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 17.
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.
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Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
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 Griffins.
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 out victories.
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.
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 execute."
"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."
Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are winning and winning together.
Penn State advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament for the second straight year with a win over University of Massachusetts Sunday at the Penn State Lacrosse field. The team has been nationally-ranked the entire season, earned a share of their conference championship, and never lost at home.
It has not been easy, but they've done it with class. They've done it with style. They've done it together.
They now hit the road and travel to Evanston to take on the Northwestern Wildcats for the right to advance to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. The tough season has the team ready for whatever challenges the Wildcats could throw at them.
Penn State had a long way to go to get to this point. They started the season with only three seniors, and a core of mostly freshman and sophomores. Team synergy was the biggest question mark for the Nittany Lions heading into the season, one they have answered time and time again.
They never once blinked or backed down against an opponent. Instead, they lowered their shoulders and put their best on the line every game.
As a team, the Nittany Lions have scored 266 goals this year on 567 shots. They have shared the ball well this year assisting on 115 of those 266 goals. The 115 assists are second best in the American Lacrosse Conference to only 117 by Florida. They wait for one another to get the right pass and get the right shot. After every game, any individual star player immediately gives credit to their teammates for their successes that day.
It's not just one Nittany Lion setting the tone; it's every player on the roster. Each Penn State Nittany Lion brings her own style and her own flare to the team. They are a direct reflection of their coaches and of one another. The toughness, the grit, the desire and the determination can be seen in all the players.
Before each home game, the Nittany Lions arrive at the field in the classic Penn State blue buses. The entire State College area is well aware when the team is about to take the field as they honk their horn dozens of times in preparation. Once they get to the field, they are met by the soundtrack to their season, the classic songs that have become a staple in their pre-game ritual.
Amidst the smiles and laughter is a sense of determination and focus. While they have fun warming up to the music, each player is constantly rooting their teammates on and making sure they're ready go. "Let's go State" can be heard around 100 times before games.
The chants do not stop after pre-game warm-ups. Throughout the entire 60 minute match, the team is yelling out plays, supporting their teammates and working as one to keep the energy high. After every goal the bench explodes and the faces light up.
Penn State leads the ALC with nine players scoring 13 goals or more. Of those nine, six have 30 points or more, creating a balanced attack for the Nittany Lions. Maggie McCormick paces the team with 84 points. The sophomore attacker has been a dominant force at the attack for Penn State and has given defenses fits all season long. She has worked very well fellow attacker junior Mackenzie Cyr, who has 66 points of her own.
The midfield has been controlled by sophomore Kelly Lechner, who scored three goals in the team's win on Sunday. She has more than doubled her goals from freshman year and has been one of the best two way players on the field. After Lechner, Tatum Coffey, Molly Fernandez and Jenna Mosketti fill the stat sheet with 38, 36 and 32 points, respectively.
Altogether 14 Nittany Lions have registered a point this season. It is not just offensively that Penn State has showcased its teamwork and desire to win for another one. On the defensive end, Penn State works just as hard.
With each interception or forced turnover, the bench lights up as if someone scored a goal. The coaches yell in support, the fans yell in support and the team keeps on working hard. They play for one another, they play to win, and they play as a team.
The Nittany Lions will continue to utilize their teamwork as they prepare for a quarterfinal matchup against ALC foe Northwestern. Game time is set for 8 p.m. in Evanston on Saturday.
Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions just keep winning at home.
On a cold windy Sunday in State College, the Nittany Lion women's lacrosse team battled hard in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to beat the University of Massachusetts Minutewomen, 12-9.
Attackers Maggie McCormick and Mackenzie Cyr led the charge for the Nittany Lions. McCormick and Cyr both had six points for Penn State as they fed off one other to work over the normally sound Massachusetts defense. It was Cyr's second six-point performance of the weekend.
The Nittany Lions controlled the pace of the game for virtually the entire 60 minutes. Despite a late Minutewomen run to cut the lead down to two with 19 minutes to go, the Nittany Lions never showed any signs they were worried and stuck to the game plan to get the victory.
Penn State started off with the hot hand opening up a 4-1 lead with just over 20 minutes left in the first half. McCormick scored three of the team's first four goals taking beautiful feeds from Mackenzie Cyr and beating goalkeeper Jamie Schiloski with quick low shots.
The Minutewomen tested the Nittany Lion defense early, scoring two in a row to bring the lead back to one. Penn State then locked all doors and windows and started shutting down a very potent Massachusetts attack. Emi Smith had a stellar first half stopping four shots and leading the defense perfectly.
"I don't think today's game was different than any other game I've played," Smith said. "I just did the same exact thing I do every day and I think the difference between today and every other game was I told myself, 'I'm playing for the seniors' and I don't want to let them down and I want them to go further in this championship."
The Nittany Lions entered halftime up by four after Tatum Coffey took a clear attempt and sprinted to goal beating Schiloski with a quick to the right corner. Penn State found itself in a similar situation to Friday's game against Canisius. The Nittany Lions entered the half up on Canisius only to allow a quick comeback from the Golden Griffins. On Sunday, the team started the second half with a new fire and mindset intensity to not let the Minutewomen back in the game.
Penn State came out firing after the whistle to start the second half. McCormick took another perfect lead pass from Mackenzie Cyr to beat Schiloski in the low left corner. Massachusetts matched the Nittany Lions' intensity level scoring three goals in a row to battle back into the game. The teams were in a classic NCAA showdown with neither one backing down.
