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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Bel Air, Md., a small community 30 miles outside of Baltimore, may not be the same as its sunny and millionaire-mansion-filled California counterpart, but it does have several things going for it. For one, it was named one of the "Top 100 Best Small Towns" back in 2015, but it also sits in the hotbed of lacrosse country and is called home to three Nittany Lions in Maggie Gallagher, Sarah Piazza and Abby Smucker.

 

The three grew up playing lacrosse together in the area and eventually all attended C. Milton Wright High School. There they joined forces and together went to three semifinals appearances in as many state tournaments. Piazza and Smucker, both one year Gallagher's elder, also were starters in 2010 when the team made its way to the state championship game.

 

Combined, the three served five years of captainship for their high school squad and amassed 10 all-county selections. Each were ranked high on recruiter's wish lists for their own individual merits, and each decided to go to the best possible place for themselves, but in the end it just so happened that they all ended up deciding the best place to play was for Penn State.

 

"I feel like we all just took our own path with that and then it all just kind of worked out," Piazza said about the recruiting process. "We'd have some people at home that we'd also get that next chapter with, so it kind of made it more special."

 

Piazza and Smucker made the jump to Division I in 2014 and were joined a year later by Gallagher after she wrapped up her senior high school season. The girls said those early years of making the switch to college helped them out dramatically in both an on and off the field setting. Having others with them that they already knew helped make the big, and sometimes intimidating, first impression of Happy Valley a little smaller.

 

"Off the field we had a little bit of home that came with us to State College right away," Smucker said about the ease of the transition. "And then on the field as well. We knew each other's tendencies so it kind of made that transition into college lacrosse kind of a little easier."

 

That on the field chemistry can be seen every game day as the three have meshed together on the field. When together, Piazza holds down the fort as a defender while Gallagher and Smucker work the midfield.

 

Together on the attack, the two midfielders have shown how effective their harmony can be. Both have started every game played this season and have racked up a total of 29 points off 19 goals and 10 assists. Gallagher's 18 and Smucker's 11 are good for fourth and sixth on the team.

 

"I think it definitely translates on the field, especially now that I'm back on the offensive end where Maggie is too," Smucker said. "We've definitely been seeing each other very well both on and off with her rolling on the crease and me up top."

 

But the group's bond goes far beyond what they can do each time they pick up their sticks. Over the years, lacrosse has brought them closer than just being teammates; they've become family.

 

"It's just like a family, which is what I think kind of drew us all to Penn State in the first place is that it just had such a family atmosphere," Piazza said. "We were close in high school, but I think just spending these last four years together made us even closer like I said on and off the field," Smucker continued. "We've grown together, and like Sarah said before, we're kind of like a family now," Smucker said.

 

With Piazza and Smucker both seniors, soon the group's saga will come to an end. Until then, the three still have the rest of the season to make the most of what they can, and cap off their years together in the best way possible. But, even without a story book ending, the three say the journey has been great and that they are proud of what they have been able to do with their unique opportunity.

 

"We've just been given such a great opportunity here at Penn State to play lacrosse together and like making the most of it and having fun together," Gallagher said.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind Penn State's three-headed monster on the attack; Madison Carter, Steph Lazo and Katie O'Donnell, the Nittany Lions were a force to be reckoned with as the trio showed up in full force against Rutgers in an 18-7 victory.

 

Each of the three tallied a hat trick (Carter - 4 goals, O'Donnell - 4, Lazo - 3), making it the third time this season three Nittany Lions have recorded a hat trick in the same game. The other two instances occurred on the road at Duquesne (Lazo - 5 goals, Carter - 4, Auth - 3) and in the opening week, when the trio did the accomplishment almost twice over (Carter - 6 goals, Lazo - 5, O'Donnell - 5).

 

Combined, the three tallied 18 points off of 11 goals and seven assists. The three played a major factor in the team's offensive output, having a hand in 14 of the team's 18 goals.

 

"That's what you want to count on in these games especially going into Big Ten is your leaders really need to step up and thankfully they did that today," head coach Missy Doherty said on the three's leadership and play.

 

While the group as a whole left a big mark on the game, individually each one brings something unique to the table.

 

Carter, while leading the team in goals both against Rutgers and on the season, dominated the draw control and gave the Nittany Lions a huge advantage in the battle for possession. Her wheels and killer instinct on the field played a huge factor as on multiple occasions she simply outran everyone else in play, scoring momentum shifting breakaway goals.

