Penn State has won 92 Big Ten titles, including 21 in women's soccer (16 regular season).
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just four months into his tenure as commissioner of the
Big Ten Conference, Jim Delany recalls an idea brought to the table by former
Illinois President Stan Ikenberry.
It was October of 1989 when Ikenberry, who spent time as a senior administrator
at Penn State earlier in his career, broached the thought of adding an
institution to the Big Ten for the first time since Michigan State was invited
to become a member in 1949.
The Big Ten then began a formal research process of an institution that would
bridge a Midwestern league to the East.
The Pennsylvania State University was on the table for discussion as a superb
academic institution with a rich tradition in athletic success.
Delany, whose sister attended Penn State as a graduate student, didn't need much
convincing. He knew the level of potential a partnership between Penn State and
the Big Ten could foster.
Big Ten hadn't changed in many, many decades, but I thought if the opportunity
to expand presented itself it was a no brainer," Delany said earlier this week.
"Excellent academics. Excellent athletics. And pointed towards the East Coast,
I thought there was a lot of potential there. That was my recommendation at the
The process moved forward with the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten
institutions discussing the topic before news broke just before the holidays in
December of 1989 that Penn State could be on its way into a new conference. Under
the direction of athletic director Jim Tarman at the time, Penn State had been
competing as an independent in football for more than a century, and the rest
of the department had been a member of the Atlantic 10 since 1976.
When the news initially surfaced, women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose, who
along with field hockey coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss are the two current Penn
State head coaches who were on staff in 1989, was giving a presentation at the
annual women's volleyball coaches convention (AVCA) about the importance of
NCAA Tournament at-large bids for teams in smaller conferences.
"I remember talking in front of the group about
the importance that not all of the at-large bids go to the bigger conferences
and that there were good teams in other conferences even though they didn't
have the same notoriety, said Rose. "We have a lunch break. I turn on ESPN at
lunch, and I see that Penn State is going to be a member of the Big Ten. I come
back. I say to some people that I would like to retract what I said about
The formal process concluded with a vote in Iowa City on June 4, 1990, at which
time Penn State was officially accepted as a member of the Big Ten Conference.
Twenty-five years have passed in a partnership that allowed both the University
and conference to reach unprecedented heights on the field and in the
a broad perspective, at the time, my view was that it was a tremendous fit for
both sides. And history has proven that," Delany said. "With all the other
expansions around the country, I'm not sure there was one that benefitted both
institution and conference as much as this did, largely because of the
characteristics of Penn State were so well matched with the characteristics of
the Big Ten."
The positive news zipped throughout campus shortly after the vote in Iowa.
"I remember hearing about the announcement from Mary Jo Haverbeck, from the Sports
Information office," said Morett-Curtiss. "She told me about us going in and
how it was going to have a major impact for women's athletics at Penn State."
It was an announcement that changed the landscape of funding and development
for all of Penn State's 28 programs at the time, and it was a day
Morett-Curtiss remembers quite well.
"Ironically, I had gone for a run that day on the trails near Sunset Park and
as I'm running, I see someone walking in front of me and it was Joe Paterno,"
Morett-Curtiss said. "And it was that day, so I said to him, 'hey what's going
to happen?' He said, 'I think this is going to be a really good thing for Penn
State and the exposure all of the programs are going to get.'"
The women's volleyball program captured Penn State's first Big Ten title in 1992, marking volleyball's first of 16 conference crowns.
Penn State's teams felt the impact of the Big Ten conference almost
"What it did for us when we joined the Big Ten is that it No. 1 it resulted in
a reassessment of the levels of commitment we had to the various programs,"
Rose said. "We became fully funded when we joined the Big Ten. Prior to that,
we were not fully funded. And we were not fully staffed. Entering Big Ten,
collectively, for all of the sports resulted in us having a new commitment from
the University to try and be competitive. From a volleyball perspective, we had
been competitive prior to that, but playing in the Big Ten in women's
volleyball made us better because the level of competition was better than we
were experiencing in the Atlantic 10."
At the time, women's volleyball had just one assistant coach on the staff
alongside Rose and nine scholarships to field a roster. Joining the Big Ten
boosted the program to full funding and 12 scholarships.
"As I look at it now, we could have had some great teams if we had funding in
the early years," said Rose. "That was just the way that it was. When you take a job, that is the job you
took. When we joined the Big Ten, a lot of us got a better job without having
to move. But it's way more competitive. Recruiting is a lot different than what
we had experienced in the Atlantic 10."
The same can be said for what Morett-Curtiss experienced within the field
"The financial support from a scholarship standpoint was huge right away," said
Morett-Curtiss. "And knowing our field that we were going to build was going to
be a first rate facility."
The investment for success around the Big Ten stood out during Penn State's
transition. Every institution and athletic program strives to be the best. It's
a trait that has not changed during the department's 25 years as a member, and
it's something that will be a trademark of the Big Ten for decades to come.
"The level of commitment to being good across the conference, everybody cared,"
said Rose. "I don't believe every conference across the country has that sort
of commitment in all of their sports. I think that is one of the things that
makes the Big Ten really unique. If they offer it, they care and they want to
Penn State's time in the Big Ten has been marked by excellence in the classroom
and on the field of play. In all, Penn State's programs have accounted for 92
Big Ten championships from 15 different programs - 76 regular season and 16 post-season. Additionally,
more than 170 student-athletes have accounted for nearly 300 individual Big Ten
Penn State student-athletes have earned more than 5,000 Academic All-Big Ten
recognitions since it joined the conference, with its three highest totals
during the past three years, led by 296 in 2012-13.
