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2014 Coaches Caravan - Pegula Ice Arena Kick-Off Event

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VIDEO: Kick-Off Event Press Conference | Photo Gallery: State College

2014 Coaches Caravan Registration

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time in its three-year history, the Penn State Coaches Caravan kicked off on Thursday evening with an event on the University Park campus.

Before a crowd of more than 425 enthusiastic Penn State fans and alums, head coaches James Franklin, Bob Warming and Russ Rose headlined the opening night of the 17-stop Coaches Caravan that will take place throughout the month of May.

9976484.jpeg"It means a lot to our players to play in a town where everyone is extremely supportive of them," Franklin said of the hometown crowd.

The evening opened with an hour-long reception where Franklin, Rose, Warming and Nittany Lion basketball coach Patrick Chambers, along with football assistant coaches Bob Shoop, Brent Pry, Josh Gattis and Charles Huff, mingled with the attendees.

The program portion of the event took place on the ice inside Pegula Ice Arena, the sparkling home of Penn State Hockey.  Warming, who led the Nittany Lion men's soccer team to its second-straight Big Ten title and NCAA Tournament berth in the fall, took the microphone first.  While describing the location of his office and the elite company he is around inside Rec Hall, Warming kept things light.

"The first door you come to is Russ Rose (in my hallway)...the next door on my hallway is Cael Sanderson...the next doorway down is Erica Walsh...And then there is me," joked Warming.

Warming discussed the principles his program lives by - Recruit. Develop. Retain. Graduate.

"Its never about the coach...It's about the student-athlete," Warming said.  "It's always about helping them achieve their dreams.  It's always about helping them achieve their goals and become educated men to help our society."

When Warming sat down, Rose was introduced to a standing ovation from the State College crowd.  Fresh off leading the Nittany Lion women's volleyball team to its fifth national championship in seven years, Rose received a rousing cheer from the hometown crowd.

"We are coming off a great season.  It's incredible to be in a position to win a national championship," Rose said.

Always quick-witted, it took Rose no more than 10 seconds to have the Pegula Ice Arena crowd roaring with laughter.  A 35-year veteran as a Penn State head coach, Rose has an undying passion for the University.  Each time he speaks, Rose's feelings for Penn State are pure.  He believes in the success of the University, its student-athletes and the head coaches leading the 31 teams on campus.

"I've been here for 35 years...we've got some of the finest coaches in the country," Rose said.  "Our coaching staff across the board right now is unbelievable."

Rose's remarks transitioned into the newest member of the Penn State coaching family.  Franklin has been on the job for just shy of four months.  After signing a strong recruiting class in February, the newest leader of Penn State Football led the Nittany Lions through a productive spring practice period.  In his time at Penn State, one thing has stood out to Franklin since day one.

"The thing that makes Penn State special...it's about the people," Franklin said.  "The support we get is unreal."

Franklin is thrilled to get out on the road during May to meet Penn State fans from all corners of the state and region.  Since he took the job, Franklin has talked about how proud he is to be the head coach of the Nittany Lions.  His words were genuine in every sense on Thursday night in Pegula.

"For a lot of people, this is a job," Franklin said.  "This is personal for me.  This means the world to me.  For a guy growing up in the state of Pennsylvania to come back and be the head football coach at Penn State is unbelievably special."

Working to build an elite program on and off the field, the top items on Franklin's list for a successful Penn State football program include graduating every player, winning games and impacting the region and state in a positive way.  With a tireless approach to every facet of the day-to-day operation, Franklin and the football staff will work to make the fan base proud each and every day he is on the job, which he hopes is a long time.

"I love that the expectation here is for the head coach to be here for 80 years," Franklin joked.

The Caravan will hit the road on Tuesday to begin the first travel week.  Sold out crowds in York (lunch) and Hershey (dinner reception) will greet Franklin, Warming, Coquese Washington and Erica Walsh on Tuesday.


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VIDEO: Coaches Caravan Press Conference - State College

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2014 Coaches Caravan kicked off inside Pegula Ice Arena on Thursday.  Take a look at the event's press conference featuring head football coach James Franklin, head men's soccer coach Bob Warming and head women's volleyball coach Russ Rose.





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Penn State Athletics THON 2014 Coverage

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 42nd IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center this weekend.

