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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The regular season has passed and the postseason is finally here. It's been a long road for the Nittany Lions but now as they have gotten through all their games, practices and classes, they have finally made it to the point they have been looking forward to all season long.

 

"I think this is the best part of the season," senior Abby Smucker said, while also talking about where the team left off last year in its tournament success. "We're just itching to get back to that spot and ultimately move further."

 

That excitement and hunger to accomplish more has been a driving force behind the team all season. But as the postseason begins, Penn State will also have redemption on its mind.

 

The two-seeded Blue and White's first round draw in the Big Ten Tournament will be familiar foe in three-seeded Northwestern, making it a rematch from last year's tournament semifinals.

 

In that matchup, the Nittany Lions fell to the Wildcats in a low-scoring 9-6 affair and would not be able to repeat their 2015 tournament title performance. Penn State in the end would have the last laugh, however, as they went deeper than their Chicago-based rivals in the NCAA tournament, making it all the way to the Final Four before falling to eventual champion North Carolina.

 

"Northwestern's going to offer us a tough battle, they always do, but I think we wouldn't want to play anyone else," Smucker said. "Having that tough competition on Friday, if we come out on top, will just prepare us for the championship game on Sunday."

 

A win Friday night against Northwestern will only bring with it an even tougher challenge. Waiting to face them on Sunday afternoon will be the victor of the Maryland-Johns Hopkins game.

 

Johns Hopkins this season gave the Nittany Lions a run for their money in a 16-10 bout that saw Penn State come out on top. Meanwhile, tournament host Maryland handed Penn State it's second loss of the regular season in potentially Happy Valley's final game this year. Either way, the road to the tourney title will be far from a walk in the park as any matchup presents a worthy challenge.

 

While the team knows the mountain they will have to climb in order to reach their ultimate goals of taking home both the Big Ten and NCAA championships, the players remain calm and poised.

 

This is a team that is stacked with big-game experience and has no need to act because they have been there before. Even the sophomores were a part of the deep NCAA that took place last May, so every player with at least one year's experience has had its chance to play under the spotlight that comes with national play.

 

Senior Natalie Schmitt feels this type of experience is one of the team's greatest assets and that they will be taking into battle with them the knowledge of how to thrive under pressure.

 

"We know we have to play hard and then be on top [of things] for the next game," Schmitt said.

 

The team also brings with them a new level of expectations, something the Nittany Lions will have to be aware of come tournament time.

 

"It's fun being the underdogs but I think maybe we're now under a little more pressure so we've got to keep working hard through the tough games," Schmitt said.

 

Along with the drive to succeed the calming presence of vast experience, the Lions will also be motivated by the added feeling of mortality in postseason play. With a unit this tightly knit after years of playing together, these players will do anything they can to keep pushing forward in order to get one more game with the teammates they share such a close bond with.

 

"Missy has said you never know which play is going to win the game," junior Katie O'Donnell said. "Give every moment everything you have, especially in postseason when it could be your last game, you don't know when it's going to be over." 


The end of the season is on the horizon, but with experience and confidence this Nittany Lion team has, the group is ready to make a final push. 

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After 84 days of tough practices and even tougher competition out on the turf, just two more days and one more game remains on the regular season schedule for the Nittany Lions.

 

Penn State will take on Big Ten rival Michigan in Ann Arbor Saturday at 11 a.m., with the final whistle marking the end of the regular season and the beginning of postseason play.

 

The regular season has been one full of spoils for the Nittany Lions as they boast a 14-2 record and top-five national ranking, but the squad has not become content with the mere success of regulation. Looking at a team that has continually progressed further through the NCAA playoffs in each postseason, including a Final Four berth last May, the Blue and White are ready to make a run and end the season on the highest of note.

 

But before then, there's still work to do.

 

Head Coach Missy Doherty says while her squad is ready to make a splash in the postseason, there is still room to improve. The matchup with the Wolverines provides both a quality matchup against a conference opponent right before the gauntlet of the Big Ten Tournament as well as a chance to tune things up.