"Penn State's entrance into the Big Ten not only changed the
intercollegiate sports landscape, it also changed our academic landscape and
our future. Our size, our academic reputation and our athletic tradition
matched up well with Big Ten schools," said Penn State President Eric
Barron, who also noted that all Big Ten schools are flagship universities for
their states. "The academic side of the Big Ten is known as the Committee
on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the institutions together have annual
research expenditures topping $10.2 billion -- more than the Ivy League and the
University of California System combined -- and they educate a total of nearly
600,000 students. The benefits from being part of such an outstanding and
prestigious organization with such an expansive footprint across the nation are
The women's volleyball program earned Penn
State's first Big Ten crown during the 1992 season, just one year after the
team began competing in the league. The title marked the first of Penn State's superlative
16 Big Ten titles in women's volleyball, in addition to seven NCAA
Championships since 1999.
Like women's volleyball, the women's soccer program has been a benchmark of success
in conference play. The program became the department's 29th varsity
sport in 1994. Since then, Penn State has won an unprecedented 16 conference
titles, including a string of 15-straight from 1998-2012.
The football program claimed the Big Ten title in its second season of
competition during an undefeated Rose Bowl championship campaign in 1994. Coach
Joe Paterno's '94 squad became the first Big Ten team to ever post a 12-0
record. The '94 crown marked the program's first of three Big Ten championships
to date (2005 and 2008).
The fall season of 2005 stands out as a monumental period in Penn State's
history within the conference. Nittany Lion teams clinched five Big Ten titles
in a span of 30 days. The list included field hockey, football, men's soccer,
women's soccer and women's volleyball. Since the fall of 2005, Penn State teams
have won 51 Big Ten championships (5.1 titles per year in a 10-year span).
Penn State clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days
during the fall of 2005, including one for the women's volleyball team.
It's impossible to quantify how the partnership between Penn State and the Big
Ten altered the recruiting landscape for the teams on campus and how the
recruiting gains equated to success on the field of play. But pitching a
world-renowned education with an elite conference affiliation cultivated
relationships with premier student-athletes.
"The name recognition was big for football, but when you see how many of the Universities
and programs have been successful on a national level, I think that has greatly
helped," Morett-Curtiss. "Exposure for all of the Universities within the
conference has helped us all grow. Combining the academic side of what these
Universities have with the athletics, it's a very powerful combination when we
go out recruiting student-athletes."
A big piece to the exposure of Penn State teams during the past 25 years was
the launch of the Big Ten Network on Aug. 30, 2007. More than 800 Penn State
sporting events have aired live on the BTN since it launched. The benefits of
the conference's TV network, which is in more than 60 million homes, increased visibility across the country for
the department in a way that cannot be measured.
"The Network was a major step for us," Morett-Curtiss. "Just having the
opportunity to have games on TV so that little girls can watch and learn about
the sport. It's helped, not only exposure for the program, but it's helped the
sport grow. It's just a phenomenal avenue for us to showcase our University and
The BTN's impact goes back to what Rose talked about as one of the immediate
impacts his program felt - funding. Not only did the BTN infinitely increase
exposure for Penn State teams, it has played a paramount role in increased
revenues for each institution.
"Certainly, the Big Ten Network has been instrumental in generating funds for
the Universities and the conference and the bowl revenue sharing has resulted
in more money for all of the schools and the conference," said Rose.
In 2008, Penn State captured its third Big Ten title in football
en route to a trip to the Rose Bowl.
the competitive atmosphere is intense between teams across all of the
conference's sports, each member institution understands that the individual success
aids in the growth of the collective conference.
"I think the relationship has been a really positive one," said Rose. "There
are a lot of similarities between the various Universities."
"Everybody in the Big Ten shares what they do and why they do it; best
practices," said Dave Baker, Associate Athletic Director for Business
Operations. "We share lots of ideas, at least from the business manager and
ticketing perspective. We learn things from one another. And there aren't
secrets. We all work together and try to help each other out...We all don't do
things the same way. We all have limitations, but we are all looking to help
one another out for the betterment of the conference.
"Some people would find it hard to believe that people in the Big Ten root for
other Big Ten teams in the postseason, but we do. We follow what is going
on...It is a cooperative spirit and a partnership."
Baker is one of just a handful of Penn State administrators and coaches who
have been with Intercollegiate Athletics during the past 25 years. That list
includes Jan Bortner, who was head coach of the men's tennis team in 1990 and
has since transitioned into a role as an associate athletic director. Among the
key changes Baker felt from the business operation centered on travel. Bus
trips were the norm for Penn State teams in the Atlantic 10, but the geography
of the Big Ten led to more plane travel.
A quarter century has passed since initial discussions of a new relationship
took place and bonds were formed. Many things have changed significantly for
Penn State, the conference and intercollegiate athletics nationwide, but it's
been 25 years marked by growth stemming from a vision in 1989.
"Pennsylvania is a very important state. It served as a bridge to the East for
us. It made our football offerings stronger," said Delany. "It has been
excellence with national championships in a variety of sports. And I have
always felt that the 1994 Penn State team was the best team in the country; no
disrespect to Nebraska. When you look at the players that team had (five first
team All-Americans on offense) and what that group accomplished. That team was
the national runner-up. That was a tremendous football team. I've seen some
very good basketball teams both on the men's side and the women's side. And
obviously, the wrestling and volleyball programs have been dominant on the
Penn State has won a total of 27 national championships since joining the Big
Ten, including three in 2013-14, and the department's collective success speaks
By no means was the integration in 1990 an easy one, but the partnership
between the University and Big Ten is a match that enabled both sides to
mutually prosper in a way neither side could have envisioned when the formal vote
concluded 25 years ago today.
