By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Headed into this weekend, the Penn State women's
lacrosse team knew it would have a challenge on its hand. With No. 8 Virginia
coming to town, the No. 9 Nittany Lions were ready for their first big test of
the season, taking on another top-ten team.
Throughout the entirety of Saturday's game, it was clear the two were evenly
matched. Any time the Cavaliers took the lead, Penn State would fire back and
vice versa. There was never more than a two-goal lead on either side.
Unfortunately for the Blue and White, a Virginia (2-2, 0-1 ACC) goal with four
seconds left in second half proved to be the difference maker. The Nittany Lions
(3-1, 0-0 B1G) suffered their first loss of the season, falling 16-15.
Virginia is always just like this," head coach Missy Doherty said. "I mean, I
don't know how many games since I've been here it's been a one-point game, but
I think it's been a lot. We always know it's going to be super competitive, and
I think it really was two teams playing well. It was unfortunate to come out
with the loss, but we had a chance to win it there in the last couple seconds.
All you can ask for is those chances."
Despite the competitive nature, Doherty was not expecting such a high-scoring
game. Both teams were in the double digits after the first thirty minutes.
The Lions and Cavaliers were tied at 10 after Penn State scored in the final
seconds of the first half. The determination to score showed the Lions would
not easily give up. They would fight until the end.
"I think it was really important," said Doherty of heading into halftime tied.
"Our team fights for 60 minutes, and that's a good example of you know, it
doesn't matter if there's still time on the clock. We're going to go hard. That
was just a good example of going hard and finishing strong."
Throughout the game, the Lions saw goals from seven different student-athletes,
continuing their strong offensive trend. Madison Cyr, Tatum Coffey, Kelly
Lechner, Abby Smucker, Steph Lazo, Katie O'Donnell and Maggie Gallagher all
found the back of the cage.
Cyr led the way with a game-high five goals. The junior now has eight on the
season, which is not at all surprising to her coach.
"She's a clutch player," Doherty said of Cyr. "She always comes up big in big
games. It's no different than any other game that we've been in that she comes
in with a really good game."
With mere minutes left, it looked as though the Lions may edge out Virginia.
Penn State evened the scoring once again with 2:26 remaining. The team got the
ball back shortly thereafter and was able to work its offense.
However, a foul with 13 seconds left gave Virginia possession. The Cavaliers'
final shot resulted in the go-ahead goal. With such little time, the Nittany
Lions were unable to force yet another tie.
"It was a tough game defensively," Doherty said. "I take full responsibility
for that. We had a game plan, and it didn't work. That's my fault. We want to
come back for the next game and make sure that we give the players the best
opportunity to win."
Although the outcome was not what Penn State was hoping for, the Blue and White
battled and played for a full sixty minutes. The team was competitive and
The Nittany Lions will take the field again next Saturday as look to return to
their winning ways against Loyal Maryland.
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Through the first three games of the season,
junior Emi Smith has shown her importance to the Penn State women's lacrosse
team. The goaltender is consistent. She makes the saves she needs to, while
also having a constant presence to support her team.
Head coach Missy Doherty wanted one of the team's three goalies to step up and
take the starting job this season, and that is exactly what Smith has done.
Coming into this year, the junior knew she could secure the position with hard
work and dedication. Smith spent the entire summer and all of fall ball
training, going the extra mile to ensure she would be prepared when spring
That effort molded her into a more consistent goalkeeper, which Doherty
believes is the difference maker. That reliability is what sets Smith apart. "I think it's just her consistency in practice
and in games," Doherty said. "It hasn't been something where we get to a game and
we decide for a goalkeeper and we're wondering how they're going to perform.
She's been really consistent in practice, making the saves that she should and
coming up with some that are even harder to make. So, I think consistency wise,
it's been nice to have that in the cage this year. It's been a huge difference
in our games."
While Doherty praises that aspect of Smith's game, the goalie prides herself on
a different quality, her presence in the cage. During games, Smith is loud. She
is clear. Her communication skills connect her with the defense, making the
entire team a stronger unit.
The Nittany Lions' defense has already shown its dominance. The team has only
been scored against nine times in the opening three games, and the Blue and
White are looking to continue that trend.
