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By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off of its opening weekend with two big wins, the Penn State women's soccer team entered Friday's game against the University of Connecticut determined to keep the streak alive.


The two teams last meeting was on August 23, 2013 when the game ended in a 2-2 tie after double overtime. Both Penn State and UConn were set on not letting history repeat itself.


Penn State was able to reverse history on Friday by winning, 3-1.  A strong performance from the defense allowed just its second goal of the season

"They [the defense] have done an unbelievable job. So far, they are the glue during the game," said head coach Erica Walsh.


One defender who stood out was senior Whitney Church. Church has been a key defender for the Nittany Lions for the since 2011, and played a full 90 minutes protecting Penn State's lead over the Huskies.


"It's always great when we can deny them any shots," Church said.


"We've had a great start to the season," she said. "It's key to make sure the chemistry on and off the field works as well. Our defense is made up of two seniors and two freshman. The seniors have to make sure we can bring the freshmen along with us and help them."


The Ashland, Va., native is a four-year starter and made her presence known at the beginning of her Nittany Lion career. She was honored on the All-Big Ten Freshman Team in 2011 and continued garnering accolades her sophomore year, being named the Big Ten Defender of the Year in 2012.


Alongside Church against UConn was freshman defender Elizabeth Ball. Ball played 76 minutes in Friday's game and was helped keep the Huskies away from the net.


Midfielder Salina Williford played solidly on Friday. The sophomore spent much of her time in UConn's end, putting three shots on goal and assisting the defensive backfield during the second half of the game.


"I feel confident with everyone behind and in front of me," Williford said. "Honestly, we just have such a great team. I feel confident with whomever I'm on the field."


A strong defense would be nothing without a focused goalkeeper. Junior Britt Eckerstrom had three saves during the match and shut out the Huskies for nearly 66 minutes.


Penn State will be taking its perfect record on the road next week at the Duke Nike Classic, facing North Carolina and Duke on ESPN 3.



 

By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After two wins last weekend, Penn State shows that although this team may be young- they mean business.

Already this season, seven of the 11 freshmen have already seen playing time. Several of the freshman players, such as Megan Schafer and Frannie Crouse, have become key players on the pitch.

"She brings a personality to the team we haven't seen for a while," coach Walsh said about freshman Megan Schafer. "She plays a variety of roles and is going to be a big player this season."

Coach Walsh also noted that the upperclassmen are taking on leadership roles.

"This preseason contained a little more teaching and mentoring from upperclassman," said Walsh.

Emily Hurd, an upperclassman on the team, spoke on Monday at Penn State's Fall Sports Media Day about the freshmen class and their performance so far this season.

"[The freshmen] have done awesome," Hurd said. They're obviously a talented group and they're very eager to learn from the leaders on this team and that's what has made this transition so seamless. They want to grow in every game and every practice. They're a fantastic group soccer-wise but off the field and within the chemistry of our team, they've been absolutely fantastic.

"They're putting together performances like that of upperclassmen and they're only their second game in," she said.

With such a diverse group of players, the freshmen bring a wide range of skills and personalities to the team. This year's freshman class comes to Penn State from nine different states.

Making the move from Langhorne, Penn., to Happy Valley, Schafer expressed what experiencing Jeffery Field was like for the first time this past weekend.

"It was awesome and kind of surreal because you grow up always dreaming of playing soccer in college and then the first game at five o'clock comes along and you can't believe it's here already," Schafer said. "We are so lucky to experience this with such great teammates and coaches," she said.

During the team's season opener against West Virginia, Crouse scored the game-winning goal, showing that, although she in her first year, she is a player with a presence.

"The nerves were definitely there, but once you're on the field and the whistle blows, it's like we've done this our entire lives," said Crouse.

During the team's second match of the year against Syracuse, Crouse was one of four freshmen to start the game. The other freshmen that started Sunday's match were Maddie Elliston, Elizabeth Ball, and Emily Ogle.

With the freshmen already making big moves, the Lions look forward to their next game.

Penn State will face Connecticut on Friday night at Jeffery Field. The whistle blows at 5:30 p.m.

