling right field for four years, Ell knows that he has helped the Nittany Lions get back on track.
"Coach Cooper has put (the program) on the right track and the younger guys are learning how to play the game the right way," Ell said. "It's about getting better each day because you never stay the same, you either get better or you get worse."
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- "It would be tough to articulate and put into words what this senior class means to this team," said head coach Jeff Tambroni following Saturday's 8-7 win over Hofstra. "They are such a quality group of young men and they finished their careers in an outstanding fashion."
The showdown with The Pride last weekend served as Penn State's final regular season game as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. The hard-fought battle exemplified the passion, pride and resiliency that the Nittany Lions have played with all season.
"It was awesome we got to end on a win," said senior attackman Shane Sturgis. "They were highly-ranked, everyone doubted us and we finished the year strong."
While the victory was the highlight of the weekend, the senior banquet on Sunday morning also proved to be a way for the Penn State lacrosse family to come together. The 14-member senior class was honored with speeches from Tambroni, numerous student-athletes and Assistant Athletic Director Jan Bortner.
Senior captain Tyler Travis spoke to his teammates and the guests in attendance, emphasizing the team's resiliency throughout the season and the belief that he always had in his squad.
"By no means was this season a disappointment to us," Travis said.
The Blue and White finished the regular season with a 7-6 overall record and a 3-2 mark in CAA play. Most impressively, the team finished off its slate with a three-game win streak after losing five out of six. Leading the Lions to the turnaround was the impressive grittiness and perseverance of the 2014 seniors.
"They've been through a lot and it was a pretty emotional pregame speech for me," Tambroni said of the soon-to-be graduates who were freshmen or redshirt freshmen just four short seasons ago during the coach's first year.
"We owe a great debt of gratitude to this group," he said. "To their credit they just stayed the course and came out on top."
Without the chance to compete in the CAA tournament and earn and automatic berth in this year's NCAA tournament, the Nittany Lions now must hope to hear their name called on Selection Sunday and continue to prepare.
The team can certainly make a case for an at-large bid with its impressive resume. With the eight-ranked strength of schedule in the country, a No. 19 RPI rating, and key wins over Hofstra and Notre Dame--this squad has put itself in a position with a hope to play in May.
NCAA tournament berth or not, the way this team finished this season makes for a successful--not disappointing--campaign.
"Now they walk off the field with a winning record and something to hold on to and that's adversity faced and adversity fought," Tambroni said.
The NCAA Men's Lacrosse Selection Show will air on Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPNU. Eighteen teams will make the tournament, 10 of which are automatic bids and eight are at-large bids. Two teams will play in a play-in game.
Coaches Caravan Registration - Click Here
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With spring practice in the books, head coach James Franklin and nine other Penn State head coaches are set to embark on the 17-stop 2014 Coaches Caravan.
Festivities kick off on Thursday inside Pegula Ice Arena.
"I can't begin to tell you how excited myself and the rest of the coaches are to get out on the Coaches Caravan to interact with all of the alumni, fans, season ticket holders," Franklin said. "I couldn't be more excited about doing it. This is what it's all about - interacting, getting to know each other and building relationships."
More than 5,000 Penn State fans and alumni have already registered for Caravan events. Four of the stops are sold out, including three during the first week. Following the evening reception in State College, the Caravan bus hits the road on Tuesday with sold out stops in York (lunch) and Hershey (evening reception). Week one also includes a sold out event in Baltimore (lunch) and stops in Washington, D.C. (evening reception), Penn State Fayette (lunch) and Pittsburgh (evening reception).
"I'm really excited to get on the road with all of the great head coaches on the Coaches Caravan," men's soccer head coach Bob Warming said. "We are thrilled to have an opportunity to spend time with the passionate Penn State fans. They are the best in the country, and we can't wait to see them."
The lineup of coaches for week one in addition to Franklin and Warming includes Russ Rose (State College only), Coquese Washington (York and Harrisburg only) and Erica Walsh.
"I'm thrilled to be a part of the Coaches Caravan this year," women's soccer head coach Erica Walsh said. "I'm going to be out for two weeks. I'm excited to be part of such a dynamic group of coaches, meet as many alums as possible and to meet Nittany nation. We are heading it soon. Come join us!"
