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Coffey and the Lions Defeat Rutgers in First Big Ten Game

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the Penn State women's lacrosse team traveled to Rutgers this weekend, it did so for a historic matchup. The Nittany Lions played in their first-ever Big Ten game, downing the Scarlet Knights, 15-8.

The Nittany Lions dominated in a number of categories, including the draw. In the first half alone, Penn State (8-3, 1-0 B1G) controlled 12, allowing Rutgers (1-10, 0-1 B1G) only three possessions. That trend continued throughout the game, as the Blue and White won the draw 19 times of the 25 attempts.

"The draw is huge," said senior midfielder Tatum Coffey. "If you look at statistics, draw controls will be very similar in relation to the score. So, the draw is always big. It's kind of like an unspoken thing that if you get the draw, you win the game. We did a great job against Rutgers at that."

Coffey, who hails from New Jersey, had a game-high five points with three goals and two assists. Playing in her home state on Saturday allowed her family and friends to attend the game.

With added support for not only herself but also the entire Penn State team, the Nittany Lions' excitement grew. The Blue and White were fired up and ready to play. They knew coming out with a victory was the only option. Penn State would win this historic Big Ten matchup.

"At halftime, I hear my best friend yelling Tatum," Coffey said. "I recognized her voice, and I looked up and saw her with my whole family, my cousins, my mom, my dad and my Nona, who can barely make it to games. So, I saw everyone, and it made me so happy. I don't think them being there gives me an edge. It's more that it puts me in an even better mood than I was already. The fact that they can all stop what they're doing and come support me is the best feeling ever."

In addition to Coffey's three tallies, Maggie McCormick and Katie O'Donnell also secured hat tricks for the Blue and White. Steph Lazo added two goals of her own, while Madison Cyr, Kelly Lechner, Maggie Gallagher and Kristin Brent all scored one a piece.

The team took 33 overall shots to Rutgers' 23 and were six-for-seven from the free position. As usual, this dominant offense did its best to make every shot count.

Nevertheless, more important than a productive offense, the Nittany Lions came in with confidence, which was a defining factor of the game.

"We were just all on the same page, starting off on the same note, on a good note," said Coffey. "We want to show who we are and prove who we are in the Big Ten conference. I think we all have that mindset that we want to prove that we are a top team and that we can succeed in the Big Ten."

With such a high competition level in the conference, beginning this stretch with a win is exactly what Penn State needed. The team knows it can compete with the best, and it is ready to see what teams like Maryland, Northwestern and Ohio State have to bring.

"I think it was extremely important for us to start off right because you just want to go out strong and end strong," the senior said. "We knew we had confidence coming into that first conference game. So, I think that's what is great about us in our conference. We have a lot of confidence this year, and we're ready to bring it home."

The remainder of the season will not be easy for Penn State by any means, but it will be competitive, entertaining lacrosse. This is Big Ten.

Lions Take on Rutgers in First B1G Game

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the first ten games played, the Penn State women's lacrosse team will enter the next portion of its season this weekend. For the first time, the Nittany Lions will take on an opponent in its new conference. This is Big Ten.

As the No. 15 Blue and White (7-3) travel to Rutgers (1-9) this weekend, they will look to build off Tuesday's comeback win over No. 9 Stanford. Right now, the team has momentum on its side. It wants this success to continue.

"It's exciting, a Big Ten Network game," head coach Missy Doherty said. "I think we want to just keep getting better. We have to hold teams to less than 15 goals. It's still great that we outscored them [Stanford], but we need to do our best job of limiting players. We'll look to do that against Rutgers."

While the team's defense may be the area Doherty is looking to improve upon, the Nittany Lion offense has certainly been doing its part.

Penn State is averaging 14.2 goals and 31.2 shots per game. Leading the way in shots is senior midfielder Tatum Coffey. She has attempted 41 through the opening ten matches and has 21 points on the season.

Coffey is tied with sophomore Steph Lazo for second in scoring, and both sit behind Maggie McCormick. McCormick has dished out 23 assists this season alone and scored 15 goals of her own.

To emerge victorious on Saturday, the team will need its top scorers to continue their hot streak. These leaders need to stay consistent and produce.