Penn State was struggling to clear the ball creating easy interceptions and takeaways for the Minutewomen middies. The turnovers were giving Massachusetts an opportunity to steal momentum. Doherty used a timeout perfectly to calm down her team and let them regain focus. After the timeout, the Nittany Lions took the field ready to execute.
"That's all about excitement. I think that the defense was doing a really good job of getting open and they were working hard," Smith said. "You know sometimes bad passes happen and I think I can just do better in practices next week."
"I think the biggest part of that, and the reason why we were so successful, is Emi was in a position because of how she played and how our defense played to make some good clears in critical situations. That was the key to the game and the 'D' came up with some awesome stops and even if we had an error or two, we got the ball back again. I think maybe Emi wanted a couple more shots today she was really feeling it," Doherty said with a smile.
The Minutewomen looked to be poised to take control back from the Nittany Lions, but Molly Fernandez had other ideas. The senior attacker did not want to see her season come into question, and instead, she scored two goals within a minute and a half to widen the gap.
"We were just doing what we usually do. I'm just cutting in the middle, I'm working hard and fortunately Mackenzie [Cyr] hit me with a great pass that first shot and we were just doing what we usually do," Fernandez said. "Just trying to stay consistent and score the goal."
As Fernandez scored, the Nittany Lions exploded on the sidelines. The senior fighting for her team and season inspired the rest of the team to take their play up a notch and take down Massachusetts.
"[The two goals] were huge and Molly did a great job of figuring out their defense," Doherty said. "I think we were pushing a little bit too much in from the top and running right into their pressure and Molly started to figure out the holes they were leaving to be open and a credit to her for figuring that out and coming up with some really important goals."
While Fernandez recognizes that her Penn State career could be over with a loss, she understands how important these wins are for the program and not just for her and her fellow seniors.
"I don't think it's playing for the seniors, I think it's playing for our program," Fernandez said. "I mean we want to go really far in this tournament and make a name for Penn State and it's a whole team win not just for the seniors. It's great."
The normally fast-paced Nittany Lion offense had a different day offensively. They showcased their ability to play patient and to wait for the right shot. When they got the shot they wanted, the team took complete advantage and beat the goalkeeper time and time again.
"[Being patient] ended up a being part of the game plan," Doherty said. "I think we wanted to move their defense. Their defense does a really good job of stopping your one vs. one challenge, so we had to get the ball moving. We did a great job finding Molly in the middle there to end the game and get some really great goals."
"Molly was our sneaky little cutter getting in there and getting open to finish out the game. But, overall, we wanted to be aggressive, I think towards the end of the game they did a great job of just keeping tempo," Doherty said. "We were still going to goal, they knew we could shoot; they just did a great job of being smart with the possessions."
This isn't the first time they Nittany Lions have had to adjust to a new opponent. They have faced faster and slower teams than the Minutewomen in 2013. One of the highlights of Penn State's schedule is how many different teams they see, according to Doherty.
"I think our whole season we have had every single type of game. You use any type of game as a learning lesson. I think to be in NCAAs, and to hopefully compete for championships, you need to be consistent across the board," Doherty said. "You don't go thru in any round if you know you're not ready to do that and luckily the girls stepped it up even more in the second half."
Kelly Lechner had another solid game for Penn State. The sophomore midfielder followed up her two goal performance against Canisius with three goals and an assist against Massachusetts. Lechner also played a crucial role helping the defense shut down the Minutewomen offense.
This is the first time the teams have met since 2001 with Penn State winning both games. The win advances the Nittany Lions to the quarterfinals where they will meet American Lacrosse Conference foe Northwestern. The Wildcats and Penn State have met twice this season with Northwestern winning both matchups.
The win gives the team a 9-0 record at home this season. They also won back-to-back NCAA games for the first time since 1999. Game time is set for 8 p.m. in Evanston next Saturday.
"Well we're really unfamiliar with them, it's going to be hard to figure them out" Doherty said jokingly. "They're the reigning champions and they do a great job of bringing it crunch time and playing smart and playing effective. We have a lot of great competitors on our team, were familiar with them, obviously, but we have to be ready for anything. We have to be ready to play a smart game, an aggressive game and we have to be ready to work hard, for sure."
Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions beat the Canisius College Golden Griffins, 14-13, in a down to the wire game Friday night at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.
The Griffins brought the Penn State lead down to just one with 12 seconds remaining but were unable to score a final goal against the tenacious Nittany Lion defense. The Lions never once looked worried or nervous; they just remained focused and finished off the game.
As the rain fell and the Nittany Lions celebrated the hard-fought victory, it was clear to see how much this game meant to them. A loss would mean their season was over; instead they now get to move forward and play again Sunday with hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals, a spot where they were knocked out just a year ago.
"Any game could be your last game, so you don't want to end your season on a loss," junior attacker Mackenzie Cyr said.
Cyr recorded a hat trick, her sixth of the season, and assisted on three more goals. She is now second on the team in assists with 30.
The Nittany Lions got terrific play from their young star players. Freshmen and sophomore players accounted for nine of the team's 14 goals. Sophomores Maggie McCormick and Kelly Lechner both scored two goals while freshmen Jenna Mosketti and Ally Heavens also scored two of their own in the victory.
"This whole experience and this whole year have been great. We've achieved things that we didn't think we would. Every game has been sort of a battle, and we're definitely battle tested, and a big reason for that is our young players coming through, and our older players leading them," head coach Missy Doherty said. "It's been a good mix and we're glad that people stepped up. It was good to see them step up."
