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Lions' Comeback Falls Short Against Maryland

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11028181.jpegBy Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the Big Ten title on the line, the Penn State women's lacrosse team prepared to go up against an undefeated Maryland team. The Nittany Lions knew they were in for a challenge, but they would not go down without a fight.

Following a slow start, the Blue and White returned to the field for the final 30 minutes of play trailing the No. 1 Terrapins, 8-3. Unfortunately, after a tough battle and hard-fought second half, Penn State suffered its first conference loss of the season. Despite outscoring the Terrapins in the final minutes, the No. 8 Nittany Lions (12-4, 4-1 B1G) fell to No. 1 Maryland (17-0, 5-0 B1G), 13-10.

"I thought it was a good game," said head coach Missy Doherty. "We came out, and the first half was really tough. We couldn't manage to get the draw. That made it hard to get any goals. So, I think in the second half we did a much better job of getting the draw, and turning the game around."

The Nittany Lions came out as a different, more aggressive and determined squad in the final half. They worked to swing momentum in their favor. The team could not find a way to win the draw in the opening 30 minutes but was determined to make a change. It knew possession would be key to winning the game.

Leading the way for the Nittany Lions in that aspect of the match was junior Jenna Mosketti. She secured six draw controls alone, helping the team win the draw in eight of the second half's 13 attempts.

"I don't know if it was as much words as it was just a better effort there in the second half," said Doherty. "I mean Jenna came up really big, coming up with some huge draw controls in the second half. She really helped us change the momentum around. Then the offense got a little bit more aggressive going to goal and finishing their shots."

In addition to the draw, Mosketti registered a hat trick, assisting her team in as many ways possible. Sophomore Steph Lazo also recorded three goals, and captain Maggie McCormick continued building on her assists record, adding five more to her total.

Throughout the game, the Nittany Lions saw goals from six players, as Madison Cyr, Katie O'Donnell, Tatum Coffey and Ally Heavens all added goals of their own. Nevertheless, the Blue and White were unable to capitalize from the free position, which ultimately hurt them in the end.

Also taking away from the team's momentum was an injury to goalie Emi Smith. The junior played the first 42:34 of the game, allowing nine goals and stopping seven attempts before being helped off the field. Freshman McKenna Coyle stepped into the cage for the final 17:26. She made three saves and allowed four, giving a strong performance as well.

"I think McKenna came in and did a really solid job for us," Doherty said. "I think from a motivational standpoint, it hurts a little when someone like Emi leaves the game. But, thankfully McKenna came in and stepped up and came up with some pretty big saves."

Overall, the Nittany Lions' performance showed that they can play with the best in the country. The loss gives them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Had they come out a little stronger, not putting themselves into such a deficit, the outcome could have been different.

Penn State may not have captured the Big Ten title yesterday, but they know they have the ability to beat a team like Maryland. That confidence will be huge in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, which will be the team's next challenge.

"I think we've seen that we can compete, and we have to do that for 60 minutes," said Doherty. "We had a little bit of a slow start, and against a team like that you need every advantage. But, I think the way we competed for the full game was awesome. I'm really proud of the team."

Nittany Lions Head to Maryland with Big Ten Title on the Line

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the Penn State women's lacrosse team takes on Maryland, it will be playing more than the final regular game of the season. These two teams will be going head-to-head, each looking to hand the other its first conference loss. Following Thursday's game, only one team will capture the first-ever Big Ten regular season title.

While the Blue and White are hoping to emerge with a win, this game is set to be the most difficult of the season. The No. 8 Lions will not just be going up against the No. 1 team in the country, but they will also be going up against the only undefeated team this season in the NCAA.

"I think it makes it more exciting," said head coach Missy Doherty. "It's a great way to end your regular season with a game that's so important. It's also a great way to gain some experience going into the Big Ten Tournament and hopefully NCAAs. So, I think it's a great matchup and great timing. We're pretty excited for Thursday."

In terms of what the Lions need to do to compete, Doherty believes defense will be key. She wants her team to be physical and assertive, ready to go up against the Terrapins from the time the game starts to the time it ends.