"I say to my midfielders and my defense, 'Get hungry,' because we want the
ball," Smith said. "We want a goal. The defense wants the ball back, so that's
kind of our mentality. Get hungry. Presence is just a huge part of being in the
goal. If you don't have a presence, it reflects on the defense. Then the
defense doesn't respond to you."
Although Smith, and Penn State, is off to a successful start, the goalkeeper
position is not always so positive. It is not only physically challenging but
also mentally straining.
As a goalie, it is important to keep emotions in check. Smith knows that all
too well and does her best to stay in the present, forgetting allowed goals or
"Normally before a game, I'll just act really silly and that will kind of put
me in the mood of being positive with my teammates," said Smith. "Sometimes I
see my teammates getting down on themselves, and they always say to me, 'Emi,
when you're funny and you are getting us all riled up with what you say and
what you do in the cage, that reflects on the entire field.' So, each and every
game, I just try and do the exact same thing."
This silly attitude plays
into the goalie's overall confidence on the field. Smith and her teammates
believe in her abilities.
The junior will make her fourth start of the season Saturday when the No. 9
Lions (3-0) take on No. 8 Virginia (1-2). With such a competitive team making
its way to Happy Valley, Penn State knows it can expect a hard-fought game.
In its two losses, Virginia fell by just one point. The Cavaliers have a lot of
skill, and the Nittany Lions know this will be their first real test of the
"It's always a competitive game," said Doherty.
"I think we're really antsy for, you know, a game against a nationally-ranked
opponent. I mean, it's been three really good games for us and excited to play,
but to play Virginia has always been somewhat of a rival, and we're excited for
Anything can happen in Division I lacrosse, but with Smith in the cage, the Lions
know they have their best shot at
"Virginia coming up is going to be a challenge," said the goalie. "They're
definitely one of the top-ranked teams. We've always been up by one or down by
one the entire game whenever we've played them in my past two years here. I
think it will be a definite challenge and a really fun game to watch."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com continues the video series "A Day in the Life" with a behind-the-scenes interview with Penn State women's lacrosse senior Tatum Coffey and strength and conditioning coach Kristina Jeffries.
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 32 goals scored by 12 different
student-athletes in the first two games of the season, the No. 10 Penn State
women's lacrosse team is clearly an impressive, offense-oriented squad. The Nittany
Lions know this dominance up front is something they have to use to their
advantage in order to succeed this season.
"I think most of our experienced players are either midfielders or attackers,"
said head coach Missy Doherty following the team's 17-2 victory over Bucknell
Wednesday evening. "We have a lot of people that like to score, and they're
aggressive scorers. So, I think that's a strength of our team right now is we
can score from a bunch of different spots."
Against the Bison, Penn State opened up the scoring with a six-goal run. The
team netted another six following the first Bucknell tally, securing a
commanding 12-1 lead at the end of the first half.
Over the course of the game, Kelly Lechner scored three times, bringing her
total to five goals on the season. Nevertheless, she credits her teammates and
the positive team atmosphere for this early, personal success.
"I think we just really have a great offensive camaraderie, and we're really
working on our communication to work better together," said Lechner. "We have
really strong players individually, and putting us together as a unit is really
awesome. We just work really well together, and we get along on and off the field.
So, it's just really fun to make those connections."
Another positive for the Blue and White is the fact that freshmen are already
contributing. Katie O'Donnell not only notched her first collegiate point with
an assist, but she also scored her first goal as a Nittany Lion to continue the
scoring for Penn State in the second half of Wednesday's game.
The freshman's tally brought the score to 13-2 in Penn State's favor.
"Katie is coming off of an injured ankle, so she probably didn't get in as much
in our scrimmage or the Lehigh game," Doherty said. "She played a little bit
more, actually, than we thought. So, it was good to see her back at the
midfield, starting to get her stride back. It was good to get her first goal
under her belt for sure."
Adjusting from high school lacrosse to DI has been a process for O'Donnell, but
she is excited to be here at Penn State, experiencing this time in her career
with her teammates.
"It's so fast, but honestly the girls and the upper classmen have been so great
at bringing not only me but every other freshman in and really helping us along
the way," O'Donnell said. "That's been really helpful for me especially. I
always look to them with anything, whether it's on the field or off the field.
"As a sense in the game, just having them there and we all have each other's
back, that just helps knowing that we're really supportive of each other. It
just makes the transition so much smoother."
