UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - More than 2,000 athletes
from across Pennsylvania are on Penn State's campus this weekend to participate
in the 2016 Special Olympics Summer Games.
The Opening Ceremonies took place on Thursday inside Pegula Ice Arena, kicking
off a weekend of competition. Student-athletes from a host of Penn State teams will
volunteer at the Summer Games over the weekend.
Members of eight Penn State teams greeted the Olympians as they entered Pegula
Ice Arena on Thursday evening, taking photos and cheering them on in
anticipation of the Summer Games.
Take a look through some photos and video of Penn State athletes volunteering
at the Summer Games.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 44th IFC/Panhellenic
Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center over the weekend.
THON's 708 dancers began standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and did not sit down or
sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against pediatric
cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State
Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer.
To date, more than $136 million has been raised by THON. THON revealed a fundraising total of more than
$9.7 million for 2016 with 96 percent of THON's all-time funds being donated directly to
Each year, more than 15,000 Penn State student volunteers dedicate their time
to THON, making it the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Members of Penn State's Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) were active
participants in THON, and led run several fund-raising activities once again
this year including sending solicitation letters to friends and family and a lip sync competition. In addition to
generating financial support for THON, SAAB also provides emotional support to
its THON children, Isabella Messina and Colton Buckley, and their families
throughout the year.
Four Penn State student-athletes are represented SAAB as dancers in THON 2016:
Liisi Vink-Lainas (Wynantskill, N.Y.) and Angela Widlacki (Naperville, Ill.) of women's soccer,
Emily Rivers (Washington, D.C.) from women's tennis and Matt Zanellato (Burke,
Va.) from football.
"This means the world to us. As athletes you are given a platform that a
normal student might not have," said Zanellato. "It's one of those
things that when you come in as a freshman, you know that you will have that
platform for a few years. I wanted to make the most of it. I realized that THON
was something special to me when I came to Penn State. I wanted to use my
platform as best I could."
Additionally, Angela Connors and Jessica Spellman from the Lionettes squad and
from Penn State cheerleading Kenny Fuhrman, Paige Gentry, Jordan Hinkle,
Kylie Tobasco and Mike White danced in THON.
Within Penn State Athletics, strategic communications student assistants Emily
Hesidence and Kate Brandell were also among the dancers at THON, as well.
Check out the GoPSUsports.com extensive coverage from THON 2016 weekend.
Friday - 6 p.m. - THON 2016 Begins The 46-hour dance marathon kicked off at 6 p.m. on Friday evening when the 708 dancers stood. They will remain on their feet until Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Saturday - 9:30 a.m. - Student-Athlete Interviews With Bryce Jordan Center buzzing with energy during the 16th hour of THON 2016, GoPSUsports.com spent some time with student-athletes and THON dancers Liisi Vink-Lainas and Angela Widlacki of women's soccer, Emily Rivers, from women's tennis and Matt Zanellato from football. Representing Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB), the group is thrilled to carry the Penn State Athletics banner as dancers in the 2016 THON. Take a look at some of their remarks from the floor at the BJC.
Saturday - 2 p.m. - Football Hosts THON Explorers Event Approximately 40 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed approximately
30 THON Four Diamonds children and their families to a special event inside the
Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON Explorers
The THON event in Lasch is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every
year. The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take
photos, get autographs, participate in athletic stations, tour the facility
with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group
The Nittany Lions formed a high-five tunnel for the families upon entry into
the building before the student-athletes took the families around the football
facility. Take a look at the THON Explorers event at the Lasch Football Complex
Saturday - 6 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the IM during athlete hour on Saturday. Here are a few snapshots and video highlights from the event. Athlete Hour Photo Gallery
Saturday - 11 p.m. - Football Wins Pep Rally Dance Competition One of the THON highlights every year comes on Saturday night when the teams of Penn State Athletics hop on stage and compete in a dancing competition during the annual pep rally. In all, 12 different teams competed in the 2016 version of the dance-off.
The pep rally included a speech from former Nittany Lion football great Devon Still and his daughter Leah.
As for the dance competition, the football team claimed top honors in the men's side of the action, while the reigning national champion women's soccer team took top honors on the women's side. The two teams then battled in a dance off, with the football team earning the bragging rights as the 2016 THON Pep Rally dancing champion.