Among the coaches slated to join Franklin on the road during weeks two and three of the Coaches Caravan are wrestling's Cael Sanderson, field hockey's Char Morett, men's volleyball's Mark Pavlik, men's hockey's Guy Gadowsky, softball's Amanda Lehotak.
GoPSUsports.com will again board the modified Fullington Trailways motorcoach for all 17 stops on the Caravan. Look for photos, video and written content from all 17 locations as the Penn State Coaches Caravan hits the road for nine days in the coming two weeks.
Register today for a stop near you, and we look forward to seeing you on the road.
2014 Coaches Caravan Schedule
May 1 - State College/University Park-Pegula Ice Arena (Evening reception)
Coaches: James Franklin, Russ Rose, Bob Warming, Josh Gattis, Charles Huff, Brent Pry, Bob Shoop
May 6 - York/Penn State York (Lunch) - SOLD OUT
Coaches: James Franklin, Coquese Washington, Erica Walsh, Bob Warming
Hershey/Hershey Lodge (Evening reception) - SOLD OUT
Coaches: James Franklin, Coquese Washington, Erica Walsh, Bob Warming,Brent Pry
May 7 - Baltimore/Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards (Lunch) - SOLD OUT
Coaches: James Franklin, Erica Walsh, Bob Warming
Washington, D.C./Washington Marriott Wardman Park (Evening reception)
Coaches: James Franklin, Erica Walsh, Bob Warming, Charles Huff
May 8 - Uniontown/Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus (Lunch)
Coaches: James Franklin, Erica Walsh, Bob Warming
Pittsburgh/Sheraton Station Square (Evening reception)
Coaches: James Franklin, Erica Walsh, Bob Warming, Bob Shoop, Terry Smith
May 13 - King of Prussia/Valley Forge Casino Resort (Evening reception)
Coaches: James Franklin, Char Morett, Cael Sanderson, Erica Walsh
May 14 - Philadelphia-Center City/The Rittenhouse (Lunch)
Coaches: James Franklin, Char Morett, Cael Sanderson, Erica Walsh
Scranton/Fiorelli Catering; Peckville (Dinner)
Coaches: James Franklin, Cael Sanderson, Erica Walsh, Ricky Rahne
May 15 - Northern New Jersey (Whippany)/Hanover Marriott (Lunch)
Coaches: James Franklin, Cael Sanderson, Erica Walsh
New York City/Marriott New York Downtown (Evening reception)
Coaches: James Franklin, Cael Sanderson, Erica Walsh, Herb Hand
May 20 - Williamsport/Pennsylvania College of Technology College (Lunch) - SOLD OUT
Coaches: James Franklin, Guy Gadowsky, Mark Pavlik
Wilkes-Barre/Genetti Hotel & Conference Center (Evening reception)
Coaches: James Franklin, Guy Gadowsky, Mark Pavlik, John Donovan, Ricky Rahne
May 21 - East Stroudsburg/East Stroudsburg University (Lunch)
Coaches: James Franklin, Guy Gadowsky, Mark Pavlik
Lehigh Valley/Sands Bethlehem Event Center (Evening reception)
Coaches: James Franklin, Guy Gadowsky, Mark Pavlik, Sean Spencer
May 22 - Erie/Penn State Erie, The Behrend College (Evening reception)
Coaches: James Franklin, Amanda Lehotak, Mark Pavlik, Herb Hand
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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSIT PARK, Pa. - For the third time in four years, the Penn State Nittany Lions and Johns Hopkins Blue Jays will meet in the first round of the American Lacrosse Conference Championship. This is the second time these two teams have met in the last 13 days, with the Nittany Lions winning the first game game, 12-10.
Penn State and Johns Hopkins have had several close games over the years. It seems as if every time these two teams get together, they play a classic American Lacrosse Conference game with a lot of scoring, high-intensity defense, and tremendous tension over the full 60 minutes.
As far as ALC rivalries go, these two teams have arguably played their best lacrosse against one another. They matchup very well, and both have an extraordinary amount of respect for the other team.
"...We were coming off of two really tough-fought wins, so I think that's good going into a game like today," head coach Missy Doherty said. "Playing Hopkins so recently, you know, preparation wise, it's still hard. But at least we are familiar with them."
Thursday's game should be fairly similar to the game played just two weeks ago. The Nittany Lions won, although they left the field feeling they could have played better.
