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Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa. - Last season, they were freshmen getting their feet set. This
season, they are dominating opponents and showcasing new talent they've taken
away from their first year of Division I lacrosse.
Mosketti, Madison Cyr, and Ally Heavens have only gotten better since they
first took the field for Penn State over a year ago. All now starters for head
coach Missy Doherty, these three have taken on a major role for the Nittany
Lions and look to be only improving game by game.
think [our play] definitely improved," Cyr said. "We all have a lot more confidence and our
leadership has definitely gone up. I think we just feel a lot more comfortable
with our second year, and [having] our first year under our belt."
has become one of the more dominant midfielders off the draw control. She
currently has 17 draw controls for the blue and white and she shows no signs of
slowing down. The closest Nittany Lion to her 17 is freshman Abby Smucker with
guess I'm taller," Mosketti said with a laugh. "But we worked a lot in the
fall, me and Tatum, did a lot of draw controls. We practice and you get good I
time the Fallstown, Md., native wins the draw you can hear the coaches and fans
yelling for her to take it to goal. Her quickness, speed, and intelligence have
allowed her to become a very strong midfielder, and a leader on the team.
the other hand, Madison Cyr has become a strong midfielder for different
reasons. You won't see her dominating the draw control, but she makes her
impact felt in different ways. The sophomore is currently tied for second on
the team with six goals, which surprises no one. When Cyr was first introduced
into Doherty's offensive scheme, she was the perfect fit. She makes tremendous
cuts and is very smart with the ball in and out of her stick.
think [I've become a shooter], because last year I would consider myself more
of a role player," Cyr said. "I just gained a lot of confidence, its just
also helps when her older sister, Mackenzie, knows exactly where she is going
to go and feeds her time and time again. Call it sister's intuition.
Mosketti and Cyr have combined for 12 points through the Nittany Lions' first
of course, we can't forget Ally Heavens.
season, Heavens originally emerged as a strong offensive-minded midfielder, but
has made the switch to defense. She has become a tremendous vocal leader for
the Nittany Lions and her aggression and tenacity make her the perfect fit as a
the four people down there, I loved the camaraderie about it," Heavens said. "But
I think with what we have coming down there it's going to make us a better
is consistently pursuing opposing attackers and creating turnovers to start
offensive rushes. Currently, she has five ground balls and two caused
turnovers. Heavens also brings a different aspect to her game: she knows
offense very well.
Garnet Valley, Pa., native can always be seen looking to hop into an offensive
rush and help out her teammates. She is quick with the ball and seems to be two
steps ahead of her opposition.
three have come up together on the field, and they show no signs of slowing
down. With the core of the team very young, these three are at the heart of
that core and have given Penn State a very bright future.
Mosketti, Heavens, and their fellow Nittany Lions are back in action on
Wednesday when they travel to Harrisonburg, Va., for a showdown against a solid
James Madison team. Game time is currently set for 4 p.m.
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions got back into the win column Tuesday
night when they defeated in-state rival Duquesne, 11-7. Head coach Missy
Doherty is now 3-0 when facing the Dukes.
State overcame a slow start to earn the victory. The Nittany Lions and the
Dukes gutted it out for the first 30 minutes, with Doherty's squad ahead by
halftime, Doherty, an excellent motivator, gave a rousing speech to her team as
she told them to overcome the challenges they faced in the first half and
reminded them what it's going to take to win this game.
Nittany Lion defense was playing well, but the offense was still getting its
feet set in the first stanza. Penn State scored five goals, two each from
Maggie McCormick and Mackenzie Cyr, as well as a goal from Kristin Brent, her
first this season.
