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Nittany Lions Win Pivotal Game Against Johns Hopkins

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a beautiful night in State College, the Penn State Nittany Lions turned in a superb performance, beating the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays, 12-10, to earn their ninth win of their season.

Simply put, the Blue and White buckled down, did their jobs, and got the win.

After a back-and-forth first half, the Nittany Lions went into halftime trailing the Blue Jays, 7-4. Penn State had some success in the first half, but Johns Hopkins made huge defensive stops to limit an offense getting into their groove.

That all changed as soon as the second half got underway.

"Well, again, I wasn't necessarily mad about the first half," Doherty said. "We needed to make some saves, we needed to come up with some momentum-turners, and we needed to put our shots away. Thankfully, [in] the second half the girls got their heads up; we put our shots away, got a couple goals in transition.

"We know we can score quickly, so the girls took advantage of that in the beginning of the first half. I was saying, 'we need to make them stop us,' because sometimes we're going up and we're not being stopped yet. So keep going until they stop you and they did a good job of doing that."

As we have seen before, the Nittany Lions seemed to just turn a switch and dominant games. They opened the second half by scoring five goals in a row to take an 8-7 lead. Madison Cyr scored three goals in a 26-second span and completely put the Blue Jays on their heels.

"You score one you want to keep going," Cyr said. "You score two you want to keep going. It definitely helped."

The three goals in 26 seconds are not that unusual for a player like Cyr, according to her coach.

"We're trying to get her to score four in 30 [seconds]," Doherty said with a laugh. "So we just missed the mark. She's great. She's great because she is a smart cutter and a smart challenger. She knows when to come in and make the most of a situation and she did that tonight."

Part of what made the Nittany Lions' comeback look so smooth was their play in transition. The turnovers they were creating on the defensive end were becoming excellent offensive opportunities, and they were continuing to capitalize on the Blue Jays not having their feet set defensively.

"Despite Hopkins, I think we are a good transition team," Doherty said. "I think we see each other well. We go hard to goal well. We can score quickly. We took more advantage of it in the second half than we did in the first half."

With just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, the game was tied at 9-9. Cyr scored her fourth goal of the game when fellow midfielder Jenna Mosketti hit her in stride and she beat goalkeeper Caroline Federico five-hole to take the lead. The Nittany Lions outscored the Blue Jays 2-1 in the games final minute to secure the victory.

One of the major storylines in the second half was the play of freshman goalkeeper Cat Rainone. She stepped in mid-way through the first half and helped provide a serious spark to the Nittany Lions. She made five saves to earn the win, including some sensational saves on free-position shots.

"In the cage, it's not a mental thing," Rainone said. "You just have to go in there and do it. Get your body behind the ball and just make the save.

"It was a great game for everybody; it's definitely a team effort. The one play that I made doesn't make he game. So I am definitely proud of everybody on the field, especially our sideline, being our support system, being there when we have turnovers and when we make good, big plays. They are always there to support us."

The Nittany Lions will now head back to the practice field as they prepare to go for win number 10 against Princeton on Senior Day this Saturday.

"We have great character on our team," Doherty said. "We work hard all game long and sometimes the breaks go your way, and sometimes they don't. This game we were able to put our shots away when it counted and we were able to make huge defensive stops. We had a great couple charge calls when the girls got in position to take that charge, and those were momentum-turners for us. They stepped out when they needed to, defensively, and got in front a lot of the players. They were just on it tonight; it was great to watch."

Loizeaux Making Her Comeback Complete

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's very rare to see a transfer player come in and make an immediate impact. They have to pick up a new system, develop new chemistry, and understand what exactly it is that the players around them want to do.

It is especially challenging in a sport like lacrosse, where you have to be on the same page with your teammates on the field throughout the entire 60-minute game.

But for junior-transfer Jess Loizeaux, the transition has been no problem.

As a matter of fact, she has made the transition look easy and she has done it very smoothly, and with her own style.

The attacker is coming off an injury that caused her to miss her sophomore season at Virginia, and so far she has thrived in her new offense with her new team.