We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON.
Sunday - 11:30 a.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin Addresses THON 2016 Head coach James Franklin took the stage of THON 2016 on Sunday morning to urge the dancers on in the final hours of the 46-hour dance marathon. Franklin's message epitomized what THON's mission has been since it started in 1977.
"This is special. What you guys do is what Penn State is ultimately all about," said Coach Franklin.
4:14 p.m. - THON 2016 Raises $9.7 Million For the second-straight year, THON's fundraising efforts raised more than $9.7 million. The grand total for THON in 2016 was $9,770,332.32 for fight against pediatric cancer. Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2016. Here is a look at the reveal from Rec Hall prior to Penn State wrestling's bout against Oklahoma State. The Nittany Lion faithful in Rec Hall let out a big cheer as the total was unveiled.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The national champion Nittany Lion women's soccer team earned the women's team title at the THON 2016 pep rally inside a packed Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday night. Take a look at the team's winning dance.
By Tony Mancuso & Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer CARY, N.C. - The Penn State women's soccer team (22-3-2) is atop the
collegiate soccer world after defeating Duke (14-6-5), 1-0, Sunday afternoon to
capture its first national championship in program history.
Sunday's triumph at
WakeMed Soccer Park also marked the first ever College Cup victory by a Big Ten
"Congratulations to all the NCAA and the
town of Cary for the environment that you've created today for these student
athletes," said head coach Erica Walsh. "Obviously they feel like they have
been treated like royalty as they deserve, they worked hard for it. We are
really appreciative of everything that you've done to make women's soccer at
this level treated in the fashion that they deserve. I thought it was a
Early on in the
match, both teams found opportunities to score, but each group went into the
locker room at halftime looking for ways to generate better looks the goal.
Penn State outshot Duke, 6-4, in the first 45 minutes.
The Blue and White
came out firing in the second frame, however. Penn State sent five shots at
Duke goalkeeper E.J Proctor in the span of four minutes early in the half,
putting great pressure on the Blue Devil defense.
After the offensive
barrage, the game slowed down and neither team formulated a shot until the 72nd
minute. It was then that Penn State broke the seal.
received the ball on the right side and made her way to the box. Weber
methodically sized up her defender, made a swift move to her left and sent a
low cross to the middle of the box. The ball sliced through the Duke back line
and found Raquel "Rocky" Rodriguez on the opposite side of the goal.
With a quick side
step, the Costa Rican World Cup star gained space between her defender and
finished far side with her left foot to give Penn State a lead it would not let
"This is what I was dreaming about, to
score in the final, and it is the most important thing right now," Rodriguez
said. "The World Cup was great but right now was all I was thinking of and I
could not be more happy or grateful. It is another dream come true. Those
dreams aren't more or less they are all special and that's why they are
It was only fitting that two senior captains combined for Penn State's historic
game-winning goal on a day where the third senior notched a shutout in goal.
Rodriguez led Penn
State with three shots and two on goal in the match. Her and fellow senior
captain Weber were responsible for five of Penn State's 11 shots in the game. The
third captain, goalie Britt Eckerstrom, totaled one save and recorded the 23rd
shutout of her career.
"The shutout is
absolutely not all me it is the whole team," said Eckerstrom. "Starting from
the top and working our way down. Frannie [Crouse] and Megan [Ritchey] and
Mallory [Weber] have put in to win the ball higher up on the field and then
just our back line is spectacular. Those guys put in tackle after tackle and
block after block and making really awesome one-on-one blocks. It was a total
The senior trio
capped off their unrivaled careers with their greatest accomplishment to date, giving
Penn State its coveted first national title in women's soccer.
"During the game I was
thinking about that first (championship) game (in 2012) actually and all I
could think of was I don't want that to happen again," said Rodriguez. "Not
today, and we still had the opportunity to fight for it and all I could think
of was that. I think it fueled us and it was just in the back of my mind."
"We have worked for
four years for this and to go out on this note and be the first team to win a
National Championship and be that senior class it is indescribable," Weber
said. "It is just such a great thing and such a high right now."
The Nittany Lions
finished off a remarkable 2015 campaign with 11-straight victories down the
stretch, including shutouts in the final eight matches. The Nittany Lions
outscored their opponents 20-0 in the NCAA Tournament.