A record 711 dancers began standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and did not sit down or sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer.  THON raised a record of more than $13.3 million in 2014.  To date, more than $110 million has been raised by THON.

Several Penn State student-athletes danced in the annual dance marathon.  Representing the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) will be Maggie Harding from women's volleyball, Natalie Buttinger from field hockey, Erin Kehoe from women's soccer and Christian Kaschak from men's soccer.


Additionally, Nicole Williams and Elise Potter from the Lionettes squad and Eugene Bodden, Kali Fleckenstein, Carrie Tedesco and Ally Zimmerman from Penn State cheerleading danced in THON.

Several teams and coaches played an active role in THON events throughout the weekend, in addition to squads participating in Saturday's annual pep rally and team dance competition.

We would also like to congratulate Penn State Athletic Communications student assistant Rachel Steinberg, as she danced over the weekend, in addition to the several student assistants actively involved with THON.

Take a look through our THON weekend updates on the involvement Penn State Athletics. To donate to THON, please visit THON.org.


Friday Coverage:

3:30 p.m. - Feature: Student-Athletes Set to Dance for Pediatric Cancer

Click here to read a feature on the student-athletes participating in THON 2014 - Feature Story


6 p.m. - THON 2014 Begins
The 711 dancers took their feet at 6 p.m. before an energetic crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center to begin 46-straight hours on their feet.

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11 p.m. - Interview on the Floor
GoPSUsports.com talked with women's volleyball senior Maggie Harding on the floor about her experience during THON.


Saturday Coverage:

3 p.m. - Student-Athletes Host Make-A-Wish Families
Several teams hosted THON Make-A-Wish families on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON 2014 festivities.

More than 50 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed nearly 40 THON Make-A-Wish children and their families to a special tour of the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon.

The Make-A-Wish event is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year.  The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.

Head coach James Franklin greeted the group when it arrived at the facility tour before senior Miles Dieffenbach and sophomore Akeel Lynch led families on tours.  Take a look at the Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.

Photo Gallery - THON Make-A-Wish Football Event



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5 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour
Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the Bryce Jordan Center during athlete hour on Saturday.  Take a look.




9:45 p.m. - VIDEO: Pep Rally Dance Competition Highlights
One of the THON highlights every year comes on Saturday night when the teams of Penn State Athletics hop on stage and compete in a dancing competition during the annual pep rally.  In all, 12 different teams competed in the 2014 version of the dance-off.

With resounding approval from a packed house in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lion men's swimming team was named champion of the team dancing competition for the second-straight year.  We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON. 

Photo Gallery - THON 2014 Pep Rally



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Team Dances
Men's Swimming (Champions) - Full Dance
Football - Full Dance
Men's Basketball - Full Dance
Women's Volleyball - Full Dance
Men's Gymnastics - Full Dance
Women's Tennis - Full Dance
Field Hockey - Full Dance
Fencing - Full Dance
Men's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Lacrosse - Full Dance
Women's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Golf - Full Dance


11:05 p.m. - Student-Athlete Dancer Interviews: Hour 30
GoPSUsports.com talks with THON 2014 dancers Natalie Buttinger (field hockey) and Erin Kehoe (women's soccer) during the 30th hour of their 46-hour quest at THON.



Sunday Coverage:

12:55 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin Addresses THON 2014

Head coach James Franklin took the stage at THON on Sunday afternoon, urging the dancers to continuing working hard in their final push at the 46-hour marathon.  Franklin spoke before a capacity crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center.  Take a look.



 
4:11 p.m. - THON 2014 Raises Record $13.3 Million
THON 2014 reached new heights on Sunday afternoon when it was revealed that this year's efforts raised $13,343,517.33 for fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2014.  Here is a look at the reveal on the Rec Hall video board following Sunday's Penn State wrestling victory over Clarion.

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VIDEO: Men's Soccer THON 2014 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch members of the Nittany Lion men's soccer team show off their dance moves at the THON 2014 Pep Rally.




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VIDEO: Happy Thanksgiving from Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - 'Tis the season for giving thanks, and Penn State Athletics would like to take an opportunity to say thank you to the loyal fans on Thanksgiving.

As you sit down with family and friends to eat your traditional meal while the Lions and Cowboys host their annual Thanksgiving day home games, Penn State Athletics would like to thank you, the fans, for the unrivaled support you give every team on campus.  Penn State's teams would not be the same without the greatest fans in college sports.