Penn State offense was clearly not content after the first half. The Dukes
struck first, a mere 20 seconds into the second half. Another eight minutes
would go by with the team's trading goals. With 23:42 left in the second half,
Duquesne had a one-goal lead over the Nittany Lions.
it was almost as if the Nittany Lions turned on a switch, and it was time to
State started stringing together goals and showing off the kind of offense they
are. Over the last 22 minutes of the game, the blue and white scored five goals
and completely shut down the Duquesne offense.
was a completely different story of two halves for the Nittany Lions.
shot it a little better [in the second half]," Doherty said. "We had a couple
better opportunities. We did a good job of just keeping the tempo down in our
offensive end and picking out good chances to score."
the first half the Penn State had a shot advantage of only 12-7. In the second
half they dominated that category, outshooting the Dukes 18-4. Not only were
they outshooting Duquesne, the chances they were generating for each other were
outstanding. It was as if every play Doherty yelled out to her attackers and
midfielders was working exactly as she and her coaches wanted.
success, however, wasn't only in shots. After splitting the draw controls in
the first half with the Dukes, 5-5, the Nittany Lions dominated the second
half, 7-3. They forced their opponent into 22 turnovers and grabbed ten more
know they can pick it up," Doherty said. "We have had, the past two games, a
hard time putting the ball away. We have had some good shots, some good
opportunities and we haven't been capitalizing on it. It's a mental approach to
getting the ball and knowing you're going to score, as opposed to questioning
whether you're going to be able to make it. Just encouraging them to approach
it strong and aggressive and confident. That was a little bit of the message at
was a completely different team in Holuba Hall during the second half, the kind
of team the Nittany Lions want to be. They looked strong, composed, and ready
to take on anyone. Doherty, however, was just excited about earning this win.
is always tough," Doherty said. "They have really good athletes and a good
goalie. So we were always ready for a fight and that's what we got tonight and
thankfully they finished the game pretty strong."
Nittany Lions now prepare to hit the road this weekend for a huge contest
against Virginia. As of Monday night, the Cavaliers were ranked No. 9 this
season with a record of 1-3. The last time these two teams met Penn State topped Virginia, 15-14, scoring with 1:47 left in the game to seal it.
time, the Nittany Lions are focused on changing that result.
still clear the things we need to work on, and playing Virginia on Saturday is
a huge game for us," Doherty said. "We just have to be ready to come and work
on the things that we're struggling with, but also continue to play strong in
the areas that we're doing well."
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions scored four goals in the second half
of their game against the Maryland Terrapins, but it wasn't enough as they fell
to the No. 3 team in the nation, 14-7.
the entire game, the fans in attendance could feel the Nittany Lions getting
closer and closer. Maryland got rolling early, scoring the game's first five
goals, but the Nittany Lions never once looked like they were out of it.
Blue and White battled and battled and ended the first half trailing 8-3. The
three goals came courtesy of Jenna Mosketti, Abby Smucker and Mackenzie Cyr.
put the Nittany Lions on the board with 18:51 to play. The Nittany Lions struck
again just over a minute later when Cyr found Smucker cutting towards the goal
and fed her beautifully, allowing Smucker to finish the play and score. The
goal marks Smucker's first as a Nittany Lion.
At the end of the first the Nittany Lions were outshooting the Terps, 21-12,
and only had given up one turnover. The team looked strong and composed and
ready to make a big second half push.
before her team took the field, head coach Missy Doherty reminded them that all
it takes is one play to get back in a game.
the second half got started, the intensity from the women in blue and white was
tremendous. They were swarming ground balls and keeping the Maryland attackers
at bay. The Nittany Lions decided to make a switch at goalie and went with
sophomore Emi Smith.
was the one of the major story lines of the second half. The Denver, Colo.,
native made 10 saves in her 30 minutes in net, including several key stops on
free position opportunities. As a whole, the Nittany Lion defense looked to be
much more aggressive and tenacious.
did awesome," Doherty said. "She had a
great second half. It's been a tight race for our goalkeepers and Emi Proved a
lot in the second half. She came in with a lot of fire. It was great to see her
come out and come out huge for us in the second half."
second half also brought excellent offensive opportunities for Doherty's squad.