Canisius head coach Scott Teeter referred to the Nittany Lions as a "very quick tempo [team] and they got some big scorers."
All in all, the Nittany Lions had seven players score a goal in the win, six of which had two goals or more.
Penn State started the night extremely hot.
Attacker Molly Fernandez beat Griffin goalkeeper Kayla Scully just 18 seconds
into the matchup with a blistering high right corner shot. The goal set a tone
for Penn State as the team went on to open a 4-1 lead with a little over 17
minutes remaining in the first half.
The Nittany Lions made an emphasis to pound the ball in the offensive zone to generate more and more shots. They used quick passes and hit their cutters perfectly to open the lead. The offense looked to be unstoppable in the early going, but Canisius rebounded quickly.
The Griffins scored two quick goals in a row to bring the game within one. Morgan Leonard, the team's top scorer, beat freshman Emi Smith in the top right corner. Lindsey Morgan then notched her first goal of the game, 36 of the season, beating Smith with a low shot.
Penn State had a quick group huddle and looked determined to stop the Canisius offense. The team would prove it could keep up with the fast paced offense holding them scoreless for five minutes while Ally Heavens scored a goal to widen the gap to 5-3. Colleen Shea proved her toughness numerous times taking several charges from the Griffins and always getting back up.
Shea quietly had a solid game helping contain a very effective Canisius offense. She has played a major role in shutting down top scorers and will continue to do so as the team advances.
Penn State and Canisius were locked at 5-5 with one minute to go before the end of the first half when Lechner took a feed from Mackenzie Cyr and beat Scully. The goal gave a major boost to the confidence of the Nittany Lions as they entered halftime up by one. Penn State played hard in the first half and knew they had to come out strong in the second to beat the surprising Griffins. Canisius had given them fits all afternoon and Penn State was slowly figuring out how to get past them.
Canisius, however, continued to play strong against the battle tested Nittany Lions. They came out and scored two quick goals to start the second half. Penn State appeared to be re-energized once they lost the lead and came firing back scoring four in a row. Canisius held their only lead for a mere 31 seconds.
"I think when it was back and forth a lot and I think when we come into those minor situations, we always want to come up with [new energy] and come up with the draws and the little plays and that's what our team is all about," Heavens said.
"I think we want to play consistent the whole game regardless of how the game is going and going back and forth. Thankfully, our girls make big plays when it matters so we always know when it's close or when we take a big lead or they take a big lead, that we just have to keep playing well," Doherty said. "We just wanted to come back in and start doing the simple things well and finish on the simple shots and thankfully the girls did a good job of battling back and winning the game."
Penn State then opened up their scoring with stellar lockdown defense leading to fast-break opportunities for the offense. The team scored three goals to widen the gap, including Fernandez's second goal of the night on a terrific free position opportunity. The second goal marked 100 goals for Fernandez's career, an incredible accomplishment for the senior.
As a defense, the Nittany Lions played hard. The game was much more physical than the team had experienced this season, but they rose to the occasion every time. Assistant coach Amy Altig seemed pleased with the way her team played defense. The coach consistently applauded the strong play from the sidelines. The Griffins, who only lost five games all season, also use their quickness to beat defenses. Penn State's defense matched the speed and intensity the Griffins brought.
Despite the Griffins bringing it within one with 12 seconds left, the team finished strong as a whole. Emi Smith played solid again at home. She recorded four saves in the victory, including a few big free position stops to preserve the lead. Penn State forced Canisius into nine turnovers throughout the game. The Nittany Lions also showcased their dominance off the draw by grabbing 22 to the Griffin's seven.
The draw had been a focal point of the team's practice during the week, and to see it executed so well was pleasing to Doherty.
"Like I said, Kate Guy did awesome on the draw today," Doherty said. "The girls on the circle did really well coming up with the loose balls and the possessions and it was a focus for us this week at practice and they really did a great job of that."
The Nittany Lions now turn their attention to the University of Massachusetts for a 1 p.m. showdown on Sunday. Massachusetts is coming off a 14-10 victory over the University of Connecticut Huskies. The Minutewomen match up well against the Nittany Lions across the board. Two junior attackers, Sam Rush and Katie Ferris, lead the charge for the team. Together they have scored 108 goals and led one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. Ferris ranks No. 37 in the nation with 2.76 goals per game while Rush ranks No. 8 in the nation with 3.21 goals per game. The Nittany Lions will face the challenge to slow down an offense that scores around 15 goals a game if they want to win. On the other end of the field, the Minutewomen will most likely start sophomore Jamie Schiloski in goal. Schiloski and the rest of the defensive unit have been solid this season.
"We're happy to walk away with a win. It was a really hard fought game," Doherty said. "I think in the first half we didn't quite put away our shots the way we would have liked and Canisius did a good job of continuing to fight the whole game, and work hard and make the game close, and luckily we pulled away with the win."
Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This weekend the Penn State Lacrosse Field will be home to four teams as they battle in the opening rounds of the NCAA Women's Lacrosse Tournament. The home team, the Penn State Nittany Lions, will square off against the Canisius College Griffins on Friday. Following that game, the University of Connecticut Huskies will face off against the University of Massachusetts Minutewomen.