                                                             

Lazo acts as the efficient point guard, where every successful offensive possession runs through her. Not only did she contribute with her stick with Saturday's three goals, but she cut through the defense to make open lanes and found the ball to teammates with precision even when they were barely open. She was able to use her keen vision and passing to help teammates light up the board a whopping six times against Rutgers, raising her yearly assist total to 26.

 

Last, but not least, O'Donnell is one of the squad's reliable attacker who can hit from long range and seems to always find an open spot near the net. She also has been a fire starter for the program as a main catalyst in many of the team's scoring runs. With her four goals Saturday, the junior now has now tallied 115 points with 104 goals, and has recorded multi-goal games 23 times over the past two seasons.

 

Coach Doherty says a good deal of the team's offensive success came from both finishing shots and the chemistry the attackers shared, opening up the door for the team's playmakers.

 

"[The attackers] worked the ball really well, I thought down the stretch we had some more legs really going hard to the cage," she said.  "Once we got our cutting and our rhythm going they did a good job at using all the attackers, not just one or two."

 

Lazo and Carter said postgame that they are glad to be producing for their team and that it's nice to see everyone contributing.

 

"You always want to come out and do your best, and the fact that the three of us are producing good numbers, it's always nice to want to consistently do that for your team," Lazo said. "I think we want to make our coach proud and make our team proud."

 

But the girls still remain humble as their own "biggest critics," and know that their success only goes as far as the rest of their teammates around them.

 

"Everyone on our attack is a threat and we always hone in on that so it's really good to get everyone involved and get the ball moving," Carter said.


Penn State now heads on the road for a three-game stretch. Up next is Princeton on Tuesday, March 21, at 2 p.m.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the best program start in nearly three decades, the Nittany Lions went into Spring Break with a 5-0 record and a seemingly endless source of momentum.

 

Although they would be spending most of the break on campus, Penn State entered week-long academic hiatus with a perfect record and with a chance to clear their minds and focus on the three games on its slate.

 

The first two games were solid victories for the Blue and White, extending their record to a superb 7-0. But like all good things, they must come to an end, and the Nittany Lions suffered their first loss of the season in the final game before the student body returned to campus again for classes, falling to No. 10 Colorado 16-11.

 

Even though the spotless record may be gone, head coach Missy Doherty says she finds value even every game, including the team's loss.

 

"I really think we've taken a lot of learning lessons from every game," Doherty said. "I think after a loss you start overthinking everything so we're trying our best to figure out what's been sort of consistent issues and just improving our intensity defensively for 60 minutes. The other team's going to come at us harder throughout the game so we have to be ready to match their intensity."

 

The reflection does not last too long, however, Doherty says. After the squad realizes where there is room for improvement, their mindset shifts to the next opponent on the challenging road still lies ahead.

 

"All of our games are so difficult. We have a pretty tough schedule so you really have to be ready for the next game regardless of what just happened, so I think we've really felt that with the teams that we're playing. You don't really have time to think about anything else other than the team you're playing," Doherty said.

 

That opponent this time happens to be the Rutgers Scarlett Knights.

 

Rutgers marks the start of the Nittany Lions' Big Ten schedule, one that Doherty says is no cake walk but still a welcome challenge they look forward to each year.

 

"I think it's one of the toughest conferences in the country," Doherty said. "Every year there's different rivals for different reasons. Opening up with Rutgers, we want to make sure we're representing Penn State well in the Big Ten. Lacrosse is fairly new to the conference and we think it's a very exciting sport so we're ready to get it started."

 

The Scarlett Knights present an interesting challenge for the Lady Lions. While they appear towards the middle of the pack or bottom end in most team statistics in the conference, they boast an adequate amount of depth in order to compete with anyone. On their five wins during the season, a different player has scored the game-winner in each contest and are the only team to do so.

 

"They work really hard the whole game. They have a bunch of different offensive threats," Doherty said. I want to make sure we play good team defense and put our shots away. It was the focus for us after the Colorado game to make sure we sink a couple more of our shots and overall just play better Penn State lacrosse."

 

This weekend's contest will also mark the end of a three-game home stand. Soon after, a three-game road trip will test the Nittany Lions as they aim to get back on track to the perfect play that started they started the season with.

 

Penn State will takes on Rutgers on Saturday, March 18 at 1:00 p.m. sharp in Holuba Hall.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - How teams finish often translates directly into the final score, showing who was able to put the game away and be better than their opponents in the most crucial part of the game. While Penn State's spotless 5-0 record speaks for itself in that department, often times it's the front end of the game where the Nittany Lions leave the biggest mark.

