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Penn State Men's Soccer Canadian Trip: Day Seven

 

June 24, 2016

The Penn State men's soccer team has embarked on an eight-day trip to Canada where it will not only take part in international competition but also see the sites of the country. Through the student-athletes own words this blog will chronicle the trip on and off the field. The Nittany Lions left State College Saturday, June 18 to head to their first stop. The seventh blog of Penn State's day on Friday, June 24th was written by sophomore Austin Maloney, redshirt-freshman Wes Bergevin and sophomore Dayonn Harris.

 

Day Seven (Friday, June 24) - Regeneration and Saint Jean-Baptiste Day

 

Austin Maloney - So. - Midfielder

 

It's been a great few days thus far in Montreal! After a hard-fought match last night, we made sure to wake up early enough to grab a bite for breakfast at the hotel. Many of the guys ate breakfast then took a quick nap before getting together for some regeneration. The regeneration was much needed to help our bodies recover from our previous match.  

 

The day is ours now! Another opportunity to explore the amazing city of Montreal. It's a pretty amazing day in Montreal to say the least. They consider this day their "4th of July" which includes a nice parade along the streets in Montreal. It was remarkable to see the unity of the city while at this parade. Thousands of people packed the streets and it was an unbelievable experience. A few guys on the team rented a bike to see much more of this amazing city. We sat down for a nice lunch then had to make a quick pit stop for some amazing crepes. We couldn't be more thankful for the alumni that allowed us to enjoy this amazing trip! WE ARE! 

 

Wes Bergevin - R-Fr. - Goalkeeper

 

After we finished up our regeneration session earlier this afternoon, a few teammates and I took to some bikes to explore the beautiful city of Montreal.  Today is a special day in the province of Quebec as the shops are closed and the streets are filled with the people to celebrate Saint Jean-Baptiste Day, a day very familiar to our 4th of July.  We could really see and feel the pride as we made our way through the streets of Montréal. 

 

About five minutes on a bike we found a place to take a quick break and enjoy some great food. We later made our way back to the hotel to freshen up and recharge before we headed out to dinner.  I went to dinner with some of the freshman to a burger place that sat right along the canal.  As we indulged in our dinner we decided what was next.  We got back on our bikes and rode along the Canal into Old Montréal.  About a 15-minute bike ride accompanied with some spectacular views of the city.  From there we walked around the street filled with so much history and enjoyed a variety of performers, music, and great weather.

 

After being downtown for a few hours the night was coming to an end. We got back on our bikes and rode back to our hotel.  As I reflect on this wonderful day I must take a moment to appreciate the time I got to spend with my teammates, my coaches and everyone that has made this trip possible because there is so much to be grateful for.   

 

Dayonn Harris - So. - Forward

 

Having lived in Canada my whole life, finding new and interesting things that I have never seen has been quite difficult. I have taken this opportunity to show my teammates what amazing things Canada has to offer. With their growing love for tidbits and the occasional "eh" I am finding that my teammates/brothers are starting to enjoy their time in Canada. There was no greater feeling seeing their face as we approached the CN Tower in Toronto.

It was great having the opportunity to play my old club during this trip and even better to win both games. Bragging rights are all mine when I play with Vaughan next.

 

Today we rest up and get ready for our final game on Sunday morning. Most of us have taken this time to get closer as a family. Whether that be through biking together around the beautiful streets of Montreal to simply hanging out and watching TV in our rooms. We are all finding ways to entertain ourselves all while keeping the team's season goals in mind. This trip brings us closer each day as we are able to work out our kinks on and off the pitch.

 

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Penn State Men's Soccer Canadian Trip: Day Six

June 23, 2016

The Penn State men's soccer team has embarked on an eight-day trip to Canada where it will not only take part in international competition but also see the sites of the country. Through the student-athletes own words this blog will chronicle the trip on and off the field. The Nittany Lions left State College Saturday, June 18 to head to their first stop. The sixth blog of Penn State's day on Thursday, June 23 was written by redshirt-freshman Ibrahima Kouyate, redshirt-sophomore Dani Marks and senior Connor Maloney.