"I like it more," she said. "It's really hard to be out for a full season with an injury, mentally. It definitely messes with your mind. In the fall, it kind of gave me that period to get back to playing full swing and in competition in the fall ball games.

"Playing games is so much more fun for me. Just being able to compete and go to practice everyday and compete is just so much fun. "

Through the Nittany Lions' 14 games this season, Loizeaux's consistent play has proven to be invaluable, as she has become one of offensive leaders on this team. Currently, she boasts a 12-game point streak and is sixth on the team in points.

In her freshman season as a Cavalier, she scored eight times and assisted on three goals. As a Nittany Lion, her production has nearly tripled as she has 18 goals and 12 assists on the season.

Part of what has made her so effective in this offense is how well she has gelled with the other girls in blue and white, and how her playing style is very similar to the one head coach Missy Doherty has installed over her four years at the helm.

When the Mullica Hill, N.J., native has the ball in her stick, the aggression and tenacity she displays is tremendous, but her intelligence also stands out. She is always looking to get the ball to goal and beat the opposing goaltender. But at the same time, Loizeaux is very selective with her shots and will always pass up something forced for a better play.

Her style is similar to that of her teammates and the connection was instant from the first moment they stepped on the field together. 

"I really, really enjoy playing with Maggie [McCormick] and Mackenzie [Cyr], especially on attack," Loizeaux said. "I think we all kind of play similar. Everyone on the team is unselfish. No one is a ball-hog or anything like that. It works really well with how I play.

"I like to get feeds inside and that kind of stuff. I think that our team all plays very similar and we are all equally good and we are not selfish, so I think I fit in pretty easily. But it was hard to get back into remembering how to play the game and that sort of thing."

Getting back on your feet and making an immediate impact is no easy task, as Loizeaux will attest to, but so far so good for the New Nittany Lion.

Loizeaux and the Nittany Lions return to action when they welcome ALC rival Johns Hopkins on Friday night for a pivotal game. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

Doherty, Nittany Lions Ready to Make a Push

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSIT PARK, Pa. - As the lacrosse season begins to draw to a close, the practice intensity picks up, the games become more crucial, and the competition gets stronger and stronger.

With a talented, tough team, the Nittany Lions and head coach Missy Doherty are ready to make a push and get back into the NCAA Tournament after losing in the quarterfinals last season.

The long journey to postseason action continues this weekend when the team travels to Columbus, Ohio, for an ALC showdown with Ohio State.

Penn State is fresh off a 13-8 victory over Cornell, and with an opportunity to get to nine wins on the season this weekend, Doherty and her team understand how well they have to practice and how well they have to play against the Buckeyes.

"I think we have to be ready to take care of the ball and play smart," Doherty said before Thursday's practice. "They have a lot of really good weapons on attack, so collectively, defensively, we need to be ready to stop all their threats. That's the challenge of playing them. It's not just one or two scorers."

The matchup with the Buckeyes should be a good test for the Nittany Lions. Their last three matchups have been decided by three goals or less, including a double-overtime win coming in Doherty's first year as head coach.

The fast pace intensity that she has instilled in her players will be crucial as they take the field Sunday. The Buckeyes are a patient team, so the Nittany Lions will be looking to force the issue and control the tempo of the game.

"Ohio State is a big game," Doherty said after the Cornell victory. "They've done really well this season and it's always kind of a grudge match there and we're just ready to come out, fight, and try to bring our best game."

The Buckeyes are a strong team, according to Doherty, and are another step in the process to get her team ready for to take on the challenges that lie ahead. The offense is going to be looking to get going early, and take advantage of the depth of talent they have.

"We're using all of our scorers and we are hard to stop, that's why it's always such a good game," Doherty said. "I think all their losses have been by one or two goals, and they beat Northwestern by one. So they are playing really good teams, really close and we have to be ready for that."

Through 13 games this season, the team has had a lot of high moments, like winning five games in a row and beating teams like Cornell, Vanderbilt and Loyola. But moments like that aren't enough for this group of players and their head coach. They want more.