The game between these two teams on April 18 was tightly contested affair. At the end of the first half, the Blue jays had a 7-4 lead and were keeping the Nittany Lions offense out of groove and out of sync.
In the second half, Penn State put together a strong comeback and earned the win. It might have been the NIttany Lions' best half of the season en route to a 12-10 victory.
The Nittany Lions are a high-tempo team, while the Blue Jays are more of a patient team. Both, however, like to move the ball and move it effectively throughout the game. Penn State and Johns Hopkins' attackers are very decisive and know when to feed their cutting midfielders, while the defenders are in constant pursuit of the ball and are notorious for forcing turnovers.
It's no surprise the last five times these two teams have met, including postseason action, the games have been decided by three goals or less.
The one glaring difference between the two teams in their regular-season matchup were the shot totals. The Nittany Lions had a clear advantage in shots in both halves. Penn State finished the game having outshot Johns Hopkins, 28-16.
"We are trying to just build off of the things that we think we can build on," Doherty said. "We want our offense to be a little more threatening, but it's not about Hopkins as much as there are certain areas we need to continue to improve on."
Earning a close win in the regular season is always gratifying to the winning team. Penn State has a tough matchup with a Johns Hopkins team eager to get a win over the team that beat them just two weeks ago.
Game time is set for 2 p.m. at Lakeside Field in Chicago, Ill., the home of the Northwestern Wildcats. Whatever team wins will advance to the second round and matchup with the No. 1 overall seed, Florida.
The key for the Nittany Lions will be to keep things simple and play together. The team will keep their practice routine pretty regular and do their best to enjoy the time they have in Chicago.
"It's always good to get the girls on the road," Doherty said. "I think we are a team that is really close and we enjoy being together and playing together, so it will be nice to get out and head to Chicago.
"We keep it somewhat similar, but we will add some things in to make sure they get the most out of their experience here. With the tournament, it's a little bit tough because you are potentially playing Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, so it doesn't leave much time to get out and do anything extra. But overall, I think we have had some great road trips and we want to hopefully bring our best to Chicago."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The distance between Penn State and Hawaii is 4,766 miles, such is the rare trip that Penn State softball sophomores Reina Furuya and Maegan Tupinio both decided to make two years ago to receive a world-class education and play Division I softball.
With the average annual temperature 25 degrees higher in Hawaii than in State College, the looming question is why make the extensive trip east to wake up to snow five months a year rather than to the sounds of the ocean crashing up against the soft, warm sand?
"I just like the education system on the East Coast," said Tupinio. "It's different. My brother lives on this side of the country, so I've been here before. I just wanted to do something different, and I really liked Penn State. It's well known in Hawaii, so I wanted to do something that would make the people there [in Hawaii] proud of me."
For Furuya, her answer is similar to that of Tupinio's, but incorporates her freshman year in Happy Valley to evaluate the entire expedition.
"If you asked me a year ago I would've just said academics and softball, but now that I have a year under my belt, I love it here," said Furuya. "The whole atmosphere, including the academics and coaches, it's just fun to be around with football and watching other sports compete, it's just a fun college town to be around."
Three years ago both Furuya and Tupinio were seniors in high school. And, despite growing up just 11 miles apart - Furuya in Waipahu and Tupinio in Wahiawa - neither really knew each other until they both decided on Penn State.
That last sentence is not entirely true.
"I knew of her [Tupinio]," said Furuya. "I played against her. But I never really got to know her until I got here."
For Tupinio, her knowledge of Furuya is a little bit different. Because Hawaii is such small compilation of islands, both played against each other all the time.
"I definitely knew Reina more than she knew me," said Tupinio. "She's a well-known player on the islands."
The two Hawaiians have helped each other adapt to the different environment up along the east coast of the United States, but the move from Hawaii to Penn State was far from a walk in the park.
"Oh my gosh! I do [miss the warmth]," said Tupinio. "No offense, but this winter was terrible."
Keeping in touch with family back in Hawaii has been a challenge that both have had to overcome. Each has had to deal with the six-hour time difference to talk to their loved ones. When it's Noon here in State College, the sun is rising in Hawaii.
Together, Furuya and Tupinio have brought their tropical culture to Penn State, culture that is rarely experienced in central Pennsylvania.