"It's our last chance to prove what kind of regular season we want to have," Doherty said. "Every Big Ten game is a huge game for us and Michigan's really no different. We're playing there on their senior day so it's going to be a tough test but we want to get better from the Maryland game and we're taking the opportunity to try to do that."

 

In terms of where the team can make adjustments, Doherty says they can always get better across the board. In order to be an all-around threat, the team needs to continue to progress on their biggest strengths on both the offensive and defensive end.

 

"I think it's just making strong individual defensive stops and being ready for the next thing the attacks bringing. I think we want to continue doing well on the draw because getting possession is key, and then make sure offensively everybody's ready to score. We don't want to just rely on a couple of people, we want to make sure we have plenty of threats offensively."

 

The only way the team gets better in its matchup with Ann Arbor is of course by giving its all. The postseason tournaments may be just around the bend, but a lack in focus can cripple teams with high hopes late in the year.

 

Doherty plans to squash any and all chances of her team to slack off in that department. With an arrival early Saturday morning onto the Michigan campus, the Blue and White's mindset will be on giving it their all with their attention directed towards nothing but what lies in front of them.

 

"I think just effort level," Doherty said on what the team needs to bring in their matchup with the Blue and Maize. "Whether it's on the draw whether it's on ground balls whether its pushing our brake, it's just giving that little bit of effort to make sure when we walk off the field we can tell ourselves we couldn't have done anything more.

 

With a maximized effort, Doherty says the team's current pedigree can take them far. When asked how to describe her squad in a single word, the coach chose one that is essential to all great squads.

 

"I would probably say consistent, and that's such a great thing," Doherty said. "I think we've had consistent effort through the season. There hasn't been any game where we haven't worked hard and we're hoping we can bring our consistent effort on Sunday."

 

If the Nittany Lions can stay consistent, continue their all-around effort and not forget to focus on what lies ahead, Penn State has a chance to have yet another prosperous postseason and can potentially finish the season on their own terms. Until then, Michigan lies ahead, and the team plans to make the most out of what is left of the regular season.

 

"I think our regular season has shown that we can be competitive with any team in the country," Doherty said. "You're never going to reach that point of perfection but every game throughout the season has been different. Every game has shown us little things we need to do better, but I think we're ready to compete in postseason. We're a team that's going to work hard and give everybody a game and we're kind of excited to see what's next."

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State dropped its final home game of the regular season Thursday night to the Maryland Terrapins, 16-14. The contest was one that saw a back-and-forth battle and ended with the Nittany Lions being the closest squad to knocking off the nation's top team this season.


With the win, Maryland moves to 16-0 and remains the only unbeaten team in the nation. The Terrapins also continue their incredible streak of 53 consecutive regular season wins, one that spans all the way back to April of the 2013-14 season.

 

Even though the Blue and White came up short in the end, the team still feels as if there were positives to take away from the close fought match.

 

"It was the number one team in the country. I think every year we turn a corner and I think we're showing we're right up there. It's still a long season ahead with the Big Ten tournament and NCAA's so we'll take our lessons from this game and move on," head coach Missy Doherty said on what her team can take away from the game.

 

The game also could prove valuable come postseason play, the team says. Only a date with Michigan stands in the way of the Nittany Lions before every team in the conference ships off to College Park, Maryland for the start of the Big Ten tournament. Junior attacker Katie O'Donnell said that games like these that make the team grind from buzzer-to-buzzer helps the team ease into playoff mode where every game is do or die.

 

"It was a hard fought game, both sides. We fought really hard there at the end, came up short, but I mean once you get to the postseason every single game is like that," O'Donnell said. "It doesn't matter who you're playing, what they're ranked, everyone is playing to keep their season going. So I think it's important we had this game tonight to take it as a learning lesson."