In four of the five games played this season by the Blue and White, Penn State has struck first with the opening goal in each of those games. The only game the team was unable to do so was on the road against Duquesne, at which the Nittany Lions responded by scoring 10 of the remaining 13 goals scored in the first half which included a stretch of six unanswered goals.

 

Head coach Missy Doherty credits, among other things, the strong-minded nature of the team as the players don't second-guess themselves out on the field.

 

"Our offense has to be ready to play aggressive and do the simple things well. I think sometimes our decision making is a little slower, but when its fast and we're decisive about what we want to do we really have some people that are hard to stop," Doherty said.

 

In the first half alone, Penn State only outdoes its own second-half scoring by a single goal, but when it comes down to how much it overmatches its opponents, the numbers are pretty lopsided. The Nittany Lions have put up 40 goals on the year in the first 30 minutes of action, which is good enough to double the competition at just 20 total goals in the first. When it comes down to sheer volume of shots, it's all Penn State again as they lead in total first half shots 80-50 and shots on goal 63-32.

 

That production stands out in the first handful of minutes as well. When looking at the first 10 minutes of play, the Nittany Lions outscore their challengers at a 14-4 clip, allowing them to usually have a commanding lead right out of the gate.

 

A good deal of that kind of output can likely be chalked up to winning the battle at draw control. Penn State has won every first half battle from the draw this season, doing so at a whopping 2.5-1 ratio (46-19).

 

"The draw control has been a huge, huge factor this year for us in a lot of those games, because when you get possession, obviously you have a better chance to score," Doherty said. 

 

Despite the vast early success, the team says dominating early is not something it necessarily preaches, as everyone's eyes are set on the long haul.

 

"I think we're bought into this 60 minutes sort of philosophy, it just so happens that we've been able to start some games off efficient," Doherty said.

 

But of course, the team says it's still a big boost early on that allows them to get settled in.

 

"It's not like we're always stressing that we have to be the first one to score, but it's always nice to get the ball in the net first, kind of get the momentum going," senior Steph Lazo said.

 

Coach Doherty says holding onto that full game mentality with an early lead can sometimes make the task at hand that much harder though, as her team needs to be careful not to let too much off of the throttle.

 

"I think the early lead is nice, sometimes I think it's deceptive if you get it quickly but its only been four minutes into the game we still have 56 minutes to go," Doherty said. "You have to buy into those full 60 minutes."

 

The team has been able to do just fine in that department, even if some games get closer than the team would like, as the team continues to produce throughout each game into the closing minutes.

 

Even with the fast starts, the squad knows that in order to win, they can't take plays off and play like every second counts, because during the course of a game you never know what is going to end up being the deciding factor.

 

"You never know what plays gonna win the game," Doherty said. "Sometimes when you look back on the full 60 minutes, that first 5-minute stretch was where we won the game. So I'm always telling them that and to take advantage of every second because you never quite know what's going to give you the edge."

 

Penn State will travel to Baltimore to take on Loyola Maryland on Saturday, March 4. The opening draw will commence at 3 p.m.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the No. 6 team in the country, Penn State is stockpiled full of seasoned veterans that have no shortage of in-game experience under their belts. But, while the upperclassmen may do the heavy lifting, the Nittany Lions still have a healthy dose of young talent on their roster.

 

One such player is freshman attacker Maria Auth, who introduced herself to the Penn State faithful against Duquesne on Wednesday. In the first road game of her collegiate career, the young shooter stuffed her stat sheet with three goals en route to her first collegiate hat trick.

 

"I was just excited to be able to contribute in a big way to the team," Auth said as she talked about trying to make the most out of her minutes. "That was definitely a big accomplishment for me and it was exciting."

 

Head coach Missy Doherty also praised her abilities on the field during the game, as she led the younger players in giving Penn State some extra life with the sticks.

 

"She did a great job and really in Duquesne a lot of players went in and really brought up the level of our game," Doherty said. "[The underclassmen] did a great job of lifting our team up when we maybe needed a little more energy."

 

Auth is one of several younger players that has been able to leave their mark on the field this season. Coming off of her big game, she now sits at five points on the season off of four goals and an assist. The attacker is also doing it at an efficient clip. While her numbers may still have a small sample size this early in the season, she currently sits tied for the team's second-best shooting at a .667 clip, trailing only the team's leading point-getter in Steph Lazo (.739).

 

Early on, coach Doherty already sees things she likes in the freshman as a lefty attacker that adds another wrinkle to the offense.