"I like just listening to the way that they talk," said senior Kasie Hatfield. "Even just the way they say certain words is really cool, so it's just fun to have them around."
If you ask Furuya or Tupinio, they will both agree that Hawaiian food is what they miss the most of home during their time at Penn State.
"I definitely miss the food at home," said Furuya. "I just love food so much. Here I can get burgers, fries and pancakes, but at home I can get the Korean, Japanese, Hawaiian food. Love it."
Their teammates aren't complaining though because Furuya and Tupinio have not only introduced them to new cuisine, but they also have a knack for finding the best local restaurants.
"The food that they introduced to us is really cool because they eat a lot of rice and spam," said sophomore Macy Jones. "They find the best sushi places in State College, too, so that helps a lot."
On the field, Furuya and Tupinio's relaxed, vacation-like mindsets have helped calm their teammates battle through frustrating mishaps.
"They're actually our calming forces," said head coach Amanda Lehotak. "So when everybody else is bouncing off the walls, they're the ones just chilling and going with the flow."
Penn State wasn't always a certainty.
"When I first came here I thought everything would be so big, and I wouldn't really know people," said Tupinio.
Now, Penn State is a certainty.
"Everything here is well put together, and everyone is very close," said Tupinio. "I feel like I am a part of a family here, and I love it. I love the feeling of tradition and just the values that everyone has here."
The fusion of cultures, highlighted by the two Hawaiian sophomores has provided a balance among the team. A diverse balance that Lehotak thinks reflects the power of college athletics.
"You get so many people from different cultures and different areas of the country that teach everybody, whether it's about their culture or what they are about," said Lehotak. "It's awesome."
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
ALC Seed: #1
Record (Conference): 15-2 (6-0)
Top Scorer: Shannon Gilroy
Last Year: Lost in ALC Title Game
The Florida Gators enter the American Lacrosse Conference Tournament as the No. 1 seed. Coming off a 15-win season, the Gators finished undefeated in conference play for the third time in four years. They rank No. 1 in the conference in shots (539), goals (265), scoring offense (15.59 GPG), and draw controls per game (16.29). Freshman Attacker Shannon Gilroy has been the focal point of the Florida offense this season. Gilroy has 91 points, while nine gators have at least 12 points or more.
Between the pipes for the Gators this season has been two goalies in Cara Canington and Mary-Sean Wilcox. Both have seen over 500 minutes of work this season. Canington has a goals against average of 8.31; Wilcox has a goals against average of 8.40. Both goalies have allowed 71 goals this season.
The Gators are a high-tempo team that attacks on both the offense and defensive ends. A majority of their success comes off of draw control wins, and they are able to turn those wins into offensive chances and goals.
Florida has a bye the first round and plays the winner of Penn State-Johns Hopkins in the second round.
ALC Seed: #5
Record (Conference): 14-3 (3-3)
Top Scorer: Attacker Taylor D'Amore
Last Year: Lost in ALC Quarter finals
The Johns Hopkins Blue Jays enter the tournament fresh off a win over ALC Rival Ohio State to close out the season. Despite having the second-highest total number of wins in the conference, the Blue Jays 3-3 conference record earned them a No. 5 seed in the tournament. Leading the Hopkins offense this year has been senior Taylor D'Amore, who has 91 points in the team's 17 games this season. Thirteen Blue Jays have at least one point this season, while six of them have 23 points or more.
The Blue Jays finished near the top of the conference in several offensive categories this season including second in shots (487) and goals (220), while finishing third in scoring offense (12.94 GPG) and assists (89). The Blue Jays are a strong defensive team, only allowing 6.87 goals per game, and forcing their opponents into an average of 9.53 turnovers per game. Johns Hopkins is a very patient team on offense, but an aggressive defensive team. They maintain possession of the ball very well, generate strong offensive chances and allow the play to develop before they force a shot.
Johns Hopkins opens play against Penn State.
ALC Seed: #7
Record (Conference): 4-12 (0-6)
Top Scorer: Anna Schueler
Last Year: Not an ALC Member
In their first year in the ALC, the Michigan Wolverines took major steps towards becoming a legitimate contender for years to come. A team comprised of just freshman, the Wolverines battled several key ALC opponents hard this season, but fell short each time.