Nittany Lions Kick Off Season with Two Victories

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By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a successful 2013 campaign and offseason, the Nittany Lion women's soccer team picked up right where it left off with two-straight victories to open the season over the weekend.

Kicking off the season on Friday night, the Lions beat West Virginia, 3-1, with an outstanding performance by freshman Frannie Crouse, who scored the game-winning goal. The Nittany Lions followed Friday's victory with a 2-0 shutout against Syracuse on Sunday.

Fueled by a roster featuring 11 freshmen and a host of familiar faces, the Nittany Lions capped off the weekend with confidence. Junior Mallory Weber was the star on Sunday, scoring both goals in the triumph over West Virginia. With such a young team, Weber opened up about how her role on the team has changed since last year.

"It's a lot different," Weber said. "Last year I was able more to observe and take everything in, this year I've taken on more of a leadership position."

On Sunday, Weber's first goal took place during the 47th minute of the game. It was not only the first goal for the game, but was Weber's first goal of this season. Her second goal was with assist from teammate Raquel Rodriguez in the 52nd minute.

Both games highlighted the team's ability to utilize their teammates to get the best shot on goal. In Friday's game, Penn State had nine shots on goal against WVU, while only allowing three shots on goal. The Nittany Lions had nine shots on goal against Syracuse on Sunday.

Although it's been several months since the Nittany Lions played on Jeffery Field, the players showed their ability to pick up right where they left off last season in the friendly confines of the Penn State faithful.
Freshman Emily Ogle was among a group of 11 freshmen who experienced Jeffrey Field for the first time as Nittany Lions over the weekend. Penn State went 9-1-1 at home last season.

"It was easier this game since I had at least a game under my belt," Ogle said after Sunday's game. "I was kind of nervous (for) my first game, but its an honor to be playing here at Penn State. Jeffery Field is beauty; it's an amazing experience."
As head coach Erica Walsh begins her eighth year with Penn State, she is excited about how the team opened 2014.

"It's all about emphasizing details," Walsh said. "Every opponent we face throws us different things, what Syracuse showed us was different than Friday's game against WVU. If we can master the small details we can handle anything they throw at us."

Penn State returns home on Friday to face Connecticut at 5:30 p.m. on Jeffrey Field where it will look to extend its season-opening winning streak to three games.

VIDEO: 2014 Women's Soccer Season Preview

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's soccer team will kickoff the Penn State sports calendar for 2014-'15 with two home games this weekend.

On Friday, Penn State hosts West Virginia at 7:30 p.m. on Jeffrey Field. The Nittany Lions meet Syracuse Sunday at 2:30 p.m. GoPSUsports.com spent a morning with the Nittany Lions during preseason practice to preview the 2014 season. Take a look.






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Barbour Eager to Lead Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 18th of August cannot come soon enough for Sandy Barbour.

Introduced as Penn State Director of Athletics on Saturday afternoon, Barbour is thrilled to begin her tenure as the leader of an athletic program that aspires to continue its long history of excellence on and off the field of play.

"When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and most importantly students, you dream about coming to a place like Penn State," Barbour said. "You dream about the opportunity to lead a program like Penn State athletics. Why? Because it represents the opportunity to have it all: Athletic excellence, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal responsibility. So thank you, Eric [Barron]. I am absolutely thrilled, over the top excited about this opportunity and about being the athletic director at Penn State."

A graduate of Wake Forest where she was field hockey team captain, Barbour grew up on the East Coast and has always had a deep passion for Penn State University and its athletic department. That's what drew her to the position when she originally spoke with President Barron about the opportunity.

Immediately, Barbour felt a connection with the people, pride and remarkable accomplishments of Penn State University and its athletic department.

"I love the 'We Are Penn State.' I particularly love what it stands for. It stands for family," Barbour said.

Barbour desires to see national titles in all 31 sports on campus. But first and foremost, she will strive to lead a department with student-athletes who are elite performers in the classroom.

"We are athletic programs again that are all part of a university," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes will be students first, Penn State is incredibly proud of the academic performance of their students and we will continue to be."