This is the first time opening round action is being played in Happy Valley since 2005. The four teams together went a combined 56-16 on their way to scoring 962 goals against their opponents. The Nittany Lions, the Griffins and Minutewomen all were crowned champions of their respective conferences, while the Huskies fell to Syracuse in the BIGEAST semifinals. The four will all need two wins to get out of Happy Valley and move onto the NCAA quarterfinals.
University of Connecticut Huskies
This is the first time in the program's history the Huskies have made it to the NCAA Tournament. They won 13 games this season, including a 7-0 record at home. Huskies head coach Katie Woods called the NCAA bid an "amazing accomplishment." Woods was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year after leading the program to a record-high 13 wins. The Huskies have the BIG EAST midfielder of the year in junior Lauren Kahn. Kahn has registered 38 goals and 28 assists for a team high 61 points. She has registered 60 draw controls and 31 caused turnovers, both team highs. The Huskies advanced to the BIG EAST semifinals before losing to top-seeded Syracuse, 19-6. The Huskies use a fast pace offense where they use their speed in hopes of outrunning and outworking their opponents. They take quick and smart shots to beat opposing goaltenders. The Huskies have a marquee win against No. 9 Notre Dame and have competed hard against No. 5 Syracuse and No. 11 Loyola (Md.). Next to the American Lacrosse Conference, the BIG EAST has been recognized as an incredibly tough conference with five teams in the NCAAs.
University Of Massachusetts Minutewomen
This is the seventh time the Minutewomen have reached the NCAAs, and third season in a row. The Minutewomen were the first team to win the NCAA sponsored championship back in 1982. Massachusetts is coming off its fifth straight Atlantic Ten championship last week scoring nine in a row to beat Duquesne, 14-7. The Minutewomen have one of the most prolific offenses in the tournament. They are led by two junior attackers in Katie Ferris and Sam Rush. Ferris has 47 goals and 23 assists on the season for a team high 70 points. She helps control the pace of the game for Massachusetts and is one of the best feeders in the country. She currently ranks No. 37 in the nation averaging 2.76 goals per game. Ferris has connected with the team's top scorer Sam Rush on several occasions leading to her scoring 61 goals this season. The 61 goals are the third highest in the country this season behind only 63 from Louisville's Nikki Boltja and Stony Brook's Demmianne Cook who scored 86. Rush has been the face of a dominant offense. She ranks No. 8 in the nation with 3.21 goals per game and has controlled the ball very well for the Minutewomen. Massachusetts, like the Huskies and Nittany Lions, has also gone undefeated this season at home.
Canisius College Golden Griffins
The Golden Griffins enter the tournament after winning their third straight MAAC Conference championship. They are the first team in MAAC conference history to win three championships in a row. The Golden Griffins also boast a highly effective offense as they prepare to try to match the intensity of the Penn State Nittany Lions. They have scored 233 goals this season and average just fewer than 13 per game. Seven players have scored ten or more goals for the Griffins, including four with over 35 goals. Canisius is paced by Morgan Leonard. The senior attacker has scored 56 goals this season, good for No. 10 in the nation. Much like Massachusetts, the Griffins have a solid two person attack. Behind Leonard is sophomore attacker Tori Quinn who leads Canisius with 74 points. She has been a tremendous feeder for the Golden Griffins and helped propel Leonard to her elite goal scorer status. The Griffins also have one of division one's best goaltenders. Sophomore Kayla Scully is currently ranked No. 5 in the nation allowing just 7.38 goals per game. The team has quick feet on defense and slides very well to help counteract whatever offense they are up against. This is the first time the Golden Griffins and Nittany Lions will face off in women's lacrosse. The Griffins are led by head coach Scott Teeter, an alumnus of the college.
The Penn State Nittany Lions
The host of this weekend is the No. 7 seeded Penn State Nittany Lions. The Nittany Lions are led by third year head coach Missy Doherty. The team has had their best season under Doherty going 12-6 and winning all seven of their home games. The Nitany Lions boast a balanced attack with eight players scoring 15 goals or more on the season. Penn State has one of the youngest teams in the tournament with only three seniors, and a core of freshman and sophomores. The Nittany Lions are led by sophomore attacker Maggie McCormick. McCormick has had a stellar sophomore campaign scoring 43 goals, assisting on 33 others for a team high 76 points. Along with McCormick, junior attacker Mackenzie Cyr has also had an exceptional season with 27 goals and 27 assists. Cyr has scored a point in 27 straight games and has been one of the best feeders on the field for the Nittany Lions. She is calm, collected and confident on the offensive end of the field and has been hitting her cutters with beautiful passes every game. Kelly Lechner has also had a stellar season for the Nittany Lions. She has registered 41 goals for Penn State, a career high. The Nittany Lions have improved their defense significantly since the start of the season. Katie Guy is ranked No. 12 in the nation with 35 caused turnovers on the season, an average of 1.94 per game. Emi Smith has had success at home and should have continued success against Canisius on Friday. The Nittany Lions advanced to the quarterfinals last season before Florida ousted them. This is the first time Penn State has hosted NCAA games since 2005.
In order to advance to the quarterfinals, one of these teams will have to win two games in Happy Valley. There is no double elimination this weekend, it's one and done. All four have prolific offenses and score a lot of goals every game setting up what is sure to be an exciting weekend. The Nittany Lions and Golden Griffins will open the weekend with a 4 p.m. start on Friday, while the Huskies and Minutewomen will play at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. The winners of those two games will play at 1 p.m. on Sunday for the right to advance to the quarterfinals.
Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions will take on the MAAC champion, Canisius Griffins, Friday night as they host their first NCAA game since 2005. The Nittany Lions were ousted by North Carolina, 7-6, in triple overtime the last time the team hosted.
Starting the tournament at home will be extremely advantageous for the Nittany Lions. Penn State has been excellent going undefeated and dominating their opponents at home this season. They have outscored their opponents 116-70 and beat ranked teams like No. 2 Florida and No. 15 Ohio State.
The team hit the practice field hard this week as they prepare for a major weekend in the program's history. With the sun shining and the energy on the field palpable, the Nittany Lions know what's at stake with their matchup Friday. If Penn State can edge Canisius, the team would play the winner of University of Connecticut versus Massachusetts on Sunday. If they can advance past Sunday's showdown, it would match the farthest the team has advanced in the tournament under head coach Missy Doherty.
Penn State's focus is at an all-time high. After falling short to the Northwestern Wildcats in the ALC conference tournament last week, it is not hard to see the chip on the shoulder of these Nittany Lions. Their practices have found a new intensity and tenacity, but they still keep the same fun mentality they have throughout this season.
Tuesday's practice focused on getting back to their winning ways. Through scrimmages, 7-on-7 drills, free position drills and more, the team looked re-energized and prepared for their weekend ahead. Although the Nittany Lions are not extremely familiar with Canisius, they know they cannot overlook their opponent.
"You can't really [overlook Canisius] because if we don't win it's our last game, the girls know that," Doherty said. "They're really good, they have some good athletic players, they challenge hard and they're quick so it's not a team from film that is going to take us lightly, so we have to be ready to bring our strengths to the field and go for sixty minutes."
Penn State, who earned a share of its first ALC regular season championship this season, outranks Canisius in nearly every major offensive category. They have registered more goals this season and taken more shots than their NCAA opponent. The major difference between the two squads is the play on the defensive end of the field.
The Griffins have one of the most elite goalies in the nation. Sophomore Kayla Scully has been the focal part of a dominant defensive unit. She is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation with a .521 save percentage and No. 5 in the nation allowing just 7.38 goals per game. As a team, the Griffins have allowed just 8.17 goals per game this season.
Scully will attempt to shut down an offensive unit that looks stronger after every game. The Nittany Lions have gotten solid play from their attackers and midfielders, and look to keep that going this weekend. Sophomores Maggie McCormick and Kelly Lechner have had breakout seasons for the team. McCormick paces the Nittany Lions with 43 goals, while Lechner has registered 41 of her own.
Lechner has turned a solid freshman season into a stellar sophomore season. She has more than doubled her goals as well as her draw controls. Lechner has been the team's most outstanding midfielder throughout the 2013 season helping control the pace of the game for Missy Doherty's Nittany Lions. She has become an attacking force and also a solid defensive contributor each game. Along with senior defender Katie Guy, McCormick and Lechner were named IWLCA All-West/Midwest Region First-Team.
The Nittany Lions have been in this position before. Last season the team advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to Florida, 15-2. After gaining some experience and familiarity with postseason play, Penn State now looks poised for a deep postseason push.
"Overall, every year is different from the prior year. This year we have a fairly young team experiencing the NCAAs for the first time," Doherty said. "We're bringing that youth into the tournament and seeing how far that takes us."
Penn State has also emerged as a strong championship contender because of the strength of their schedule. The Nittany Lions have played several top ranked opponents and also play in what some might call the toughest conference in the nation. The American Lacrosse Conference currently has three teams ranked in the top 5.
"I think that what's really prepared them for postseason is our schedule. I go back and forth on playing a pretty tough schedule, but when you get to points like this in the season, they're not going to face anything in the NCAAs that they haven't already faced," Doherty said. "We went to overtime with Northwestern, we beat Florida, we beat Virginia, we played tight games against some other teams that we really wanted to pull out a win, so we've experienced pretty much everything we could have possibly experienced in the regular season to get us ready for post season."
The Nittany Lions will look to continue improving their defense as they prepare for their NCAA showdown. The team has seen improvements with each passing game, but still needs to find their feet if they hope to advance far into NCAAs. Emi Smith has become a solid goaltender for the Nittany Lions, especially at home. She has yet to lose and has recorded 35 saves at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.
Guy, along with senior defender Colleen Shea, will also play a crucial role as Penn State looks to advance. Guy has been the team's defensive leader this season pacing the Nittany Lions with 35 caused turnovers. She currently ranks No. 12 in the nation averaging 1.94 caused turnovers per game. Along with Guy, freshman phenom Jenna Mosketti has been a major defensive contributor. Mosketti has 21 caused turnovers this season and has helped lockdown opposing offenses. The freshman midfielder has also registered 30 points, which is good for sixth on the team.
"It's one game and out at this point so we have to approach it like it's our last game of the season. We're ready to go hard, were ready to work as hard as we can to get the win," Doherty said. "We're fortunate [to be hosting]. I think the girls did a great job the whole season of working hard and coming up with some big wins, so were excited to be here for our fans and our friends.
With so much time to prepare for their upcoming game, most teams might fear rust, not the Nittany Lions. The team has taken advantage of the time off and Doherty says, although her team has more time off than usual, it's never a challenge to get ready for game time.
"It's always difficult keeping them focused. Classes are over, so they have a little too much time on their hands," Doherty said. "But thankfully we have a team of competitors, they want to come out, they want to go hard and they want to win and when you have people that are innately competitive it's not too hard to draw it back out."