Day Six (Thursday, June 23) - Touring the Montreal Canadians Arena & Penn State vs. Lake Shore

Ibrahima Kouyate - R-Fr. - Midfielder

Today, as soon as we woke up we had an incredible breakfast inside the Residence Inn. After that, we had the opportunity to visit the Montreal Canadians hockey arena. This was only possible because of our wonderful alumni, coaches and Mr. Bergevin. The tour took about 75 minutes. As soon as we walked into the arena, we watched a 15-minute documentary about the history of the Montreal Canadians. The short documentary summarized the team's passion and pride for the beautiful game. 

During the tour we got the chance to see their amazing facility. They gave us the opportunity to go inside the Canadians locker room. We were all grateful because that is something that never happens. I loved the facility and I think all the players enjoyed being in such a magnificent environment. Before going into the locker room we got to see all 24 Stanley Cup trophies. That shows how dedicated this organization is to winning. Going into the locker room was significant because they had the team logo on the carpet. The tour guides made it clear to step around the logo. It makes sense to step around the logo because of the meaning that logo has, which is similar to what we have at Penn State, the logo represents what you are and who you are playing for. Therefore, you need to respect and honor it. Another significant part of the tour was reading the motivating quotes. One quote said "No Excuses Be a Winner." What I got out of the quote was to never make excuses, always be ready to compete and win. Always have that winning mindset and that fire in your eyes. 

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After we left the stadium we went to go get lunch. Since we were not familiar with the area, we walked around until we saw a restaurant that had English words on it. We went to a Deli and all got sandwiches and fries. It felt good being in one place and just bonding. I believe this trip is very beneficial because it is helping us build as a team. 

In conclusion the trip has been fantastic so far. Touring such a remarkable arena made our day even better at Montreal. This experience is teaching us a lot about one another and how we have to reach our teams goal. 

Dani Marks - R-So. - Defender

We started off our morning by walking as a team through Montreal, making our way to the Montreal Canadians Arena, the Centre Bell Arena. Once again passing through the beautiful, clean, lively, cultural city. We were lucky enough to receive a private tour of the arena, which taught us so much about the massive history of the Montreal Canadians. It was incredible for us to learn about the Canadians as a team. Our whole team was captivated by the history and success the franchise has reached. We are a team with high expectations, a team that strives for championships and we learned about a franchise that accepts nothing but championships. By learning about the Canadians' history, we, as a team, learned about the passion, dedication, love, and unity the Canadians had to show every day throughout their history in order to win the record 24 Stanley Cups they have won. 

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We all left the arena with pride because we all knew that just like there are so many people that follow the Canadians religiously, there are many that love and support us, Penn State, unconditionally. We saw how much the hockey franchise means to the people of Montreal and we knew that we represent something even greater that the most successful hockey franchise in the history of the sport. We all got a sense of how much power and pride is behind Penn State. 

We have a goal as a team. We love Penn State as a team. We represent Penn State as a team. We are proud of Penn State as a team. 

Connor Maloney - Sr. - Forward

During the day yesterday we were preparing and awaiting the game since it was a 9:30 p.m. kickoff. We knew it was going to be one of our hardest matches yet, but the theme of the day was about the alumni who provided us with an unbelievable experience that many people may never get in their lifetime and we are very fortunate for these alumni. It was around 8:30 and we were in the locker room playing some soccer tennis to have some fun before getting serious. Noah Pilato and I beat Ryan Gallagher and Sam Bollinger pretty badly.

It was kickoff time with a great temperature and all the guys ready and focused to do anything we can to get a win. The first half we played well and all guys worked hard. We had a couple of opportunities and some good sequences. At halftime all the guys were talking trying to figure out what we could do to be more successful because we knew that we could be much better. We hold each other to the highest standard possible and hold each and every person accountable for what they do. 

The second half we came out flying and were having chances right and left and pressuring like we hadn't even run in the first 45 minutes. The energy of the guys in the second half, on and off the bench, was one of the best I have seen from our team. We played a team named Lake Shore in the PQSL, who were a technical group. They went ahead 20 minutes into the second half but we did not put our heads down because we knew one was going to come. Surely enough with about 10 minutes to go Riley Grant whips in a great ball from about 35-yards right onto Robby Sagel's head for a game tying goal but we still weren't finished. That momentum created more chances for us in the last 10 minutes but we could not capitalize. It was a hard fought draw against a good side. The game ended at around 11:15 p.m. and was probably the latest finish to game for almost every guy on the team ever.