The wrestling team began a string of four-straight Big Ten
titles in March of 2011.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Playing its first season in the Big Ten
Conference, the Penn State women's lacrosse team knew this year would be filled
with challenges and triumphs. The team battled hard, winning 16 games for the
first time since 1989 and making the NCAA Quarterfinals for the third time in
Nevertheless, the team's greatest feat came in the form of a first for the
program and its conference. Despite the competition, the Nittany Lions were
crowned the first-ever Big Ten Champions. With all of these accomplishments, it
is clear that this program is destined to excel.
"It was a really fun year," said head coach Missy Doherty. "I think from day
one it was a really good energy on the team. When we started, we had to shift a
couple players due to injury and asked a lot of some young players. I think
they really did their job stepping up, and thankfully we had some really great
wins this year. We're Big Ten Champs, and I certainly think we have a lot to be
The growth and dominance of the team's defense is one aspect Doherty and the
rest of the Nittany Lions are especially proud of because at the start of the
season, it was not a strong point. Injuries required a lot of shuffling, and
when all was said and done the team's core defenders were made up of a number
of former attackers.
Sophomore Natalie Schmitt shifted to defense, as did Abby Smucker. The two
really bolstered the Lions on the back end and had to make numerous adjustments
as they gained a greater understanding for the position throughout the season.
Smucker, who seemed to captain the young defense, really stood out as her
performances solidified the team. She was even named the Big Ten Tournament MVP
for her play, showing just how hard she and the rest of the defense worked to
This strong play from the D, in addition to the team's balance offense, played
a key role in the team's success, especially in the newly formed Big Ten
"I think that we're really a tough conference, and I think we're continuing to
grow with all the exposure that we get through the Big Ten Network," said
Doherty. "It just really feels like our sport is taking off across the country,
which is awesome. So, we had some great exposure. I thought the tournament was
exciting, and our season finale against Maryland was really exciting. I think
everyone can see that we're a really competitive conference."
With teams like Northwestern and Maryland as conference rivals, winning the Big
Ten Tournament was all the more special for the Nittany Lions. Penn State had
to work hard and play its best games possible to come out on top, and that is
exactly what it did.
The Nittany Lions will forever be the first Big Ten Champions, and that is an
accomplishment that can never be taken away from them.
"I would probably say winning the Big Ten Tournament," said Doherty of the
team's biggest accomplishment in the 2015 season. "It was the first year for
our conference and we went in with really great teams. We beat Northwestern
twice, which was a really amazing feat given their history and how good they
are. I think that was a big step for us, and then getting a tough draw for
NCAAs and making it through the Virginia weekend was just another really good
weekend for us."
These big wins and strong play would not have been possible without the
dominant Nittany Lion offense. Captain Maggie McCormick led the way with 67
points, becoming Penn State's all-time leader in assists with 137 in her
four-year career. She registered 43 this season alone.
McCormick was not the team's only offensive weapon, as it had nine players reach
at least 10 goals. Tatum Coffey, Steph Lazo and Madison Cyr each had 43, 41 and
38 goals respectively. When one player was shut down, Penn State always had
another attacker ready.
The Lions were dangerous all season long. They played a number of close games,
were ranked nationally on a consistent basis and were the first Big Ten
Champions. The team will lose nine seniors next year but returns a majority of
its starters. The future of Penn State lacrosse is as bright as ever.
"I think after this year specifically, we've begun to establish ourselves as a
top team nationally," said Doherty. "I think sometimes it's hard to keep
pushing open doors and keep turning corners, but I think this year, especially
with our Big Ten win and our wins over some really great teams, really helped
establish our program as a team that's going to compete for those top spots. The
girls know the energy we put into this season and how hard we worked. They're
ready to do that again."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sometimes the unknown is frightening, but other
times it is exhilarating. The unfamiliar in sports can offer new challenges,
new levels of competition and new levels of play. As the Penn State women's
lacrosse team travels to take on North Carolina for the first time since 2009,
it is ready and excited for the opportunity. The Nittany Lions will bring their
To get to this position, the Lions have had to take down Johns Hopkins and
Virginia. Both games were intense, close matchups. Nevertheless, with Penn
State's (16-4) play as of late, winning 11 of its last 12, it is prepared for
any challenge, especially a challenge like the Tar Heels (16-3).
"We're really excited," said head coach Missy Doherty. "It's been a great year
for us so far, a lot of really exciting games. I think with the Big Ten
Tournament Championship and playing Hopkins and Virginia in the first two
rounds of NCAAs, we've really been tested here with some really tough games. It
makes us more excited for the next game to see what we're going to bring, and
certainly playing North Carolina, who we haven't played yet before, is going to
be a fresh new test for us this weekend."
Key to the Nittany Lions' success this season has been its deep offense and
reliable goalie, Emi Smith. In the team's second round game alone, Smith made
14 saves. Her efforts have continued to keep the team in close games.
Scouting UNC, the Tar Heels have a similar offense to that of the Nittany Lions.
Like Penn State, they do not rely on one scorer and have 10 athletes with
double-digit goals. While that fact may seem daunting to some, the team's
defense will be more than ready. It gets to practice against its own offense,
which has nine scorers who have accumulated at least 10 goals this season.