With Maryland's scorers and its ability to gain possession on the draw, Penn State has to take advantage of its time with the ball. Nevertheless, the team's leading scorers, Maggie McCormick and Steph Lazo, know that if they sticks to their game, success will come.

"We just need to listen to our coaches and believe in what they have to say," said Lazo. "They put out a really good scouting report. So, we just need to listen to them and play our game, not going into it thinking they're the No. 1 team. We're a top-ten team as well, so just being smart will be important."

The Blue and White will need to find a way to get balls by the Terrapin's goalie, who has one of the best save percentages in the Big Ten conference. Again, Lazo believes confidence will be a major factor. If the team stays calm and focused, it can achieve the results it wants.

"Missy [Doherty] always says when we're shooting we're going to shoot with a purpose," Lazo said. "We're going to shoot with the mindset that we're going to make the shot. I think just going in confident with our shots, just faking and putting it in."

With so many aspects the Lions will have to overcome, it is only fitting that the game will be played away from home. However, this challenge may not be as large of an issue for Penn State.

Fifteen athletes on the roster hail from Maryland, meaning there will be Nittany Lion supporters in the crowd giving the Blue and White an extra boost. In many ways, the team will feel right at home.

"Going back to Maryland, it's definitely a special game for a lot of people," McCormick said. "I know that a lot of girls on the team enjoy going back there, and we're definitely going to have a lot of fan support. Technically it's an away game, but it's not going to feel like that."

Even with all the pressure of going up against Maryland and playing this game on the road, the Nittany Lions have remained calm. No matter the outcome, they are happy to take the field for such a competitive, hard-fought match.

Right now, this team is excited. It is ready to play its best game of the season, and the Lions cannot wait to battle for the Big Ten title.

"I don't think this team really gets nervous, which I think is a good thing," said McCormick. "But, it's definitely exciting that the last game of the season is against two undefeated teams in the conference. We wouldn't want it any other way."

Successful Team Play Leads to Lions' Upset of Northwestern

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Headed into Sunday's matchup, the No. 12 Penn State women's lacrosse team knew what was on the line. Going up against a team like No. 7 Northwestern would be no easy task, but the Nittany Lions had confidence. They knew they could compete with any team in the country.

With this mindset, the Blue and White came out strong in Illinois and battled hard. The Lions outscored their opponent, 10-4, in the opening half and eventually secured their first victory against the Wildcats since 2003 by a final score of 14-10.

"I think it was just the team aspect on both ends," head coach Missy Doherty said. "We moved the ball really effectively, found the open people. Our defense did a great job sliding together and targeting their top scorers, coming up with some really big plays."

Although Penn State (12-3, 4-0 B1G) came out on top where it counted, the Wildcats (10-5, 2-2 B1G) outshot the Lions, 26-22, overall. Additionally, Northwestern won the draw control battle, 16-10, which resulted in more possession time for the Wildcats.

Nevertheless, the Nittany Lions did not let these numbers effect the outcome of the game. The team's defense was sure to cleanly clear the ball in each of its 12 attempts, and goalie Emi Smith made important saves, 10 in total, to keep the Blue and White ahead.

Following halftime, the Wildcats came out much stronger and pressured Penn State's squad. At one point, the Lions allowed four unanswered goals, but it did not take long for the team to fend off the attack.

"We knew Northwestern would go on a run," Doherty said. "They're a really tough team and have some great scorers. They did a great job on the draw in the second. They really out-drew us and had a lot more possessions than we did. So, it was a great testament to the girls, losing that possession, to come up with some key stops. Emi did a great job in the cage, making key saves. Then we just came up with some good, defensive plays to stop the other team."

On the other side, each time the team's offense controlled the ball, it was sure to make those moments count. In all the team saw six different goal scorers, emphasizing its depth and talent.

Captain Kelly Lechner dominated, scoring four goals throughout the match, and captain Maggie McCormick led in assists with five. Steph Lazo added a hat trick and an assist of her own, and Tatum Coffey had a three-point day with two goals and an assist. Madison Cyr and Katie O'Donnell each tacked on two more goals, and Jess Loizeaux notched a tally and a helper.