The Wolverines are led by midfielder Anna Scheuler, who has 41 points through 16 games this season. Her 23 ground balls, 51 draw controls, and 16 caused turnovers are all team-highs this season. In net for the Wolverines this season has been Allison Silber. The freshman goalkeeper has a conference-high 137 saves this season, while putting together a 4-12 record.
The Wolverines are a young team still finding their groove. They have had several solid offensive outings this season, and play a very fast-paced game. Their ability to quickly pass the ball leads to offensive chances. The defense, however, has been struggling to get its feet set this season. Despite being a first-year program, the Wolverines are a very competitive team.
Michigan opens play against Ohio State.
ALC Seed: #3
Record (Conference): 10-5 93-3)
Top Scorer: Kat DeRonda
Last Year: Tournament Champion
The Wildcats, the host of this year's tournament, come into their first matchup having beat Southern California last weekend. Their three conference wins this season are the lowest total number of conference wins since the 2010 season. Northwestern, a regular title Contender, has won the American Lacrosse Conference Tournament every single season except once in 2011-2012. The Wildcats are led by senior midfielder Kat DeRonda, who has 39 points through the team's 15 games this season. In net for Northwestern this season has been Bridget Bianco. The Junior has started all 15 games this season and has made 106 saves. She has a goals against average of 7.86 and has allowed 116 goals this season.
The Wildcats are an incredibly patient offense, and will always allow the play to develop prior to making their move. Defensively, Northwestern is a high-pressure, in-your-face type of defense. They are in constant pursuit of the ball and have a knack for generating turnovers.
The Wildcats open play against Vanderbilt.
ALC Seed: #2
Record (Conference): 12-5 (4-2)
Top Scorer: Jackie Cifarelli
Last Year: Lost in the ALC Semifinals
The Buckeyes might be the surprise story of the ALC this season. They have secured themselves a No. 2 seed and seem to be playing their best lacrosse at the right moment. This season marks the first time they have finished with an above .500 conference record since the 2003 season. Junior attacker Jackie Cifarelli paces the Buckeyes. Cifarelli has 59 points this season. Her 43 assists are a team-high and eight buckeyes have at least 18 points or more.
The story of the Buckeyes this season has been junior goalkeeper Tori DeScenza. She has a 12-5 record in 16 starts this season, with a 7.89 goals against average and has made 129 saves this season, good for second overall in the conference.
As a team, the 101 assists the Buckeyes have this season ranks No. 1 in the conference. They are an offense that moves the ball very effectively, and makes quick decisions to catch the opposing defenders off guard. This has been their best year in over a decade, and the Buckeyes enter the tournament with a ton of momentum.
Ohio State opens play against Michigan.
ALC Seed: #4
Record: 10-6 (3-3)
Top Scorer: Madison Cyr
Last Year: Lost in the ALC semifinals
The Nittany Lions enter the ALC Tournament riding a two-game win streak, having beaten Johns Hopkins and Princeton over the last two weeks. This the third season in the row they have secured at least 10 wins by the end of the regular season. Sophomore Midfielder Madison Cyr leads Penn State. The midfielder has a team-high 45 points, and 39 goals. She has been the driving force for the Nittany Lions and is in the midst of a breakout season. 19 Nittany Lions have at least one point this season, and eight have thirty points or more to contribute to a balanced offensive attack.
Cat Rainone finished the season as the Nittany Lions' starting goalie. The freshman goalkeeper has become well known for making pivotal saves late in games, while posting a 5-3 record and making 47 saves. She has a goals against average of 9.23 and has allowed 63 goals this season.
Penn State boasts an aggressive offensive style. Their transition play has been solid all season long, and they love to push the tempo of the game up and drive the net. Defensively, the mentality is the same. They swarm the ball, regardless of where it is on the field, and do a great job of generating turnovers and moving the ball back into the offensive zone.
The Nittany Lions open play against Johns Hopkins.
ALC Seed: #6
Record (Conference): 5-11 (2-4)
Top Scorer: Abby Wheeler
Last Year: Lost in the ALC quarter finals
Vanderbilt enters the game having lost five of its last six
games. Vandy's two conference wins ties its most in a single season since
2009-10. Abby Wheeler leads the Commodores. The senior attacker has 45 points
this season and a team-high 38 goals. Eight members of the team have at least
11 points this season.