The attackers were feeding the midfielders perfectly as they cut, but the Maryland
goaltender, Abbey Clipp, was playing lights-out and keeping the Nittany Lions
off the scoreboard.
Nittany Lions took 15 more shots in the second half and converted on four of
them. The goals came from the sticks of Kelly Lechner, Madison Cyr and Smucker
scored her second.
gave credit to our offense because they were creating some awesome
opportunities," Doherty said. "It's not like we were taking bad shots, or
off-angled shots, or not working the ball enough and just shooting. They were
doing some great ball movement, opening each other up and getting some great
shots, but we just didn't put them away, which is a huge difference in the
and her team will head back on the field this week as they prepare for a
showdown with Duquesne on Tuesday night. This game showed the Nittany Lions
where they need to improve, but also showed them they are capable of playing
with a top-ranked team like Maryland.
think going into next week we are going to work on our shooting, close range and
outside the eight, as well," Smucker said. "We created great opportunities for
each other and I think that was awesome to see against the No. 2 team, but I
think we just need to finish the shots when we have them."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 42nd IFC/Panhellenic
Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center this weekend.
A record 711 dancers began standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and did not sit down
or sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against
pediatric cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund
at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering
childhood cancer. THON raised a record
of more than $13.3 million in 2014. To
date, more than $110 million has been raised by THON.
Several Penn State student-athletes danced in the annual dance
marathon. Representing the Student
Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) will be Maggie Harding from women's volleyball,
Natalie Buttinger from field hockey, Erin Kehoe from women's soccer and
Christian Kaschak from men's soccer.
Williams and Elise Potter from the Lionettes squad and Eugene Bodden, Kali
Fleckenstein, Carrie Tedesco and Ally Zimmerman from Penn State cheerleading danced in THON.
Several teams and coaches played an active role in THON events throughout
the weekend, in addition to squads participating in Saturday's annual pep rally
and team dance competition.
We would also like to
congratulate Penn State Athletic Communications student assistant Rachel Steinberg, as she danced over the weekend, in addition to the several student assistants
actively involved with THON.
Take a look through our THON weekend updates on the involvement Penn State Athletics. To donate to THON, please visit THON.org.
3:30 p.m. - Feature: Student-Athletes Set to Dance for Pediatric Cancer
Click here to read a feature on the student-athletes participating in THON 2014 - Feature Story
6 p.m. - THON 2014 Begins
The 711 dancers took their feet at 6 p.m. before an energetic crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center to begin 46-straight hours on their feet.
11 p.m. - Interview on the Floor
GoPSUsports.com talked with women's volleyball senior Maggie Harding on the floor about her experience during THON.
3 p.m. - Student-Athletes Host Make-A-Wish Families
Several teams hosted THON Make-A-Wish families on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON 2014 festivities.
More than 50 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed nearly 40 THON Make-A-Wish children and their families to a special tour of the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon.
The Make-A-Wish event is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year. The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.
Head coach James Franklin greeted the group when it arrived at the facility tour before senior Miles Dieffenbach and sophomore Akeel Lynch led families on tours. Take a look at the Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.
Photo Gallery - THON Make-A-Wish Football Event
5 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour
Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the Bryce Jordan Center during athlete hour on Saturday. Take a look.
9:45 p.m. - VIDEO: Pep Rally Dance Competition Highlights
One of the THON highlights every year comes on Saturday night when the teams of Penn State Athletics hop on stage and compete in a dancing competition during the annual pep rally. In all, 12 different teams competed in the 2014 version of the dance-off.
With resounding approval from a packed house in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lion men's swimming team was named champion of the team dancing competition for the second-straight year. We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON.
Photo Gallery - THON 2014 Pep Rally
Men's Swimming (Champions) - Full Dance
Football - Full Dance
Men's Basketball - Full Dance
Women's Volleyball - Full Dance
Men's Gymnastics - Full Dance
Women's Tennis - Full Dance
Field Hockey - Full Dance
Fencing - Full Dance
Men's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Lacrosse - Full Dance
Women's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Golf - Full Dance
11:05 p.m. - Student-Athlete Dancer Interviews: Hour 30
GoPSUsports.com talks with THON 2014 dancers Natalie Buttinger (field hockey) and Erin Kehoe (women's soccer) during the 30th hour of their 46-hour quest at THON.