The Nittany Lions currently have an 8-5 record overall, 2-2 in conference play, and Doherty knows her team needs to take the next step and move forward. She sees the desire and the effort from the girls in blue and white, and she knows they are just a few plays away from having a better record, and from separating themselves from the other teams in the ALC. As the push for the NCAA tournament begins, the Nittany Lions seem ready to go.

"NCAAs are right around the corner and if we're not going to win these games," Doherty said, "that's going to be a hard thing for us to get into. Each game is really important and bringing our best out is important, especially in crunch time."

Game time is set for 1 p.m.

Nittany Lions Back On Track With Win Against Cornell

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions took to the Penn State Lacrosse Field on Tuesday evening with only one thing on their minds - beat Cornell.

The Nittany Lions had dropped two hard-fought games against ALC rivals Florida and Northwestern, but they were determined to show their fans, their coaching staff, and themselves the kind of a team they are and the kind of team they can be. It's a team that doesn't quit, makes the smart play, and stays focused on its goals.

That was the team the Penn State faithful saw beat Cornell, 13-8, and get back to its winning ways.

The Nittany Lions and the Big Red went back and forth to start off the game. Cornell was having tremendous success off the draw, but that didn't seem to slow down the girls in blue and white. After Cornell sophomore Lindsay Toppe gave the Big Red a 3-4 lead with just over 11 minutes left in the first half, the Nittany Lions just took over the game.

Penn State scored six goals - four of which came from the stick of Madison Cyr - over the last 11 minutes to Cornell's two goals, and they ended the half with a 9-6 lead. Missy Doherty's squad started to win draw controls, 50-50 balls and took complete advantage of their opportunities.

"...But that's challenge of every game we have, is to be able to keep that energy up," the head coach said. "Especially with the three remaining games we have, they are going to be just like this one. It's a hard fought battle and we have to be ready to bring our best."

Cyr was the story to end the first half. The four goals she scored were the result of hustle and strong willpower. She received a well-deserved applause from teammates and fans when she took a break with two minutes left in the first half after spearheading the comeback.

In the second half, after a very inspiring speech from Doherty, the Nittany Lions continued their dominance and made all the necessary plays to secure the victory. Their possessions on offense were crisp, and well executed and the defense continued to be ball-hawks and create turnovers, while keeping the Cornell offense at bay.

Six Nittany Lions found their way onto the score sheet and helped contribute to the win. It was a total team effort on offense and defense and the Nittany Lions seemed to hit a stride and never look back. Attacker Jess Loizeaux continued to play well and helped contribute to the win with an early goal and a few helpers throughout the evening.

"Playing here," Loizeaux said, "it reminds me of having fun and playing the game. I know I'm playing better here than I did at [University of Virginia] and I think that's part of the reason why, because I'm having fun while I'm playing. I enjoy coming to practice every day and I think its fun to play with the teammates. I love playing with Maggie [McCormick], and Mackenzie [Cyr], and Madison [Cyr], and Jen [Mosketti] and all the other girls on the attack."

Along with Cyr and Loizeaux, midfielders Abby Smucker, Ally Heavens, and Tatum Coffey all finished the day with two goals. Coffey also recorded an assist on Heaven's goal to open the game, giving her 11 on the season and tying her career-high.

"I think that's one of the thing we wanted to take advantage of this year is not having three to four main scorers, [but] to have a lot of threats so they're not really sure where the goals are going to be coming from," Doherty said. "Thankfully for the girls, every game a different player steps up and it's been nice to see everybody contribute."

This win will be a huge momentum boost as Penn State prepare for a showdown with ALC Rival Ohio State. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions have gone back and forth over recent years, and both teams have a lot riding on the game. Doherty and her staff know the game will be a challenging one, but they also know they will be ready for what the Buckeyes bring.

"Ohio State is a big game," Doherty said. "They've done really well this season and it's always kind a grudge match there and we're just ready to come out, fight, and try to bring our best game."