Maddie Kratz has been the primary goalkeeper for Vanderbilt this season. The junior has a 3-10 record and a goals against average of 13.18. She has made 110 saves this season, but has allowed 178 goals in 15 outings.
Vanderbilt, similar to Northwestern, is a patient team that likes to run their offense and wait for the right opportunity; their 85 assists this season ranks fourth in the conference. The Commodores have been very effective off the draw this season, controlling an average of 12.80 per game.
Vanderbilt opens play against Northwestern.
By Bernard Bennett-Green, GoPSUsports.com Student Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This weekend, I was able to participate in one of the greatest and oldest track meets in the world that is known as the Penn Relay Carnival. The meet started on Thursday and lasted all the way until Saturday but I didn't run until Friday and Saturday. Traveling to Philadelphia for a track meet is always a special moment for me since I'm from Cheltenham High School, which is a small suburb right outside of Philadelphia.
It's always special because of all of the love and admiration that Penn State receives when we attend Penn Relays. From our performances in the field events and on the track we also receive positive praise and attention. Even though we are not the hometown team, many people look out for our performances around the country and expect nothing but the best from us.
I'll never forget Penn Relays this year because of all of the special moments that my teammates helped to create. From Darrell Hill winning shot put to actually being on the in field and watching Steve Waithe jump 53 feet to win triple jump. Another special moment that I thought was pretty cool was that I happened to be sitting next to a Penn State alum as I was watching our men's sprint medley relay win, and I didn't even know it until we began to talk. It's great to know that alums still follow the program and enjoy seeing your success on and off the track.
Race day was Friday and Saturday, and I got the opportunity to run the 4x400 meter relay. Friday's prelim heat didn't go as we expected it but we ran and made the IC4A final heat that took place on Saturday. On Saturday, we ran our season's best time of the year of 3:07.94 for our second consecutive IC4A title.
Penn Relays was a great meet because our team performed well as a unit. I'm looking forward to our upcoming meet in Maryland this weekend because we can punch a few more tickets to first rounds, which will be held in Florida. The next few weeks will fly by with graduation and my final home meet approaching rapidly. I plan on enjoying everyone moment that comes my way because many people have told me that my college years will be some of my best memories.
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Nittany Lions took the court for the EIVA championship match in Rec Hall for the last time this season, the team was playing for far more than any other match this year.
With the EIVA Championship title on the line along with securing the automatic qualification into the NCAA Tournament, the coaches and players fought hard to walk away with two wins against one of the most competitive fields the EIVA conference has seen.
On Thursday night, Penn State knocked off George Mason, 3-1 (25-27, 25-21, 25-18, 25-22). As the match continued, the players built on their momentum and gained confidence knowing they would advance to the EIVA final on Saturday night. With a strong back and forth battle, head coach Mark Pavlik noticed a shift in the amount of competition the EIVA conference is facing.
"George Mason came in and they were ready to compete," Pavlik said. "There was enough of a competitive level on both sides of the net. Before, there have been some semi-finals that felt more like a sacrificial lamb being led to slaughter as opposed to a competition. Mason came and wanted to compete."
Penn State had a day off before they faced Princeton in the EIVA final. As the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams of the EIVA conference took their sides of the net, both teams knew it was going to be a competitive match where every point counted. The Nittany Lions walked away with a 3-0 victory (25-23, 25-19, 25-18).
"As the year went on, they became more and more visible," Pavlik said. "This was not a match that we took lightly. We gutted out the win in game one. That's just a testament to the way these guys compete. In game two we were starting to hit our stride and in game three our serving picked up."
The lead between the Tigers and Nittany Lions went back and forth before Penn State closed out the set securing their first win of the match. The energy in Rec Hall was electric and the players knew they could build off of a strong start.
"It felt like we were in control a lot of the match. A lot of the points that they scored early were from our errors," Nick Goodell said. "I felt like if we start good, we were going to end good every time. We just went from there until we got to the end of the third set."
This EIVA tournament marked the third time Penn State and Princeton matched up this season and the second time they played each other in Rec Hall. The loss earlier in the season that the Nittany Lions faced fueled their motivation to win 3-0 at home twice.