12:55 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin Addresses THON 2014
Head coach James Franklin took the stage at THON on Sunday afternoon, urging the dancers to continuing working hard in their final push at the 46-hour marathon. Franklin spoke before a capacity crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center. Take a look.
4:11 p.m. - THON 2014 Raises Record $13.3 Million
THON 2014 reached new heights on Sunday afternoon when it was revealed that this year's efforts raised $13,343,517.33 for fight against pediatric cancer. Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2014. Here is a look at the reveal on the Rec Hall video board following Sunday's Penn State wrestling victory over Clarion.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch members of the Nittany Lion women's lacrosse team show off their dance moves at the THON 2014 Pep Rally.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It might have been their first time playing
against a different team, but you wouldn't have known that watching the Penn
State Nittany Lions knock off the Penn Quakers, 12-7, in exhibition action on
Yes, the Nittany Lions got the production they had been used to getting
from players like Maggie McCormick, Mackenzie Cyr, Tatum Coffey, and Jenna
Those four, in particular, contributed several key plays, including six
goals and six assists. McCormick looked as though she hasn't taken any time off
since last season ended and helped lead the offensive onslaught. She had five
assists by the time her day was over.
Altogether, the Nittany Lions out-shot the Quakers, 32-18.
Unknown to the fans of the team was a group of newcomers that also made
a huge impact in Holuba Hall Sunday afternoon.
Natalie Schmitt, Natalia Angelo, Jess Loizeaux and Cat Rainone all made
solid impacts throughout the game and helped contribute to the win.
Rainone and Angelo, both goalkeepers for head coach Missy Doherty's
squad, combined to make six saves and Rainone earned the win.
Loizeaux and Schmitt played huge roles offensively. They combined for 11
shots and four points.
Schmitt finished her day with three goals on six shots. Not
a bad start for the freshman attacker.
"I feel like I was pretty confident out there," Schmitt said. "Being with
people that are older than me, I didn't feel timid as a freshman.
"But I felt like I just did whatever we did in practice and it made me feel
good out there."
With key players like Katie Guy, Colleen Shea and Molly Fernandez no longer in
blue and white, the Nittany Lions might have stumbled, but Doherty and her
staff have the team playing at a very high level just days before the season
officially gets rolling.
"It's always exciting to see the newcomers come in and not be nervous on a game
situation," Doherty said. "It was great to see Cat start in goal and then Nat [Schmitt]
and Steph [Lazo] coming in later and really making some huge plays. It's great
to have the upperclassmen we have to lead them and make them feel comfortable
in their positions and it paid off today."
On Sunday afternoon, the Nittany Lions were in complete control of their
exhibition match against the Quakers. They were consistently winning draw
controls - they wont 16-of-21 opportunities - which led to solid offensive
setups time and time again. The passes were crisp and leading to excellent scoring
chances for the Lions.
Defensively, the Nittany Lions utilized three goalies but never once looked out
of sync. They were relentless against the Quaker attackers and constantly kept
them out of their groove and forced several turnovers. As a team, Penn State
forced Penn into 19 turnovers.
"Today was a hard fought game. I think our girls did a great job of getting
ahead, especially on defense. I thought they did a really good job of keeping
Penn out and forcing them to do things maybe they didn't really want to do.
They really set the tone today on defense. I think with our team in general, it's
going to be game-to-game different parts of our game can pick it up. It might
be the attack one game; it might be the [defense] another game. But today the
defense really set a great tone for us."
This was the start Doherty, her staff and the Nittany Lions wanted. They were
able to play the type of game that they wanted and they showed they haven't
missed a beat since the 2013 season ended.