Eager to hit the ground running when she begins her duties as athletic director in 23 days, Barbour wants to learn from everyone in the department, especially the head coaches leading Penn State's 31 athletic teams.

"Unity doesn't mean one opinion, and I actually embrace that, embrace the diversity of opinion, diversity in a variety of different ways, and I actually think that will make us stronger in our ability to move forward," Barbour said. "As I said before, I have something to learn from everybody, and I'll be doing a lot of listening."

Numerous head coaches were in attendance at Saturday's introductory press conference. The coaches and athletic department staff then had a chance to mingle with Barbour at a private reception before she boarded a flight to Chicago for Big Ten meetings. The head coaches in attendance exuded great confidence in the future direction of the athletic department.

"There is a culture, history and tradition of tremendous academic achievement at Penn State and that will continue," said head football coach James Franklin. "I know it's important to our president, athletic director and all of our coaches. That will continue. I know we'll spend as much time as we need to so we can start building."


"I am truly thrilled that Sandy Barbour will serve as the next athletic director for Penn State," Lady Lions head coach Coquese Washington said. "Sandy is a strong, dynamic and passionate leader. She is also an incredibly smart visionary and strategic thinker. It is exciting to imagine all the ways Penn State University, and Penn State athletics in particular, will be positively impacted by her leadership."

"I loved everything I heard today," head women's hockey coach Josh Brandwene said. "She has passion, vision and just a great understanding of the Penn State community. Both as a head coach and as an alumnus, I am really excited to start working with her."


Barbour will return to California in the coming days to prepare for her full-time return to Happy Valley on Aug. 18, and the new leader of Penn State Athletics is fired up to get started.

"We are Penn State. I'm all in. I'm ready to get going," said Barbour.

 


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2014 Coaches Caravan Day VI - New Jersey & New York

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VIDEO: Coaches Caravan Day V Roundup | VIDEO: Coaches Caravan Day IV Roundup

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NEW YORK - Leg two of the Coaches Caravan wrapped up on Thursday with a lunch stop in Northern New Jersey and an evening reception in New York City.

New Jersey and New York City are two pivotal areas for Penn State teams when it comes to recruiting.  Additionally, the Nittany Lion fan bases in New Jersey and the New York Metro area are among the largest outside of Pennsylvania.  Take a look through the final day of week two on the Coaches Caravan, which featured James Franklin, Cael Sanderson and Erica Walsh.


Stop No. 11 - Northern New Jersey (Hanover Marriott)


 
New Jersey is home to more than 27,000 Penn State alums, which is second only to Pennsylvania.  More than 225 loyal supporters visited the Hanover Marriott in Northern New Jersey on Thursday for the Caravan's lunch in the Garden State.

In addition to being home to some of Penn State's most loyal supporters, New Jersey is a critical recruiting area for the vast majority of Penn State teams.  Women's soccer head coach Erica Walsh opened her remarks on Thursday with a story about All-American Maya Hayes, who recently graduated from the program as one of its all-time best.  Hayes is from West Orange, N.J.

"We've had tremendous success in this area," Walsh said.  "I'm thrilled to be back.  And I've spent a lot of time recruiting in this area."

nj_1.jpgThe same is true for football program.  There are currently 16 student-athletes on the football roster from New Jersey, which is second only to Pennsylvania.  Penn State has had a long line of storied success in attracting the top talent from New Jersey, and Coach Franklin wants that tradition to continue.

Franklin informed the media during the pre-event press conference that the time and resources put into recruiting New Jersey make it as if it is part of Pennsylvania.  Four members of the 2014 recruiting class are from New Jersey.

As Rutgers transitions into the Big Ten this summer, New Jersey will carry even more importance for Penn State Athletics.  The fans and alums in the local area will now have the opportunity to watch Penn State teams compete in the state on an annual basis.

"This place is very special, and it means a lot to our program," Sanderson said.

"We are really excited about the Big Ten expanding east," Walsh said.

A special group of Nittany Lion football lettermen paid a visit to the New Jersey Caravan stop on Thursday.  Members of the 1959 Liberty Bowl team had a 55th reunion table.  Head coach Rip Engle led the Nittany Lions to victory against Bear Bryant and the Alabama Crimson Tide, 7-0 on Dec. 19, 1959, marking Penn State's first Liberty Bowl victory.

