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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Frannie Crouse led a heroic second half comeback, but Penn State (1-1-1) conceded a late goal and fell to BYU 3-2 on Friday night at Jeffrey Field.

 

BYU's Ashley Hatch netted a hat trick to lead the Cougars to a rare victory at Jeffrey Field. The Nittany Lions have only lost five games at home since 2011.

 

After going down 2-0 in the 57th minute, all seemed finalized for Penn State. But Frannie Crouse had other ideas.

 

In the 62nd minute Crouse headed home a beautiful cross from Haleigh Echard to give PSU a glimmer of hope.

 

"The ball from Haleigh was absolutely perfect," said Crouse. "We've been working on getting on the end of those during practice. Once she beat the girl I kind of felt like I should finish it."

 

The goal was Crouse's first of 2016.

 

Four minutes later Crouse decided to share the love and let someone else get in on the fun. After beating her defender for a free ball, Crouse calmly sent a ball into the box in front of Charlotte Williams, who gathered and finished with a curling left-footed shot to tie the game at two.

 

"I had Charlotte who was wide open, and she was calling for it so I figured if I just slip her in she would have a wide open shot so luckily she finished it," said Crouse. "It was a great shot by her."

 

Williams' goal was her third on the young season. She leads the team in goals so far.

 

Crouse, being a junior, is stepping into a leadership role this season and illustrated it in this game. The team was down after surrendering two goals, but Crouse provided the spark to bring Penn State level.

 

"Frannie's always done that for us," said head coach Erica Dambach. "I think her pace is obviously terrifying for back lines, and when she starts to feel it then we can follow her."

 

With only seconds left on the clock, PSU almost tied the game again, but Laura Freigang's shot hit the crossbar and was cleared before anyone could recover the rebound.

 

The Nittany Lions are still trying to figure out the perfect substitutions and lineups with so many new players, but they showed a string of chemistry to come back and tie the game. The first half brought not enough pushing forward, but PSU looked much sharper in the second frame.

 

"We changed how we were playing," said Dambach. "In the first half we were trying to save some energy to attack, and that comes out in our defense right now. Certainly we can run, run, run if we have the depth to do it, but in some cases we don't, so we got to make sure we're smart on both sides of the ball."

 

Learning from early losses is a key part of developing as a team.

 

"You grow from these moments," said Dambach. "We're still trying to figure out the grit within this team, and if this team can come back from this loss and dig in, we've got a big road trip coming up ahead of us. We'll learn a lot from the way that we respond to this loss."

 

"This is a game we're going to have to learn from and take from," said Crouse. "Hopefully our games after this we'll take a little bit from this game and show it in the next couple and throughout the whole season."

 

Penn State gets a week off to work out the rust and get ready for UCLA and Long Beach State next weekend. The Nittany Lions will return to Jeffrey Field on September 9th to take on San Diego State.

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Home field advantage is a very real sports phenomenon.

 

There are stadiums and arenas around the country that strike fear into the hearts of visiting opponents, even before they board the plane or bus to make the journey.

 

Oracle Arena, CenturyLink Field and Lambeau Field, among others, possess unmatched atmospheres created by die-hard fans that fuel their teams to perform at its highest possible level. A great fan base can quite literally add wins to a team's season.

 

In the realm of women's college soccer there is no place that illustrates this more than Jeffrey Field. It's an intimidating ground that chews up even the strongest enemies and spits them out when it's finished with them.

 

Since 2011, Penn State is 56-4-5 on Jeffrey Field. For head coach Erica Dambach and her troops, it seems like more of a home field certainty than a home field advantage at this point.

 

"Every time we go out on the field we always say protect Jeffrey," said forward Megan Shafer. "That's one of the biggest things coach always says. It's a sacred ground to play on. It's just an honor to wear that jersey on that field."

 

The biggest fuel to the fire that is the Jeffrey Field atmosphere is the student section called the Park Avenue Army. The Park Avenue Army is a wild group of loud, dedicated Penn State students with large drums and seemingly unending singing voices that show up early to every home contest and keep the crowd engaged all game.

 

"They drive the environment at Jeffrey Field," Dambach said. "They drive the atmosphere. They are one of the main reasons why opponents hate coming in to play us. I think that college players want to play in front of their peers. When we walk out and we can hear The Park Avenue Army on Jeffrey Field it just raises the energy."

 

This season, the group is even more prevalent than in previous years. For the home opener against No. 6 West Virginia, the rowdy crew led the team onto the field and will do so for every home game.

 

This was new for everyone on the team, but for freshman Laura Suero, it was her first ever experience at Jeffrey Field wearing blue and white.