 

"She's just a really skilled attacker, a great scorer and competitor, so you know getting some more goals from that left side," Doherty said. "It just adds to our arsenal there on offense."

 

The Maryland native is one of 13 imports on the team from the state, hailing from the rural community of Street which resides just five miles south of the Pennsylvania border. In her time in the "Old Line State," Auth had an impressive resume not just on the field but in the classroom as well.

 

In four years of action, she racked up accolades as a US Lacrosse First-team All-American, a two-time Crab Draw All-Star game MVP and a two-time Lacrosse Academic All-American, among many others. Coming off an 87-goal season her senior year with 68 draw controls and 20 caused turnovers, the college lacrosse scene was her oyster, and it was the big-time atmosphere of Happy Valley that caught her eye.

 

"I just always wanted to come to a big school.  I could never really see myself at a small school and the athletic environment definitely helped," Auth said. "There's just so much tradition with athletics and academics here that it just drew me to Penn State"

 

Now that she has nearly a year under her belt, Auth says she has the hang of things, but it took her a while to ease into the whole process. Like many student-athletes, time management was a habit she had to pick up quick in order to stay on top of things both in practice and with the books.

 

The strong foundation of upperclassmen and leadership on the squad helped her find comfort instead of commotion, however, as they helped her transition as both as teammates and role models.

 

"The upperclassmen are amazing. They're great leaders on and off the field at both academics and athletics, so it's always great to have someone to look up to," Auth said. "I definitely couldn't have transitioned as well without their help."

Now with a few games under her belt, the first-year player is gaining confidence as she continues to contribute more and more. With more time and more reps, Auth will find her place as a member of the Blue and White while she continues to live her dream.

 

"Everyone dreams of coming to a D-1 school for sports, and to have it be everything I imagined it would be, it's an awesome feeling to be a part of something so big," Auth said.

VIDEO: Women's Lacrosse's THON 2017 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Another highly anticipated THON event, check out women's lacrosse's full pep rally dance! 

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind the lead of some quality individual play, Penn State was able to capture a solid team win over Lehigh, 18-9.

 

The Nittany Lions were able to hold the Mountain Hawks to under double-digit goals, but it was a strong offensive outburst to start the game that got the ball rolling for the Blue and White.

 

Both teams traded goals in the first two minutes, with Lehigh scoring the latter of the two, but it would be the visitors' last goal for over 20 minutes as the Penn State offense took over by dominating possession. The team went two big runs; one that saw three more goals in the first ten minutes of action, and another that had the Nittany Lions four goals in a three-minute span that started with 10:44 left in the half. The seven unanswered goals would give them an 8-1 lead heading into the final 7:30 of the first half.

 

Sophomore attacker Madison Carter was the main cog in the Nittany Lion offense, as she scored a team-high five goals and added an assist on the day. Along with the likes of Katie O'Donnell, who found the back of the net four times, and Steph Lazo, who played more of a facilitator role with two goals and two assists, the offense found a lot of chemistry out of the gate and was able to find a lot of open lanes.

 

"We're really working well as a team. We're really working all of our options hard, so it opens a lot of things up," Carter said. "We're really understanding each other, reading each other, so it looked really good today."

 

After a late run in the half by Lehigh, the teams would enter the break with a 9-5 Penn State lead.

 

Senior Steph Lazo opened up the scoring in the second half with her first goal of the game to get Penn State into double digits. This started the chain of events that saw the Nittany Lions add three more to the scoreboard in under a minute, making it 12-5.

 

Following another Carter goal, the Mountain Hawks answered back with four goals of their own to tighten things up. First-time starter at goalie Madison Cunningham showed promise early on, but coach Doherty felt like it was the right time to make a move to give her team back some momentum and brought in senior Cat Rainone with just over 15 minutes remaining in the contest.

 

"We needed a momentum changer there and I was happy to be that person," Rainone said.

 

She came in and did just that, becoming a stalwart for her team as she denied every opportunity by the opposing team. In her brief time in between the pipes, she recorded five saves and did not allow a single goal the rest of the game.

 

With a reliable defense and more chances with possession, Penn State's offense was able to close the game out strong, scoring the game's final five goals in order to double Lehigh, 18-9.

 

Rainone said postgame her strong performance gave her a lot of confidence for herself and her team, and believes this game can give the unit some fuel moving forward.

 

"I feel really good with my team, feel good how everyone's playing and things like that," Rainone said.  "I'm excited to see the rest of the season,".