 

The loss still saw plenty of bright spots for Penn State as several of the upperclassmen stepped up to make big plays. Among the standouts were Madison Carter and O'Donnell, who netted six and five goals, respectively.

 

When the rest of the offense was struggling to get past the stifling Terrapin defense, Carter or O'Donnell were usually the ones who took charge in the final seconds of the shot clock's life to earn much-needed goals for the Blue and White.

 

"Our offense was just seeing each other really well. We were cutting through for each other, we were moving hard, we were running out options hard," Carter said about the all-hands-on-deck effort by the offense in running its plays. "All seven people down there on offense are a threat. It was just great to just move the ball, see our options real hard and finish some of our opportunities,"

 

O'Donnell was the one to open up the scoring on the day with the Penn State's first two goals, and she was the one to close the first half by putting in the team's final goal with six minutes remaining. She and Carter would each score within 23 seconds of one another in order to reclaim the momentum and the 6-5 lead.

 

The two squads eventually went into the half tied up at six apiece. In the first 30 minutes, both teams had proven their rightful place amongst the nation's best, but it was then the Nittany Lions felt they had the confidence to finish strong.

 

"Momentum's a huge thing," senior goalkeeper Cat Rainone said about the confidence heading into the half. "Being home's a big deal. Just like last home game, you get that boost of confidence, it's just you've got to get the ball and you've got to score."

 

Rainone also had herself a solid game after accumulating 15 saves on the day, eight of which were in the first half. She was the anchor in the defensive unit that held the second-highest scoring team in the nation to just six goals in the first half.

 

When the teams came out for the second half, however, the script completely flipped. The first ten minutes of play in the second half featured eight goals, with Maryland netting five for a 11-9 lead.

 

From that point on, the two heavyweights would continue to duke it out by trading goals as each put up five more. Unfortunately for the hosts, the mountain proved to be too steep to climb as two goals in the final two minutes still resulted in a two-goal loss.

 

Penn State looks to finish the season on a high note as they take on Michigan next Sunday in Ann Arbour. The first draw will be at 11 a.m.

By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At 7 p.m. on Thursday night, the Penn State Lacrosse Field will be the venue for a top-five showdown between No. 5 Penn State and No. 1 Maryland. The high stakes of the matchup may be enough to describe why this is the biggest game of the season for the Nittany Lions, but the rivalry between the two teams must be understood in order to know just how intense the play will be under the lights.


"I think the rivalry [with Maryland] has grown throughout the first few years of having Big Ten lacrosse. It's always an exciting game," Penn State head coach Missy Doherty said. "With a team as good as them and what we're bringing to the table, it's gonna be a pretty good competition."

 

That competition should be second-to-none on the Penn State schedule this season as it goes toe-to-toe with the lone undefeated team remaining in the national rankings. But, the team is riled up for much more than that, as hometown pride is on the line for many of the Blue and White's crusaders.

 

Among the squad, 13 Nittany Lions and all three coaches grew up inside the Maryland's borders. Included in that bunch is the team's leader in points, Steph Lazo, who is excited for the matchup and says it will be a family affair.

 

"It's always nice to beat the hometown team," Lazo said. "Even though it's not at Maryland and all our family and friends can't come, we're still expecting a pretty big crowd and all our friends are like 'Yeah we're coming to support you guys. You guys are doing so well this season.' So coming out and playing the hometown team; it's always a good feeling, always a good game and we're really excited for Thursday."

 

Coach Doherty knows the team especially well. As a 1997 graduate of the university and a four-year letter winning defender, Doherty experienced vast success and says she learned a lot of her coaching ways in her time as a Terrapin.

 

But the ties do not stop there for head coach. Down on the other end of the sideline for the game will be Doherty's counterpart in Maryland head coach Cathy Reese. Reese and Doherty were former teammates for three years with the Terrapins in the 90's and claimed a national championship in every one of those seasons. Now pitted against one another as adversaries in the same conference, Doherty says they still share a friendship but know that for 60 minutes they each have to get down to business.