"I think defensively we really need to focus on the cutters and the one-v-one
defense," Smith said. "Watching their film is really a big factor for it, and
having such a good attack on our side is a huge contribution because they can
help us prepare for a team like UNC. Our attack is just as good as UNC's
attack, and that's huge for our defense because we can practice all week long
and prepare for their attack. So, I definitely think going into this weekend is
just watching film, running through their plays, running through the shots that
they take and overall just playing our aggressive defense."
For this game, the team is not relying on just what its coaches say about UNC.
Doherty has instructed each of the Lions to prepare their own scouting report
of the Tar Heels, forcing them to get a closer look at their opponent prior to
"Our coaches sent us a template, and we're all creating our own scout for the
team, which we haven't done before," said junior Madison Cyr. "It's giving all
of us the opportunity to learn the style of each player that we're getting
ready to play against."
In this Elite Eight matchup, Penn State will rely heavily on its midfielders. The
team has seen tremendous effort from them, both offensively and defensively,
all season long. They particularly stepped up after the team lost captain Kelly
Lechner to injury, and Doherty has been particularly pleased with all of them.
Five of the team's top scorers are midfielders and each has reached the 30-goal
mark. Tatum Coffey leads the way with 42, followed by Steph Lazo who has 41,
Cyr who has 36 and Katie O'Donnell and Jenna Mosketti who each have scored 30.
"It's a huge advantage because if one player gets shut down, we have so many
more to work with," said Cyr of the scoring depth. "We're not just counting on
one player to win the game or score the goal. We have so many people and so
many different styles of attacking, whether it's a feed or one-v-one."
This group does not only score. Their defensive play has also been huge this
season, and they will look to once again bring their best on Saturday. Coffey
has the most caused turnovers on the team with 23, while Mosketti and Cyr lead
the way in ground balls. These players bring balance to the team, which has
been a big asset to the Nittany Lions.
Even with its skill, Penn State enters this Elite Eight game as the underdog.
The No. 7 Nittany Lions know this game against No. 2 North Carolina will be a
battle, but they are not letting rankings effect their preparation or how they
play. This team has each other's backs. They just need to continue
communicating and relying on one another.
"I think our team is great," said Doherty. "They get along really well. The
camaraderie has been amazing. The team kind of mojo has been just fantastic all
season. With these big games, as a coach, you really hope your team takes over
and the players take over, and they've made my job so much easier with their
drive and their work ethic and their leadership this year."
With the opponent aside, making the Elite Eight for the third time in four
years is an accomplishment these Nittany Lions are proud of. This year, they
don't want to end at this level. They want to continue playing together,
continue winning and continue their season.
"It's kind of surreal," said Smith. "I mean my freshman year we went to the
Elite Eight, and last year was kind of an upset because we lost first round
NCAAs. But, I think this year we're definitely excited because we're going.
That's a huge thing for us because I have a feeling we don't want to stop, and
going into UNC that's a huge aspect because we want to make it to the Final
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nine seniors on the Penn State women's lacrosse
team missed their graduation ceremonies this weekend in favor of playing in the
NCAA Tournament. After the results of both the first and second-round games,
they and the rest of the team could not be happier about that decision.
Instead of walking in caps and gowns the seniors competed with their teammates,
helping the Nittany Lions (16-4) defeat both Johns Hopkins (14-4) and Virginia
(12-7). With the two victories, this team is officially part of the 2015 Elite
"I love spending time
with my team," said goalie Emi Smith. "I love playing with this team. It's an
exhilarating experience to be able to go this far in the NCAAs, and I would not
be more excited or happy without these girls. They are pretty much the
contributors for us going this far."
Once the Blue and White knocked out the Blue Jays, the team had its sights set
on a rematch with the Cavaliers. When the two programs met earlier in the
season, Virginia secured the victory with a go-ahead goal four seconds before
the conclusion of the game.
With that loss in the back of their minds, the Nittany Lions were determined to
have a different outcome in Sunday's match. It was not going to be another
Defensively, Penn State had one of its best performances of the season.
Virginia outshot the Lions, 34-21, won more ground balls, had half the number
of turnovers and were far more successful in its clear attempts. Nevertheless,
the defense consistently did its job, turning in key plays when it mattered
"Our defense was great all game," head coach Missy Doherty said. "We really had
a huge clearing problem in this game. We got a lot of balls on the ground. Our
D came up with the ball, and then we didn't take care of it as much as we
should. So, it's a credit to them for getting the ball back to us time after
Really leading the way on the back end, however, was Smith. The junior made 14
saves throughout the entirety of the game, solidifying the win and allowing the
Lions a chance to move on in the tournament. The performance was one save shy
of her season best, which came in March against Vanderbilt.
"I think Emi stood on her head today making unbelievable saves," Doherty said
following the game. "Every game is a little different. Sometimes our offense
takes over, our defense takes over, and today, Emi kind of took over. So, it
was a great effort by her and a great effort by our team to come up with some
huge goals at big times."
In terms of offense, the Nittany Lions once again saw scoring from across the
board. Madison Cyr and Katie O'Donnell both collected five points in the game
with a hat trick and two assists each. Steph Lazo also notched three goals
against the Cavaliers, while Tatum Coffey and Kristin Brent both added two.
With Lazo's three goals and Coffey's six throughout the weekend games, both
passed the 40-goal mark on the season. O'Donnell's performance pushed her to 30
goals scored, meaning five Nittany Lions have now reached that accomplishment.