As a token of their appreciation, several student-athletes from teams on campus would like to say thank you and Happy Thanksgiving for the support you give them throughout the athletic season.


Nittany Lions Take Away Important Lessons from First Round Win

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach Bob Warming called the first round of the NCAA Tournament the hardest match to play until the Elite Eight. Thursday night against St. Francis Brooklyn (12-6-1), his No. 16 Nittany Lions (12-5-2) hurdled that tough task and now are on their way to a second round battle with 10th-seeded UC Santa Barbara.

9482239.jpegIn true Penn State fashion, it was a hard fought defensive battle for the full 90 minutes that allowed them to escape the gritty Terriers on their home turf of Jeffrey Field for the final time in 2013.

There were two chances for the Nittany Lions early in the match that were stopped by St. Francis.  But the Lions struck in 37th minute when midfielder Drew Klingenberg and Eli Dennis connected on a goal that defined their contributions in the 2013 season for Penn State.

Klingenberg played a ball on the outside and saw the streaking Dennis who finished the cross just as he did three times in the regular season, except this tally had bigger implications.

"Any time I see Eli open I know there's a good combination play ready to happen and if he's going to put the work in I'm absolutely going to put the work in too," Klingenberg said after the match. "I saw him streaking and before you know it, it was a goal. It was an awesome play."

Warming called the sequence a world-class goal and it was exactly that.

St. Francis was just a few inches away from a world-class goal of their own in the 57th minute when junior forward Kevin Correa took a free kick from deep outside the box and nearly bent it past goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton before he hit the post.

Penn State was then able to hold off a Terrier rally late in the second half and seal a trip to the second round of the tournament and a Friday morning trip to California.

A lot is to be learned, though, from this tough first round test for the Nittany Lions. First and foremost, however, the most important thing in Dennis' mind is that they were able to play an NCAA tournament game, something only two Penn State players could say prior to Thursday's match.

"It's good to get a first round win like this because other than Jordan (Tyler) and Grant (Warming) nobody has been in a tournament game on our whole team," said Dennis. "It's nice to have a first round game especially on that was as competitive as this to set the stage for what's to come."

Coach Warming added a short bit to Dennis' statement.

"We're veterans now," he said.

That's how he wants his team to play moving forward. The biggest thing he, Dennis and Klingenberg stressed post-game is game management, something all three thought could have been improved late in the second half against St. Francis Brooklyn.

The Terriers had a few opportunities late in the final 45 minutes and that will be the focus for Penn State prior to playing Santa Barbara at historical Harder Stadium on Sunday.

"We need to slow the pace of the game down sometimes and that means instead of flying forward and taking guys into the box we have to put our foot on the ball and play it back," Dennis said. "We have to pick and choose when we want to attack and sometimes possession is better than taking a chance and potentially losing the ball."

Warming agreed, saying in a situation with the ball and the lead his team has to be more aware of where they have the ball and what they are going to do with it.

"If you're going to lose the ball, it has to be on the edges," he said. "It's too easy to counter attack when you lose the ball in the middle. We could have played around the edges a lot more. It's just the little things."

Penn State will have two full days to make those adjustments before facing off with Santa Barbara at 9 p.m. on Sunday with a trip to the round of 16 on the line. 

Playing with Heart: Howard Fulfilling His Dreams

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As his parents looked on, Akil Howard smiled and hugged   teammates at the edge of the celebration. Then it was his turn. He took the Big Ten regular season championship trophy and lifted it high above his shoulders, enjoying the moment.

Every Penn State athlete on the field for the Nittany Lions' title-clinching victory, a 2-1 overtime thriller over Northwestern on Oct. 27, had worked hard to be there. But no one had endured quite as much as Howard: six years of soccer training, stops in two countries and three states and, finally, a heart condition that sidelined him for nearly a year.

"I would go through all of it again right now," the redshirt senior defender said. "I'm in my senior year and I would not change anything about it."

Penn State head coach Bob Warming called Howard's journey "the best story in college sports."

The Diagnosis


8162394.jpegIt was late summer of 2011, and everything was going well for Howard as he settled in at Penn State, his third academic institution since graduating high school. Prior to training with the Nittany Lions, all he needed was a sports physical exam, a simple and routine matter.