The Nittany Lions are well aware of the importance of this weekend. They have worked hard all season in preparation for this moment. While practice continues on Thursday, Penn State cannot wait to hit the field Friday night. Game time is set for 4 p.m. at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.
"Overall I think our focus all year has been on us and bringing our best, so hopefully we'll do that Friday," Doherty said.
Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions travel to Baltimore this week to begin play in the American Lacrosse Conference tournament. Penn State has earned the No. 3 seed after going 4-1 in conference play and earning a shared conference title with the Florida Gators and Northwestern Wildcats. The conference title is the first in Nittany Lion history.
Penn State will open their conference tournament play against the No. 6 seed Vanderbilt Commodores. The Commodores and Nittany Lions met in Happy Valley earlier this season, Penn State won the showdown, 20-14. Penn State will look to improve its defensive efforts against the Commodores. The 14 goals they allowed against Vanderbilt is tied for second most allowed this season, they allowed 20 in a loss at Maryland.
"I think overall, you know defensively, we just have to be ready to make more of an impact, not sit back and wait, but try to get out and make things happen. I think sometimes we get a little on our heels a little bit, so we have to be ready to be maybe a little more aggressive. We've continued to get better defensively, but Vanderbilt can score, they see each other well, they feed each other well, so being able to get in front of the cutters and stop their transition will be key for us," coach Missy Doherty said.
The 4-1 record in conference play is the best under Doherty in her three years in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions recorded solid victories against top conference foes Florida, Johns Hopkins and Ohio State, all of whom were ranked in the top 20 at some point during the regular season. Florida was ranked No. 2 when the Nittany Lions defeated them. Penn State outscored its ALC opponents this season 68-62, which showcases how talented this conference is.
Against Vanderbilt on March 17, Penn State started slow but dominated late to earn the victory. Maggie McCormick paced the team. McCormick, a sophomore attacker, recorded six points against the Commodores, scoring five times and assisting on another. McCormick has seven points against the Commodores in her career.
"Maggie is awesome. She is just a great person, a great competitor, she is very unassuming. Ever since her freshman year, she just doesn't get fazed by pressure," Doherty said. "People will pressure her behind, they will put double teams to her and it just doesn't seem to really faze her. Having someone like that as a freshman, and then a sophomore, has been great for our attack. She has really stepped up when we need her to be a little more aggressive, were always trying to challenge her with new things and she has been really receptive to what we would like her to do. But, you know, having that leader down there especially as a sophomore has been great for our team."
The win against Vanderbilt was the beginning of a 7-2 run to finish the 2013 season for Penn State. It was also the team's first conference win in 2013. The Nittany Lions are looking to advance past the semifinals for the first time under Doherty. Last year, they fell to the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays In the first round. In Doherty's first year, Penn State advanced to the semi-finals before falling to the Northwestern Wildcats.
Penn State has a career record of 3-0 against Vanderbilt under Doherty. They have outscored the Commodores 43-33 in those three games, and have controlled the pace of the game against their conference foe. Although the Commodores have been struggling going 2-14 and 0-5 in conference play this year, Doherty knows how important it is to not overlook any competition in postseason play.
"Well if there is anything good thing that I can bring out of the Princeton loss it would be [not overlooking teams]," Doherty said. I think we know that we have to be ready to finish our shots. We didn't shoot very well at Princeton. We have to take advantage of every play that we have. Any team that is ready to play is ready to play. We know Vanderbilt is coming in and wanting to make a run at the tournament, so they're not going to be backing down from us, for sure. I think they're up for it. I think they're ready to improve from our past game this weekend and they're pretty fired up to get better."
The Nittany Lions will look to continue an offensive attack that features several players. Along with McCormick, junior Mackenzie Cyr, senior Molly Fernandez and sophomores Kelly Lechner and Tatum Coffey have played major roles in the offensive gameplan. The four have all scored over twenty goals this season and help bring a balanced attack to the Nittany Lions.
"I think to compete at a high level, you can't just have two or three scorers, you really need to have a balanced attack and I think going into this season we were always wondering how big our young players would come up, how mature they would play, how much of an impact they would make and it's been nice to see as the season progressed some young people really be impact players and you can kind of see that in our offense," Doherty said.
The Nittany Lions also have a core of young players that have grown up throughout the season. Three freshmen, in particular, have played significant roles for Penn State during the regular season. Jenna Mosketti, Ally Heavens and Madison Cyr have all registered 15 goals or more in 2013, and much to the pleasure of their coach, they show no signs of slowing down. Doherty said she regardless of their youth, the young players are ready to go.
"You know, I think they're just competitors. I mean, I think it's one of the reasons why we've been able to be successful, is they're just ready to compete," Doherty said. "They came here to Penn State wanting to compete at the highest level and, thankfully, they've done that for us this year. I don't think you change in preparation, we've been preparing to make our mark on the season all year, and this week will be no different."
"It's been just great to see the maturity in our young players. Obviously, we've played some great teams with great pressure and they really have to be able to handle that pressure," said Doherty. "We were wondering at the beginning of the year how mature they would be, and they love the pressure. I think they come up with big plays at big times, they're not fazed by the team were playing, they just want to compete. You see Kelly [Lechner] having kind of a monster year for us at midfield. Jenna [Mosketti], the freshman, being the four time rookie of the week for our conference, when our conference is so competitive, I think is awesome. Across the board [Mosketti] is just solid in every category."