 

The Nittany Lions now move to 3-0 on the year and coach Doherty said she has been very proud with what her team has been able to accomplish so far after all their hard work.

 

"They've worked super hard this whole year," Doherty said. "They've consistently worked hard in practice and I think it showed in the first three games. Regardless of their runs the other team went on, we still competed hard and finished the game pretty well."

Penn State's next test will be on the road as they travel to Pittsburgh to take on Duquesne on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One of the most admired things about sports is its ability to take one's minds off of things. It's one of sports' best qualities, and sometimes for those who follow and play sports it can be easy to get carried away, passing around terms like 'hero' and 'sacrifice' as normal descriptions of the incredible things that can happen between the lines.

 

Every year in the Penn State community, however, something happens that breaks beyond those barriers of thinking just between the lines, branching out into something greater.

Friday marks the start of the 44th annual Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, also known as THON.  THON is a 46-hour event where Penn State students raise money for the fight against pediatric cancer. Over the year it has been a staple of the Happy Valley community and has raised upwards to 137 million dollars for the cause.

 

The yearly event brings a level of excitement to University Park, and the women's lacrosse team is one of the marathons biggest supporters.

 

"We love THON," head coach Missy Doherty. "It's such an amazing experience and kind of a life-changing event when you go in and you see all the passion that Penn State and the students have for kids suffering from pediatric cancer. It kind of takes your breath away."

 

The dance marathon brings a lot of traffic, alumni, and others onto the University's campus each year, and with that creates not only a larger mass of support for those dancing, but also for the rest of the Penn State community like with the athletics programs that still have home games on THON weekend.

 

During the festivities, the women's lacrosse team will be taking on Lehigh Saturday afternoon in the Blue and White's first outdoor game of the season. With the field right next door to the Bryce Jordan Center, Doherty thinks it can provide an essential boost in support for her squad.

 

"We'll see all the people walking by in their tutus and their high rainbow socks, giving us a couple shutouts as they walk up to THON, so the energy level is greater and just to feel that school spirit during our game is awesome."

 

Saturday night, following the game, the team will join many of the other sports programs here at Penn State for the highly celebrated Athlete Hour.  During the designated hour of THON, athletes from all across campus will compete with each other not on a field, but on the event's stage in a dance battle to try and prove their team has the best moves on campus.

 

The hour is one of the marathons most anticipated each year, and the women's lacrosse team will be throwing its hat into the ring as one of the teams competing. It's something the team is putting a lot of effort into, but coach Doherty says their talents might be best suited for the turf.

 

"The girls are practicing diligently their dance act for athlete hour and I'd have to say they're way more talented thankfully on the field than they are on the dance floor," Doherty said. "But the energy they bring and the excitement is really fun and you know they're really excited to contribute to that event."

 

Coach was unable to be able to provide any details on the dance number the team plans to do, saying "music nowadays is not my thing," but she did say that the team was working hard on their moves.

 

But even with the event is all about having fun and providing moments of joy to those in need, the team understands the deeper meaning the annual marathon represents and takes that message to heart when approaching their duties on the field.

 

"It gives you a life perspective, especially heading into these games where you think ground balls are a big deal and then you get a hit in the gut with what life's all about. It's good to have those reminders and be supportive of such a great cause," Doherty said.

 

The Nittany Lions will take on the Lehigh Mountain Hawks outside at The Penn State Lacrosse Field this Saturday at 3 p.m.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Separated by a mere 3,450 miles, two teams from two different countries and two different continents came together to compete and represent some of the best their nations have to offer on the lacrosse field.


That's what happened Wednesday afternoon, when the Wales Women's Lacrosse National Team came to Holuba Hall to partake in an exhibition with the Nittany Lions, edging Penn State 13-12 with a goal in the closing seconds. It consisted of two 30-minute halves of action with a continuous clock and featured a mixture of international and collegiate rules.

 

Penn State, coming off a 2-0 start to the season, was able to use the scrimmage as both a chance to regroup and to get a look at some of the younger and less-experienced players on the team. Coach Missy Doherty utilized a lot of her less-seasoned players and was pleased with how they handled their time on the field.

 

"Tonight we were really able to see a lot from the players that are up-and-coming players. So it was an interesting game to see who emerged as maybe our next leaders of the future," Doherty said. "It was just good to see that the people you think are the possible next leaders were the ones that did really stand out."

 

Among the young standouts mentioned were freshman attacker Maria Auth, freshman midfielder Shannon Moore and sophomore midfielder Reilly Masterson, all underclassmen who made major contributions throughout the duration of the exhibition.