This one wasn't very simple or routine.

Testing showed Howard's electrocardiogram (EKG) was abnormal, and a subsequent ultrasound from the sports medicine team at Penn State revealed his heart was thicker than normal.

He was quickly sent to Penn State Hershey Hospital to see Assistant Professor of Medicine Eric Popjes and undergo more exams. The testing at Hershey confirmed that the heart was too thick, potentially hampering its ability to pump blood.

"He felt well and was doing well," Popjes said, "and since he had no bad family history we asked him to sit out for six months."  

Nonetheless, the diagnosis was hard for Howard to take. He had hoped to play in 2012, when he became NCAA eligible at Penn State. Suddenly, he faced the possibility of never playing soccer again, and even if he was cleared to play, he still faced the daunting task of getting back into shape.

Howard second-guessed his soccer career for the first time in his life.

"When I heard from the doctor in Hershey that I couldn't go and play right away it had me thinking a lot of what else I could do besides soccer," Howard said. "I depended on just soccer and the team and going out and playing every day as a part of bring me happiness.

"Sitting out and watching the rest of the guys play was teasing me because they were out there playing and I was not able to do much, even though I felt fine and didn't have any physical pain."

Howard dealt with the situation by staying close to the team, watching them train and play from the sidelines. Anything that would allow him to stay connected to the game.

"He was right there on the sidelines supporting us even though he really wanted to play," said Julian Cardona, Howard's high school and college roommate. "He wanted us to win and it was good to have his presence there even though he couldn't play."

When his six months were finally up, Howard went back to Hershey to get retested by Popjes' team to see if the heart thickness remained. Good news - it did not.

While the EKG was still slightly abnormal, the heart thickness dissipated and the doctors cleared him to play, while continuing to monitor him closely. He was required to monitor his heart condition via a heart monitor device he had to wear 24/7, even during practice on the soccer field.

"It was a little annoying at first, but with time I got used to wearing it," Howard said. "I had to wear it every time we trained and had to check my heart rate while I was playing and during practice. It was an adjustment at first and I had to continue to do it for a good season and a half."


The next few months weren't easy for Howard, but his life experiences groomed him for such a challenge.

"It's no surprise he kept going," said Cardona. "He just wants to play soccer and he's super gifted athletically, but more importantly has the work ethic to push through."

Big City, No Distractions

Neil and Carine Howard saw their son's love for soccer at an early age.  He slept with a soccer ball and dribbled throughout the house, putting juke moves on pieces of furniture.

The Howards are natives of the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent, where soccer is a mainstream sport. Upon moving to the United States, they found a way to pass it down to their son Akil, even while living in the Queens neighborhood of South Jamaica, a part of New York City that isn't known for the game.

"Basketball is the number one sport in my neighborhood," said Akil. "My father taught me soccer because that is when he knew when he was growing up in the Caribbean. If it wasn't for my mom and dad, I wouldn't be playing soccer right now."

As all four of Neil and Carine Howard's children did, Akil had his sights set on succeeding in the classroom, as well as on the pitch.


"That was the plan from day one," Neil Howard said. "That is what we expected it to be."

In fact, Neil laid out a very specific, if simple, plan for Akil to reach soccer success: play as much as possible, wherever possible.

Akil says the tight focus on books and soccer kept him on the right path and out of trouble.

"I was lucky enough to have (soccer) because there's so much other stuff like gang and drug-related activity that could get you in trouble," he said.

During his first two years of high school at Archbishop Malloy in Queens, he played for the New York Red Bulls Academy club team.

The Red Bulls are based out of northern New Jersey, so Howard was forced to trek through Manhattan during the peak of rush hour multiple days a week just to get to practice. It was school and soccer. Nothing else.

Then, at 16, Howard and his parents decided he would go to Faribault, Minn., to play at Shattuck St. Mary's prep school for his last two years of high school.

Howard chose Shattuck, a United State Soccer Development Academy member, because of its heralded prep soccer program, which has turned out many college and professional players. Howard began to grow as a player during his time in Minnesota, especially in the eyes of his teammate Cardona.

"He was a freak athlete," Cardona said. "He got really good at Shattuck with his left foot and in other important areas that molded him into what he is today."