Nittany Lions Fall to Northwestern, 5-4

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a cold, rainy night in State College, the Penn State Nittany Lions and Northwestern Wildcats went back and forth in a classic American Lacrosse Conference game at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

It was their fourth matchup within a year, and the Nittany Lions were hungry for a win against the team that ended their season last year. As game time got closer and closer, the intense feeling between the teams was palpable and both were ready for the challenges ahead.

The game kicked off with the Wildcats scoring two goals in the game's first 10 minutes. The Penn State defense was playing well, but tremendous plays from the Wildcats led to the early lead. The Nittany Lions, however, kept their heads high and were determined to battle back into the game.

And battle back they did.

Penn State started to take control off the draw and create turnovers, leading to offensive chances. Emi Smith tightened up her play in net, and the Nittany Lion offense seemed to start to discover a groove against their rival.

Kelly Lechner got the scoring going for Penn State when she took a draw control right down the field and beat Wildcat goalie, Bridget Bianco, with a goal to her high right side. The goal captured the energy of the Nittany Lions, as Lechner was knocked down while shooting but got right back up. Her tenacity clearly inspired the team and the momentum was starting to swing in favor of the girls in blue and white.

Then, with just over three minutes remaining in the first half, Tatum Coffey fed a cutting Madison Cyr for a one-timer to bring the game to 3-2. Penn State battled hard to get back into the game and carried the game's momentum into half time.

"I think I focused on the crashing aspect more this game," Madison Cyr said. "Last game we were crashing more stick and this time we were more focused on crashing the body and being there for each other. If someone got beat on a one-on-one, we wanted to be there for each other and I think it all worked out in the end because they did only score I think five goals. We held them to it."

The Nittany Lions and Wildcats went back and forth in the early parts of the second half with each team answering their opponent's goals.

"They are really a patient team," head coach Missy Doherty said. "I don't really know that approach and its obviously working for them. We like and enjoy playing high tempo and high pressure and I don't think that's really going to change.

"Tonight, we just couldn't really put our shots away. I think when you're not on attack as much, and you're playing a lot of [defense], the attack gets a little bit antsy. Even though we had some great shots, their goalie played great and we just weren't able to put our shots away."

Penn State had one final chance to equalize the game when Lauren Purvis made a terrific interception - man down, nonetheless - and found teammate Erika Spilker to start the rush. Spilker hit Madison Cyr in the midfield, who took the ball to net. Cyr, already with two goals, drove the net hard and put up a shot with just seconds remaining, but Bainco made the save to preserve the lead.

Cyr's effort on the play was tremendous and she came within mere inches of tying the game. Her two goals extended her impressive point-streak to nine games.

At the end of the day, according to Doherty, this is another excellent learning opportunity for the Nittany Lions as they prepare to take on more teams like the Wildcats before postseason play begins.

"They did a great job," Doherty said. "Our [defense] came up with some good stops and I think when they were trying to score, we did a great job of getting on their top scorers. I think attack really could have dictated this game a little bit more and maybe put some shots away. Instead of losing 5-4, maybe we win 8-4. That was disappointing today, but the girls fought the whole game, so it's hard to be mad at them. I told them after the game our goal is not to lose close games to good teams we want to start beating some of those teams. We still have a lot of time and a lot of teams to do that on our schedule."

Purvis Making Her Presence Felt

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a very successful last two weeks, Penn State enters its matchup with No. 4/5 Florida on Sunday riding a five-game win streak. A huge part of their success this season has been the depth of their roster. If a player gets tired, worn down, or is just having a bad day, a fellow Nittany Lion is ready to step up to the plate and compete.

This season, Lauren Purvis has done just that and has played an instrumental role in Penn State's success.  

The senior has done a tremendous job of filling in on defense, and she has done it with style. Purvis has made opposing teams well aware she is out there, and she has even surprised a few coaches on her own team with her aggressiveness and quickness on the defensive end.

"It's been great," Purvis said. "When I was a freshman and a sophomore here I was kind of a midfielder but now I'm more into defense. And I've always loved defense, even when I was in high school and when I was younger because you get to read the situation then act on it.