"I thought overall today we really saw each other well," said O'Donnell
following the Virginia game. "When everyone is working well together and we're
seeing the open goal, it just goes well for everyone. Fortunately, I was on the
upper end of that today. But, we were moving the ball, seeing each other, and
there was a lot of communication out there today, which is key."
Moving forward, the Nittany Lions will need to defeat North Carolina to stay
alive in the tournament. The game will certainly be a challenge, but this team
is ready for anything. It wants to keep competing, keep winning and keep
playing together. Penn State is not finished yet.
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fresh off its Big Ten Tournament win, the Penn
State women's lacrosse team is already preparing for the next part of its
season. With the NCAA Tournament beginning Friday, the Nittany Lions know they
have a clean slate. They are ready to show their skill and prove their
With this year's appearance, the Blue and White have locked up their fourth
consecutive NCAA Tournament run. Every year the Lions have made improvements,
and this year was no exception. Right now, they have momentum and confidence on
Penn State (14-4) knows it is a national competitor, and the team is looking to go as
far into this tournament as possible. In order to do that, the Blue and White
will first have to down Johns Hopkins(14-3), a previous conference rival. With such
familiarity with their opponent, the Nittany Lions are ready for the challenge.
"They're very physical," said head coach Missy Doherty of Hopkins. "They work
very hard. They hustle everywhere. Nothing comes easy against them, so we're
going to have to work just as hard and assert ourselves on both ends of the
On the offensive side of the game, the Nittany Lions will look to its leaders,
including senior captain Maggie McCormick. McCormick leads the team in points
with 63 and is also one of the strongest voices for this Penn State squad.
Eyes will also be on senior Tatum Coffey, sophomore Steph Lazo and junior
Madison Cyr. All three have over 30 goals this season, adding depth to the team
and making Penn State's offense all the more dangerous.
"Hopkins is always a fun team to play because we know that we're going to get
one of their best games," McCormick said. "They're definitely going to test us
and going to push us. They're a really hard working team, and we know we're
going to get a battle out of it. We're going to have to play our best to beat
The Nittany Lion offensive will only be a portion of the recipe for success in
this first-round game. Doherty and the team know that Hopkins is a squad that
shoots the ball, meaning the defense will need to be solid. Saves in this game
will be crucial, and senior Emi Smith will need to come up in big ways once
Smith, who was named the Big Ten goalie of the year, is no stranger to this
pressure. She is more than ready to take on the Blue Jays. In fact, she's
looking forward to the matchup and is ready to have fun doing what she loves.
The junior just needs to make sure she maintains her focus for all 60 minutes.
"At some points there's times where I don't see a shot for about 10 minutes
because our attack and midfielders are doing such a great time with handling
the ball," said Smith. "I think my challenge is going to be maintaining my
focus throughout the entire game and being a positive factor for my teammates."
As in the Big Ten Tournament, NCAAs are one-game elimination style.
Nevertheless, the Nittany Lions are not planning to exit any time soon. With a
Big Ten championship and successful season, they have momentum on their side.
This tournament gives Penn State a chance to start new. It knows what has
worked well and what has not. Now, the team wants to just go out and show
everyone what Penn State lacrosse is all about.
"We're really excited," said McCormick. "When we go finals are going to be over
and everyone's going to be able to focus on lacrosse and the team. It's going
to be fun. As a senior it's a little bit bitter sweet, but you don't want to
think about the fact that the end is kind of nearing. You want to prolong this
journey as much as possible, so we're really looking forward to it, especially
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a Big Ten Championship on the line, the
Penn State women's lacrosse team entered the tournament feeling confident. The
Nittany Lions took down Northwestern in the second round, bringing them one
step closer to the trophy. While the team was excited, the job was not done
yet. Penn State still needed one more win.
When Ohio State (13-7) took down previously undefeated Maryland, the Lions
(14-4) prepared for the challenge and trusted in their abilities. After 60
minutes of play, Penn State emerged as the conference's first winner by
defeating the Buckeyes, 13-11.
The Nittany Lions are Big Ten champions.
"I don't know if it sunk in yet," said head Coach Missy Doherty. "I think it
was a great game. I just love that competing aspect of it, but certainly being
the first Big Ten winner is such an honor. We have such a great tradition in
our program that goes so far back. Our alums are so proud of our program and
have done well in the past. It's nice to really put Penn State on the map with
our first Big Ten Championship."
Key to the win was Penn State's offense, which has dominated throughout the
entirety of the season. Senior Tatum Coffey led the way with her four goals,
but in all the team saw scoring from seven different players in the final. This
balance up front made the Blue and White a difficult team to beat. They
challenged Ohio State's defense, went to the net and came away from the game
shooting at 52 percent.
For Coffey and the rest of the senior class, this game was crucial. With so
little time left to play in their careers, every second counts. They wanted to
leave it all on the field, which is exactly what they did.
"I honestly had an epiphany," Coffey said. "It was a moment that just hit me,
and I realized that I'm a senior. I'm never going to be in this position again.
So, I let that take over me and decided to be a leader out there and pump
Going into halftime, the Lions had a three-goal lead. Nevertheless, the team
knew it would not be an easy task to finish the game, especially against the
Ohio State controlled play in the opening minutes of the second, tallying three
consecutive goals to even the scoring. The Nittany Lions called a timeout to
regroup, but they were never concerned. Staying calm proved to be key.