 

On the other hand, Wales was in the midst of its trip through America's lacrosse capitals for its annual USA tour. Penn State marked the fifth of nine stops in Wales visit to the States that lasts from the 12th to the 18th, spanning three states. Wales already had finished its tour of several Virginia schools and now is working through Pennsylvania and Maryland in matchups against some of each state's top lacrosse schools.

 

The tour acts as an opportunity for the national team to get better as well, as they are in a World Cup year. Wales is one of just six national teams to play in every single Women's Lacrosse World Cup since its inception in 1982. This year's July tournament will feature 28 teams, including Wales, as they compete to be called the world's best.

 

Being a national squad, the team boasts players from all different backgrounds and styles of play, making them a special task for the Nittany Lions.

 

"The players were telling me the ages vary from 17 to 32 on their team, so it's just a wide variety of different styles and what they're bringing," Doherty said. "They were just so gritty that you don't know quite what to expect."

 

The match was competitive all throughout as the teams traded runs and were equally matched across the board. But even at the end of an hour of battling, pushing one another to the limit, both teams met at midfield to congratulate one another and share a moment as friends, taking a group photo together to encapsulate it all.

 

After traveling to Amsterdam and Greece last summer to play international competition and now expanding that to an in-season exhibition, the Blue and White continue to play teams from across the border, something the team hopes they can continue in the future.

 

"Being able to play someone new, especially from a different country, is always kind of a cool thing," senior Steph Lazo said. "I'm pretty honored we get to do that."

 

Penn State will continue its regular season schedule this Saturday at 3 p.m. when the team hosts Lehigh.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At Holuba Hall, it was a tale of two halves for Penn State as it took on a physical Towson team that took the game down to the wire. The Nittany Lions ended the game on top, 13-11, but the team ran through a series of ups-and-downs in a roller coaster of a game.

 

Like all great roller coasters, there is the steady rise that takes you to the very top. That incline would last about the entirety of the first half for the Nittany Lions, as the contest was one-sided in their favor.

 

Within the game's first 90 seconds, Penn State drew first blood behind the stick of Steph Lazo as she recorded the first of her five goals on the day to put her team up 1-0. Just past the midway point of the first half, Penn State had grew its lead to a healthy seven goals, up 7-0 as a result of a six goals in a seven minute stretch of play.

 

The Blue and White's early success stemmed from their ability to win off the draw, going 10-2 in draw controls during the half. The ability to control the ball then translated onto offense as the Nittany Lions continued to have more and more opportunities.

 

On the other hand, Towson struggled without possession, as it did not have a shot until about 14 minutes into the game, while at the same time Penn State already had seven goals on 11 shots. The Nittany Lions would outshoot Tigers in the first 17-3.

 

Entering the half up 9-2, Penn State would feel the roller coast again, as Towson responded. Out of the gate, Towson began winning more draw controls, opening up more offensive chances for the Tigers. The visitors would then rack up six unanswered goals to draw within one in a 9-8 contest with 9:12 left in the game.

 

Needing to turn the tide, head coach Missy Doherty called a timeout and turned towards the bench to give freshman goalkeeper Madison Cunningham a chance within the pipes. Doherty told her team to focus on what was still left in the game rather than what had already occurred.

 

"I just reminded them that the game is long and that's how lacrosse goes, up and down, but just be ready to compete for every play," Doherty said.

 

Lazo also encouraged her fellow attackers to capitalize on more opportunities and to finish strong on their shots. She was determined to make sure her team came out on top.

 

"We're not losing this game," she told her team just before heading back onto the field.

 

After the break, the squad came back out with a sense of reestablished confidence. Penn State rallied to hold the Tigers to the full 90 seconds of their shot clock without scoring, then went down and scored four goals in four straight possessions that took a whole 85 seconds to complete.

 

Now up 13-8 with 3:41 remaining, Towson had its back to the wall and needed to make a run. The Tigers fought back by winning the draw controls and finding open shooters on the offensive end to tally three more goals to their total.

 

Now just up two with 40 seconds left and having to make a defensive stand, it was Cunningham who came up in the clutch to make her lone save of the day, giving Penn State back possession that it would not lose the rest of the game.

 

After all the ups and downs, the ride that was the game finally came to a halt as the final buzzer sounded, and all those who went along for the ride exited, having witnessed a great back-and-forth contest and a Penn State win. 

@GOPSUSPORTS

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