"This has probably been the longest I have ever stayed with defense and I love it. I use to think attack was cool because you get to score all the goals and stuff but getting interceptions and groundballs is just as important, realizing that is awesome, too."

Last year, in her junior season, Purvis came on late in the year and helped sure up a defensive unit ready to lead the Nittany Lions to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. She took that experience and built on it, becoming a team-leader this season.

"She has just taken on a real impact-player role," head coach Missy Doherty said. "She has been aggressive in the things that she has been doing. She's not afraid to make plays and put herself out there and she has great speed, so she is able to come up with some awesome ground balls and interceptions. Overall, having some experience coming this year, she has been able to mark up on the opposing team's best player and come up with some awesome game winning plays."

Since being inserted into the starting lineup, a span of seven games, Purvis, a Glen Maples, Pa., native, has corralled 15 ground balls and caused 17 turnovers. Through all 10 games this season, she has 18 ground balls and 20 turnovers, both team-highs and career-highs. Purvis also leads the American Lacrosse conference with 1.67 caused turnovers.

Earlier this season against Vanderbilt the senior had four caused turnovers and three ground balls; those numbers matched her production from the entire 2013 season. The energy she has brought this season has been invaluable, and he has now fully embraced her starting role.

Part of what makes Purvis so successful is her deception. Assistant coach Brooke Matthews joked that she never sees Purvis coming, and suddenly she will knock a ball out of the air, creating a turnover and leading to an offensive possession. The closing speed of Purvis gives her a major advantage as a defender. It also allows her to recover quickly and stay with fast attackers looking to score.

"I just read the person's body language and eyes, and everyone usually does that on defense, but I hope I'm right because I'm going for this ball and if I'm not, I'm going to look like an idiot," Purvis said with a laugh. "Half the time I'm right, half the time I'm wrong, so I just get lucky sometimes, too."

The senior also allows other defenders to handle their responsibilities because they know she is going to take care of hers. Part of playing defense is being aware of your fellow defenders and trusting them to get the job done. It's a trust that Purvis has earned from her Nittany Lion teammates.

For the eighth time in a row, Lauren Purvis will head out onto the field and make a start for the Nittany Lions when the team travels to Florida for a showdown against their American Lacrosse Rival Florida Gators. Just like any other ALC opponent, the play of the whole team, including Purvis, will be critical to earning a victory.

"I'm just trying to do my role on the team: playing defense," Purvis said. "We have a really strong defense, so I'm just doing anything I can."

Nittany Lions Clicking On All Cylinders

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the fifth game in a row, Nittany Lion women's lacrosse put together a strong team performance and earned a victory as they defeated the Drexel Dragons, 21-8, inside Holuba Hall on Wednesday.

Since falling to James Madison earlier this month, the Nittany Lions seemed to have made major adjustments to their game and are only getting better and better. Teams are having problems both getting on and keeping Penn State off the scoreboard.

Over the last five games, head coach Missy Doherty's squad has scored 92 goals while only allowing 41 to their opponents. Even more impressive, over their last four games the Nittany Lions haven't allowed their opponents - Rutgers, Vanderbilt, Michigan and Drexel - to score more than eight goals. That marks the longest streak of 10 goals or less for Doherty's defense since her team did it during a five-game winning streak in the 2011 season.

"Our JMU loss was a really tough loss," Doherty said after Wednesday's game. "And there was a huge change in our team after that, just from an energy side and goal side. It's been great to see them come out and start teaching themselves how to be a dominant team."

In Wednesday's win over Drexel, the Nittany Lions carried over the momentum from Saturday's win and scored the first six goals not even five minutes into the game. The movement of the ball was outstanding and it freed up players for scoring opportunities. The Nittany Lions entered the half with a 12-5 lead, and looked poised for a big second half.