After two successful years at Shattuck St. Mary's playing for the competitive U18 team starting as a 16-year old, Howard's next move was to the University at Buffalo.

Despite having offers from a number of Division I programs, Howard chose Buffalo because of its proximity and because of the ability to get in-state tuition and more scholarship money.

But his stay was short. Following his freshman year, Howard left the program to pursue a career elsewhere at a more competitive soccer venue. This time, it wasn't even in the United States.

It was in London.

Playing in the Cradle of Soccer

9474956.jpegHoward traveled to England in 2010 to Richmond University in London to get a different type of feel for the game of soccer, with hopes of playing professionally in Europe in the years to come.

The style was a little different in Europe in the way both coaches and players approached the sport. Howard took that experience and put it in his back pocket as he continued to diversify and deepen his soccer knowledge.


Through the Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy, Howard was able to play youth teams like Villareal, Blackburn and Liverpool - the best of the best in Europe. And now he was living a professional lifestyle.

"It was necessary (to play in England) because I said if I want to play soccer professionally I'm not necessarily going to be able to pick the team I go to," he said. "You're going to get sent anywhere and you just have to adjust.

"England opened my eyes to a lot of what it is to be a professional. It made me know how bad do you really want to play professionally and it showed what a career would look like."

After his first year, Howard decided he wanted to turn pro in Europe - but was denied his request to be granted a working visa.

It was a moment of mixed feelings for Howard. On one hand it was a setback, but on the other, a new chance.

"I hit a point where I missed home so much because of the time difference and I didn't have anyone there that I knew," he said of his stay in England. "At times it felt really lonely and I would call my parents and there was a five-hour time difference between England and New York and it was tough because I felt alone a lot."

He began to consider the alternatives, opportunities that would take him to State College. Through it all, Howard continued to find a way to keep playing soccer. That's what impressed the Nittany Lions' head coach.

"It's the two most important things you should have figured out by the time you get out of college," Warming said referring to Howard's journey.  "Chase your dreams and don't give up."

Getting Back, Getting Cleared (again), Getting a Degree

Upon his return to the states, Howard chose Penn State because of the potential of playing at a competitive Division I program. He walked on in 2011 and has since earned a scholarship.

After his heart ailment, and then being cleared for the start of the 2012 season, Howard had to get back in game shape both mentally and physically. Retaining his physical shape wasn't terribly difficult, but it was more difficult to get the mental processes back after almost a year of not playing a real game and more than half of a year of not training.

"I wasn't mentally ready for the game when it came to speed of play," Howard said. "I sat out for so long that when playing at a high level with the guys I was playing much slower than before.

"My feet weren't as fast because my thinking process wasn't as quick as it needed to be and I was slow on decision making as well."

With help from his teammates, strength coaches and coaching staff Howard played his way back on to the field in a limited way during the 2012 season. He appeared in 14 games notching three points in 290 minutes of play, while starting in one match.

And his time on the sidelines groomed him for his 2013 season.

"I was able to improve a lot and build a lot of team chemistry with the guys for 2013," Howard said. "The freshman back then are juniors now and we spent a lot of time together and the chemistry is built up to the point where now we play very well together."

His time out and away from the field clearly didn't help his case to get playing time in 2012, but Howard didn't use it as an excuse. Following the spring semester last May, he went down to Florida to play in a Professional Development League with Penn State teammate Andrew Wolverton. The idea was to back into the flow of playing on a consistent basis again, gearing up for a final collegiate season.

It was his last chance, after spending two years at Penn State on the sidelines and in a reserve role. Howard did everything he could to make sure he got on the pitch.

There was one thing he couldn't control, though - a trip back to Hershey Medical Center to visit Popjes and make sure everything was OK with his heart after playing on a daily basis over the summer.

At first glance, Howard's EKG again looked abnormal, so Popjes conducted an MRI of his heart in August. Howard tried to stay calm.

"It didn't show a lot of thickness in the heart muscle and the overall heart function looked OK," Popjes said. "The MRI is the best way of measuring the thickness of the heart muscle so we let him play again."

Finally, Howard had caught a break.

He paired with fellow redshirt senior defender Martin Seiler and Wolverton to create a dominant backline for Penn State, which led the Nittany Lions to a 5-1 record in conference play.

With just the NCAA Tournament remaining, the Howards have begun to reflect on their son's up-and-down soccer journey and its greatest reward.