"Rutgers is always, even in any sport, they're always scrappy," Coffey said. "They're always an athletic team. So, we're just going to bring this energy that we had over to that game and throughout the Big Ten season. We're going to win a Big Ten Championship."

Rutgers enters this weekend's matchup on a nine-game losing streak, and while the Scarlet Knights may seem like an easy opponent to down, it is clear that they will be hungry for a taste of success.

Nevertheless, the fact that Rutgers is scoring only 8.6 goals each game could work in favor of the Lions' defense. This first Big Ten opponent is certainly a team Penn State can hold off. It will just have to make sure it is putting forth a strong effort throughout the entirety of the 60 minutes played.

This opening conference games marks the beginning of what will be an exciting season of Big Ten lacrosse. The Nittany Lions have the chance to go up against some of the top teams in women's college lacrosse, including the consistently successful No. 1 Maryland, No. 4 Northwestern and No. 18 Ohio State.

While the Lions have been tested early in the season, the best lacrosse is yet to come. They will have to make adjustments and tighten up in some areas, but success is imminent for this group of Nittany Lions.

The team is anticipating some big victories and many upsets. As Coffey mentioned, this group wants to win a Big Ten Championship. Penn State is ready to give its heart and soul in this conference stretch.

But, the Blue and White will have to take these matches one game at a time, starting with Rutgers.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, the Nittany Lions and Scarlet Nights will go head to head. Big Ten women's lacrosse is about to begin.

Coffey, Mosketti Excel in Nittany Lions' Comeback Victory

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Looking at the scoreboard after the first half, the Penn State women's lacrosse team knew it had another 30 minutes of play to make a difference. The No. 15 Lions trailed No. 9 Stanford, 9-6.

The game, however, was far from over. The Blue and White (7-3) came back out onto the field ready to fight and outscored the Cardinal (4-1) by six goals in the frame. The Nittany Lions took the match by a final score of 17-15.

"Stanford is really, really good," head coach Missy Doherty said. "I think they're probably the best team we've played this month. To come up with this, I think the girls really needed it, and it was a great way to kind of end this really hard stretch that we've had."

Between halves, Doherty stressed to the team that it needed to take better care of the ball. The game was well within reach. The clears just needed to be a little cleaner.

The results of the chat were undeniable. The team cleared all eight attempts following the first 30 minutes, a vast improvement that may have also been created by a change in goalie.

Junior Emi Smith replaced freshman McKenna Coyle in the cage for the final 17:59.

"We were just trying to find that spark there," Doherty said. "McKenna played well. Emi also played well, but it's just kind of looking to see if someone could give more. McKenna did a good job, and then we just put Emi in to see if she could give us a little more."

With a tighter defense in the second half, the Nittany Lion offense went to work.

Midfielder Tatum Coffey scored three goals and notched an assist. Jenna Mosketti and freshman Katie O'Donnell tallied another three goals each.

All three lead the way for Penn State, helping the team secure the comeback.

"They were great," said Doherty. "They came up big. Katie O'Donnell came up big there in the end with a couple big goals for us. But, they're competitors, Tatum and Jenna, always playing hard. Jenna gives her last limb to make a play, and you can see that on the field from the effort that she gives. And then right when we needed a little step up, Tatum provided that punch. It was really a good game overall for everybody, I think."

With everyone working together, the key to the team's success was simple, communication.

Over the course of the past week, the Nittany Lions have worked on talking to one another, motivating each other and preparing for plays that are bound to happen. It was important to start being a step ahead of the opponent.

"We went into this game, and our motto was 'Fired up feels good,'" said Coffey. "So, we just got everyone pumped up and we had so much energy today. It was unstoppable."

With 2:41 remaining in the game, Mosketti scored the tying goal. Merely 20 seconds later, the Blue and White secured the team's first lead of the game.

The final goal came with just 58 seconds left, and Penn State's fate was secured. The Nittany Lions emerged victorious.

"We've had some tough losses, so this was just a really huge win," said Mosketti. "We fought through the whole game. It was really exciting."