 

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Penn State Men's Soccer Canadian Trip: Day Five

 

June 22, 2016

The Penn State men's soccer team has embarked on an eight day trip to Canada where it will not only take part in international competition but also see the sites of the country. Through the student-athletes own words this blog will chronicle the trip on and off the field. The Nittany Lions left State College Saturday, June 18 to head to their first stop. The fifth blog of Penn State's day on Wednesday, June 22 was written by senior Evan Finney, freshman Brandon Hackenberg and sophomore Mac Curran.

 

Day Five (Wednesday, June 22) - Traveling to Montreal

 

Evan Finney - Sr. - Goalkeeper

 

We set off on our next journey from Toronto to Montreal. The drive was vastly different from the bustling city and suburban life that we had become accustomed to. Farm land stretched as far as the eye could see as the three vans packed with our team made the five-hour trek to Montreal. During the journey, many of us played games like "21 questions" and "Would you rather" so we could try to pass the time and make the journey feel shorter. About two hours outside the city of Montreal, we stopped at Thousand Islands, an archipelago of 1,800 islands that stretches along the Saint Lawrence River on the border of the U.S. and Canada. We stopped at a small peninsula where we unloaded the vans to stretch our legs and go for a quick dip in the river. We all took in the views of all the islands and the amazing homes that were on them. After swimming for about an hour, we once again packed up the vans and finished our journey onto the French-speaking city of Montreal.

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Brandon Hackenberg - Fr. - Defender

 

When we first were able to see the city, it was incredible even from a great distance away. As we got closer and closer, it just continued to amaze us all. For some of the guys, including myself, it was a new experience listening to conversations in French, and seeing the culture in Montreal. Different, but very interesting is how I would describe it. Once we arrived to the Residence Inn in Montreal, we unloaded the vans, and proceeded to check-in at the hotel. We then hurried to the room, showered, changed, and got ready to take on the city. We were each given money for food, thanks to the amazing and extremely generous alumni of Penn State. We then split up into groups and explored the beautiful city of Montreal. After dinner, we were able to explore for a little longer, but had to get to the hotel at a decent hour to get a good night's sleep in preparation for our match the next day. That brought our first adventures in Montreal to an end, but prepared us for many more to go on.

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 Mac Curran - So. - Forward

We finally arrived in Montreal after a long car ride from Toronto. We were all eager to get out and explore around the city for a place to eat. After we got in our rooms and unpacked we headed down to the lobby for the nightly meeting. Given a 10:30 curfew, Wes Bergevin, Brandon Hackenberg, Dayonn Harris, Pierre Reedy, and myself headed out in search for dinner. As we walked through the busy streets of Montreal we had the idea of renting bikes and riding to a small strip of shops and restaurants that Wes was familiar with. We found a station on the street where you rent a bike for the day. You basically just get a code and drive off to your destination and park your bike in the designated areas. 

We cruised through the down town streets, in awe from the people who have not been here before. Block after block of magnificent city life we took to snapchat to record our ride. Finally, after 20 minutes of pedaling we arrived at the strip. Endless restaurants from all corners of the worlds, we settled down for some Italian right near the water. The service was excellent as they joked around with us since a majority of us did not speak French. The food was superb and we were happily full after a kind day of traveling. 

Right after paying we hurried to stop by a convenience store, which Wes recommended, to grab some ice pops. We jogged back to the bike racks and unlocked our bikes and headed back to the hotel. Once again cruising through the city streets with one hand steering and the other hold the ice, I was content with where I was. We arrived to the hotel just on time. I truly am thankful to all the alumni and donors who made this trip possible, we owe it all to you to make you and Penn state proud. 

Bienvenue a Montréal! 