"Right when they quickly scored three goals on us, we stayed confident and
composed," said Abby Smucker. "We knew that we had to pick up our defense a
little bit more, but I was confident in the way our defense was playing. And,
having Emi [Smith] back there in the cage was critical for us."
All season long, Smucker has anchored the Nittany Lion defense. Doherty has
labeled her the team organizer, keeping the Lions cohesive in the back. Her
play in the semi-final and final helped boost the Lions and did not go
unnoticed as Smucker was named the tournament MVP.
Also stepping up for the Lions was Emi Smith in the cage. She made seven stops
that kept the Lions ahead. Her biggest save of the game came with just over a
minute to play. Had she not made the stop, the Buckeyes would have pulled
within one. The dynamic of the game would have shifted.
"She just came up with some really crucial saves," said Doherty of Smith. "I
think she's been solid all year, but when the game is on the line I think she
gets better. Especially in that last minute coming up with such a huge save, it
was really that last step we needed to seal up the game."
As time evaporated, Penn State realized the magnitude of what it had done. This
team battled through tough losses, through injuries and through close games to
get to that point. The work it had done all season long finally paid off.
"It shows that we can bounce back," Smith said. "It shows that we can improve
on the losses that we've had, and we can always learn from the things we don't
do right. There's always room for improvement, and I think the team really
shows that. We have improved a lot over this season, and I think that's why we
came up big here. We just focused on the things that we do well and emphasized
From the start of the year, this team knew the season would be special. It
worked hard day in and day out for this opportunity. Now, the Nittany Lions
could not be more proud of their accomplishment. They will forever be the first
Big Ten Champions.
"We really the whole year tried to work on proving who we are, and we made a
statement today," said Coffey. "I'm so proud of my team for doing that. We
really just knew what we needed to work on, knew what we needed to do, and we
went out there and did it."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State women's lacrosse team arrived
in New Jersey yesterday afternoon, it watched the final minutes of the
first-round game Northwestern would eventually win. With their opponent now
know, the Nittany Lions will aim to do what they did for the first time in
twelve years a second time this season. If Penn State wants to win the
first-ever Big Ten Tournament, it will need to defeat a strong Northwestern
team yet again. This team is more than ready for that challenge.
The last time these two teams met, Penn State (12-4, 4-1 B1G) opened with
determination. The team dominated the first half and was able to shut down the
Wildcats (12-5, 3-2 B1G) with solid defensive plays. Nevertheless, head coach
Missy Doherty has made sure her team knows this game will be different. There
is more on the line in a tournament situation. Every team will be bringing its
"I'm really emphasizing to the players that it's going to be a different game,"
Doherty said. "It's not going to be the same game. They're going to be coming
at us a lot harder. I think it's always hard to play a team that you just beat
because there's a little bit of this hidden drive in the team that just lost.
So, you really have to go in and match that drive. We have to be ready to not
just play like we played last game and win. We have to be ready to play a
different game with different energy and win a different way."
Even with a new mindset, it is clear that this Nittany Lion team is confident.
It finished the regular season playing the most competitive teams in the
country, especially during its final outing. Although the Blue and White fell
to Maryland during the final regular-season game, they showed they have the
ability to keep up with the best teams.
Throughout the entirety of the season, Penn State has been working toward that
goal of being known as one of the best. It has downed teams like Northwestern,
Stanford and Loyola Maryland. Furthermore, the Nittany Lions were just three
goals shy of handing the Terrapins their first loss of the season.
"I think it definitely helps us because they're the No. 1 team in the nation,"
said sophomore Steph Lazo of the Maryland game. "The fact that we only lost by
three and we put up a fight against them, it's really nice knowing we can hang
with big teams. We're a top-ten team too. I think it definitely boosts our
confidence a little bit knowing we can play to that ability and we can hang
with the best team."
A major factor this season, which will continue to determine games in the
post-season, is the draw. Possession is key, and the Nittany Lions know they
will need to find ways to get the ball throughout the entirety of the game
During its last match with the Wildcats, Penn State was edged out in draw
controls, 16-10. The Nittany Lions know that cannot happen again if they want
to move on to the tournament final. It is understood by the entire team that it
will need to find ways to win possession.
"Just taking the draw I know that it's a really big factor because you can't
really do anything if you don't have the ball," said junior Jenna Mosketti.
"So, that's something that we've been working on in practice, and I think it'll
Mosketti is the team's draw control leader, with 54 on the season. However, winning
the ball will not only be up to her in this second-round game. It will need to
be a team effort in order to have success.
"It comes from both ends, the defensive line all the way to the attack line,"
said Lazo. "It's not just Jenna [Mosketti] trying to get the ball. It's not
just Tatum [Coffey] taking it as well. It comes from everyone. You just have to
be hungry for it, and you just have to want it and get it."
As the Nittany Lions prepare for their evening matchup with the Wildcats, they
know and understand what they need to do to have success. Each member of the
team wants to leave its mark. History will be made this weekend, and Penn State
wants nothing more that to come out on top.
"We've proved who we are, and I think that was a goal from the beginning of the
season, to prove who we are in the Big Ten and in the country," said senior
Tatum Coffey. "So, I think coming into this tournament we're not looking back.
We're going into these games not thinking about our past games. We're going
into it fresh and new. A fresh start."