 

"Cathy's done a great job with the program and she's one of my good friends there in the coaching world so it's always good to play against each other. But obviously the competition gets tough once the whistle blows and that's what makes it fun to play against them," Doherty said.

 

Each coach brings a unique perspective to their respective teams which seems to stay true to their playing days.

 

Reese, a former elite attacker for the Terps during the title runs, now heads a powerful offensive unit that scores the second most goals per game in the nation (16.87). Meanwhile Doherty, a former defensive standout, looks over a team that is top-20 in the country in scoring defense and top-15 in scoring margin. She looks to transfer her defensive knowledge to her players and recognizes that the key to victory Thursday night will be through the team's defense.

 

"I think defensively is going to be our mark against Maryland. They have a lot of great scorers and you need to be ready to come out and play solid against each one of them," Doherty said.

 

As Doherty gears up her players for the vital matchup, the team will be willing and able to practice what she preaches. Lazo says she and her teammates look to the coach as a spirited leader who always is pushing them towards success.


"I think a really good word to describe Missy is passion," Lazo said. "Whether it's on the field, off the field, she's always in your corner. She's always pushing you to be the best that you can. And this is a huge week for us and she just wants us to put out our best ability."

 

Doherty, like many of the Maryland natives, may have a spot for the state and university somewhere in their hearts, but the head coach says the only colors now coursing through her veins are blue and white. She still can remember her playing days as a Terrapin, however, and says she gets reminded of those championship teams all the time by closely watching the team she gets to coach each and every game.


"[There are] a lot of similarities. The comradery, the great leadership, the ability to really compete in any game," Doherty said. "I've seen a lot of those same things within this Penn State team and it's why it's been a really exciting team to coach all year."

VIDEO: Lions Set for Maryland

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Having returned home from the road, Penn State women's lacrosse is set to close out the final game of its Big Ten home slate, welcoming Maryland to Happy Valley for a top five matchup. The fifth-ranked Nittany Lions and the top-ranked Terrapins will meet under the lights Thursday at 7 p.m. with an opportunity to earn at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title on the line. 

Ahead of Thursday's matchup catch up with Penn State head coach Missy Doherty as well as Nittany Lions Abby Smucker and Katie O'Donnell. 

Smucker, O'Donnell

Doherty

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It would be an understatement to say this year for the Penn State women's lacrosse program has been nothing short of special. Even in all the history held in the stiches of each Blue and White jersey that steps onto the field each game, this group of girls has come out and strung together a season that stands up with the best in the program's history.

 

Among the season's accomplishments are a 13-1 start that matches the programs best since 1989, when the Nittany Lions did the same and rode onto a 19-1 final record and a national championship victory. Playing road games are tough, but Penn State currently boasts a 6-0 road record outside of Happy Valley. The squad still has to travel to tough Big Ten foes in Northwestern and Michigan, but if it can stay perfect it would be the first time since 1985 that the team has done so in the regular season. And also, the Nittany Lions have three scorers with over 30 goals each, with those same three players combining for 171 total points on the season.

 

Of course, with a season so special, there have to be special players as well. Penn State has exactly that in senior attacker Steph Lazo, a player who has continued to etch her name in the record books as she finishes her final act.

 

"It's really special. Coming in you kind of always want to make an impact and you just constantly want to raise your game," Lazo said. "Every year I've been here I've improved I think and it was just a personal goal of mine for the regular season to try and hit 200 points."

 

Not only that, but with her current pace and career standings, she has a chance to join an even more exclusive club.

 

Already having amassed 194 career points (T-13 all-time in program history) and 79 assists (T-7), with just five more goals (currently at 115) she can also move into the top-15 all-time in career goals for the Blue and White, making her just one of nine people who can say they share that company.