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Stop No. 12 - New York City (Marriott New York Downtown)



The Coaches Caravan paid its annual visit to the Big Apple on Thursday evening to wrap up leg two.  The Caravan bus drove through the Holland Tunnel into the southern tip of Manhattan shortly before 3 p.m.  Situated just a block from One World Trade Center, head coach James Franklin and members of the Caravan staff took a walk around the new Freedom Tower structure towering over the New York City skyline.

The final event of the week took place before 300 enthusiastic, loud Penn State fans inside the Marriott New York Downtown.  The evening marked the end of Walsh's two-week stint on the Caravan.  The leader of Penn State Women's Soccer was superb each time she spoke to the crowd.  Her visualization story of a recruiting visit touched everyone in the room, and her delivery was superb.

"It's just been a thrill to be a part of this, and I am honored to be here with two of the greatest coaches that you will find," Walsh said.

After receiving another standing ovation on Thursday, a member of the crowd yelled to the stage as she sat down.

"New York loves you, Erica!"

Sanderson also finished his stint on the Caravan bus with another comical speech in New York.  While he is a terrific complement to Walsh and Franklin, Sanderson has the capability to send a large group erupting into laughter every time he brings up a new topic.  Nonetheless, his respect and appreciation of the fan base and its support speaks volumes about his enthusiasm of being a part of the Penn State family.

"You see that passion these two have, and it is unbelievable," Sanderson said.

"It has been great spending time with these two coaches," Franklin said.

The Q&A portion of the night prompted a discussion with Sanderson about the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships, which will take place in Manhattan at Madison Square Garden.  The Nittany Lions and the loyal fan base will have that date circled, and Sanderson is looking forward to the opportunity to wrestle in front of so many Penn State alums.

nyc_2.jpgA large portion of Coach Franklin's Caravan speech stresses the importance of academic success for the football program.  He wants to see the team achieve its highest grade point average in history, in addition to its highest graduation rate.  Thursday night's location was a living example of what a Penn State degree can do for a student-athlete.  Nearly 10 football letterwinners currently work just a few blocks from the Marriott Downtown on Wall Street.  As Franklin says, Penn State provides a powerful degree for life beyond football or any sport.

With two weeks down, the Coaches Caravan resumes on Tuesday with a lunch stop in Williamsport on the campus of Penn College of Technology.  Additionally the Caravan will pay a visit to Wilkes-Barre for an evening event on Tuesday, lunch in East Stroudsburg and an evening in the Lehigh Valley on Wednesday and an evening event in Erie on Thursday.

Thank you to the fans for making the first two weeks of the Coaches Caravan a resounding success.


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Miles Traveled:
Day I - 165 miles

Day II - 130 miles
Day III - 387 miles
Day IV - 175 miles
Day V - 245 miles

Day VI - 267 miles

Total - 1,369 miles

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Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2014 Coaches Caravan Day V - Philadelphia & Scranton

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VIDEO: Coaches Caravan Day IV Roundup

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PECKVILLE, Pa. -  The second day of leg two on the road with the Penn State Coaches Caravan featured a trip through downtown Philadelphia and a packed house in Scranton on Wednesday.

Philly natives James Franklin, field hockey's Charlene Morett and women's soccer's Erica Walsh highlighted Wednesday's lunch stop.  Additionally, four-time defending NCAA wrestling champion head coach Cael Sanderson joined the cast of coaches for Wednesday's event.  Take a look at some highlights.
    


Stop No. 9 - Philadelphia (The Rittenhouse Hotel)


 
Wednesday's lunch took place in the heart of downtown Philadelphia at The Rittenhouse Hotel.  More than 250 fans filled the ballroom to greet the four coaches during an excellent lunch event.  Franklin, Morett and Walsh had a little extra bounce in their step after the Philly natives took a drive down Broad Street en route to Center City for the lunch.