Since allowing two
goals to Loyola Marymount in the second game of the year, Penn State went the
last 22 consecutive matches without conceding more than one goal. Eckerstrom capped
off her best season in blue and white in fitting fashion, as she recorded her
11th shutout of the year. Her 0.47 goals allowed average is the best
of her career.
"I thought she was
absolutely the best goalkeeper in the nation this year and she showed it week
in and week out," said Walsh. "Obviously to win a national championship it becomes
all about consistency and she made the big saves but more importantly she drove
this team and made them great."
The 2015 seniors finish
an unparalleled four years that should land this group atop the list of the
most accomplished classes in Penn State women's soccer history.
And this group etched
its place in Penn State lore as the first to claim a national championship.
CARY, N.C. - The
Nittany Lions are atop the women's soccer world following a 1-0 victory over
Duke on a sun-splashed afternoon at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Lions capped off a
tremendous tournament run thanks to a goal from senior Raquel Rodriguez and an
eighth-straight shutout to end the season. Hear from head coach Erica Walsh and
the team's 2015 captains following the program's first national championship.
Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
CARY, N.C. - The
top-seeded Nittany Lion women's soccer team (21-3-2) will play in the College
Cup final for the second time in program history on Sunday at 12 p.m. (ESPNU)
against third-seeded Duke (14-5-5).
Penn State marched into the national title match with a 2-0 victory over second-seeded
Rutgers on Friday evening in WakeMed Soccer Park. After a forward Frannie Crouse raced down a
loose ball for a sliding shot that looped over the outstretched arms of the
Rutgers goalkeeper in the 24th minute, the Nittany Lions turned to freshman
defender Kaleigh Riehl with a goal in the 79th minute to cement the team's place in the national title match.
The Nittany Lions (2012 and 2015) and Wisconsin (1991) are the only two Big Ten
universities that have played in the women's soccer national championship
The third-seeded Duke Blue Devils advanced to the College Cup final with a 2-0
victory over top-seeded Florida State in the second match on Friday night.
The Nittany Lions and Blue Devils have played five times before Sunday's
national title match, including earlier this season Penn State is 3-1-1
all-time against Duke. The Lions and Blue Devils played to a 0-0 tie at Jeffrey
Field on Aug. 28.
Penn State's journey to the national championship match has been a remarkable
one. The Nittany Lions have outscored their opponents, 19-0, during the NCAA
Tournament. Additionally, Penn State has logged seven-straight shutouts, dating
back to Nov. 1.
Of the Lions' 19 goals scored in the tournament, either freshmen or sophomores
have scored 17 of them. In total, 10 different Nittany Lions have scored the
team's goals in the NCAA Tournament. Penn State's NCAA Tournament opponents
have managed just 10 shots on goal during the five matches.
The final chapter of the 2015 season will be written on Sunday afternoon in
Cary. Head coach Erica Walsh and the Nittany Lions are thrilled to have the
opportunity to compete for the program's first national championship.
VIDEO: College Cup Final Preview Press
By the Numbers:
No. 1 Penn State
No. 3 Duke
Goals Scored/Goals Allowed
Goals Scored by Half - 1st/2nd/OT
Goals Allowed by Half - 1st/2nd
Megan Schafer - 1.15
Points Per Game Leader
Taylor Racioppi - 0.83
Megan Schafer - 0.50
Goals Per Game Leader
Kayla McCoy - 0.33
Mallory Weber - 0.38
Assists Per Game Leader
Taylor Racioppi - 0.25
Britt Eckerstrom - 0.844
Save Percentage Leader
EJ Proctor - 0.835
Mallory Weber - 10
Taylor Racioppi - 6
Megan Schafer - 13
Kayla McCoy - 8
Megan Schafer - 30
Taylor Racioppi - 20
Britt Eckerstrom - 65
EJ Proctor - 76
College Cup Schedule: Friday, Dec. 4 - WakeMed Soccer Park - Cary, N.C.
- Semifinal I - No. 1 Penn State 2, No. 2 Rutgers 0
- Semifinal II - No. 3 Duke 2, No. 1 Florida State 0
Sunday, Dec. 6 - WakeMed Soccer Park - Cary, N.C.