 

So what is it that the attacker brings to the game that has brought her such vast success over her storied collegiate career? Head coach Missy Doherty says it's her leadership, ability to finish, and speed that makes her one of the quickest attackers in the nation.  Those all factor into how she has been able to leave it all out on the field. But along with those, the coach said maybe most important of all was the genuine excitement she has for the game.

 

"No one celebrates harder than she does after a score and I think from a momentum standpoint when you have someone that gives you that energy after a big play it certainly helps the team," Doherty said.

Lazo not only makes an impact on each game scoring, but she also gets her teammates involved. As the team leader in assists while ranking sixth in the country with 33 on the season, she finds it crucial to spread the wealth and believes that her and the team only get better with the chemistry of her teammates.

"I think being a team player is a huge part of my game because I love helping my teammates and stuff like that and seeing their successes is literally one of those things that I feed off of," Lazo said.

 

She has done a lot in her career in Happy Valley, but among her accolades, Lazo said the best part about her journey has been the team's ability to go further each and every year her senior class has been here. Doherty agreed and said the program has been on the rise right along with her.  

                            

"I think our program has grown as she's grown," Doherty said. "From her freshman year doing well to her sophomore year winning Big Ten's and then junior year going to the final four, she's kind of met right where our program has gotten better. So certainly her having the year that's she's having this year has reflected on our team's performance."


If her future is as successful as she has been in between the lines, Lazo will have a career full of big accomplishments and success. Her plan is to one day become a coach and to bring her unique aspect of the game to her coaching. If coaching is not in the cards though, the Rehabilitation and Human Services major has a plan to move into child life series by becoming a specialist in dealing with pediatric cancer.

 

But for now the future can wait. The regular and postseason still have roughly two months left, and Lazo and this senior class as a whole want to make the most of the time they have left. With the achievements this class has had, a national championship still remains the ultimate goal they have yet to conquer.

 

Until their fate is decided through the road the team still has to travel, Lazo and her teammates will wait, but that does not mean they can't hold back from their overall excitement in what lies ahead.

 

This year we can't wait to see what happens," Lazo said.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The fifth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions, for most of the first half, found themselves in uncharted territory.

 

With a command in time of possession thanks to owning the draw control, it was the Virginia Cavaliers that took a note from the Nittany Lions' playbook and got out to a fast start. With Penn State facing a sizable deficit and playing an unfamiliar role, the squad needed to find a way to get back to their usual style of play and bounce back.

 

Following a Virginia goal to make it a 5-2 lead for the visitors, head coach Missy Doherty took initiative and called a timeout with 12:36 remaining in the first half. The team understood what they needed to do, and on Senior Day the players knew who to look to to lead the way.

 

Seniors Cat Rainone and Abby Smucker took charge with both their play and composure. While both were aware of the current situation, they kept things cool and collected, and the rest of the team followed suit.

 

"We definitely have the athleticism on the team so that wasn't an area where we were struggling, it was more mentally, so we just needed to regroup as a team, calm each other down and stay composed and just finish on the small things," Smucker said. Rainone seconded that with words of advice for her fellow teammates like "next play" and "still a lot of time left" to make sure the team's mindset was focused on the right things.

 

The rest of the team answered their call as the Nittany Lions would rally to score 10 of the contest's final 13 goals in a 12-8 win. But, while the offense eventually got going, it was the defense that opened the door.

 

Virginia continued to hold onto the ball for long stretches of play, keeping the Penn State defense constantly on its toes. Constantly mirroring the Cavaliers quick attackers, the Blue and White kept them contained and made plays as needed. Rainone stepped up and made two huge saves on shots that would have kept Virginia rolling, but the senior goalkeeper shut each attempt down with standup saves from a stick's length out. She would go on to have 14 saves on the day

 

Good defense turned into good offense as the final three minutes of the half came with a huge swing in momentum.

 

Freshman Maria Auth was hit on a pass while striding down the field into Cavalier territory. She crossed in front of the net without letting off a shot and ended up losing possession, but there to scoop up the ground ball next to the goal was senior attacker Steph Lazo who quickly rifled off a shot while colliding with a Virginia defender. The ball blew by the goalie and gave Penn State its first goal in nearly 18 minutes, making it a 6-3 deficit.