Wednesday's crowd was superb, and the group gave all four coaches a standing ovation after they spoke.  Like the gathering in King of Prussia on Tuesday night, the Philadelphia supporters of Penn State Athletics are a diehard group of fans.

Walsh has been a tough act to follow during her two weeks on the Caravan.  Her campus tour speech is filled with details and beaming with pride.  Whether it was Bob Warming, Morett or Sanderson, every coach who has stepped to the podium following Walsh has remarked about her tremendous description of the Penn State campus.  Sanderson had his first crack at following the leader of Penn State women's soccer for the first time on Wednesday.

"That's tough to follow.  I just want to have lunch," Sanderson joked.

caravan_philly_1.jpgFresh off the program's fourth-straight NCAA title, Sanderson has an endless supply of things to talk about.  But that's not his style.  Sanderson deflects the attention off of himself to talk about the positive energy surrounding the football program and how the football program serves as the engine for the health of the athletic department.

"They have the vision, the passion and the pride.  We are in very good hands," Sanderson said of Franklin and the football staff.

He went on to urge the crowd to buy football season tickets now.

"Get your tickets now because when they get going, you're not going to be able to get them in a few years," Sanderson said.

Franklin talks about the state of pride in Penn State each time he addresses a caravan crowd.  That could not be more apparent during the first nine stops during the past couple weeks.  The fan base is excited for what's ahead.  And the fellow coaches in the department are just as excited.

"There are so many things to be excited about," Morett said.

Morett finished off her stint on the Coaches Caravan in Philly.  She will now hit the recruiting trail.  From Philly, the Fullington bus rolled north towards Scranton.



Stop No. 10 - Scranton (Fiorelli Catering)



Day two of the second week wrapped up in front of the Caravan's largest crowd in Peckville, Pa. (Outside of Scranton).  Nearly 900 Penn State fans crammed into the ballroom at Fiorelli Catering to welcome a great group from the Penn State Athletics family during the local alumni chapter's 36th annual event.  The list of attendees included Northeast Pennsylvania products and current Nittany Lions Eugene Lewis, Nyeem Wartman, Gary Wooten and Brian Tomasetti and the voice of the Nittany Lions, Steve Jones.

Prior to dinner, Coach Franklin met a throng of fans that lined up more than 90 minutes prior to when the program began at 7:30 p.m.  Fan after fan walked up to Franklin for an opportunity to shake hands and take photos for nearly an hour.  Some offered advice.  Some told stories. Some even offered gifts.

Walsh and Sanderson both spoke prior to Franklin, energizing the room packed with Nittany Lion supporters.  But it was Franklin who got the room buzzing during an informal auction for game tickets to select Nittany Lion games in the fall and season tickets.  Franklin triggered a bidding war with the microphone that led to two fans battling up to $8,000 for a pair of season tickets.  When the final bid was announced as the winner, the room erupted with approval and rose to its feet.

scranton_1.jpg"In this room, I feel like I'm already in Beaver Stadium.  You can't move for all of the people," Sanderson said when describing the atmosphere.

Franklin's remarks were passionate and filled with energy as he closed out the evening's lineup of speakers.  While highlighting his vision for the football program, Franklin reminded the Scranton crowd of what is important in the quest to become the top program.

"Success is about doing all of the little things better than everybody else in the country," Franklin said.

Throughout all three speeches, the crowd of nearly 900 was glued to the speaker at the podium.  Walsh, Sanderson and Franklin all deserve a great deal of credit for their delivery on Wednesday night.

Simply put, the Scranton crowd was again tremendous for the third-straight year during the Caravan.

Before boarding the bus bound for the next stop in New Jersey, the Coaches Caravan crew paid a visit to 2012 Nittany Lion alum Eric Shrive's new restaurant - The Vault Tap Room & Restaurant - located in West Scranton.

Thursday's events will take place in Northern New Jersey and New York City before the Caravan heads back to State College.
    

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Miles Traveled:
Day I - 165 miles

Day II - 130 miles
Day III - 387 miles
Day IV - 175 miles
Day V - 245 miles


Total - 1,102 miles
    

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2014 Coaches Caravan Day IV - King of Prussia

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KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. - Leg two of the 2014 Coaches Caravan kicked off on Tuesday evening with a stop outside of Philadelphia.