Lechner specifically played on a different level, determined to make help her team in any way possible. In addition to her four goals, she secured three draw controls and a ground ball. In the final minutes of play, however, Lechner was helped off the field after sustaining an injury.

"She was awesome," Doherty said of Lechner's play. "She just came out on fire. We challenged our experienced players today to come out and make some big plays. She definitely did that. Unfortunately, she did get injured at the end of the game. We'll have to wait and see what happens with that when we get back to campus."

With this victory, Penn State not only extended its winning streak to seven games, but it also secured a first-round bye in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament. The Nittany Lions' seed in the tournament will be determined following the results of their game against Maryland this week as the two compete for the first place finish in the conference.

"That's awesome," said Doherty of the bye. "It saves our legs a little bit from playing three games in a row. It's always tough to go back-to-back and play. It'll be nice to be rested for the first Big Ten game."

With their biggest test of the season just days away, the Blue and White will continue to work on improving in their week areas. Nevertheless, this win over Northwestern is huge for their confidence and shows that Penn State lacrosse will never back down in big games.

The Nittany Lions will continue to fight and compete to the best of their abilities.

Nittany Lions Look to Continue Winning Ways Against Northwestern

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Emerging victorious in its last six games, the Penn State women's lacrosse team looks to keep the streak alive Sunday when it takes on No. 7 Northwestern. This matchup will be a challenge, but the Nittany Lions are more than ready for the test.

"It's going to be a really hard game," said head coach Missy Doherty. "I think we're both sort of battling for the Big Ten and to be one of the few teams at the top of the Big Ten. So, they're always very, very good, especially at home. It's going to be quite a battle."

With Northwestern and Penn State both fresh off wins, it is clear the two teams will be prepared. According to Doherty, her team will need to play strong defensively, shutting down the Wildcats and handling the pressure they bring. She also knows it will be important for the Lions to finish each and every shot, putting the ball away as often as possible.

If Penn State does those few key things, the game will be theirs to take. Nevertheless, captain Kelly Lechner believes there is one additional aspect the team must excel in - the draw.

"We're really focusing on the draw because possession is key, especially against a team like Northwestern," said Lechner. "We're just going to need the ball and also staying calm under pressure. Like I just said, possession is key. We don't want to lose it on opportunities that we shouldn't. We just need to stay calm and keep the ball in our hands."

This season, the draw has consistently been one aspect the Nittany Lions feel they can improve upon. Lechner has played a huge role, winning 30 draw controls for the third most on the team. Jenna Mosketti and Ally Heavens are both first and second in that category, respectively.

As the season has progressed, the Lions have steadily improved in that area, which may correlate to their winning ways. With the team's six consecutive victories and polished play as of late, it is not surprising it feels confident. Penn State knows what it can accomplish, and this game against Northwestern will only help the Nittany Lions gauge their level of play.

"I think our confidence is great, especially coming off that win against Cornell," Lechner said. "We were looking at these last three games as kind of our championship plays. You know, they're huge games and we really came together at the right time during Cornell to piece together a whole game. So, we still have some things we need to work on, but the team is definitely confident, gelling together and working really well offensively and defensively."

Even with the Lions' belief in what they can accomplish in the remainder of the season, the team will need to make sure it excels on the road. Including this past week's game against Cornell, Penn State travels for its final three games of the regular season.

While being away from home certainly is a factor, the Blue and White refuse to let it affect their play. The team knows it can be successful each and every time it steps on the field, regardless of whether or not it is in Happy Valley.

"I think it's good and bad being on the road," said Doherty. "It's nice to have the team collectively together before games and preparing, but it's hard not to be at your home turf. We're excited to get on the road, and certainly these last two games are going to be a good measure of where we are."

The Nittany Lions are ready for Northwestern. With the way they are playing right now, Penn State knows it can compete with any team.

"Our expectation is to play our best game of the season," Lechner said. "We work on things every week. We don't think we've played our complete, whole best game. So, we just want to compete for 60 minutes and really execute on the things we've been working on."