The team notched four more goals in the half, nabbing the victory against the
Bison. If this start is any indication of what the season will be like, the
Nittany Lions have a bright year ahead of the them.
"I really think we're starting to find a rhythm with each other and really see
everyone better," said O'Donnell. "We worked really hard in fall ball and then
in preseason, and I think now it's really just coming together as it normally
does when the season starts. So, it's nice to see. It's fun out there. You can
feel the energy."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the snow fell in Happy Valley, the No. 10 Penn
State women's lacrosse team prepared for its season opener against Lehigh.
Luckily for the Nittany Lions, they didn't have to compete in the winter
weather, instead taking on the Mountain Hawks inside the warm confines of
Following 60 minutes of play, the Blue and White downed Lehigh, 15-7, and saw
goals from six different student-athletes. Penn State came out ready, and the
team did not disappoint.
"I think overall it was good," head coach Missy Doherty said. "It was a good
game for us. You know, Lehigh is really good. We hadn't seen them play before,
so it was hard from a scouting sense to be ready for their particular plays. I
think we adjusted well, and Emi [Smith] made some awesome saves today."
Senior Tatum Coffey opened the scoring with a goal just under six minutes into
the game. The Mountain Hawks answered back with two, but the Lions were not
going to back down.
At the 19:48 mark of the first, sophomore Steph Lazo pounced, tying the game at
two. Just over a minute later, Lazo struck again, scoring her second of what
would be five goals.
Last season as a freshman, Lazo only appeared in six games and tallied one
goal. Her outstanding efforts against Lehigh showed what she is capable of, and
Doherty is excited to see the sophomore coming into her own.
"She did a great job," Doherty said of Lazo. "She really worked the crease
well, put her shots away. She was aggressive too, which was awesome. So, it was
good to see her emerge as one of our offensive leaders."
Lazo, however, felt her success was a team effort. She knows the opportunities
she had would not have come about if the entire squad wasn't playing with such
determination and skill.
"I felt pretty confident with the ball," said Lazo. "Our coach, Missy [Doherty]
is always like, 'Steph, catch and go. Catch and go.' So, I was just doing what
she was telling me, and my teammates were setting me up. I just took the
opportunity and made the most of it."
Lazo was not the only offensive leader, as Abby Smucker recorded a three-goal
game and Coffey, Jenna Mosketti and Kelly Lechner all scored twice. The Lions
outshot the Mountain Hawks, 25-19.
Smith also made her presence known in goal for the Blue and White as she made
10 saves in the matchup. Doherty was very pleased with the goalie's play and
gave her a ton of credit for the Lions' victory.
"Every team we're going to play is going to be really difficult, and we need
people to make plays," Doherty said. "Thankfully, today Emi [Smith] stepped up
and made a lot of plays for us, but some days it's going to be our attack
stepping up and vice versa. Overall, I think it was a good, competitive game,
and it was awesome to have as our first game."
With the nerves and stress of playing the season opener out of the way, the
Lions can now look ahead to what the rest of the season may bring. This team is
strong, and it is determined to compete day in and day out.
"It's great to start off our season with a win," said Lazo. "It gets the ball
moving, or gets the ball bouncing actually. That's what we've been saying. It's
just great to come out on the winning end. It's a good way to start our season.
I'm really excited for it. It should be a good one."
The Nittany Lions will take the field in Holuba Hall again Wednesday night for
a 7 p.m. game against Bucknell.
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sitting at the front of the media room, Penn
State women's lacrosse coach Missy Doherty, senior Tatum Coffey and junior Ally
Heavens smiled as they fielded questions about the upcoming 2015 season. The
three discussed the freshmen class, the team's offense, leadership roles, and
overall expectations for this spring, but they also discussed another timely
topic, the newly formed conference.
With only a few days separating the No. 10 Nittany Lions from their first game,
excitement is in the air. Big Ten lacrosse is finally here, and Happy Valley is
ready for the competition.
"I think the Big Ten is going to be exciting for women's lacrosse and men's
lacrosse," Doherty said. "They feature some of the top teams in the country,
perennial powerhouses. For us, who we've been continuously building to be in
the mix with those national powerhouses, you know it give us the opportunity to
continue that mission."