The eighth stop of the 17-event caravan featured James Franklin, four-time defending NCAA national champion wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson, field hockey's Charlene Morett and women's soccer's Erica Walsh.  More than 700 Penn State enthusiasts greeted the coaches inside the event room at Valley Forge Casino Resort.  Take a look at some highlights from Tuesday's event.


Stop No. 8 - King of Prussia (Valley Forge Casino Resort)




More than 100,000 Penn State alums call the Philadelphia area home, and three of the four coaches on stage treated Tuesday night's Coaches Caravan event as a homecoming.  Hailing from Montgomery County, Walsh was just minutes where she grew up in Huntingdon Valley.

"I tried to get the whole caravan moved to the Phillies game (tonight)," Walsh joked.

Morett, who is on the Caravan for the Philly swing, is a proud product of Delaware County.  Like Walsh, she was thrilled to be in front of the home crowd on Tuesday night.

"I'm just a Philly girl coming back home," Morett said.

Morett spent a portion of her speech giving Walsh a hard time for not attending Penn State.  Walsh has spent the past two weeks on the Coaches Caravan delivering a superb visualization speech of the University Park campus.  Morett's response?

"After listening to your speech, how did you not go to Penn State?"

As a 27-year veteran as a head coach of the Nittany Lion field hockey program and Penn State alum, Morett is among the most passionate individuals you will find when it comes to her love for the University.  She genuinely appreciates the support fans and alums give to the school that means so much to her, and it's always evident when she speaks in front of a crowd.

The third Philly product in King of Prussia on Tuesday evening was the headliner of the event.  Franklin grew up in Langhorne, Pa., which is roughly 30 miles from the site of the stop.  As he has said from day one, Franklin is a Pennsylvania boy with a Penn State heart.  He's thrilled to be the head coach of the Nittany Lions, and he could not have been happier to be close to home.

"It's unbelievable to be here tonight," Franklin said.  "...The sense of pride in Penn State is unbelievable."

kop_1.jpg Joining the trio of Philly natives this week on the Caravan is the leader of the nation's premier collegiate wrestling program.  Always entertaining, Sanderson has a knack for keeping the crowd light every time he speaks in front of a group.  He was clad in a "Dominate The State" T-shirt under his suit jacket to show his support of Coach Franklin.

Sanderson's introduction included a small snippet of his unmatched wrestling and coaching career.  After receiving a standing ovation following the introduction, Sanderson stepped to the microphone and noted that the intro had left off his fourth-grade all-star baseball achievement.  The room erupted in laughter.

Sanderson likes to have fun with the crowd, but when it comes to his appreciation for the position he holds, his feelings are clear.

"It's an awesome opportunity to be a part of Penn State, and it's because of you guys," Sanderson said.

The Coaches Caravan travels downtown Philadelphia for a lunch stop on Wednesday before moving north to Scranton for a dinner event.

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Miles Traveled:
Day I - 165 miles

Day II - 130 miles
Day III - 387 miles
Day IV - 175 miles


Total - 857 miles

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Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2014 Coaches Caravan Day III - Uniontown and Pittsburgh

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Uniontown Photo Gallery | Pittsburgh Photo Gallery | Coaches Caravan Registration

VIDEO: Day I Recap - York & Hershey | VIDEO: Day II Recap - Baltimore & Washington, D.C.

PITTSBURGH - The 2014 Coaches Caravan capped off its first full week on the road with two stops in the western half of Pennsylvania.

Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus played host to the final lunch stop of the week.  From there, the modified bus rolled north to Station Square in Pittsburgh for an evening reception.  Take a look through highlights from the third day on the road for the 2014 Coaches Caravan.


Stop No. 6 - Uniontown (Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus)


 
The Coaches Caravan bus departed Washington, D.C., just before 7 a.m. on Thursday for a scenic trek through the Appalachian Mountains en route to Uniontown for the sixth stop on the 17-event tour during May.  Thursday's stop at the Penn State Fayette campus was the first for the Coaches Caravan in its three-year existence.  The scenic campus is situated in a place with superb views in every direction.