 

"My nerves are going crazy before walking out," said Suero. "You can hear them in the locker room and you can hear the crowd. It was probably one of the most amazing experiences walking out onto Jeffrey Field."

 

Penn State played West Virginia to a 1-1 draw in front of a record setting 5,791 fans, the most ever for a women's soccer game at Jeffrey Field.

 

"It was just an incredible feeling," said Shafer. "This atmosphere to play on Jeffrey Field, we couldn't ask for anything better, especially on opening night."

 

The environment was electric, and it all starts with The Park Avenue Army. It had the crowd chanting "We are... Penn State" and various songs to keep the energy from ever dying down.

 

Coach Dambach, although she has a job to do, sometimes gets caught up in the fun. Her favorite songs The Army performs are "Sweet Frannie Crouse" because of her deep Neil Diamond fandom and, of course, "Walsh's World."

 

Defending home field is a goal of every team in the country, but for Penn State it's a necessity. Coach Dambach believes her team is better than any team in the country on Jeffrey Field, and she has made a point to schedule tougher teams at home to test her squad.

 

West Virginia is a top-ten team capable of winning a championship, and Penn State will play No. 15 BYU next in Happy Valley. It's a challenging start to a new year, but that's just the way Penn State likes it.

 

"Because of the environment that's created, it doesn't scare us to bring anybody in to this place," said Dambach. "We feel like the atmosphere can lift us over any opponent. For us, if you come into our home it's protect Jeffrey. I dare you."'

 

If the United States Women's National Team came to Jeffrey Field and suited up against Penn State, the Nittany Lions would expect to put up a fight with The Park Avenune Army and almost 6,000 fans behind them.

 

The friendly confines of Jeffrey Field drastically improves the team's energy and all-around play. It's an unrivaled atmosphere in college soccer.

 

"Every time we step out on the field, defending Jeffrey is one of our biggest aspects," said Suero. "Playing your heart out, playing for your teammates, for your community, for your coaches and each other it's just one big family and it is awesome playing out on Jeffrey."

 

Dambach puts it best.

 

"There is literally no better place on a Friday night than Jeffrey Field."

BLOG: Fall Sports Media Day in Review

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While the Penn State Fall Sports season may have kicked off with women's soccer in action last week, Nittany Lion fans got a unique perspective from the annual athletics Fall Sports Media Day.

Coaches and student-athletes from seven different Penn State programs set to compete this fall met with members of the media to talk 2016 and their expectations for the upcoming year.

Check out some highlights and links to videos, transcripts and extra coverage from today's event. 

Women's Soccer
Penn State women's soccer head coach Erica Dambach guided the Nittany Lions to its first NCAA National Championship last year. With a 1-0-1 start to the 2016 campaign having tied sixth-ranked West Virginia before beating Hofstra 3-1 last weekend, the No. 2 Nittany Lions are poised to continue their success.

As defending national champions, Dambach addressed her thoughts on how the competition might approach Penn State differently than last year. 

"We'll we certainly earned the right to have a target on our back and we've got to embrace that. I think this team has done a nice job of embracing that role," Dambach said. "We all know what it feels like to go out on a Friday night against defending National Champions. Everybody thrives in that environment, everybody gets excited. They get up for those games and we feel that." 

Press conference video
Periscope session with Nickolette Driesse

BLOG: Williams, Reserves Key In Hofstra Win

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  The damp and dreary weather cleared up just in time for Penn State women's soccer to secure the first victory of the 2016-17 Penn State sports season. The No. 2 Nittany Lions defeated Hofstra, 3-1 to complete their season opening weekend with a 1-0-1 mark. 

The scene was much different than Friday's record-setting atmosphere, where 5,791 fans watched the Nittany Lions battle to a 1-1 draw against sixth-ranked West Virginia on a picturesque evening in Happy Valley.  

With heavy rain all throughout the afternoon, the ominous clouds did dissolve in time for Penn State's 2:30 p.m. kick at home in Jeffrey Field

Things did not immediately look pleasant for the Nittany Lions as Hofstra took an early 1-0 lead less than 10 minutes in off a corner kick opportunity.

"We looked pretty sharp early on and then started to die off and had a huge impact from our reserves," head coach Erica Dambach said. "They are kind of the story that I would take out of the day, as well as Charlotte Williams, obviously. I thought our reserves were the difference in this match."

Among the stellar play from Nittany Lion reserves, lets talk about sophomore Charlotte Williams first.

Williams, who powered the team with her first career multi-goal outing, scored twice in the first half to help the Nittany Lions out of an early deficit.

With Penn State trailing the Pride 1-0, Williams found the back of the net in the 24th minute, following up a shot that hit the post with a rebound for her first goal of the season.