No. 1 Maryland (5-0 B1G)
Points Leader: Taylor Cummings, 81 points Leading Goal Scorer: Megan Whittle, 56 goals Assists Leader: Taylor Cummings, 28 assists
Heading into the tournament, Maryland remains undefeated and the top team in
the county. The Terrapins final regular season game came against the Nittany
Lions last week, which was a battle to the very end. Junior Taylor Cummings and
freshman Megan Whittle lead the team, both of whom also earned All-Big Ten team
honors this week. With the No. 1 seed in the tournament, Maryland earned a
first-round bye and is schedule to take on Ohio State in the second round.
Like Maryland, the second-seed Nittany Lions earned a bye in the first round of
the tournament. Although the team is coming off a loss to Maryland, Penn State
has the utmost confidence in its abilities. With Northwestern's win over
Michigan, the Nittany Lions will take on the Wildcats in a rematch of the game
played earlier this season. The Blue and White will rely heavily on senior
Maggie McCormick and sophomore Steph Lazo for scoring as they attempt to move
on to the tournament final.
Fresh off its first-round win over Michigan, the Wildcats will be ready to take
on Penn State. Even without a bye this team is bound to come out strong,
especially because of the opponent. Northwestern fell to the Nittany Lions for
the first time since 2003 and are hungry for the tournament upset. Freshman
Selena Lasota and junior Kaleigh Craig, who has 34 goals and 40 points on the
season, lead the Wildcats' offense.
Just like Northwestern, the Buckeyes will be coming into the second round
fresh off it first win of the tournament. Ohio State downed Rutgers, 17-7, and
will now look to go up against the best team in the country. Playing against
Maryland, the Buckeyes will need to rely on their offensive producers, Jackie
Cifarelli and Katie Chase, for points. When the two teams met earlier this
season, Ohio State fell to Maryland, 13-8.
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the Big Ten title on the line, the Penn
State women's lacrosse team prepared to go up against an undefeated Maryland
team. The Nittany Lions knew they were in for a challenge, but they would not
go down without a fight.
Following a slow start, the Blue and White returned to the field for the final
30 minutes of play trailing the No. 1 Terrapins, 8-3. Unfortunately, after a
tough battle and hard-fought second half, Penn State suffered its first
conference loss of the season. Despite outscoring the Terrapins in the final
minutes, the No. 8 Nittany Lions (12-4, 4-1 B1G) fell to No. 1 Maryland (17-0,
5-0 B1G), 13-10.
"I thought it was a good game," said head coach Missy Doherty. "We came out,
and the first half was really tough. We couldn't manage to get the draw. That
made it hard to get any goals. So, I think in the second half we did a much
better job of getting the draw, and turning the game around."
The Nittany Lions came out as a different, more aggressive and determined squad
in the final half. They worked to swing momentum in their favor. The team could
not find a way to win the draw in the opening 30 minutes but was determined to
make a change. It knew possession would be key to winning the game.
Leading the way for the Nittany Lions in that aspect of the match was junior
Jenna Mosketti. She secured six draw controls alone, helping the team win the
draw in eight of the second half's 13 attempts.
"I don't know if it was as much words as it was just a better effort there in the
second half," said Doherty. "I mean Jenna came up really big, coming up with
some huge draw controls in the second half. She really helped us change the
momentum around. Then the offense got a little bit more aggressive going to
goal and finishing their shots."
In addition to the draw, Mosketti registered a hat trick, assisting her team in
as many ways possible. Sophomore Steph Lazo also recorded three goals, and
captain Maggie McCormick continued building on her assists record, adding five
more to her total.
Throughout the game, the Nittany Lions saw goals from six players, as Madison
Cyr, Katie O'Donnell, Tatum Coffey and Ally Heavens all added goals of their
own. Nevertheless, the Blue and White were unable to capitalize from the free
position, which ultimately hurt them in the end.
Also taking away from the team's momentum was an injury to goalie Emi Smith.
The junior played the first 42:34 of the game, allowing nine goals and stopping
seven attempts before being helped off the field. Freshman McKenna Coyle
stepped into the cage for the final 17:26. She made three saves and allowed
four, giving a strong performance as well.
"I think McKenna came in and did a really solid job for us," Doherty said. "I
think from a motivational standpoint, it hurts a little when someone like Emi
leaves the game. But, thankfully McKenna came in and stepped up and came up
with some pretty big saves."
Overall, the Nittany Lions' performance showed that they can play with the best
in the country. The loss gives them the opportunity to learn from their
mistakes. Had they come out a little stronger, not putting themselves into such
a deficit, the outcome could have been different.
Penn State may not have captured the Big Ten title yesterday, but they know
they have the ability to beat a team like Maryland. That confidence will be
huge in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, which will be the team's next
"I think we've seen that we can compete, and we have to do that for 60
minutes," said Doherty. "We had a little bit of a slow start, and against a
team like that you need every advantage. But, I think the way we competed for
the full game was awesome. I'm really proud of the team."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the Penn State women's lacrosse team takes
on Maryland, it will be playing more than the final regular game of the season.
These two teams will be going head-to-head, each looking to hand the other its
first conference loss. Following Thursday's game, only one team will
capture the first-ever Big Ten regular season title.
While the Blue and White are hoping to emerge with a win, this game is set to
be the most difficult of the season. The No. 8 Lions will not just be going up
against the No. 1 team in the country, but they will also be going up against
the only undefeated team this season in the NCAA.
"I think it makes it more exciting," said head coach Missy Doherty. "It's a
great way to end your regular season with a game that's so important. It's also
a great way to gain some experience going into the Big Ten Tournament and hopefully
NCAAs. So, I think it's a great matchup and great timing. We're pretty excited
In terms of what the Lions need to do to compete, Doherty believes defense will
be key. She wants her team to be physical and assertive, ready to go up against
the Terrapins from the time the game starts to the time it ends.
