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
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
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
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
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,"