Penn State will have to improve its performance on the road if it hopes to advance to the semi-finals or the finals of the ALC tournament. After going 10-7 away from home in Doherty's first two seasons, the Nittany Lions have gone 4-5 in 2013. Their most recent loss came at the hands of the Princeton Tigers, 14-9.
Along with improved defensive play, goalkeeper Emi Smith looks to improve on her latest performance against Princeton. The freshman played just over 27 minutes, allowing nine goals and taking the loss. Doherty believes Smith will be ready to go come game-time.
"I think it's a tough position to be in," Doherty said. "To be able to handle that pressure as a young player is hard, but were behind her 100 percent and we know that she can have an amazing game on Thursday and were going to just be ready to prepare to do that."
"Luckily we had a good experience down at [Johns] Hopkins a couple weeks ago, so, you know, the field brings back some good memories," said Doherty. "It's tournament time, it's postseason time. You know, our girls have been in exams all week and ready for them last week, so those will be over, thankfully. We're ready to go and we know how big this tournament is and were coming down there to give it our best, so it's not really hard to get up for our conference tournament."
The game is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At the end of each season, head coaches sit down and reflect. They think of the ups and downs. They think of the wins, the losses, the growth of their team and the growth of their players. Whether the team is preparing for the postseason or not, the coach will still reflect on the regular season that was.
It is not hard to see what coach Missy Doherty thinks of her team as she reflects. You can hear it in her voice; you can see it in her eyes. She's proud. She looks up and down this roster and can't help but feel proud of her players. At one point this season, she didn't have a set starting goalkeeper. Now she has an established, effective goalkeeper for years to come. At one point, her team was too young and too inexperienced, now they all play like fifth-year seniors.
"I think they're a bunch of fighters," Doherty said. "They're competitors. I think competiveness sometimes has trumped our inexperience. They're in there to compete and they've continued to get better and learn and learn, but regardless of that they're going to come out and compete. Thankfully, at the beginning of the season, you never know how much you're going to be adversely affected by the lack of experience, but the fact that we have such competitors on the team has pushed us through some situations where the other team might be older or more mature than we were. But overall, it's been a fantastic season, pulling out some big wins against huge teams and we're just really excited about postseason."
Doherty has seen her young players like Jenna Mosketti, Maggie McCormick and Kelly Lechner become phenoms for the program. At the same time, she has seen her veteran players like Molly Fernandez and Mackenzie Cyr continue their stellar careers.
Individually, the Nittany Lions were recognized numerous times throughout the 2013 season. Mosketti was named ALC rookie of the week four times. Defender Colleen Shea was named ALC defensive player of the week. Tatum Coffey was named WomensLax.com co-player of the week. All in all, five Penn State players were honored with individual awards.
It took some time to get going in 2013. The team started 4-3 and was still getting into their groove. They struggled to find their footing defensively and the offense still lacked synergy. They had setbacks against some of the best teams in the country, like Maryland and Loyola. The Nittany Lions had a long way to go in 2013, but they met each challenge and never once backed down.
"Sometimes when players come in they bring their own confidence and we have a lot of young players that are confident in themselves," said Doherty. "It's easier to coach them when they bring their own confidence than then it is when they're always questioning themselves. Thankfully, a lot of our young players have brought in their own confidence and belief in themselves and we've been able to move them forward coaching wise to guide them down the right paths."
As the season progressed, they took down teams like Virginia, Florida, Ohio State and Johns Hopkins. Never once did they not seem prepared for the challenge or ready to take it on with a full head of steam. They raised their practice tempo and intensity, as well as their game speed and tenacity. They started dominating teams at home, never once losing.
An offense that was still working out some kinks early in the season has long been forgotten. They were scoring, and scoring a lot. They out-ran and out-worked each of their opponents. It's no surprise Doherty is proud of this team.
"I'm super proud. I think a goal of a coach is to be able to witness the team really experience some firsts and really experiencing being the best and to be able to sit back and watch them come up with big plays and achieve awesome things, that's the fun part about being a coach," Doherty said.
In February of this year, the leadership of the Nittany Lions was in question. With only three seniors on the roster and a core of freshman and sophomore players, the team was expected to lack leadership.
They proved that expectation wrong. All of the younger players, along with the older players, played crucial leadership roles and stepped up to fill the void. They worked out problems on the field and adjusted to the way teams played them. Whether it is a senior to a freshman, or a freshman to a senior, each Nittany Lion communicated on the field, and communicated loudly.
"Just to know that this team is going to grow up together is an exciting team. It's not a thing where our team is going to change much for the next two years, really," Doherty said. "That's our challenge as coaches, we're really happy with how we've done but how can we get so and so better? How can we get better for low-D? We don't want to be the same team this year next year and that's why I love coaching this team, because everyone is really good and it is a challenge to figure out how we can make things better, because they do things really well."
"We're continuing to grow form the leadership side, were continuing to grow kind of as a unit," said Doherty. "Thankfully, we have some great players that individually come up with big plays at big times, but going into post season you really have to have that complete team effort to talk it up and work together. That's continuing to grow and I think as our team gets older that will be easier to do."
The 11-5 record marks the best season under Doherty in her three years in Happy Valley. As a team, they out-scored opponents by 36 goals. Nine players scored ten goals or more for the Nittany Lions, while six players created ten turnovers or more. Penn State was paced by Maggie McCormick, who finished with 72 points after scoring 40 goals and assisting on 32 others. On the other end of the field, Katie Guy led the Nittany Lions with 30 created turnovers.