                         

A heads up charge taken by Smucker with 57 seconds left would win the Nittany Lions the ball late in the half, and a following penalty by Virginia's Maggie Jackson gave Penn State a brief advantage. It ended up being just enough for Penn State as Katie O'Donnell squeaked a goal into the half's final four seconds and gave the Nittany Lions a much-needed boost heading into the half that led to their second half win.  

 

Also providing them life was the record crowd on hand to witness the top-five team's Senior Day game. The game saw 922 people scattered across the hill and the bleachers, giving Penn State the encouragement it needed to mount a comeback.

 

"When something goes our way and the crowd cheers it definitely swings the momentum in our favor and I think today was a home field advantage for sure," Rainone said.


After the break, it took the Blue and White just under nine and a half minutes to even the score at six. The teams again would trade goals, but with 16:33 remaining, Maggie Gallagher broke through to give Penn State the 8-7 lead, its first since the matchup's opening eight minutes.

 

Success at the draw spoke volumes for the Nittany Lions' offensive burst. After losing six of the game's first eight, Penn State crawled back to win the war with a 13-9 lead in the department at the end of the day.

 

The players continued to carry solid defense into quality offense and owned the closing 10 minutes. Two more goals by O'Donnell, giving her a team-high four on the day, and three more total would allow Penn State to close the game strong and give the unit the Senior Day win. The win marks the Blue and White's 13th on the year and gives the program six straight wins.

 

While it was not the smoothest ride, the end result was still as Penn State hoped and allowed the seniors to cap off their special day in style.

 

"The past four years have been great here, and like I've said before, each year we've made strides in the right direction as a program, so to finish on a high note here on Senior Day was awesome," Smucker said.

 

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Even with how unpredictable college lacrosse can be, as seasons come and go, there are always a few guarantees; games will be won and lost, one team will ultimately be happier than the rest, and some careers will inevitably reach their end. Sports can sometimes take away these opportunities earlier than others, but most student-athletes face this fate from the hands of time.

 

The closer players are to reaching the end of that tunnel, the more that presence is felt. But, while many may worry or fret, Penn State senior goalkeeper Cat Rainone takes the time to step back, be aware and cherish the moment while she can.

 

"When I'm standing in cage in a game or at practice and at the other end, I kind of just look around and soak in the scenery and realize that I'm not going to be playing on the same field forever," Rainone said. "It's definitely bittersweet."

 

The netminder is one of nine seniors for the Nittany Lions who will be honored at this Saturday's game against Virginia for senior day. Each player, and the collective teams they have impacted over the past four years, will be celebrated in a ceremony just before the start of the game.

 

This senior class is one that has without a doubt left a mark on Happy Valley and turned the women's lacrosse program into something better than when they came in. After a freshman campaign in 2014 saw the team go 10-8 and a first round exit in both the ALC and NCAA tournaments, the Penn State program has grown with this current group of seniors. Since then, the team is 42-13, claimed the inaugural Big Ten Tournament title back in 2015, and made two deep runs into the national tournament, reaching the quarterfinals in 2015 and the semifinals last year.

 

"I think this senior class couldn't have set a better example for what we want our student-athletes to be like," head coach Missy Doherty said. "I mean their leadership is excellent, their drive to compete has been great, the way they welcome in our younger players. I think they've set the best example for the future players and how we want to be as a part of our program."

 

One contributor to the squad's successes as of late has been the aforementioned Rainone, a player who has had to be the defense's anchor when it matters the most. Coach Doherty said she has been more than pleased with her play and that it all stems from her dedication and drive.

 

"Cat has been awesome this year. I think it's a credit to her and the work she's put in to get better every day. It's one of those things where she's done everything she can to get better and better and thankfully our team has been the benefit [sic] of her hard work," Doherty said. "To have someone that's worked so hard play such a critical position certainly is a reason why we've been able to come away with the win."