Penn State opened the second half with a 7-1 run to widen the gap.  Along with the strong offensive pressure, we saw the defense put forth another great effort. They generated 13 caused turnovers and kept the Dragons offense out of rhythm time and time again.  As Doherty pointed out after the game, with the offense being so successful, it's hard for a defense to find its stride, but the Nittany Lions did just that despite the obstacles.

"It's hard when you are scoring a lot, and you're on offense a lot, its hard to keep your [defensive] rhythm going," Doherty said. "When you have one shot at defense every couple minutes it's hard to get in rhythm. We didn't really find a good rhythm there in the second and first half. But they adjusted well and sometimes attack bails out the defense and [defense] bails out the offense. And today the offense did a great job of creating the tempo for the game."

Three Nittany Lions in particular were playing extremely well for the girls in blue and white. Sisters Mackenzie and Madison Cyr finished their day with a combined nine points. In her last five outings, Madison has been exceptional for the Nittany Lions, scoring 15 goals and assisting on five more. The two sisters have had well-documented success and, according to them, it isn't an accident.

"We just play really well together," Mackenzie Said. "We mesh. We just get each other's glitches and what each other wants and how each other plays and we communicate really well, so that works."

The other NIttany Lion to continue her strong play is senior defender Lauren Purvis. She had a single game career-high five caused turnovers in the win, giving her a team-leading 20 caused turnovers on the season.

The Nittany Lions now turn their attention to a showdown with American Lacrosse Conference Rival No. 4/5 Florida in Gainesville. In order to keep the ball rolling, the Nittany Lions will need to continue to play at this high level and keep up their offensive and defensive pressure.

"Florida is always a huge rival of ours and it's really tough to play down there," Doherty said. "So we just want to be ready for another ALC game, and it's going to be a great matchup for us to really show where we are in the season."

Last season, the Nittany Lions battled the then-No. 2-ranked Gators at home and earned a victory. The game is fresh in the mind of the Nittany Lions as they start to prepare.

"I think we are all really excited because we had a huge win against them last year when they were ranked No. 2," Madison Cyr said. "I just think we are rally excited to play them again and see how well we do."

Game time is set for noon on Sunday. 

Nittany Lions Win Fourth Straight, Continue Dominance At Home

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's lacrosse team made the most of its first ever meeting against Michigan, handily beating the Wolverines, 20-7, on Saturday at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

The win marked the team's fourth-straight victory, and the dominance displayed on the field was a building block for Missy Doherty's squad.

On a chilly, windy day, from the first whistle to the last, the Nittany Lions looked unstoppable. The crisp passes, tenacious defense, and an incredible desire to win led to the Nittany Lions jumping out early and never taking their foot off the gas. Penn State had four stretches of scoring three more or goals in a row.

All in all, 12 different Penn State players registered a point, while three of them recorder career-firsts in the game.

Carly Bitzer, a senior defender playing attack, scored her first goal with 2:36 left in the game. The crowd erupted for the Doylestown Pa., native and teammates swarmed her in celebration. Along with Bitzer, Dani Lazo, a fellow defender, got her first goal of the season and attacker Shannon Lechner registered her first career two-goal game.

Four Nittany Lions had hat tricks, and the team finished the day with a combined 31 points. On the score sheet Penn State dominated every category. They registered more shots, grabbed more groundballs and draw controls, while committing fewer turnovers and fouls.

"It was nice that everybody got a chance to score today," attacker Maggie McCormick said after a five-point performance. "It was really a team effort.

"I think [our team] really stepped it up in the second half. They came out with focus and a whole new aggression toward their play and that really paid off. They were able to get a bunch of turnovers and give the offense a chance to score some more."

Madison Cyr continued her hot-streak, adding three more goals and an assist to bring her point total to 16 over the last four games. Cyr's fellow midfielder, Kelly Lechner, also had a goal and an assist to bring her career-point total to 100.

It wasn't all offense, however, for Penn State. Defensively, they had arguably their best outing of the season. They generated 15 caused turnovers, and held the Wolverines to just 14 shots in the game, allowing only five in the second half. It was a complete effort from the entire roster, and showcased the depth this team has.