The Nittany Lions officially kick off the season when they travel to Bucknell
on Wednesday. The game is set to start at 7 p.m. and if Sunday was a sign of
anything, the team will be ready to go.
The expectations are high for this team, and the newcomers seem very well aware
of that. They've embraced the challenge and are ready to roll for 2014.
"We've been playing each other the past five weeks, so playing someone else is
really nice," Cyr said after the game. "There are some things that we obviously
need to work on and we can tell that from this team. And that's nice. We know
what we need to work on."
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa. - Last season, the way to describe the Penn State Nittany Lion women's
lacrosse team was simple - young, fast and explosive.
had an offense that was going to put points up, and a defense that was going to
jump onto its opponent to force bad passes and turnovers.
season, the description of these Nittany Lions is similar. There's only one
minor change: young, fast and explosive becomes experienced, fast and
State is returning its top four scorers, top goalkeeper, and top assist leader
for 2014. The Nittany Lions are also welcoming back Lizzy Carney, who is an Inside Lacrosse preseason second-team
All-American, and 12 new players.
haven't played a game in over a year and it's really exciting to get back on
the field and just perform how I did sophomore year, hopefully," Carney said.
head coach Missy Doherty and her squad, last season will bring a new wind of
confidence to the current roster and help propel them to where they want to be
- the NCAA semifinals.
McCormick is the big name returning to this year's roster. The junior finished
last season with 50 goals and 37 assists for a team-high 87 points. The Eldersburg,
Md., native gave defenses problems with her quick feet, good decision-making,
and very powerful shot.
think I've always been somewhat of a confident player," McCormick said. "I know
who I am. I don't try to be a player that I'm not. Last year is in the past. It
was a good year scoring wise and things like that, but I'm not sure if the
points for me are necessarily in the cards this year, which is a testament to
how much better our offense is this year.
are much more balanced. We are much dynamic. We have a lot more weapons. Last
year was great, but like I said it's in the past so it's focusing on what I can
do for this team this year."
McCormick working alongside senior Mackenzie Cyr - who was second on the Nittany
Lions with 35 assists - the offense this season should not miss a beat, and if
anything, be better than what it was a season ago.
of McCormick and Cyr, Doherty and her staff have put together a roster filled
with offensive weapons. Midfielders Kelly Lechner, Tatum Coffey, Jenna
Mosketti, Ally Heavens and Madison Cyr are a few quick names to look out for
had an outstanding 2013 campaign. She more than doubled her points from the
previous year and emerged as an elite midfielder with solid stick handling and
a knack for beating the goalkeeper while cutting through the middle.
the Nittany Lions took some losses, but they gained stability in net and still
return a very talented defensive roster. Emi Smith entered last season as the
starter for Penn State as a true freshman. She finished the season making 112
saves in 21 starts and going 14-7. Smith will continue to grow as a player and
should make a solid jump into an elite goalkeeper this season.
"That experience piece is just great for us," Doherty said. "We have a lot of
our scorers back, but to credit them, they've really gotten a lot better even
from last year. We've been challenging them with new things to push themselves
even harder and they have responded really well. So not only are we getting
those scorers back but I'm hoping they're going to even be better than last
Nittany Lions know they have a tough road ahead. The American Lacrosse
Conference is home to several good opponents and is one of the toughest
conferences in the nation. The ALC boasts three teams in the top 10 with
Florida at No. 4, Northwestern at No. 5, and Penn State at No. 7.
of now, the Blue and White are slated to square off against six ranked teams
this season. Their schedule will only strengthen the team, says Doherty, and
prepare to them a deep postseason run when the NCAA Tournament comes around in
schedule is really tough, but being at Penn State that's what you need to do,"
Doherty said. "We want to bring our program to be one of the top in the country
and to do that you have to play those teams. It is stressful, but when you wan
to excel at a high level you have to test yourself against the best teams.