 

For Rainone, the clock continues to tick, but she has realized in the time she has had to reflect that has a lot to be thankful for as a Nittany Lion.

 

Whether it is the bonds she created with teammates like fellow senior Steph Lazo, the laughs shared throughout the years at practice, or the overall thrill that can only come when throwing on the Blue and White and stepping into the cage, Rainone feels she has had a positive experience and does what she can to give back to the underclassmen just as her upperclassmen once did for her.

 

After now four years of sacrificing herself to be the team's last line of defense, the goalie expects to enter an accelerated program to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing, a profession that allows her to continue her efforts in helping others.

 

"I want to help people," Rainone said. "I think working in the medical field fits me as a person because I get to wake up every day and that excites me. I'll get to wake up and I'll get to be able to help somebody, even if it's not everybody, I'll be able to go home and say 'well at least I helped at least one person that day.'"

 

While the medical field can be demanding, Rainone said falls full of 6 a.m. workouts and multiple days a week of intense conditioning in her time playing lacrosse has set her up on a path to succeed since she already knows the time and commitment that goes into something that is a constant grind.

 

Along with that is the understanding that just like as a being a goalkeeper, being perfect is an unattainable goal, yet she still does everything in her power to save one shot, or in this case person, at a time.

 

"You're not going to save everybody, not everything's going to be rainbows and things like that and you just have to take that and find the good in every situation," Rainone said. "Like in a game where we're losing and things aren't going your way, you just have to look at the positives like 'we're competing, we're a top five team,' if we stick together we'll be fine. I think that aspect translates really well into the medical field."

 

That same drive and passion will be something this team will look to tap into as the light of the regular season continues to slowly set over the horizon.

 

Whether the program's recent success will continue is still yet to be seen, but it is certain this group of seniors' experience and poise will prove to be invaluable come postseason play.

 

"Towards the end of the season, the games become more and more in the players' hands and I think they're starting to respond really well to that responsibility, but the success of our remaining season is gonna be heavy on our leadership, and I'm really confident in the leaders that we have," Doherty said.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After fighting back from an unusually slow start, Penn State rolled past Big Ten foe Ohio State 16-12 for the team's 12th win of the year.

The early goings of the first half featured a rare defensive duel for the Nittany Lions, as the first 15 minutes of the half only featured three total goals as Penn State held a slight 2-1 lead. Much of the first half was a back-and-forth battle between the two squads, but the Buckeyes went on a run that would give them a commanding lead.

 

Ohio State tied things up at two with 13:13 left in the first half thanks to a Molly Wood goal, her 36th of the season. Over the next nine minutes, the Buckeyes outscored the Nittany Lions 5-1 to take the 6-3 lead heading into the half's final four minutes.

 

But just when it looked like Penn State would be heading into the half with a sizeable deficit looking for answers in the second half, the squad suddenly turned it around.

 

The Blue and White opened things up with a snipe from senior captain Abby Smucker. Standing around the 12-meter line, she fired one into the top-right pocket of the mesh and got by a diving Jill Rizzo who was standing too far out in front of the net. The goal made it a 6-4 game and was the first of her three goals on the day.

 

"I have to attribute that goal to my teammates," the captain said, mentioning the whole team's contributions. "[My] teammates opened up a lot of space for me."

 

Penn State rode its newfound momentum and finished the half strong, closing out the final 3:37 with three goals to make it six-all at the half. The final two were scored by Madison Carter, who scored the tying goal on a free-position with 14.4 seconds left on the clock.

 

Carter had another big day as she tallied five goals and an assist to her stat line. She has been on a bit of a tear as of late, making it now 14 goals and 17 points over the last three contests. Head coach Missy Doherty said Carter has been huge for the team as of late.