 


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Penn State Men's Soccer Canadian Trip: Day Four

 

June 21, 2016
The Penn State men's soccer team has embarked on an eight day trip to Canada where it will not only take part in international competition but also see the sites of the country. Through the student-athletes own words this blog will chronicle the trip on and off the field. The Nittany Lions left State College Saturday, June 18 to head to their first stop. The fourth blog of Penn State's day on Tuesday, June 21 was written by freshman Pierre Reedy, senior Mason Klerks and redshirt-freshman Travis Keil.

 

Day Four (Tuesday June 21) - Penn State vs. Vaughn


Pierre Reedy - Fr. - Midfielder

Today was a lighter day as we prepared for our match in the evening. We were also granted the opportunity to tour the KIA training grounds, which is home to the MLS team Toronto FC. It was a great experience touring the facilities and seeing what makes a professional facility so special. They had everything from training rooms to lounge rooms to cafeteria rooms, all second to none. It was interesting being able to compare the facilities to those we have at Penn State and seeing how comparable they were to each other. Attending a school where the soccer side of things so closely resemble that of a professional club is awesome.

Upon arriving back at our hotel many of us went back to our rooms to relax in anticipation of the day's match. We played a PDL team from Vaughn in what proved to be a tougher game than the first, in which we came out with a 1-0 win. I was fortunate enough to score my first collegiate goal for the Blue and White off a ball from Robby Sagel. All the guys continued to keep the intensity up for the remainder of the game to keep the lead and the clean sheet in the end. This leaves us 2-0 in Toronto. With that being said there's a lot we can work on going forward and look to continue to get better as we head to Montreal.

Mason Klerks - Sr. - Midfielder

This morning we ventured to the Kia Training Ground of Toronto FC and were toured around their facilities. Every stop on the way I could not help but compare it with our own facilities and think about how the first team and academy teams of Toronto FC used the inspiring facilities. The facilities at the Kia Training Ground were impeccable and impressed me with the quality and precision in every detail. The facilities included a gym, medical room, conference rooms, locker rooms, classrooms, media rooms, player lounge, cafeteria, and several fields consisting of grass and artificial turf. All the teams of Toronto FC use every facility at the training ground, but the first team has priority of course. The training grounds would definitely be somewhere I would like to train someday.

It was interesting to learn about the system Toronto FC uses at their training grounds. All the teams under the Toronto FC name, from the U-11 academy to their first team, train and play at the same training grounds. The lockers are set up in a progression system, where the younger academy teams' locker rooms are located further away from the first team locker room. I think this system is important for young players to integrate themselves within the club at an early age and put them on the path to the professional level. The older and more developed the players become the closer their locker room is to the first team, enticing players to become better everyday and maybe one day join the first team.  It is also cool for the younger players because they get to interact with the first team on a daily basis.

Travis Keil - R-Fr. - Midfielder

After beating a tough team 1-0 we headed back to the hotel to take quick showers. When everyone was ready we went to Dave & Buster's to watch the USA vs Argentina game. We were greeted by a very generous manager at the door. She led us to our own private party room with plenty of televisions for us to watch the game and also gave us unlimited points for us the play in the arcade. Unfortunately, Argentina was too much for the United States to handle. When the game was over we rushed to the arcade to play as many things as possible before closing time. Reluctantly, we all had to go back to the hotel to get some much needed rest for a long trip to Montreal in the morning. Until next time Toronto! 



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June 20, 2016
The Penn State men's soccer team has embarked on an eight day trip to Canada where it will not only take part in international competition but also see the sites of the country. Through the student-athletes own words this blog will chronicle the trip on and off the field. The Nittany Lions left State College Saturday, June 18 to head to their first stop. The third blog of Penn State's day on Monday, June 20 was written by senior Robby Sagel, junior Cameron Steele and sophomore Stephen Kenney.

 

Day Three (Monday June 20) - Training Session and Sight Seeing in Toronto

 

Robby Sagel - Sr. - Defender

After a sharp training session in the morning, the team and I enjoyed a relaxing day to ourselves. With little planned, most of the guys took advantage of the close proximity of downtown Toronto while a couple others - including myself - stayed at the hotel to rest and get ahead on our summer school obligations. The day was exactly what we needed following our first game, and a fantastic opportunity to discover the "6" as a team. If asked I think we'd all agree, we could get used to it here.