Smith, McCormick Lead the Way in Lions' Victory Over Vanderbilt

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A little cold and wind could not keep the Penn State women's lacrosse team down Sunday afternoon. As the time inched closer to noon, the No. 9 Nittany Lions jumped around, keeping their muscles and their minds loose.

After falling to James Madison a few days prior, the Blue and White (5-2) refused to be defeated again. They were ready to give Vanderbilt (3-4) everything they had, and following 60 minutes of play, the team showed its dominance. Penn State downed Vanderbilt, 17-10.

"We're still working out our defense a lot," said head coach Missy Doherty. "We made a couple changes. We wanted to come out tougher and at least contest their shooting a little bit more, and I think we did that. I think because they were a little bit tougher on the shooters, Emi [Smith] was able to come up with some really big saves."

Emi Smith was a standout in the match, accumulating 15 saves throughout its entirety. The chilly temperature did not bother her one bit. In fact, the junior believes she plays her best in that weather, and she certainly showed her evidence behind that theory.

The performance was one stop shy of her career best. When the Lions needed her most, Smith stood tall.

In the first half, Penn State was tight on defense, allowing the goalie to see the ball. She stopped six of the Commodores' shots. Nevertheless, the junior would face a bigger test in the second, as Vanderbilt was able to dramatically increase its shots from just nine in the first to 21 in the second.

Smith stayed focused and calm. With her positive mentality, she nabbed another 9 saves in the final 30 minutes of play.

"In the second half, I just told myself after they scored the first couple that it was like the start of the game," Smith said. "In my head, it was 0-0. I just needed to play instead of get down on myself. I just told myself it was the start of a new half; let's act like it. I look at the scoreboard and see 0-0, just like Missy Doherty always tells me. Just look at the time. Time to work."

While the goalkeeper was able to help the Nittany Lions dramatically on the defensive side, the team's offense also came ready to attack.

The Blue and White saw scoring from Haley Ford, Madison Cyr, Tatum Coffey, Kelly Lechner, Jess Loizeaux, Maggie McCormick, Jenna Mosketti, Katie O'Donnell and Kristin Brent. McCormick also had a game-high four assists, bringing her total to 18 on the season.

"She's our leader," Doherty said of McCormick. "She's our quarterback. She just does such a good job of keeping tempo and making good decisions. It really paid off for her and for us today."

McCormick was proud of the team's effort and fight. Having worked on a number of fixes from the previous game, she saw noticeable improvement.

In her eyes, and in the eyes of the team, the Nittany Lions are only getting stronger.

"Today we were pushing our fast break, which is something we've gotten away from," McCormick said. "We have a team with a lot of really, really great athletes. We're really fast on offense, especially in the midfield. So, when we're able to push the fast break and get the defense off their heels, we're really able to create chances."

Despite the victory, Doherty knows her team needs to remain focused. The win was exactly what the Nittany Lions needed to get back on track, but they will be tested throughout the remainder of the month and the season.

"It was important, but we still have some really tough games in the next two weeks, like Princeton, Drexel and Stanford," said Doherty. "They're going to be really good games, so we want to finish out March as strong as we can."

The Sisters of Penn State Lacrosse - Dani and Steph Lazo

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Most of the student-athletes on the Penn State women's lacrosse team consider their teammates family. However, for Dani Lazo and Steph Lazo, that family bond is real. They are teammates, roommates, friends and sisters taking on college and Division I lacrosse together, one step at a time.

Originally playing for Louisville, Dani, the older of the two sisters, decided to transfer following her sophomore season. It just so happened that Steph was getting ready to begin her collegiate experience at the same time. Knowing her sister would for Penn State made it that much easier for Dani to determine which school would be the best fit for her.

"It's not like I had it planned in my mind when she was coming to college I was going to transfer, but when I decided to transfer, it just made it that much easier to figure out where I wanted to go," Dani said. "It was just a coincidence that it was when she was coming here."

Prior to Penn State, the two Lazo sisters played on the same team in high school. With that previous playing knowledge and having a sisterly bond, they knew reuniting in Happy Valley would only be a positive experience.

So far, they've loved every minute spent together on the field in Blue and White.