"This is my first trip here, and this place is absolutely beautiful," women's soccer head coach Erica Walsh said.

Walsh, along with men's soccer head coach Bob Warming and football coach James Franklin again headlined the final day of the first week.  Walsh captivated the audience with another rendition of her visualization story of taking a prospective student-athlete on a recruiting visit.

Coaches Walsh and Warming have spent portions of the bus rides from event to event educating him on college and professional soccer.  Warming used it as a lighthearted joke with Penn State Fayette crowd.

"It has been so great to be on the bus to educate Coach Franklin about the most popular sport in the world - soccer," Warming said.

caravan_uniontown_1.jpg Having now been on the road for three days on the Coaches Caravan, Coach Franklin has gotten an opportunity to meet fans and supporters from several areas in Pennsylvania and surrounding region.  Since the day he arrived in Happy Valley, the support has stood out to him.  He is passionate towards the fan base and wants to meet as many folks as possible.

"It's great to get out around the state and connect with as many people as possible," Franklin said.  "The support has been the most impressive thing for me.  We need your support."

With two more weeks ahead, Franklin is eager to meet as many fans as possible.  The tone of his message has been constant over the first week of the Caravan.  He's thrilled to be the head coach of Penn State, and he wants to make the fan base proud of the football program.


Stop No. 7 - Pittsburgh (Sheraton Station Square)



The Caravan's first week on the road wrapped up in front of 450 fans in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.  Home to 56,000 alums in the greater metro area, the Steel City is home to some of Penn State's most loyal supporters.  The room was filled with energy from the moment the doors opened prior to the reception at 6 p.m., and  all three head coaches received a warm reception during their speeches.

Additionally, Pittsburgh area natives and assistant coaches Bob Shoop and Terry Smith joined Franklin, Walsh and Warming for the evening event.  Shoop (Oakmont) and Smith (Aliquippa) recruited in the area during the day before shaking hands with countless Nittany Lion fans at the evening event.  Nittany Lion great and former NFL quarterback Chuck Fusina was among the Pittsburgh area lettermen inside the Sheraton Station Square saying hello to Coach Franklin, as well.

caravan_pittsburgh_1.jpg All six stops this week featured passionate Penn State fans.  The individuals sitting in the rooms listening to the coaches speak are among the undying supporters the University's athletic department has.  However, Pittsburgh's rich history as a sports town, especially when it comes to football, always makes it an exciting evening event on the Coaches Caravan.  Thursday's event was no exception.

The NIttany Lions will begin a four-game series with rival Pitt beginning in 2016 (Sept. 10) when the two teams meet at Heinz Field.  The Penn State fan base in Pittsburgh is fired up for the team's return to the city, and it was clear on Thursday how excited the group is for the new era of the football program under the direction of Coach Franklin.

"This is your football program, not mine," Franklin said.  "I am so proud to be your head coach."

Thursday was the final day for Coach Warming to be on the Caravan.  The leader of the men's soccer program was terrific all week long.  He was candid, lighthearted and passionate when it came to delivering a message to illustrate how much he loves Penn State and how much he enjoys the support of Nittany Nation.

The Coaches Caravan returns to the road on Tuesday for a stop in King of Prussia.  Week two also includes a lunch stop in Philadelphia, dinner in Scranton, lunch in Northern New Jersey and an evening in New York City.

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Miles Traveled:
Day I - 165 miles

Day II - 130 miles
Day III - 387 miles

Total - 682 miles

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Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony


2014 Coaches Caravan Day II - Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

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Baltimore Photo Gallery | Washington, D.C. Photo Gallery

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -  The Coaches Caravan bus rolled south for day two of the first travel leg on Wednesday morning for stops at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

A sold out crowd of more than 230 enthusiastic fans greeted a cast of Penn State coaches, which included James Franklin, Erica Walsh and Bob Warming, in Baltimore.  Take a look through highlights from the second full day on the road for the 2014 Coaches Caravan.
    