The Big Ten is slated to be competitive from the get-go. Included in the
conference are the likes of Maryland, the defending national champion, and
Northwestern, another consistent top-five program. Nevertheless, the Lions know
battling day in and day out with the best in the country will only make them
stronger as the year progresses.
Rivalries will develop quickly, and tensions will be high at times. But, all of
these factors only add to the excitement as the Lions eagerly await their first
tastes of Big Ten play.
The development of this conference is a big step for Penn State's program, and
the resulting opportunities are endless.
"Being a senior, it's really cool to see how much Penn State lacrosse has grown
over my four years here," Coffey said. "I can only imagine how it's going to
grow in the future from here."
A major asset for the Nittany Lions this season is its abundance of leaders
in the locker room. Veterans and young players alike are stepping up, and
everyone on the team is prepared to make this an unforgettable run.
"I think every year there's certain
aspects of your team that are coach driven and player driven," Doherty said. "I
think this year it's such a healthy atmosphere of the right things being player
driven, whether it's work ethic, communication and all those things. A lot of
the team has really taken that upon themselves to make it better."
The Lions return three of the top four scores from last season in Coffey,
Madison Cyr and Maggie McCormick. Coffey, Cyr and McCormick had 39, 48 and 48
points in 2014, respectively. Back in net is junior Emi Smith, who is expected
to start in Saturday afternoon's season-opener.
The freshmen class, however, has also begun contributing to the squad and its
depth. Doherty is looking forward to seeing what these seven newcomers can do once
the season is in full swing.
"We've had a couple early contributors," Doherty said. "Katie O'Donnell,
one of our freshmen midfielders, has been playing just like a mature senior
player. I mean, she's one of the impact players that we're going to have this
year, along with some extra goalie competition there with McKenna Coyle and
Madison Day down at the defensive end.
"So, it's good to see some players coming in and making an impact right away,
and not only that, see some nice, young players that are continuing to learn
and grow as we progress through the season."
Looking ahead, Penn State will open its season with a game against Lehigh
this Saturday at 1 p.m. in Holuba Hall. Expectations for this squad are high,
and the Nittany Lions do not want to disappoint.
"I think we're trying to focus on our identity and having this confidence where
like no one else matters," Heavens said. "It's all about us, and I think if we
go into every game like that, we're going to come out strong and there's going
to be some upsets this year."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The 18th of August cannot come soon enough for Sandy Barbour.
Introduced as Penn State Director of Athletics on Saturday afternoon, Barbour
is thrilled to begin her tenure as the leader of an athletic program that
aspires to continue its long history of excellence on and off the field of
"When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and most
importantly students, you dream about coming to a place like Penn State,"
Barbour said. "You dream about the opportunity to lead a program like Penn
State athletics. Why? Because it represents the opportunity to have it all: Athletic
excellence, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal
responsibility. So thank you, Eric [Barron]. I am absolutely thrilled, over the
top excited about this opportunity and about being the athletic director at
A graduate of Wake Forest where she was field hockey team captain, Barbour grew
up on the East Coast and has always had a deep passion for Penn State
University and its athletic department. That's what drew her to the position
when she originally spoke with President Barron about the opportunity.
Immediately, Barbour felt a connection with the people, pride and remarkable
accomplishments of Penn State University and its athletic department.
"I love the 'We Are Penn State.' I particularly love what it stands for. It
stands for family," Barbour said.
Barbour desires to see national titles in all 31 sports on campus. But first
and foremost, she will strive to lead a department with student-athletes who
are elite performers in the classroom.
"We are athletic programs again that are all part of a university," Barbour
said. "Our student-athletes will be students first, Penn State is incredibly
proud of the academic performance of their students and we will continue to
Eager to hit the ground running when she begins her duties as athletic director
in 23 days, Barbour wants to learn from everyone in the department, especially
the head coaches leading Penn State's 31 athletic teams.
"Unity doesn't mean one opinion, and I actually embrace that, embrace the
diversity of opinion, diversity in a variety of different ways, and I actually
think that will make us stronger in our ability to move forward," Barbour said.
"As I said before, I have something to learn from everybody, and I'll be doing
a lot of listening."
Numerous head coaches were in attendance at Saturday's introductory press
conference. The coaches and athletic department staff then had a chance to
mingle with Barbour at a private reception before she boarded a flight to
Chicago for Big Ten meetings. The head coaches in attendance exuded great
confidence in the future direction of the athletic department.