Thankfully our schedule provides us the opportunity to do that."
another year of experience under their belt, the Penn State Nittany Lions are
ready to roll in 2014 and make some noise. Things get started with an
exhibition match against Penn on Feb. 16 inside Holuba Hall.
excited not only with [McCormick and Carney] coming back, but with a lot of
weapons," Doherty said. "And we're
looking forward to the season starting. We have had a long preseason so the
girls are really anxious to start getting on the field and playing some games."
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Dozens of young lacrosse enthusiasts filled Holuba
Hall Sunday afternoon for the Penn State women's lacrosse team annual youth
clinic for all ages and skill levels. Head Coach Missy Doherty, Assistant Coach
Brooke Matthews and the players spent two hours with the young girls telling
jokes, teaching them basic skills, and interacting one-on-one.
This is one of many events the team hosts in order to spread the love of
lacrosse around the community. Doherty hosted the youth clinic for
the fourth time as head coach of the Nittany Lions and emphasized the positive
influence the clinics have on the team and local lacrosse players around the
State College area.
"We are very lucky to be at a place like State College. There's a great
community atmosphere," said Doherty.
The clinics motivate the team who is working hard to get through their
preseason practices. The players agree that it's a humbling experience to be
such an important influence in the lives of these young girls.
"It's cool when they come to our games and they say 'hey, we went to your
clinic,'" said sophomore midfielder Erika Spilker.
"There are little girls out here who are six years old and they're out here for
fun, but they tell their friends and then they all start playing," said
"Just being with the girls makes me want to play and makes me want to
practice," said sophomore midfielder Ally Heavens, "it's great to have little
girls and the community look up to us."
The team led a group warm-up game of tag that filled the room with laughter;
the atmosphere at Holuba Hall was nothing short of uplifting and passionate.
"Some of the girls were really shy at first but our team did a good job trying
to bring them out of their shells," said sophomore goalkeeper Emi Smith, "the
energy really picked up towards the end."
Matthews led a group wide training on basic sticks skills where she taught the
girls passing and follow through, "the most important skills in lacrosse," she
Then the young girls were divided into six groups that rotated between six
stations where they spent two hours practicing basic stick work, stick tricks,
and shooting skills.
Spilker was part of a shooting station where the girls practiced skills and
fired up friendly speed competition with the radar gun. She said her favorite
part was joking around and having fun with the kids.
Some of the young
girls were aspiring goal keepers suited up and ready to practice blocking
"I see a lot of potential with the upcoming years of lacrosse goalies because
lacrosse is growing as a sport," said sophomore goalkeeper Emi Smith, "the
goalies being out here want to learn and I think that's what is setting apart
good goalies from goalies that don't want to get better."
Smith's favorite part of the day was fooling around with the girls and making
"Penn State is a great place to be and great place to play lacrosse," said head
coach Doherty, "we stress to our players that you want to leave an impression
on people and to have the opportunity to work with younger players and leave a
positive impression on them is a great task," she said.
"It turned out to be a great event... It was a great day for Penn State
lacrosse." Doherty said.
Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany
Lions fell to the Northwestern Wildcats, 15-7, in the NCAA quarterfinals
Saturday night in Evanston.
The loss marked the end to an extremely successful
season for head coach Missy Doherty and her team. It was the third time the
Nittany Lions loss to the Wildcats in 2013 and second year in a row they lost
in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.
Freshman Madison Cyr had a solid night for
the Nittany Lions scoring two goals on three shots and playing hard defense
against the Wildcats. Along with Cyr, fellow freshman Jenna Mosketti had two
goals while Molly Fernandez, Kelly Lechner and Maggie McCormick each had one.
On a warm night in Evanston the Nittany Lions
struggled to get going offensively allowing the Wildcats to jump out to an
early lead. The normally sound Nittany Lions turned the ball over often in the
early parts of the game and the Northwestern Wildcats took advantage taking a
5-0 lead in the first 20 minutes.