"We were high school teammates, which was awesome," said Steph. "We loved it. At the time, she was playing defense, which was cool because she would get the ball on defense and pass it up to me on offense. Then she obviously went to a different university before, and my freshman year she came in with me. Penn State already has a good sense of family, and having my sister here kind of gives it that extra edge. I love that feeling."

Having the Lazo sisters on the team has been a very positive experience for the Nittany Lions as well. Head coach Missy Doherty recognizes Dani's leadership skills. The older of the sisters is not afraid to speak up when something needs to be said, and when she does talk, the team listens.

Doherty believes Steph, on the other hand, is one of the fastest attackers on the team. She has a powerful shot and has really come into her own this season, stepping up into a starting role for the Nittany Lions.

Both Lazo sisters have quickly become assets to the team.

"They're just great," Doherty said. "They're really supportive teammates. Dani transferred in from Louisville, which was great for us. She's been a great leader, a great teammate. Steph is our spark on offense, but it's great to see the close relationship they have. I think Penn State in general is a place where it's a tightknit, close community with a family-like atmosphere. So, it's not a surprise to me that we have sisters on the team that are there for one another and supportive of each other. It's great having them together."

Another benefit to these sisters playing on the same team is they always have a sense of what the other is thinking, what the other will do in practice and in games.

"People think we're twins," said Steph. "I feel like we think like twins. It's weird. So, I know what she's going to do already, and she knows what I'm going to do. We work off of that."

"Offensively, if I feed or if she feeds, we know where the other is going to cut or if she's going to cut," Dani added. "We know where the other is going to come from. If we make eye contact with each other, without even saying a word, I know where she's going to go, and I'll just feed it to her."

Neither Lazo would do these two years differently if given the chance. They've loved every minute of taking on college together. They are always with each other, whether it be in their shared apartment or on the field.

The only downside to this experience is that eventually it will have to end, which is something neither Dani nor Steph are looking forward to.

"My least favorite part about playing with her this year is knowing she's not going to be here next year," Steph said. "It's sad. We've been talking about that lately. As cliché as it sound, I just hate knowing that she's leaving. We came in together, and I still have two more year."

With this being their last full year together, the Lazo sisters are ready to finish strong. This season is something they want to hang onto for as long as possible.

The Lazos and the Nittany Lions are only just getting started.

Nittany Lions Continue Success in Maryland

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State women's lacrosse team took the field in Baltimore, it looked to rebound from its last performance. Against No. 8 Virginia the Nittany Lions lacked a defensive edge, which is something they worked on throughout the entirety of the week leading up to the Loyola match.

While going down 2-0 to open the game was not the start the Blue and White wanted, the team rallied. In the final, critical moments, No. 9 Penn State (4-1) held No. 17 Loyola scoreless (1-4), coming away with a 12-8 win.

"I think that was really important going into that game," said head coach Missy Doherty of tightening up on defense. "I was glad the team looked comfortable and took the chance to be a little bit more aggressive to come up with some really big plays at the end, especially in that last 20 minutes."

The Nittany Lions continued their streak of dominant offense, putting up 29 shots on goal to the Greyhounds' 20. Senior Tatum Coffey had a team-high seven shots, with one resulting in a point for the Lions.

Sophomore Steph Lazo trailed just behind Coffey with six total shots. She netted three of those attempts and now has 14 goals on the season. Lazo has provided a spark to the team's offense, stepping up into a much larger role than she filled during her freshman year.

"She's done a great job for us," Doherty said of Lazo. "She's scored some critical goals for us already early in the season, and she kind of takes the heat off of some of our other attackers. But, I think that's a strength of our team in general. When someone's a little off, there are more people to step up. It's really been a good balance of offense across the board."

In addition to Lazo and Coffey, Maggie McCormick and Jenna Mosketti each notched two goals, while Madison Cyr, Kelly Lechner, Abby Smucker and Ally Heavens scored once each. McCormick also picked up two assists in the game, her 12th and 13th on the year.

The Nittany Lions offense is not coming from one player. It's across the board, which pleases the head coach and gives the team depth.

"Every game we've been getting a lot of shots off," Doherty said. "A part of it is that Loyola's goalkeeper was very good, and we just want to make sure we get the most out of each shot opportunity. Again, they played balanced, they played well and they played aggressively when they needed to."