McCormick and the Lions Fight Off Michigan and the Weather

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the Penn State women's lacrosse team took the field in Happy Valley for the final time this season, it was not anticipating the type of game that was about to be played with Michigan. When the second half began the skies opened up, and the rain began to pour. However, the Nittany Lions (10-3, 3-0 B1G) weren't about to let some inclement weather come between them and remaining undefeated in the Big Ten Conference. They finished the game outscoring the Wolverines (5-8, 0-3 B1G), 11-5.

While the downpour didn't begin until the final 30 minutes of play, the game did not start in the best of ways for the Blue and White. Numerous turnovers kept the match closer than what had been anticipated, and the Nittany Lions went into halftime with only a two-goal lead.

"Halftime we just had to calm down a little bit," head coach Missy Doherty said. "We have some really good players, and we were doing some plays and turning the ball over sort of uncharacteristically. We just had to settle in a little and get our own kind of egos back in check to say we're a good team and we're going to go out and work hard."

The team came out strong and ready to get back to work after the short break, scoring less than 30 seconds into the second half. While the Lions wanted to put much of the opening minutes behind them, they did have a few positives that needed to continue, one of which was the dominance of captain Maggie McCormick.

In the first 30 minutes, McCormick scored a goal and assisted on four others. She contributed to all five of Penn State's first half goals and would go on to grab another tally and assist, finishing the game with seven points.

According to Doherty, the Michigan defense was set up perfectly for McCormick to thrive. When the Wolverines would send extra pressure to try and stop a one-on-one, the captain would easily locate open teammates. For a player who loves dishing the ball, this set up worked perfectly in her favor.

"That team plays sort of a zone, which they did a really good job of," McCormick said. "But, it always kind of leaves someone open on the back side, so that's how some of those feeds were able to open up."

All in all, the Nittany Lions saw goals from nine different players throughout the game. McCormick and freshman Katie O'Donnell each had two, while Madison Cyr, Tatum Coffey, Kelly Lechner, Steph Lazo, Jenna Mosketti, Maggie Gallagher and Kristin Brent each tacked on one.

While the number of scorers demonstrated the Lions' depth, the true strong point in the team's victory was its defense. Time and time again, the defenders forced turnovers and prevented the Wolverines from getting good looks at the cage.

"I thought our defense played really well," said McCormick. "I thought it was the strongest point of our team tonight. They just did a good job of stopping their scorers. Obviously with that kind of weather you can't ask for them to do everything, and we have to clean it up in transition a little bit. But, overall I thought they played really well."

With such messy weather, making the field slippery and adding an extra chill, Penn State and Michigan continued to battle. Doherty, however, believes the rain may have worked in her team's favor.

"I think thankfully maybe it slowed [Michigan] down a little bit because they're a really aggressive and really good defensive team," said Doherty. "So, maybe it slowed everybody down a little, but it's lacrosse and it's weather we're used to."

Rain aside, the Nittany Lions knew they needed to emerge victorious. The game was a battle and they did make mistakes, but they came out on top in the end.

There is always room for improvement, and Penn State can use this game to learn, grow and be prepared for the remainder of this season.

"It was a pretty tough game," Doherty said. "The score was great, but I don't think our execution was that great tonight. I think offensively we just could have handled the pressure better, could have handled the ball better. But, it's a good warm up for the next couple games because they play similar defenses. We have to play better."

Nittany Lion Seniors Leave their Mark on the Lacrosse Program

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Thursday night, nine seniors on the Penn State women's lacrosse team will play in Happy Valley for the final time in the regular season. During their years as Nittany Lions, Haley Ford, Tatum Coffey, Kelly Lechner, Cat Layne, Jess Loizeaux, Maggie McCormick, Dani Lazo, Kristin Brent and Natalia Angelo all made an impact on this program.

These athletes will never be forgotten because of what they have done for the team. Their efforts will continue to help Penn State lacrosse grow and improve.

"The senior class has been great for four years," head coach Missy Doherty said. "This is the first class that we brought in here at Penn State, and I think they've done a great job in four years of continuing to improve the program and help us compete at a top level. Having different leaders every year emerge from that group has been great, and everybody in that group has contributed in so many different ways."