 

"You know Mad Carter, weirdly enough, you finish the game and you're like 'Oh my god she had so many goals.' She just does a good job at scoring goals at important times, and it's a credit to her," Doherty said.

 

Three unanswered Penn State goals grew to eight at the start of the second half. The squad spread the wealth as five different players scored a goal for the Nittany Lions in the first six minutes after the break to push the Blue and White to a big 11-6 lead.

 

The offensive explosion could be credited to the teams increased pace after halftime. Coach Doherty had a talk with the team at the half and got the team to get back to their usual style of play.

 

"Missy at halftime was just telling us we just need to push our legs a little bit more and just go hard to cage, right off the catch just go hard," Smucker said. "We have a lot of speed on this team, a lot of depth, so I think we just needed to push our legs a little more."

 

Penn State's defense also came to play in the second half, limiting the Buckeyes to six total goals, two of which came in the final few minutes when the win was all but assured.

 

The Blue and White now move to 12-1 on the season and move into the final four games of the season. Next up is a matchup with Virginia next Saturday, April 8 against Virginia for senior night. The opening draw I at 1 p.m.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This year's 11-1 Penn State squad has already proven to be a team to be remembered, but last game the team added another line to its storied season thus far.

On Wednesday against Drexel, Madison Carter (102) became yet another player in Penn State's history to be granted admission into the career 100-point club, as she tallied five points off three goals and two assists. She joins Katie O'Donnell (125) as the second Nittany Lion this season to reach the plateau and now is one of three players on the team who have achieved the mark (O'Donnell and Steph Lazo). Lazo (188) has the likely opportunity to become the 12th person to ever don the Blue and White and crack 200 points.

 

"To hit that mark is a credit to her and how hard she's been working and how hard the team has rallied around her," head coach Missy Doherty said on Carter's accomplishment. "I think it comes from great team play and the ability to assert yourself, and it's nice to see on the team we have different players stepping up and doing that every year."

 

The three, comprising of one sophomore, a junior and a senior, showcase and represent Penn State's solid mix of age throughout the roster while also showing that regardless of the age, players of all sorts have big-time experience and have contributed immensely on the field.

 

Each game has presented its own unique set of challenges, and with that constant pressure from tough competition as they go down the backstretch of the season, Doherty believes it will make her team that much more ready to show up when it matters most.

 

"We've had a lot of really tough games this year and every game there's been different scenarios we can learn from," Doherty said. "It's nice to see when the game is on the line and your leaders step up. You get big plays from different people each game, so we never really know who's going to pull away, but we certainly have the people that can make big plays in big-time."

 

Penn State will need as many big plays as it can get down the latter part of the schedule since the final five games present collisions with some of the best programs in lacrosse.

 

Still on the slate are three top-20 teams in the country, including No. 1 Maryland in the regular season's penultimate game. Also in the way stands Big Ten foes in Michigan and Ohio State, with the Buckeyes having the Nittany Lions number in two of the last three regular season contests.

 

While it's a challenging road that lies ahead, Penn State welcomes the challenge as they plan to use it as fuel and preparation for the postseason that stands ahead.

 

"I think any time you go into postseason you want to make sure you have a great road to it, and you know I think our last five games kind of reflect our entire season," Doherty said. "We have a good mix of games of great, tough teams to play, so it's a great way to get ready for postseason with the teams we have left on our schedule."

 

With that same mindset of taking each game as a chance to better yourself, Doherty and her Nittany Lions plan to run through the gauntlet that remains at full force in order to make the most out of each one. Looking at the schedule, it appears the final five games should present plenty of opportunities do just that

 

"It's just continuing to grow and get better, and taking each lesson we learn from each game we're playing in order to build on the last one," Doherty said. "We've learned a lot of things about our team as the season's progressed, and we're looking to get better on Saturday."

 

Penn State will take on the visiting Ohio State Buckeyes at the Penn State Lacrosse Field this Saturday, April 1 at 1 p.m.

 

@GOPSUSPORTS

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