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Cameron Steele - Jr. - Midfielder

Before arriving in Canada, I imagined it as a frigid tundra with more polar bears than people. This is not the case. The weather feels just like the North Carolina summers I grew up in, and the people I've met continuously surprise me with their welcoming nature. The first few days have flown by in a whirlwind of commotion. Today is the first day we have been able to spend some time relaxing and reflecting on the journey so far. We had a light training session in the morning to get our legs moving and prepare for match-day two, and the rest of the day was free time to recover and explore. The highlight of this trip for me has been spending time with teammates and coaches. This is not a cruise or a vacation. it is a period of preparation for the battle to come. We are mentally and physically getting ready for the fall season.


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Our ultimate goal is to build a family, not just a team. I can feel myself growing closer to my brothers every day. Listening to pump up songs on the way to the field and then even more on the way home is an ecstatic element of our daily routine. I have noticed a distinct change in the way our team communicates during training. We are building each other up, encouraging one another, and holding each other to a very high standard. These are all necessary steps for us to reach our full potential.

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Stephen Kenney - So. - Defender

Today our team had a wonderful experience exploring the city of Toronto. Upon arriving, we were all excited to visit the CN tower, an iconic building of Toronto. Its impressive size had us staring in awe, however, we didn't get a chance to travel up the tower. Following this, we went to grab a bite to eat at an Italian restaurant which was quite delicious.

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Penn State Men's Soccer Canadian Trip: Day Two

June 19, 2016
The Penn State men's soccer team has embarked on an eight day trip to Canada where it will not only take part in international competition but also see the sites of the country. Through the student-athletes own words this blog will chronicle the trip on and off the field. The Nittany Lions left State College Saturday, June 18 to head to their first stop. The first blog was written by junior Aymar Sigue, redshirt-sophomore Ryan Gallagher and senior Riley Grant.

Day Two (Sunday June 20) - Penn State vs. Vaughan and Dave and Buster's

Aymar Sigue - Jr. - Forward

Less than 24 hours after arriving in Canada our team had to play against one of the best clubs in the area. The game was played at 11:45 a.m. in what would have been perfect beach weather with 90-degree heat, unfortunately those same conditions aren't ideal for a soccer game. Even though most of the guys were tired from the previous day, which was full of traveling and site seeing, Coach Warming expects nothing less than a complete performance offensively and defensively. 

Before the game started, Coach told us to start the game as if we were losing 1-0 in order to motivate the team into getting an early lead and playing the game with intensity. This proved to be effective because we went up 2-0 early in the first half before conceding a goal against the run of play through a penalty shot. We demonstrated our resilience by continuing to play our intense style of soccer which enabled us to score two more goals. We went into half time with a 4-1 lead. Unfortunately, the effects of the long trip started to present themselves during the second half and we conceded a second goal near the end of the game which made the final score 4-2. Although the performance was not perfect, playing against one of the best local teams was a great opportunity for us to learn and improve as a team.

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Ryan Gallagher - R-So. - Defender

So far, I am definitely loving the 6ix (Toronto)! Today was my favorite day because today was the first day we got to play soccer. Today we played a talented young team in Vaughan. This is the club that our fellow teammate Dayonn Harris played for before he came to Penn State. It was very hot outside, and our feet were burning up because we were playing on turf, which is not what we were used to playing on. The final score of the game was 4-2, with a goal apiece from Dayonn and Aymar Sigue and two goals from Connor Maloney.

All four of our goals were scored within the first 18 minutes of the match which means that we definitely had dominated and controlled the pace of the game from the start for the first 20 minutes. After a good stretch of buildup involving our defensive midfielder and our attacking midfielders we got fouled near the opponent's bench. Connor, always alert, got the ball and quickly played a ball thru to Dayonn, who beat his defender using his speed and slotted it home near the far post. Aymar was in a great position for his goal, as Dayonn crossed a ball to Riley Grant, who took a shot on goal that the keeper deflected right to Aymar and he put it in the back of the net. For Connor's first goal, it was a penalty kick. Aymar had used a great shot fake and was fouled inside the 18-yard box. Connor then stepped up and hit a cheeky chip right down the middle. For Connor's second goal, the only way to describe it was that he used nothing but will power to score. Sam Bollinger dribbled into the box and went into a 50/50 challenge and when the ball popped out, Connor went to the floor and slide tackled the ball into the back of the net. It truly was a great display of Connor's will to score goals and win.  Dayonn scored the fourth goal on the grounds where he did much of his youth training on a lightning fast outside to inside run across the back line and got a great ball from Connor that he faced up to the goal and scored. 