With Maryland's scorers and its ability to gain possession on the draw, Penn
State has to take advantage of its time with the ball. Nevertheless, the team's
leading scorers, Maggie McCormick and Steph Lazo, know that if they sticks to
their game, success will come.
"We just need to listen to our coaches and believe in what they have to say,"
said Lazo. "They put out a really good scouting report. So, we just need to
listen to them and play our game, not going into it thinking they're the No. 1
team. We're a top-ten team as well, so just being smart will be important."
The Blue and White will need to find a way to get balls by the Terrapin's
goalie, who has one of the best save percentages in the Big Ten conference.
Again, Lazo believes confidence will be a major factor. If the team stays calm
and focused, it can achieve the results it wants.
"Missy [Doherty] always says when we're shooting we're going to shoot with a
purpose," Lazo said. "We're going to shoot with the mindset that we're going to
make the shot. I think just going in confident with our shots, just faking and
putting it in."
With so many aspects the Lions will have to overcome, it is only fitting that
the game will be played away from home. However, this challenge may not be as
large of an issue for Penn State.
Fifteen athletes on the roster hail from Maryland, meaning there will be
Nittany Lion supporters in the crowd giving the Blue and White an extra boost.
In many ways, the team will feel right at home.
"Going back to Maryland, it's definitely a special game for a lot of people,"
McCormick said. "I know that a lot of girls on the team enjoy going back there,
and we're definitely going to have a lot of fan support. Technically it's an
away game, but it's not going to feel like that."
Even with all the pressure of going up against Maryland and playing this game
on the road, the Nittany Lions have remained calm. No matter the outcome, they
are happy to take the field for such a competitive, hard-fought match.
Right now, this team is excited. It is ready to play its best game of the
season, and the Lions cannot wait to battle for the Big Ten title.
"I don't think this team really gets nervous, which I think is a good thing,"
said McCormick. "But, it's definitely exciting that the last game of the season
is against two undefeated teams in the conference. We wouldn't want it any
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Headed into Sunday's matchup, the No. 12 Penn
State women's lacrosse team knew what was on the line. Going up against a team
like No. 7 Northwestern would be no easy task, but the Nittany Lions had
confidence. They knew they could compete with any team in the country.
With this mindset, the Blue and White came out strong in Illinois and battled
hard. The Lions outscored their opponent, 10-4, in the opening half and
eventually secured their first victory against the Wildcats since 2003 by a
final score of 14-10.
"I think it was just the team aspect on both ends," head coach Missy Doherty
said. "We moved the ball really effectively, found the open people. Our defense
did a great job sliding together and targeting their top scorers, coming up
with some really big plays."
Although Penn State (12-3, 4-0 B1G) came out on top where it counted, the
Wildcats (10-5, 2-2 B1G) outshot the Lions, 26-22, overall. Additionally,
Northwestern won the draw control battle, 16-10, which resulted in more
possession time for the Wildcats.
Nevertheless, the Nittany Lions did not let these numbers effect the outcome of
the game. The team's defense was sure to cleanly clear the ball in each of its
12 attempts, and goalie Emi Smith made important saves, 10 in total, to keep
the Blue and White ahead.
Following halftime, the Wildcats came out much stronger and pressured Penn
State's squad. At one point, the Lions allowed four unanswered goals, but it
did not take long for the team to fend off the attack.
"We knew Northwestern would go on a run," Doherty said. "They're a really tough
team and have some great scorers. They did a great job on the draw in the
second. They really out-drew us and had a lot more possessions than we did. So,
it was a great testament to the girls, losing that possession, to come up with
some key stops. Emi did a great job in the cage, making key saves. Then we just
came up with some good, defensive plays to stop the other team."
On the other side, each time the team's offense controlled the ball, it was
sure to make those moments count. In all the team saw six different goal
scorers, emphasizing its depth and talent.
Captain Kelly Lechner dominated, scoring four goals throughout the match, and
captain Maggie McCormick led in assists with five. Steph Lazo added a hat trick
and an assist of her own, and Tatum Coffey had a three-point day with two goals
and an assist. Madison Cyr and Katie O'Donnell each tacked on two more goals,
and Jess Loizeaux notched a tally and a helper.
Lechner specifically played on a different level, determined to make help her
team in any way possible. In addition to her four goals, she secured three draw
controls and a ground ball. In the final minutes of play, however, Lechner was
helped off the field after sustaining an injury.
"She was awesome," Doherty said of Lechner's play. "She just came out on fire.
We challenged our experienced players today to come out and make some big
plays. She definitely did that. Unfortunately, she did get injured at the end
of the game. We'll have to wait and see what happens with that when we get back
With this victory, Penn State not only extended its winning streak to seven
games, but it also secured a first-round bye in the upcoming Big Ten
Tournament. The Nittany Lions' seed in the tournament will be determined
following the results of their game against Maryland this week as the two
compete for the first place finish in the conference.
"That's awesome," said Doherty of the bye. "It saves our legs a little bit from
playing three games in a row. It's always tough to go back-to-back and play.
It'll be nice to be rested for the first Big Ten game."
With their biggest test of the season just days away, the Blue and White will
continue to work on improving in their week areas. Nevertheless, this win over
Northwestern is huge for their confidence and shows that Penn State lacrosse
will never back down in big games.
The Nittany Lions will continue to fight and compete to the best of their