While the fate of his senior season is yet to be determined, his parents most want to see one single sheet of paper: Howard's degree in psychology from Penn State University, something that at one point in his life wasn't a certainty.

Akil 1.jpg"That's what I am looking forward to," Carine Howard said. "We didn't want him to come home without that piece of paper. That's what our goal was and we were able to do it during soccer and still get an education."

So, back to that Big Ten trophy, the one that multiple times seemed like it would never be Howard's to lift. As they watched the scene, it looked to Howard's parents as if all of their son's trials and tribulations seemed non-existent.

"We are very proud of him," Carine Howard said. "It was a lot of hard work and dedication on his part. We just tried to support him from the beginning to the end."

Like her son's coaches and teammates, Carine knows the reason Akil has made it this far: his heart.

Nittany Lions Prepared for Big Ten Tournament

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With defending national champion Indiana (7-11-1, 2-4) looming in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, regular season conference champion Penn State (11-5-1, 5-1) has more than just a first-round bye to lean on before Friday's match.

9453320.jpegBob Warming's squad not only is coming off a first-round bye, but they also are coming off their weekend Big Ten regular season bye, which came in the last weekend of the season. The fourth year head coach was able to give his players a couple extra days off before preparing for either Michigan or Indiana. Indiana beat the Wolverines on Wednesday, 2-1, in overtime in the quarterfinals and will have one day to prepare for the Nittany Lions.

"We have now had an extra day off and I think our guys truly needed it after two back-to-back overtime really hard fought matches and the match at Penn before that," Warming said. "The guys' legs were pretty beat up so I think it was good and they had a chance to regenerate a little bit."

During that time his team got to rest physically and mentally was able to prepare for what hopes to be a long postseason run.

After being in a similar situation one year ago as the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament and then falling in the semifinals to Michigan State, the Nittany Lions have been in this spot before and know what it takes to win on Friday.

"We took advantage of the situation we had last year and this year we are really focused and we all really want to win this game and this tournament in order to get a high seed in the NCAA tournament," said goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton. "We are all really focused going into this game."

While the seeding was similar last year, Penn State had almost double the rest heading into the semifinals one year ago and perhaps more importantly, didn't have the same motivation they have this year should they be able to win the conference tournament.

It's more than likely that if Penn State were to seal both the regular season and postseason tournament titles, the Nittany Lions would open the first round of the NCAA tournament at home. Warming said that if his team needed any added motivation, that is it.

"Our guys in the back of the mind now that they have the NCAA tournament at home," he said. "You can't have a motivation that's higher than that motivation. That can't be replicated."

With all that said and the fact that the Nittany Lions beat Friday's opponent Indiana in Bloomington, Warming's main message to his team is that at this stage of the season no opponent can be treated lightly.

Last year's team learned that the hard way and Warming sent a clear message to his team before leaving for Columbus to remind them of that.

"Everybody that you play right now could be in the national championship match," Warming said. "Every match is like a national championship match. The important point is that if you want to win a national championship, win this match because this is the type of teams you are going to have to play.  If you came to Penn State to win national championships, perform in this match like you would in the national championship game."

With that in mind, senior defender Martin Seiler says he and his team are ready to begin their postseason journey in Columbus on Friday at noon against the Hoosiers.

"We're absolutely confident in what we can do. We also know that they're a good team," said Seiler. "We are in a knockout stage right now. If you lose, you go home. We're ready to go."

Tyler's Overtime Heroics Fitting Way to Clinch Title

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Jordan Tyler waited for more than a year for a chance to get back to where he was during the 2011 season. Tyler was sidelined for 2012 due to an ACL injury and continued to get back to form over the past few weeks of Big Ten play.

9387764.jpegIn the biggest match of the 2013 season, Tyler had another chance to prove how good he can be and he did just that. With his team down 1-0 with under two minutes remaining, Tyler was able to team up with sophomore Drew Klingenberg to net the game-tying goal against No. 19 Northwestern.

Then, after a scoreless first overtime session, Tyler took a centering feed from freshman Connor Maloney and netted his fifth goal in seven matches to clinch Penn State's second consecutive Big Ten title.