"I think that we know that are are in the ALC conference now and we need to just go hard for every game because we are really looking forward to winning our conference," junior midfielder Tatum Coffey said after the game. "Michigan is a new team, but we weren't going to take them lightly.

"[The ALC is] getting more competitive. Northwestern hasn't lost in in a long time and they lost to Ohio State. Now it's more motivation for us to beat Ohio State, to beat Florida. Even though we won it last year, it was still a three-way tie, so we want our own championship."

Senior defender Lauren Purvis continued her superb performance on the defensive side of the field causing three turnovers. Purvis leads the conference with 1.50 caused turnovers per game. 11 Nittany Lions finished the game with at least one caused turnover, tying a season-high.

The win brings Missy Doherty's record at home to an outstanding 23-7, something she credits to the support of the Penn State faithful.

"I think there is definitely a great atmosphere here at Penn State for all the sports," Doherty said. "We have awesome facilities and great support from our fans, so there's a little bit of extra energy when we play at home."

It was an excellent day for the girls in blue and white. The win puts them at 2-0 against conference foes and provides momentum for their next game on Wednesday against Drexel. With conference play just getting started, and top-ranked opponents on the horizon, wins like this are crucial to the success of the team heading forward.

"We want to make sure that we are ready for ALCs," Doherty said. "It's one of the toughest conferences in the country and we have been playing hard but we just want to keep getting better and today I think we did get better."

Smucker Continues Fast Start

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the last four years, the No. 12 on the Penn State women's lacrosse team belonged to Molly Fernandez, an extremely competitive attacker who had a knack for beating goalkeepers with her quick shot.

Fernandez graduated last season but the No. 12 is still on the field for the Nittany Lions, it just now it belongs to a freshman midfielder who shares the same completive drive and knack for beating goalkeepers with her quick shot.

Abby Smucker has come out of the gate this year swinging. Through just eight games this season, the Bel Air, Md., native already has 14 goals and one assist. Those numbers have her tied for sixth on the team in points, and first among freshman.

Smucker has picked up an offensive load left after Fernandez graduated. When comparing the two through these first eight games, they have very similar numbers. Through eight games last season, Fernandez had 15 goals, just one more than Smucker has this year.

What makes the freshman so effective is her competitiveness. Similar to several other Nittany Lions, like Kelly Lechner, Madison Cyr, and Maggie McCormick to name a few, Smucker has a desire to be the best on the field every time she gets out there. Whether it's getting separation and going to goal, or causing a turnover, she gives all she has to make a play.

"I think a lot of it is the mental aspect of my game," Smucker said. "I knew coming in that college was going to be a lot faster, and [there would be] stronger girls. But I think the mental aspect of my game has grown a lot, and I attribute that to the coaches and the support of my team."

Her skill set is not limited to just shooting. The midfielder has also been very effective grabbing 10 draw controls, nine groundballs, and causing four turnovers. As the season progresses, her game continues to improve and she continues to develop into a solid overall player.

"She has been awesome; she is a super smart player; she's really coachable," coach Missy Doherty said. "You tell her one thing, it doesn't take her long to adjust to it. Watching her getting better and better is awesome.

"She has come up big in huge games, not just games where we win by a little more, but in significant games she has come up with huge plays, whether it's a draw control or a goal or a ground ball. It's been great to see someone come in and really assert themselves quickly."

Smucker has yet to start a game this season, but the fresh energy she brings off the bench has been invaluable to this team. She revives the Nittany Lions during games and if the offense gets a little stagnant, she is quick to help out and change help the team adjust. Smucker has been critical down the stretch of games this season, helping secure wins and keeping her opponents at bay.

"It's great," she said. "It's great to be on the winning side of things now. We had a couple tough losses, but I think that's what helped us grow and get these wins under our best."

Her efforts have gained her notoriety, as well. The midfielder was recently named the American Lacrosse Conference Rookie of the Week after scoring four goals in her last two games in wins against Rutgers and conference rival Vanderbilt.