"There is a culture, history and tradition of
tremendous academic achievement at Penn State and that will continue," said
head football coach James Franklin. "I know it's important to our president,
athletic director and all of our coaches. That will continue. I know we'll
spend as much time as we need to so we can start building."
"I am truly thrilled that Sandy Barbour will serve as
the next athletic director for Penn State," Lady Lions head coach Coquese
Washington said. "Sandy is a strong, dynamic and passionate leader. She is also
an incredibly smart visionary and strategic thinker. It is exciting to imagine
all the ways Penn State University, and Penn State athletics in particular,
will be positively impacted by her leadership."
"I loved everything I heard today," head women's hockey coach Josh Brandwene
said. "She has passion, vision and just a great understanding of the Penn State
community. Both as a head coach and as an alumnus, I am really excited to start
working with her."
Barbour will return to California in the coming days to prepare for her
full-time return to Happy Valley on Aug. 18, and the new leader of Penn State Athletics
is fired up to get started.
"We are Penn State. I'm
all in. I'm ready to get going," said Barbour.
Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Right around 9:15 p.m. on Sunday, room 133 in the
East Area Locker Room exploded as the Penn State Nittany Lions learned they had
been selected as one of 26 teams to compete for a national championship in the
NCAA Tournament. The celebration lasted around 60 seconds before head coach Missy Doherty
addressed her team and the focus shifted from celebrating to preparing.
Penn State drew Princeton in the first round of the tournament, and will
travel to the Charlottesville, Va., home of the University of Virginia to open
play on Friday.
"I think it's awesome," Doherty said of her program making the
tournament. "This is where Penn State should be. I'm excited for our team, that
we made it to the NCAAs again. It's a great goal to have every year. And to be
ranked as high as we are in the country as well is just a credit to what they
have done all year."
The Nittany Lions and Tigers have become very familiar with one another
over the years and the two programs just met on the lacrosse field 11 days ago.
Penn State defeated Princeton, 13-12, in their regular-season finale.
"Yeah, I mean, I think it's been a good week," Doherty said. "I think we
could rest after our ALC tournament; the girls have been in exams all week, so
it's been a good pace to work up towards this weekend. [We] potentially have
two tough games, especially facing Princeton, who we just beat by a narrow
margin, we know it's going to be a battle come Friday."
Princeton poses an interesting challenge for Doherty's squad. The Tigers
will enter the game hungry for a win after falling to the Nittany Lions in
their last matchup. They are a quick team, who likes to outhustle their
opponents, and they are very effective on offense.
In their matchup on April 26, the Nittany Lions ended the first half
with an 8-4 lead after outscoring the Tigers 5-1 over the last 12:44. A strong
start to the second half widened the lead to 13-7. Princeton responded well,
but the stingy defense from the Nittany Lions limited the Tigers offense and
helped secure the victory.
For Doherty and her team, the schedule will remain the same and their
focus will remain the same - win. Penn State has been hungry for this
opportunity all season long. The Nittany Lions have qualified for the NCAA Tournament
the previous two seasons, and have yet to advance beyond the quarterfinals.
This season, they feel they have a better opportunity to make their mark on
this tournament and move beyond the quarterfinals.
One of the factors
heading into this game is the Nittany Lions already having experience playing
at Klöckner Stadium. They traveled down to Virginia earlier this season to take
on the Cavaliers and have become familiar with the stadium and all its nuances.
balanced teams also have tremendous success in this tournament. Nineteen
Nittany Lions have registered at least one point this season, and it seems as
if the offense can come from anyone on the roster. Heading into this first
round game, the balanced attack Penn State has should be very helpful as they
try to make a postseason run.
The Tigers enter their matchup with the Nittany Lions after falling to
the University of Penn in the Ivy League title game, 9-6, while Penn State
enters after falling to Johns Hopkins in the first round of the ALC tournament.
After a long week of practice, the moment has finally arrived in just a
few days. Game time is set for 4 p.m., on Friday and you can bet Doherty and
the Nittany Lions will be ready to go.
"NCAAs are one-and-done," Doherty said. "You have to go in, be ready to
take advantage of each play, each moment, and play those out and have a good