"Hats off to Connor he was pressuring the defender and picked off a pass and from there it was a 2-on-2 and that is like a dream to have a 2-on-2 in double overtime to have a chance to win the Big Ten," said Tyler. "I knew if Connor could beat his guy I could get myself open for a nice pass and that's exactly what happened."

The end was fitting because of the numerous storylines behind the win.

Not only did it clinch another conference title, but it was also on Senior Day, which perhaps was the most emotional part for Tyler. His two goals were able to send the senior class off in proper fashion, the senior class that frankly he should be a part of if it wasn't for his ACL injury.

"This is actually supposed to be my last home game at Jeffrey Field," he said. "I'm fortunate enough to get another year but it's a dream come true to win the Big Ten for them on their Senior Day in their last game of their careers which was supposed to have been my last game as well."

Tyler's two goals had a lot of short and long-term implications for himself and his nationally ranked Nittany Lions.

It vaulted Tyler into one of the Big Ten's top scorers, clinched another conference title, and it continues to put the Nittany Lions in a good position for the postseason.

For head coach Bob Warming, all of that culminates into the continual development of a program he took over just four years ago.

"Last year was the second time in 22 years that we won the Big Ten regular season championship and now this is the third time in 23," Warming said.

Penn State probably doesn't beat Northwestern, or lead the Big Ten, without it's uncanny knack to stay positive after an early deficit.

It's something that has resonated with Warming's teams in the past and defines this 2013 season. Perhaps, the most important quality as the competition will only heighten for Penn State moving forward.

"We were down one goal again just like we were at West Virginia and Michigan State and we turned the game around," said senior defender Martin Seiler. "It shows how much we want it."

Penn State will have another tough task Tuesday night, this time on the road against Penn, who currently sits atop the Ivy League standings.

Emotions High Heading into Senior Day

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There will be a lot of mixed emotions Sunday at Jeffrey Field when No. 13 Penn State hosts No. 19 Northwestern at 1 p.m. The Nittany Lions will host the Wildcats in their final home game of the season.

9370262.jpegSeniors Martin Seiler, Akil Howard, Grant Warming and Micah Collins are set to be honored following the match.

It will be a special day for all four seniors, especially for Seiler and Howard, who have embarked on two incredible journeys that have spanned two continents prior to their senior season in Happy Valley.

The two defenders have bonded into a dynamic duo on the back line for head coach Bob Warming.

"I don't think right now there are two better more complementary senior center backs that I have seen in the country so far," he said. "Those two guys have grown and matured and are having a great senior year because of the maturity and how much they have grown in the past few years."

As for the match itself, there is a lot on the line for Penn State, who is undefeated in conference play. A win Sunday would clinch their second consecutive Big Ten regular season title.

"It's going to be an exciting game for a lot of reasons since it's our senior day and our last home game and being able to play in front of our friends and family," said senior defender Akil Howard. "It's against a ranked opponent and if we get the victory it will determine a Big Ten championship. It's a lot more than just our last home game."

Warming knows what the day means for his group of senior leaders, thus, putting the emphasis on the performance of his underclassmen.

It is a fitting way to approach his team's final home game considering that is how much of the season has panned out for the Nittany Lions. The play of Howard, Warming and Seiler has been a given and combining that with numerous underclassmen that have stepped up in big matches, Penn State has been able to take the next step.

Warming expects nothing to change Sunday, with even more of a focus on the performance of his younger players.

"It's a fairly emotional time for the seniors and I usually put it on the underclassmen to make sure that those guys get a win," Warming said. "The pressure has to be on the underclassmen to get the win."

Northwestern comes into Jeffrey Field after three consecutive ties, including a tie against No. 2-ranked Notre Dame on Oct. 15. The Wildcats, who shared the 2012 regular season conference title with Penn State, have yet to drop a game on the road.

The last time Penn State and Northwestern played each other, it was in Evanston on Northwestern's Senior Day in 2012 where Penn State played spoiler in a double overtime 1-0 win.

Howard and his teammates are focused on not allowing that to happen to them, not only because it's Senior Day, but more so because of what's on the line.

"We are trying to finish the big ten on a strong note and keep what we have going into the big ten tournament," said Howard. "Beating a ranked opponent like Northwestern would be another confidence booster for the guys."

Following Sunday's match, Penn State will have three consecutive road matches, including a visit to Ohio State for the conference finale on Nov. 2 before the Big Ten conference Tournament in mid-November.