"As a team, it was big. It brought us together especially after that heartbreaking loss at their place. I thought we handled them really well back at our place and then we see them in the finals and we knew they were going to play hard. We knew they were going to be shaken by the last match we played against them. It also gave us the opportunity to improve," Aaron Russell said.
This win marked Penn State's 16th-consecutive EIVA Championship title. Reaching this level of excellence takes a true commitment and focus to keep getting better from the coaches and players.
"It means we have had a lot of great players and a lot of great coaching staffs. They make it their mission to make sure they are pursing the excellence that this program has set the bar for. This team has certainly upheld that bar and may have even raised it," Pavlik said.
Winning the EIVA final also means the Nittany Lions will automatically qualify for the NCAA Championship, which gives a sense of relief to the team. The team has been given the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
"It's big for us. It's one more step. We got this far so there's no reason why we should turn back. We're going to Chicago and it doesn't matter if we play Tuesday or Thursday, we're going to go out and compete against any team that we play and look to bring home the national championship," Russell said.
As the Nittany Lions look ahead to playing at Loyola Chicago, the players competed on this court in the beginning of March and already have an idea of what to expect.
"It's pretty important we got a chance to feel what it's like to play in there. It's a small arena, but other than that it's pretty standard. It's important we got to play them because we had the chance to see what worked and what didn't work," Taylor Hammond said.
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On the day they were honoring their senior class, the Penn State Nittany Lions held off a late push from the Princeton Tigers to secure their 10th win of the season.
Prior to the game, 10 seniors received their blankets and flowers to celebrate their outstanding careers. It was no surprise that one of those seniors, attacker Mackenzie Cyr, was the driving force behind the Nittany Lions' win. She finished her day with six points, scoring a hat trick and assisting on three other goals.
From the opening draw, the energy in the air at the Penn State Lacrosse Field was high. Penn State was in need of a win to gain momentum heading into the American Lacrosse Conference tournament next week, and the Nittany Lions had lost their last five meetings against the Tigers.
That would all change in front of 1,621 fans, the largest crowd of the season.
With 14:50 left, the two teams were tied, 3-3. It had been a close game, and each time the Nittany Lions made a move to gain momentum, the Tigers responded and vice versa. Then, the Penn State offense got rolling and outscored Princeton 4-1 over the last 12:44 to take an 8-4 lead into halftime.
"Yeah, I mean I think it's just an exciting game," head coach Missy Doherty said after the win. "All season long, I think we really challenged ourselves with our schedule. I think Princeton is a really great team. I think they're probably ranked a little lower than they should be. We saw that battle today.
"Our offense came up with some great transition goals today and our [defense] came up with some huge stops and it was great to come out with a win."
The Nittany Lions seemed to find the same groove they had against Cornell and Johns Hopkins. The offense, spearheaded by Cyr, was very crisp and effective, while senior defenders Lauren Purvis and Evan Foulsham kept the Princeton offense off the scoreboard. Purvis had a team-high four caused turnovers.
As the second half got started, the NIttany Lions were caught on their heels early allowing two goals from the Tigers, but again the offense put together a fantastic run of their own to widen their lead to 13-7.
Now, it was time for the defense and freshman goalkeeper Cat Rainone to shine. Time and time again, the Tigers threatened to score, but each time the Penn State defense held its ground. The hustle displayed by the girls in blue and white was extraordinary as they continued to feed their attackers and generate offensive chances while limiting the Princeton offense.
The Tigers brought their deficit to within two with 3:10 left, but they never would gain the lead because of a hard-working defense and some timely saves from Rainone.
"I think they just went on a run with the draw controls, and that is something that we just really needed to pick up," midfielder Jenna Mosketti said. "But it was a little exciting; we just made it exciting. But you know, defense stuck it out and came up with big plays."
Mosketti was another Nittany Lion with a strong afternoon. She finished with four goals and a game-high four draw controls.
At the end of the day, however, this game was huge for the senior class. The underclassmen helped lead the rally to get a win for the 10 Nittany Lions playing their last home game.
"Before the game we had all the senior day traditions," Mosketti said, "so we were just really excited to win it for them. They deserve it."
Penn State will now prepare for the American Lacrosse Conference Tournament in Chicago, Ill. The Nittany Lions open tournament play on Thursday when they take on the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays. Game time is set for 3 p.m.