I'm looking forward to playing Vaughan's PDL team on Tuesday and it should be a great contest.

Riley Grant - Sr. - Forward

Today we played a young talented Vaughan team after a long day of traveling the day before. Even though we were a bit tight and sore after travel, Coach Warming told us there is no excuse and we needed to be mentally ready to play, and if we were, we would be successful. We took care of business scoring four goals in the first 20 minutes of the match. Two from Connor, and one each from Canada's own, Dayonn and Aymar.

It was a great win but the fun didn't stop there. After the game we got a few hours to rest up and then the whole team got together to head to Dave and Buster's. The competition in the game room of Dave and Buster's was just as competitive as the soccer game we played earlier. Everyone was having a fun time playing all of the games and it was great way to end the day with another team bonding experience.  Ryan Gallagher won some teeth with his tickets from the games!  


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We are taking on Canada one day at a time and it has been a great experience so far, with much more excitement still to come. 
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Penn State Men's Soccer Canadian Trip: Day One

June 19, 2016

The Penn State men's soccer team has embarked on an eight day trip to Canada where it will not only take part in international competition but also see the sites of the country. Through the student-athletes own words this blog will chronicle the trip on and off the field. The Nittany Lions left State College Saturday, June 18 to head to their first stop. The first blog was written by sophomore defender Brennan Ireland, redshirt-sophomore Noah Pilato and redshirt-junior Sam Bollinger.

Day One - Niagara Falls and Toronto FC/LA Galaxy Match 

Noah Pilato - R-So. - Midfielder
The trip started early in the morning as we arrived at Rec Hall in state college at 7:30 in the morning. After a quick team picture at the lion shrine, we departed for Canada at 8. Our first stop was Niagara Falls, on the United States side. We had the pleasure of partaking in the Maid of Mist tour; a once in a lifetime opportunity. As our team stood on the boat, helpless to the hard mist of the falls, it was a comedic relief to a long day of travel. Through the border and into Toronto was the next step in our journey. As we arrived at BMO field, the home of Toronto FC, we were greeted with open arms, as well as confused stares. We were able to join 20,000 supporters in watching LA Galaxy take on Toronto FC, two powerhouses of the league. The game ended with home side coming out on top, 1-0, and it was a phenomenal experience. Fifteen hours after leaving state college, we arrived at our hotel and day one was in the books.


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Brennan Ireland - So. - Defender
Today was the first day of our international trip and it could not have come soon enough. We had a great week of training and everyone was eager to make the journey up to Canada. Our first day was a busy one. Our caravan departed State College early in the morning. Most of the boys hopped into their respective shuttles, determined by class year, and fell back asleep. Myself being in the freshmen van, on the other hand was kept awake because of Travis and Mac's babbling. Fortunately, after awhile their talking tired them out and we got some much needed shut eye.  

I awoke to the news we were at the Niagara Falls and after a quick meal we went to do some sightseeing. I had seen the falls as a kid, but at the time was probably more enamored with the ice cream in my hand then the actual beauty of the plummeting plumes of water that descended both into the United States and Canada. We then went on the Maid of the Mist and the cool air that was given off from the water was a nice break from the heat of the day. The blue poncho's given out to us before we stepped foot on the boat I thought would be a terrible compliment to the scorching temperature, but as we got close to the waterfalls I understood why they are passed out.

Being on the water as the falls crashed on the rocks was an amazing experience that I am fortunate enough to share with my teammates and I can not wait for what else lies ahead for us on the remainder of our trip.