This season specifically, the senior class stepped up in an attempt to make its final year in Blue and White its best year. The nine have combined for 77 goals, 46 assists, 42 ground balls and 36 draw controls over the course of the 12 games. In total, they are responsible for 52 percent of the team's scoring.

McCormick and Coffey are the team's two leading scorers, while Lechner currently has the third most draw controls on the team with 24. This dominance is a direct reflection of the dedication the seniors have shown year in and year out. Doherty knows this class's work ethic is correlated with the team's success.

The seniors have accomplished great feats in all conferences they have been part of, the most recent of which is the Big Ten. They have excelled time and time again, proving no challenge is too difficult to overcome.

"In the past we won the ALC Championship, and we got rings for that," said Coffey. "We beat Florida with that, and Florida was ranked way ahead of us. So, games like that when you leave, you're never going to have a feeling like that again, I really hold on to."

While the seniors have worked hard each and every year, they have also made sure to have fun. Without enjoying their sport, they would have never experienced such triumphs.

All nine love lacrosse. They are passionate about the game, and that passion has helped defined their time in Happy Valley. It's something they certainly hope to leave behind.

"We came here to play lacrosse in college because it's fun and this is what we love to do," said Coffey. "Hopefully, we can leave that with the other classes that we do this because we love it. Still, we work hard, but we have to have fun too."

With such few games remaining the time has come to look beyond what theses nine seniors have accomplished during their time on the team.

They have set the standard for what it means to play on the Penn State women's lacrosse team. Their leadership and skill will not be easily replaced.

"I think it's just their consistency and effort and what that helped us lead to as a program," Doherty said. "In their four years, we've made the tournament every year and been consistently in the top ten and helped us to really realize that when you compete at a consistent level and work hard that we can achieve good things."

There is still time left in the season with at least five games remaining. These seniors aren't finished yet; they still have more they want to prove.

Nittany Lions Down Ohio State on Senior Day

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Emotions were high this weekend in Happy Valley as the Penn State women's lacrosse team took on rival Ohio State. For the nine senior Lions, the match marked the final time they would play a weekend home game while donning the Blue and White.

The group, along with the rest of the team, wanted to come out on top for that reason. They needed to win for each other. That determination and strength ultimately led the Nittany Lions (9-3, 2-0 B1G) to a 14-13 win over the Buckeyes (10-3, 1-1 B1G) after a hard-fought 60 minutes of play.

"It's always a battle with them, all the time," said head coach Missy Doherty of Ohio State. "I mean, it's always a good game. We've had a couple hard one-point losses, and this was a great one-point win. We came up big when we needed to, and thankfully we played really well."

During the game, the senior class proved to be a consistent force. Midfielder Tatum Coffey led the way with a hat trick and an assist, captain Kelly Lechner notched two goals and Haley Ford opened the game's scoring with a tally of her own.

Doherty was proud to watch this specific class celebrate a well-deserved win after the heart and soul they put into the program throughout their years as Nittany Lions.

"The seniors did great," said Doherty. "All of them came up with some really big plays tonight. They're a class that has done great for four years, and I'm glad they finished their senior night on a good note."

Senior Maggie McCormick, the team's offensive leader, was unfortunately held pointless against Ohio State. Throughout the entirety of the match, she was face guarded by the Buckeyes, making her virtually unavailable to help her teammates.

The Blue and White tried to make quick changes at the restraining line, but these switches would only free up the attacker for a few short moments at a time. With McCormick unable to fill her usual role, the rest of the offense needed to step up and prove it could still dominate.

Leading the way for Penn State was sophomore Steph Lazo, who tallied three goals and two assists in the victory. She scored on three of her four shot attempts and was a constant presence on the field.

"I felt confident with the ball because since Maggie [McCormick] was out I guess I had to step up a little bit," said Lazo. "So, I felt confident with it and my teammates were giving me opportunities. I just took them, and I saw the open opportunities to give them. They just took it and ran with it. We finished it, and it's a great day for our seniors."