Stop No. 4 - Baltimore (Marriott Inner Harbor)


Wednesday's lunch stop in Baltimore marked the third-straight sold out crowd during the initial leg of the 2014 Coaches Caravan.  On the heels of Tuesday's announcement that the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament is headed to the area (Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.) in 2017, the Penn State fans in the room were excited about what is ahead as the conference's footprint extends to the East Coast.

"It's so great to be in your area," Walsh said.

The 2014-'15 athletic season marks the first with Maryland as a member of the Big Ten.  That being said, the 12,000 Penn State alums in the Baltimore area are thrilled to have Penn State's teams competing in Maryland on an annual basis.  The Nittany Lion football team is slated to return to Baltimore on Oct. 24, 2015 when it will take on Maryland inside M&T Bank Stadium.

Coach Franklin lived on and off in Maryland for eight years, a place he calls home.

"It's awesome to be back," Franklin said.

caravan_baltimore_1.jpgIn all, 10 players currently on the football roster or 2014 signees are from Maryland.  For the men's and women's soccer programs, the story is much of the same.  Walsh highlighted former Nittany Lion great and U.S. National Team standout Ali Krieger and former All-American and current National Women's Soccer League member Christine Nairn, who are both from the local area.  Warming's men's soccer team has three members from Maryland on it.

Like day one on the Caravan, each coach explained how the loyal supporters of Penn State play such an instrumental role in the success of the athletic programs.  Without the unrivaled support of the fan base, Penn State Athletics would not be what it is today.  That's what makes the Coaches Caravan a special three weeks.  It gives the coaches a chance to say thank you and provide some insight on what makes the programs tick.

"Penn State is a remarkable place for learning as a student," Warming said.  "And it's a remarkable place to learn as a coach."

"Success is about being able to do the little things better than anyone else," Franklin said.

caravan_baltimore_2.jpg The day ended with a lighthearted question for all three coaches on the stage.  A fan asked which flavor of ice cream at Berkey Creamery is their favorite.  Coach Walsh said that she likes to stick with vanilla.  Coach Warming likes strawberry.  Coach Franklin's answer was a bit different.

"My mission is to taste every flavor," Franklin said.
    


Stop No. 5 - Washington, D.C. (Marriott Wardman Park)


A crowd of more than 425 fans greeted the Penn State coaches in the nation's capital on Wednesday night.  The Washington, D.C., metro area is home to more than 25,000 alums.  Like the Baltimore event, the individuals in attendance were fired up to see Penn State teams making annual trips to the area with Maryland joining the Big Ten.

Coach Walsh opened the evening speeches with her great visualization story of a recruiting visit.  Before getting into the step-by-step process of recruiting, she had a joke for the attentive D.C. crowd.

"They usually put the key note speaker last, but we are switching things up on the Caravan," Walsh said.

Warming followed a standing ovation for Walsh with a speech to highlight his passion for Penn State and appreciation of the fans.  Additionally, he informed the crowd of the exponential growth of soccer around the country.  The leader of Penn State soccer spent much of the one-hour reception before the program began talking with fans about the sport.

caravan_DC_1.jpg "I love this crowd.  I've talked more soccer at this stop than any other we've been to," Warming said.

Warming, who was a member of the search committee to hire the new football coach in January, introduced Coach Franklin as one of the finest men that he has ever met.  Franklin then took the microphone in front of the room to a rousing cheer.

Franklin told the crowd how excited he is about the direction things are headed, largely because of the high-quality human beings that are on the team right now.  Following the individual meetings with every player on the roster in the past two weeks, Franklin said he has been incredibly impressed with the student-athletes since he took the job.

"We are in a really good place right now," Franklin said.  "They are really excited about the direction we are heading in."

As the fourth program drew to a close, Coach Franklin encouraged the group to return each Saturday in the fall.  He was genuinely happy to be in Maryland and D.C. on Wednesday to meet another group of passionate fans.

"I include Maryland and D.C. as part of our state in the Penn State family," Franklin said.

The Caravan heads to Penn State Fayette in Uniontown and Pittsburgh on Thursday to wrap up week one of the traveling events.
    



Miles Traveled:
Day I - 165 miles

Day II - 130 miles

Total - 295 miles

caravan_mileage.jpg

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