Sam Bollinger - R-Jr. - Midfielder
We arrived in Toronto around 7 and drove straight to BMO Field (Toronto FC's stadium) to watch TFC take on the LA Galaxy.  It was a relief to be able to get out and stretch our legs after a long trip from State College.  We grabbed some food from the concession stand and headed to our seats in the upper left section of the stadium, which is beautifully designed and holds around 20,000 people.  There was also a really cool view of the Toronto skyline from the upper levels of the stadium.    


 The game was exciting and very back and forth, with both teams having good chances right from the start.  The score was 0-0 at halftime.  Toronto fans are very enthusiastic, constantly chanting and waving their scarves and banners.  In the 70th minute Toronto scored a beautiful goal off of a cross that was flicked on and finished with a header at the far post.  The crowd went crazy and began a long chant of "T-F-C! T-F-C!"  The game ended in a 1-0 Toronto victory and we made our way back to the vans to travel to the hotel, which was about 30 minutes away.  Overall the game was a really cool experience and it was great to be able to see teams of such quality compete.

Penn State Athletics THON 2016 Coverage

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IMG_9032.JPGUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 44th IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center over the weekend.

THON's 708 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. To date, more than $136 million has been raised by THON. THON revealed a fundraising total of more than $9.7 million for 2016 with 96 percent of THON's all-time funds being donated directly to Four Diamonds. 

Each year, more than 15,000 Penn State student volunteers dedicate their time to THON, making it the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Members of Penn State's Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) were active participants in THON, and led run several fund-raising activities once again this year including sending solicitation letters to friends and family and a lip sync competition. In addition to generating financial support for THON, SAAB also provides emotional support to its THON children, Isabella Messina and Colton Buckley, and their families throughout the year.


Four Penn State student-athletes are represented SAAB as dancers in THON 2016: Liisi Vink-Lainas (Wynantskill, N.Y.) and Angela Widlacki (Naperville, Ill.) of women's soccer, Emily Rivers (Washington, D.C.) from women's tennis and Matt Zanellato (Burke, Va.) from football.

"This means the world to us. As athletes you are given a platform that a normal student might not have," said Zanellato. "It's one of those things that when you come in as a freshman, you know that you will have that platform for a few years. I wanted to make the most of it. I realized that THON was something special to me when I came to Penn State. I wanted to use my platform as best I could."

Additionally, Angela Connors and Jessica Spellman from the Lionettes squad and from Penn State cheerleading Kenny Fuhrman, Paige Gentry, Jordan Hinkle, Kylie Tobasco and Mike White danced in THON.

Within Penn State Athletics, strategic communications student assistants Emily Hesidence and Kate Brandell were also among the dancers at THON, as well.


Check out the GoPSUsports.com extensive coverage from THON 2016 weekend.


Friday - 6 p.m. - THON 2016 Begins
The 46-hour dance marathon kicked off at 6 p.m. on Friday evening when the 708 dancers stood. They will remain on their feet until Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.

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Saturday - 9:30 a.m. - Student-Athlete Interviews
With Bryce Jordan Center buzzing with energy during the 16th hour of THON 2016, GoPSUsports.com spent some time with student-athletes and THON dancers Liisi Vink-Lainas  and Angela Widlacki of women's soccer, Emily Rivers, from women's tennis and Matt Zanellato from football. Representing Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB), the group is thrilled to carry the Penn State Athletics banner as dancers in the 2016 THON. Take a look at some of their remarks from the floor at the BJC.



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Saturday - 2 p.m. - Football Hosts THON Explorers Event
Approximately 40 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed approximately 30 THON Four Diamonds children and their families to a special event inside the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON Explorers program.

The THON event in Lasch 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, participate in athletic stations, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.

The Nittany Lions formed a high-five tunnel for the families upon entry into the building before the student-athletes took the families around the football facility. Take a look at the THON Explorers event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.

Football THON Explorers Event



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Saturday - 6 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour
Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the IM during athlete hour on Saturday.  Here are a few snapshots and video highlights from the event.

Athlete Hour Photo Gallery



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Saturday - 11 p.m. - Football Wins Pep Rally Dance Competition
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 2016 version of the dance-off.

The pep rally included a speech from former Nittany Lion football great Devon Still and his daughter Leah.

As for the dance competition, the football team claimed top honors in the men's side of the action, while the reigning national champion women's soccer team took top honors on the women's side. The two teams then battled in a dance off, with the football team earning the bragging rights as the 2016 THON Pep Rally dancing champion.