With the win over the Greyhounds, Penn State improved to 4-1 on the season. The team is off to an explosive, dominant start, which is in large part due to the hard work and effort put in day in and day out.

The Blue and White don't just want to win. This team wants to show it is skilled, determined and ready to battle.

"I just like our attitude and overall confidence on the field," said Doherty. "I think from the turnover side, we haven't had a ton of bad turnovers. I think we've taken care of the ball well. We've dictated a good amount of the pace of play. So, we're looking forward because we have a really tough stretch to finish out March. Pretty much every game we're going to need to be on. It's going to be a really good test, but the team is working hard, and it's paying off."

The Lions' next test of the season will come on Wednesday when they take on James Madison. JMU is 5-1, falling only to No. 2 North Carolina.

Penn State, however, is more than ready for another battle.

"James Madison is having a really good year," Doherty said. "They beat Loyola, and they've had some really good wins. They always come, and they play really hard. So, it's going to be really competitive."

McCormick a Strong Offensive Presence for the Blue and White

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a stinging loss to Virginia still fresh in its mind, the Penn State women's lacrosse team took the week to refocus, to practice and to improve. In a way, the defeat allowed for growth as the team singled out weaknesses and worked to become a stronger unit.

Now, the No. 9 Nittany Lions (3-1) are ready to take on No.17 Loyola (1-3), and although they won't be taking the field in Happy Valley, they know Penn State support is inevitable. With 15 student-athlete from Maryland, much of the team is returning home this Saturday.

"I love going back home to Maryland, and I think a lot of girls on the team do," senior Maggie McCormick said. "It's just a familiar area. It's heavy on Penn State fans there too, so you get a lot of friend support, a lot of family support. It's definitely a fun place to play."

McCormick, who has been a dominant attacker for the Blue and White throughout her career, is having a stellar start to the season. She already racked up 16 points through the team's first four games, emerging as a leader among the offense.

Even more impressive, of the senior's 16 points, 11 have come from assists as she is constantly behind the net, looking for passes and open teammates. McCormick prides herself on this role and loves watching plays unfold before her eyes.

"It's just what I do best," the attacker said. "That's definitely one of the main parts of my game. I love seeing open cutters, and fortunately, I'm on a team that has very good cutters. It makes my life a lot easier."

The senior's skill has not gone unnoticed. She was name the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, an honor McCormick was a bit surprised she earned. In the week's two matches, she notched 12 points with four goals and eight assists.

Although McCormick may not have expected the weekly honor, head coach Missy Doherty believes the senior deserves it with the work she has put into playing at the highest level possible for the Nittany Lions.

"She's a great leader for us," said Doherty. "I think she's come through this year and worked as hard as she's ever worked in her four years. It's really paying off for us, not just in the scoring but also in re-defending and getting the ball back. She's just reinserted herself as an impact player, and the players around her really respond to her leadership."

McCormick and the rest of the Nittany Lions will take the field Saturday hungry for a battle. The team knows it can and will play for a complete 60 minutes.

There may be some back and forth, which is only natural when playing such a tough opponent, but that is the type of game the Blue and White love. The Lions thrive in competitive atmospheres.

"We're just excited to play," said Doherty. "Loyola is always a really good game for us. Our schedule in March, every game we have to be ready to play our best. We want to keep getting better, and I think that's our goal for Loyola. We want to tighten up and be a little bit better defensively. Offensively, we want to keep a good rhythm and tempo like we did against Virginia."

The task at hand will not be easy, but the Nittany Lions know what they need from this weekend against Loyola Maryland.

"A win," said McCormick. "Definitely a win."

No. 9 Lions Defeated by No. 8 Virginia in Final Seconds

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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.

"Playing 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 strong.

The Nittany Lions will take the field again next Saturday as look to return to their winning ways against Loyal Maryland.

Smith Emerges as Lions' Starter in the Cage

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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 began.

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 mistakes.

"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 season.

"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 the game."

Anything can happen in Division I lacrosse, but with Smith in the cage, the Lions know they
have their best shot at victory.

"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.