What were weaknesses had become strengths. They have a steady goalkeeper in net. They have a solid offensive unit. They have a defense that works incredibly hard, and of course, they have youth. They use their speed and will-power to beat you. They won games that came down to the wire, as well as blowouts. They've won outdoors and inside, on the road and at home.
The Nittany Lions earned a share of the American Lacrosse Conference title. They now enter the conference tournament as a No. 3 seed behind Northwestern and Florida. Their first game is on May 2 against Vanderbilt, who they beat 20-14 earlier this season.
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There might not be a better way to describe the Penn State Nittany Lions at home than unstoppable. Through their seven games at home this season, the team showcased their youth, talent, speed, efficiency and offensive prowess by winning each game.
The Nittany Lions recorded marquee wins against top-tier programs such as Florida and Ohio State on their home turf this season, and for good reason.
When at home, Penn State has outshot their seven opponents 215-138, leading to them outscoring those same opponents, 123-64. As a unit, they have scored on over 57 percent of their shots on home turf.
With a 19-10 victory over the Lafayette Leopards Wednesday night, the Nittany Lions completed a perfect season at home going 7-0, the best home record under coach Missy Doherty since her arrival three years ago.
This is the 13th time the Nittany Lions have recorded a perfect record at home, the first time since 1991.
"It feels great [to be undefeated at home]. It's a great accomplishment to our team, and a credit to the girls. They've worked really hard and it's really fun to have some big wins at home, so I'm just really proud of them," Doherty said.
As the sun set and the field lights came on against Lafayette, the Nittany Lions came to life. The team went on a 5-0 run to end the first half and came out after halftime firing. They tacked on eight more goals in the second half, including three from senior attacker Molly Fernandez. Penn State had five players score three goals or more in the win.
Sophomore midfielder Kelly Lechner registered her fourth hat trick of the season by beating two Lafayette goalkeepers with low corner shots. The goals gave Penn State control of the game heading into the second half. Lechner has played a crucial role in controlling the tempo of the game for the Nittany Lions. She leads the team in draw controls with 37, and has scored a career-high 25 goals this season.
Along with Lechner, midfielder Ally Heavens returned to her scoring form against Lafayette. Last Saturday against Ohio State Heavens was matched up with the Buckeye's leading scorer and shut her down. Wednesday night, the freshman registered a hat trick for the Nittany Lions and was a major contributor to the offensive onslaught.
"It felt good to be back on offense. I love that Missy gave me the role to take on last game, and now I know she has confidence in me to go on offense, so do all of my teammates, so that was fun to play," Heavens said.
Heavens has been part of a group of freshman and sophomore players that have accounted for 142 of the teams 192 goals this season. Six freshmen and sophomores have already scored 11 goals or more in 2013, including sophomore attacker Maggie McCormick, who leads all scorers with 36 goals.
"Mackenzie and Maggie, our feeders, they really don't get a lot of credit [for our success] because they feed to us. That's one of the big things of our offense, is we have a lot of good feeders and we have a lot of speed from up-top cutting and they don't get a lot of credit that they should, because that's how we get our goals," Heavens said.
Assistant coach Brooke Matthews, who joined the Penn State staff at the beginning of this season, has also noticed the younger players stepping up. The former Northwestern Wildcat knows all about scoring as she registered 88 goals during her career. Matthews says she likes what she sees from the team's youth so far.
"[The freshmen and sophomores] have been awesome. They have been fearless in there, they have definitely been a threat to cage, which is awesome. I don't think of them as freshman or sophomores anymore, they're already sophomores and juniors in my head. That's the fortunate part about this season, they've already played a whole season so [they're] a little more grown up," Matthews said.
Another key contributor to the game was sophomore midfielder Tatum Coffey. Coffey, named an Inside Lacrosse preseason second team All-American, added her 21st goal of the season in the victory.
Prior to the game, Coffey took a stick to the ribs in a warm-up drill, but returned to the game just a few minutes into the first half. Coffey and Doherty both say she is fine and will be ready to play the remainder of Penn State's games.
"It felt great [to score a goal]. [I was] a little shaken up and rattled going into the game, my team just has my back and they pursued," Coffey said. "I just think we worked the ball, took our time, I mean sometimes we want to rush the fast break and we really just need to calm down and see the open people and take those opportunities," Coffey said.
Junior attacker Mackenzie Cyr extended her point-scoring streak to 21 games adding a goal and a career-high four assists. Cyr has been a crucial leader on and off the field for the Nittany Lions this season. She ranks eighth all-time in the program's history with 67 assists.
In the victory, the Nittany Lions also continued their strong second-half defensive effort. They limited the Leopards to just four goals on eight shots while forcing Lafayette into eight turnovers. As a team, Penn State has forced its opponents into 107 turnovers at home this season.
Penn State now turns its attention to American Lacrosse Conference foe Johns Hopkins. The Blue Jays, currently ranked No. 19, will face the Nittany Lions riding a two-game winning streak. Hopkins has won nine games this season and is currently fourth in the ALC with a 1-2 record. Penn State lost to Johns Hopkins in the first round of the ALC tournament the last time these two teams met.
"I think with the games we have left, there is really no time to have woes. [Johns] Hopkins is our next opponent, they're always a huge rival for us. It's a big game, our last conference game, so it won't be hard to get the energy up for that game," Doherty said.
This is Penn State's first away game after spending the last three at home. Game time is set for noon on Sunday.