- 12 p.m. ET on ESPNU - National Championship - No. 1 Penn State vs. No. 3 Duke
Penn State in the College Cup: 1999 - San Jose, Calif.
- NCAA Semifinals - Dec. 3, 1999 - L, 2-0 to No. 2 North Carolina
By Tony Mancuso & Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer CARY, N.C. - Freshman defender Kaleigh Riehl could not have picked a
better time to add a tally on the season score sheet.
Riehl notched the first goal of her collegiate career in the 79th
minute of the College Cup semifinals to seal Penn State's 2-0 win over Rutgers
(19-4-3) on Friday and send the Nittany Lions (21-3-2) to their second national
championship match in program history.
"Another shutout and another goal off of set pieces, which are too things
we have been focusing on so much over the last few weeks," said head coach
Erica Walsh. "Obviously, it took a group of 26 players to get here and we had
some good players coming off the bench. Just a really strong performance from
Riehl has played exceptionally well at center back all year, but she has
rarely looked to score. With elite attacking players littering the Penn State
lineup, she hasn't had to. Coming into the semifinal match against Rutgers,
Riehl only tallied one shot.
On the largest of stages, Riehl stepped up as she's done all season.
This time, it was on the other end of the field.
After the ball bounced off multiple players at the top of the box, Riehl
corralled the loose ball and curled a left-footed shot to the bottom left
corner past Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year Casey Murphy.
Murphy had only surrendered eight goals in 2015 coming into Friday, but
Penn State mustered two for the second straight game against the Scarlet
Sophomore Frannie Crouse propelled the Blue and White ahead in the 24th
minute thanks to a rare defensive mishap by the Scarlet Knights. A lazy pass
from the midfield to the back line became prey for the streaking forward, as
the speedy Crouse beat Big Ten Defender of the Year Brianne Reed to the loose
ball and finished over the keeper in sliding fashion.
"I was kind of high and saw that they were going to play the ball back
and I felt like I was cherry picking (laughter)," said Crouse. "They played the
ball back and unfortunately for them I misjudged how hard they hit it and took
it as the ball was played."
Riehl's goal all but cemented Penn State's victory with 11 minutes left.
She'll be remembered for her clutch, unexpected goal in the College Cup, but
Riehl deserves more credit for her defensive prowess in 2015, which has only
elevated in the postseason.
She has led the way in the middle for a defense that has allowed a mere
14 goals in 2015.
Riehl and the back line has been utterly dominant since the regular
season ended. Penn State hasn't surrendered a goal in the tournament, and it
has outscored opponents, 19-0.
Riehl has been a workhorse on the team all season long. Besides goalie
Britt Eckerstrom, Riehl has logged the most minutes of anyone on the team
"Kaleigh has a lot of skills," said Walsh. "She plays as a 25-year old
veteran instead of a 18-year old freshman. Each and every game, she amazes me
with her abilities and her awareness. She's just been a huge key to our
The defensive group turned in another outstanding effort. Rutgers was
held to five shots and only one on goal in the match. Eckerstrom was needed for
just one easy save on a hopeless long shot. Every other Rutgers attack ended in
a Penn State steal or blocked shot.
Riehl isn't the only underclassmen who has stepped up when it has
mattered most, however. In fact, underclassmen have been the main cogs in this
College Cup run. Of the 19 Penn State goals in the tournament, 17 have come
from freshmen and sophomores.
The back line rotation features no upperclassmen. Redshirt sophomore
Brittany Basinger possesses the most experience in the group. The youngest
players on the roster have risen to the occasion all tournament long, and
that's why Penn State will be playing for a championship on Sunday.
"This is probably the deepest team that I've had in my nine years at Penn
State," Walsh said. "It's reflective of the substitution patterns throughout
the course of the season. Kaleigh Riehl scored her first goal ever in her
career. You got different players stepping up at different times. You never
know which player it is going to come from, so that's probably why this team
has been so successful."
Penn State will face Duke in the College Cup Final on Sunday at 12 p.m.
in a rematch from earlier this season. The Blue Devils topped Florida State by a score of 2-0 in Friday's second semifinal match. The Nittany Lions and Blue Devils played
to a scoreless draw back on Aug 28, but one team will emerge victorious in the
national championship bout.