Lazo also added that even without McCormick, the team still had a number of threats. The Nittany Lions have depth, which is part of the reason they are such a dangerous team.

While the day as a whole mainly focused on seniors, Lazo also had an emotional experience as she played with her sister, Dani Lazo, for one of the final times on the team's home field.

"We had our senior day festivities before and all of us were crying in the locker room," said Lazo. "I was crying like a baby before this, but I think having her [Dani Lazo] as a senior made it more special for me too because our family is here. I just wanted to go out there and play hard for her and do my best for her."

The win was the team's closest game this season in which it emerged on top, yet it was not the first one-point match it played in. All three of Penn State's losses were decided by one goal, which made the victory over the Buckeyes on senior night all the more special.

"Missy always says we were just three points away from being an undefeated team," Lazo said. "It really sits with you and kind of motivates you. So, coming out on the winning end by one definitely kept it interesting. Like I keep saying, it feels amazing to come out on the winning end."

The Nittany Lions will take the field in Happy Valley one final time this season when they take on Big Ten opponent Michigan Thursday at 7 p.m.

B1G Exposure Assists Growth of Penn State Lacrosse

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By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the new Big Ten conference comes huge opportunities for the Penn State women's lacrosse team, one of which is televised games. The Nittany Lions' matchup against Rutgers last weekend was featured on the Big Ten Network, and three of their final five will also be broadcasted for fans to see.

While this media attention is exciting for the team, it is also proof of the explosion of the sport. Lacrosse is growing, and it's spreading fast.

"I think it's definitely a big building block in getting more exposure to this game," captain Maggie McCormick said. "We all obviously love it. We play it, and we think we're a fun team to play. We're a high tempo team and stuff like that. So, getting those games on TV is huge for our program, and it's huge for lacrosse in general."

Head coach Missy Doherty added that not only is this media presence great for the program and the sport, but it also allows fans from across the country to tune in to games they would otherwise miss. Friends, family and alumni that live too far away to travel have the opportunity to watch and support the Lions from their own homes.

Many times, these viewers also include potential recruits. Doherty believes the additional coverage will greatly help the program bring in athletes who are excited to wear Blue and White for all the nation to see.

"For a female athlete, there's not much in your career as an athlete," Doherty said. "College is pretty much it for most sports when it comes to a high competitive level. Having that great athletic experience for most women is the college experience. So, to feel like a big deal, to be on TV, I love that for our athletes, and I love being able to tell our recruits that if they come here they'll be a big deal. It's awesome to play sports here, and it's awesome to have the exposure that we have."

Although the Nittany Lions have only experienced one televised game thus far, they did have to make some adjustments. With the coverage comes media timeouts, which in lacrosse can potentially interrupt the flow of the game.

Each half has three timeouts when the matches are featured on the Big Ten Network, meaning the game has a total of six stoppages. Nevertheless, the overall excitement of being feature on such a large stage overtakes the few disadvantages.

Plus, the Nittany Lions would never let a few minor changes alter their game. They know their identity. Penn State is always ready to compete.

"We're not a team that's going to shy away from our play and play any differently because we're on TV," McCormick said. "We like it, and we like the challenge. We like the fact that we're getting that sort of exposure."

This Saturday, No. 12 Penn State (8-3, 1-0 B1G) will take on No. 18 Ohio State (10-2, 1-0 B1G) in its second televised game this season. However, this will be the first home game for the Blue and White featured on the Big Ten Network.

Getting ready to face arguably their biggest rival, the Nittany Lions know what they need to do to have success during their first Big Ten game in Happy Valley.

"Ohio State is always a close game for us," said Doherty. "It's always a battle. They're very physical. They work very hard. It's our first year in the Big Ten, so we're not taking any of our conference games lightly for sure. Ohio State is always a good matchup for us, so we know it's going to be a battle. But, those are the kind of games you want to be in when you're playing at Penn State."

VIDEO: Behind the Scenes on the Road

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - continues the video series "A Day in the Life" with an inside look at the Penn State women's lacrosse team's time on the road.

Coffey and the Lions Defeat Rutgers in First Big Ten Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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