"It's such an honor, especially being in the ALC with a great deal of talent," Smucker said. "It's an incredible honor to be rookie of the week."

The Nittany Lions and Smucker have a week of hard practice ahead before they welcome new ALC rival Michigan to the Penn State Lacrosse field on Sunday for a 1 p.m. showdown. This is the first time the two teams have squared off as Division I foes. The Wolverines have started out their season slow, but Doherty knows not to overlook anyone, and has her team focused.

"Michigan is a first year program, so they are dealing with a lot of freshmen; they're new. We just don't want to concentrate on them as much as maybe improving on some things that we've been working on since our last game," Doherty said.

Nittany Lions Manufacture Strongest Outing of 2014

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By Michael Renahan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's lacrosse team got back into the win column Saturday after putting together their most dominant performance of the 2014 season beating the Loyola Greyhounds, 18-11.

The team battled from start to finish and put to bed a two-game losing streak. With the victory, the Nittany Lions showcased the level of talent of they have against the No. 12 Greyhounds.

"We had gotten in a slump because of how many losses we've had to teams we should have beaten," midfielder Madison Cyr said. "So we all got together and the positivity just went up. We are working on positive affirmations, which are really helping, and I just think we wanted to win."

Head coach Missy Doherty's squad came out firing and got several solid performances from a cast of veteran players and newcomers alike.

Cyr had an outstanding day for the girls in blue and white. The sophomore midfielder nearly doubled her points on the season and looked to be unstoppable once the ball found her stick. She finished her day with a career-high in points, scoring four goals and assisting on two others.

Each time Cyr corralled the ball, the Westminster, Md., native looked to be going to goal. Her intensity and desire to win rubbed off on her teammates as she got the best out of every Nittany Lion possession.

It was fitting Cyr would get a loud ovation from the Penn State faithful as she got some rest late in the second half.

"Madison is great," Doherty said of her midfielder. "She is just a worker. She comes up with the draws, comes up with some huge goals. She is a great defender. She just had a great all-around game today. Every game someone else is going to step up and Madison did a great job of stepping up today."

Along with Cyr, the Nittany Lions also relied on the stability of midfielder Jenna Mosketti and goalkeeper Cat Rainone.

Mosketti continued her draw control dominance, registering a team-high six on the day, while finding the back of the net four times. The sophomore midfielder has become an incredibly valuable asset for Doherty and always seems to be the one to gain the offensive zone for the Nittany Lions.

Rainone, on the other hand, put together her best performance of the season in net. Coming off a setback against the then-No. 20 James Madison, Rainone clearly forgot about that game and looked determined to lead her team to victory.

She made several key saves, including a few on free position attempts. The Newtown Square, Pa., native finished her day with six saves and kept a powerful Loyola offense at bay for most of the afternoon.

Freshman midfielder Abby Smucker, and attackers Maggie McCormick and Mackenzie Cyr also continued their strong starts, combining for 11 points on the afternoon.

With it being her first season of Division I lacrosse, Smucker has been particularly impressive of this season. Her 10 goals are tied for third on the team, behind only Madison Cyr and Mosketti.

"That has been our task is to see how we can utilize [our midfielders] most effectively," Doherty said. "Today they did a great job across the board from Jenna getting draws, to Kelly [Lechner] scoring goals. It was just great to see that. You never really know where the next play is going to come from."

More impressive than the quick start from the Nittany Lions was their desire to finish strong. Penn State has struggled to close out games this season, but this is a positive sign that the team is improving in that category.

"I think we're just tired of losing," Madison Cyr said.  "That was what I was thinking. I just wanted to win a game. We all just came together this week. "

The Nittany Lions are back in action when they travel to New Brunswick, N.J., for a showdown with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Wednesday. Game time is set for 4 p.m.

"[Getting back in the win column] was great," Doherty said. "We had a tough loss against JMU and it's really only a bad loss if you don't get something from it. We got a lot from that game and a lot of things we really needed to work on and it was a good learning lesson for us. I think today you were able to see some of the things we worked on come true. It was a great dominant game by us and a fun one to play."