As a team, Penn State turned the ball over
seven times in the first half to just four from the Wildcats. The Nittany
Lion's difficulties controlling the ball continued limiting the team to just
three goals in the first half. By the end of the game, the Nittany Lions had
started to play their style forcing the Wildcats into seven turnovers of their
own, but it was too little too late.
Penn State scored four goals over a six
minute span in the second half of the game to bring the deficit down to eight,
but they would not be able to bring it any closer than that by the final
whistle. They outscored the Wildcats 4-2 in the second half and took three more
shots, but the 13-3 first half deficit was too much to overcome.
The fast pace Nittany Lions could not get out
on breaks early to get transition goals. Penn State has been dominant with
their transition play in 2013, but the Wildcat defense shut down the Nittany Lion
offense throughout the game. Penn State only had four shots in the first half
and 16 by the end of the game.
Penn State also struggled off the draw. The
Nittany Lions had had success in the circle during the early rounds of the NCAA
tournament against Canisius College and University of Massachusetts, but the
Wildcats owned the draw control on Saturday night grabbing 25 to Penn State's
Defensively the Nittany Lions battled hard
but struggled to keep the Wildcats off the scoreboard. Northwestern moved the
ball very effectively against the Nittany Lions finding cutters and drawing
fouls to create free position opportunities. It felt as if the entire first
half was played in Penn State's defensive zone.
Emi Smith was unable to repeat her solid
outing from last weekend. The freshman allowed eight goals in the first half
before Doherty put in backup goalie Ayla Halus. Smith did return to the game in
the second half and played much better recording two saves.
In the first half the Wildcats had five free position opportunities scoring on
three of them to widen the lead. In uncharacteristic fashion, the Nittany Lions
committed 12 first half fouls to help allow the Wildcats to control the pace of
the game. Throughout the season, the
Penn State defense had become known for its hard, but intelligent, contesting
of opponents. They took charges and forced turnovers regularly but were unable
to do so Saturday night.
Seniors Katie Guy and Colleen Shea played at
an extremely high level against the Wildcats. Shea had two forced turnovers,
but a team high six fouls. Guy, who entered the game No. 10 in the nation in
caused turnovers, had three of her own in the setback.
The 2013 season was the most successful under
third year coach Missy Doherty. The Nittany Lions took a very young team far
into the NCAA tournament. Throughout the year, the team grew both offensively
and defensively and matured together. Penn State saw players like Maggie
McCormick and Kelly Lechner become stars and a freshman class that is sure to
excel in the coming years.
The Nittany Lions enter the offseason with a
lot to be proud of. While they didn't win a national championship this season,
they certainly set high expectations going forward.
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After opening the NCAA Tournament with two wins last
weekend in Happy Valley, the Penn State Nittany Lions hit the road to take on a
familiar foe in the Northwestern Wildcats.
The two teams have met twice this year with Northwestern winning both matchups.
"All bets are off with what happened in the regular season. There is
this new energy, people know this could be their last game, so we know
Northwestern is going to bring a pretty good fight and we just have to be ready
to stay in our own game plan," head coach Missy Doherty said. "They play an
aggressive defense, they try to rush our offense and we just have to be patient
and in control and have the first step forward."
During the weekend, Penn State showcased a talented offense and a
tenacious defense, two things they will need to beat the Wildcats. The Penn
State offense was patient and diligent in their attack against both the
University of Massachusetts Minutewomen and the Canisius College Golden
The Nittany Lions had consistent ball movement on the offensive end,
which allowed the cutters to work the field and get the best look possible. The
quick feet of the attackers and midfielders opened the field up allowing the
feeders to see them as they went to goal.
"I think both Canisius and UMass were really good opponents coming into
this game. UMass, they pressure out a lot and we had to be able to handle that
pressure. I thought the offense moved the ball much better than they had in the
past and started to see each other really well," Doherty said. "It was a good
lead up to our next game, but we just have to take care of the ball and do the
simple things well and not come out of our game plan.