We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON. 

THON 2016 Pep Rally Photo Gallery



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Football (Men's & Overall Champion) 
Women's Soccer (Women's Champion)
Men's Fencing
Men's Golf
Men's Gymnastics
Men's Hockey
Men's Rugby
Men's Soccer
Men's Tennis
Men's Volleyball
Field Hockey
Women's Golf
Women's Gymnastics
Women's Hockey
Women's Rugby
Women's Volleyball

Sunday - 11:30 a.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin Addresses THON 2016
Head coach James Franklin took the stage of THON 2016 on Sunday morning to urge the dancers on in the final hours of the 46-hour dance marathon.  Franklin's message epitomized what THON's mission has been since it started in 1977.

"This is special. What you guys do is what Penn State is ultimately all about," said Coach Franklin.

Take a look at his full remarks.

James Franklin at THON 2016 Photo Gallery



4:14 p.m. - THON 2016 Raises $9.7 Million
For the second-straight year, THON's fundraising efforts raised more than $9.7 million. The grand total for THON in 2016 was  $9,770,332.32 for fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2016.  Here is a look at the reveal from Rec Hall prior to Penn State wrestling's bout against Oklahoma State. The Nittany Lion faithful in Rec Hall let out a big cheer as the total was unveiled.

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GoPSUTony

VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Men's Soccer

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By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Every successful sports program needs a great coach to lead the way; for Penn State men's soccer that leader is Bob Warming.


In just six seasons with the Nittany Lions, Warming has already made an impact. Named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2013, he was able to lead the Lions to back-to-back Big Ten titles. However, that's just a small glimpse of his impressive resume.

Warming, whose distinguished career spans 35 years, came to Happy Valley from Creighton University, where he took over a previously dormant program and developed it into a conference and regional power as well as a national title contender.

With a coaching record of 448-222-78, he's also led the Blue and White to three-straight NCAA postseason appearances.

Penn State already has a nationally known soccer program, paired with Warming's impressive reputation it's easy to figure out why players from all over want to play at Jeffrey Field. However, beside talented players; what separates Warming from the rest is he's also interested in his player's character.

"I think the coolest thing about Bob is he tries to recruit good kids, not only good soccer players but he makes it a goal to get guys who are generally good people," stated veteran player Danny Sheerin. "On recruiting visits he's constantly looking for players who are talented but also have strong positive character to them and you see that among the players he recruits."

Penn State takes pride in all the athletics succeeding with honor, and Warming is a shining example of how to lead a sports team with that motto.

Warming wants his players to achieve greatness on and off the field; he encourages them and believes that they can conquer whatever challenges may come their way.

"One thing he really emphasizes is toughness. He knows that's a huge part of the game and is always driving that home to us and it really helps us both on and off the field," stated Sheerin.

Besides toughness and character, Warming is also known for putting in the work to achieve success. He not only expects his players to work hard, but he also puts in the hours himself outside of practice.

"On the soccer field I don't think anyone else puts in more time than he does. Every time I see him other than practice he's in the locker room watching footage trying to come up with new tactics to beat the other teams or looking at what we can do as a program to improve," said Sheerin.

"He really pays attention to the small details and little things to make sure we as a team have those things perfected by game day. He wants to make us each the best soccer players we can be," Sheerin continued.

The men's soccer team sees one another as a family, and that includes Warming and all of the coaching staff. Just like family, Warming knows when his men need some guidance but also knows how to encourage them.

"He's been a great coach to play for, not only for his knowledge of the sport but for the energy he brings," said Sheerin. "Sometimes he can get intense when he needs to be but even his nickname is Smiling Bob Warming, he's always in a good mood and is a great guy to be around."

In addition to Warming, Chad Duernberger and Michael Behonick are assistant coaches that help lead the Blue and White.

"All the coaches are great they really care about the players and can teach everyone a lot about the game and about life outside of Jeffrey Field," said Sheerin. "The coaching staff is a huge help in all aspects, each of them are really helpful in making us better players but also make it fun to be at practice which is really awesome to have as a player."

 
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