On the defensive end, Emi Smith had her one of her more solid performances
of the 2013 season against UMass and the defense stood tall against two potent
offenses. Smith, a freshman, made seven saves, including some crucial free
position stops against both teams.
"She's a competitor. She knows that its playoff time and she came up with a
great game against UMass and she had a really good game against Northwestern
when we took them to overtime," Doherty said. "Like every other young player on
the team, she's had some experiences that will be just like our experience on
Saturday. When you know what you're kind of in for it takes some of the
pressure off and hopefully she will be ready to play."
As a team, they forced bad passes, generated turnovers and, when it mattered most,
shut down their opponent. Both Canisius and UMass were on the verge of
completing comebacks when the Nittany Lions answered the challenged and pulled
The Northwestern Wildcats, reigning national champions, boast a quick effective
defense that forces offenses out of their original game plan. They do their
best to take away cutters and have a very effective goalkeeper in Bridget
Bianco, a sophomore, is allowing 7.60 goals per game, good for No. 6 in
the nation. Bianco was recently named first-team
IWLCA All-West/Midwest Region. She, and the rest of the defense, has limited
the Nittany Lions to just 11 goals in the two matchups.
Penn State, however, is ready for the challenge. With
attackers like Maggie McCormick, Mackenzie Cyr and Molly Fernandez playing at
their best, the Nittany Lions want to score more goals and compete with the
defense. The Nittany Lions have one of the most balanced attacks in the conference
and will need help from every player again to beat the Wildcats.
"I think, especially playing a team like Northwestern,
you have to have a lot of legs. You have to be ready to run. We need a lot of
people who are not going to sit back and play it safe, but are going to take
some risks," Doherty said. "Thankfully, we have some athletic people on the
bench who can come kind of come in and contribute, and you've kind of seen that
the last couple games."
Currently, nine Penn State players have 13 goals or more. They are paced by
McCormick with 49 goals and Kelly Lechner with 46 goals. Along with those two,
the Nittany Lions have relied on the hot hands of Molly Fernandez and Mackenzie
Cyr in the offensive end. The two have been crucial this postseason combining
for 16 points in the first two games.
McCormick and Lechner both earned IWLCA All-American
Honors on Wednesday. McCormick and Lechner were both named to the second team.
Defensively, the Nittany Lions match up well against
the Wildcats. With the steady play from seniors Katie Guy and Colleen Shea, and
the emergence of junior midfielder Lauren Purvis, Penn State looks to limit an
offense that scores around 12 goals a game. Guy, recently named to the IWLCA
All-American third team, is No. 10 in the nation with 1.95 caused turnovers a
game. The defense continues to improve game and after game and Saturday should
be no different.
The Wildcats are led by senior midfielder Erin
Fitzgerald and junior midfielder Alyssa Leonard. Fitzgerald has scored over 50
goals this season, while Leonard has 32 of her own and set the school record
for draw controls with 120.
On the road this season, the Nittany Lions are 4-5 and
have been outscored 114-102. One of the losses, an 11-3 bout against Northwestern.
Doherty, however, says the team has to look past its road record.
"I think a game is a game. Our tougher, higher ranked
opponents have been on the road this year so it's somewhat reasonable that that's
how our record worked out," Doherty said. "The NCAAs, whether you're on the
road or at home, just provide a whole new sense of urgency and excitement so no
matter where the game is you know it's going to be a good game."
The last time the Nittany Lions were in the
quarterfinals they had their season ended by Florida, 15-2, in 2012. The team
is looking to advance to the semi-finals for the first time since 1999. Game time is set for 8 p.m. in Evanston.
"I think they're excited," Doherty said. "Our young
players have gotten a lot of experience because of the schedule we played. It's
nice to feel that we know what we're in for and we just have to be ready to
"This is a team where we realize we're one of the top
teams in the country and we're going to play like that," McCormick said after
the UMass win. "We expect to go to the Final Four, that's our goal, and we're
going to do everything we can to get there."