Seizing another opportunity, Williams scored again in the 39th minute off a set piece from nearly 20 yards out following a red card assessed to Hofstra's Rhian Cleverly.

Prior to the go-ahead goal, Williams was dialed in and ready to make the most of the chance, saying she knew where she wanted to put the ball and all that was left was to follow through.

"Today was a display of what Charlotte is capable of doing and we have felt it over the past year and now she's starting to finally believe it," Dambach said.  "She's someone who is creative as can be and she can create changes on her own -  and today she put a few in the back of the net."

Now on to just a few of the key reserves. 

With the Nittany Lions leading 2-1, redshirt junior Salina Williford placed her first goal of the season and sixth of her career in the left side of the goal past the Hofstra goalkeeper in the 84th minute to give Penn State a 3-1 advantage. Freshman reserve Laura Suero earned an assist on the goal, marking her first career point.

Following her first collegiate goal in the opener against West Virginia, freshman Laura Freigang also finished the afternoon with a career-high six shots.

After the Williford goal, the Nittany Lions did not look back, holding on to the lead to secure their first win of the 2016 campaign.

"There were a lot of positives that came out of today," Dambach said. "I think the biggest was the impact that the bench had on the play with the energy and their movement. Obviously there's fatigue from Friday night - there was a lot of excitement, but those guys came off the bench and gave us a huge lift and that's what you want from your reserves."

While excited to have led the team with a pair of goals, Williams was also quick to point out the bench impact.  

"We came from a big game on Friday playing against West Virginia with a huge presence in the stands to a game that's not as high energy from the crowds," Williams said. "But I thought that we brought it and then a lot of players who came off the bench brought a huge boost and I think that's how - it took everybody to respond."

No. 2 Penn State women's soccer remains home next week, welcoming No. 16 BYU to Jeffrey Field for a 7 p.m. matchup under the lights Friday, Aug. 26.

Among other fall teams competing on Friday night, Penn State field hockey opens its 2016 season at home at 6 p.m. against Old Dominion, while the Nittany Lion women's volleyball team kicks off 2016 against West Virginia at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall. 

BLOG: Freigang Makes Immediate Impact

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's soccer true freshman Laura Freigang arrived just in time to lead the second-ranked Nittany Lions to a 1-1 draw in the 2016 season opener against West Virginia Friday evening at Jeffrey Field.

Making her collegiate debut in the Blue and White, Freigang entered the match at 30:47, stepping on to Jeffrey Field for the first time in front of a record-setting crowd of 5,791 fans in attendance.

Remaining in the game at the start of the second half, it was Freigang who netted her first collegiate goal just 10:10 into the second frame to break open a tied score (0-0).

Curving just enough after her release, Freigang's shot bounced off the left post and into the goal past West Virginia keeper Rylee Foster to give the Nittany Lions at 1-0 lead.

"I was pretty lucky to be honest," Freigang said. "It [the ball] took a curve to the left and just hit the post. That was pretty close, but I'm lucky."

Prior to her impressive Nittany Lion debut, Freigang had been in the United States for less than a week, having arrived in Happy Valley on Monday, Aug. 15.

Freigang's arrival to Penn State was delayed by the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) Women's Under-19 Championship, where she was playing with the women's German Under-19 team.

Traveling from Europe to University Park was no easy task though, as she had just a few days to meet her teammates and prepare to open the season against the sixth-ranked Mountaineers.

"The transition was pretty crazy at first because there was long travel and I had a bit of jetlag for a few days," Freigang said.

Jetlag and significant travel time presented no reason to be concerned, as the Oppenheim, Germany native mentioned that she's now arrived and feeling fine, having made an immediate impact for the Nittany Lion offense.  

"I feel very welcomed and I think we have a great team," Freigang said. "I think we played a good game, we just didn't finish like we should have."

The Nittany Lions looked to hold on to the lead following Freigang's goal, but West Virginia struck back with the equalizer at 76:59. With several opportunities in regulation and a pair of overtime periods, Penn State could not convert on its opportunities seeing its season opener end in a draw.

The future is bright for Freigang though, who will return with the rest of the No. 2 Nittany Lions to take on Hofstra Sunday, Aug. 21 at 2:30 p.m. in Jeffrey Field.

"Obviously with Laura's international experience and playing with the German national team, she brings a wealth of experience," head coach Erica Dambach said. "And you could see, she stepped in there and it's as if she had been with us for months and months."

"I think she's going to find herself in a couple different positions for us and play a good role for us," Dambach added. We're going to ask her to continue doing what she did tonight."

Check out Freigang's first collegiate goal below. 

Defending National Champions Set for 2016

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While some might believe the faint sound of the Penn State Blue Band practicing well into the evening signifies the start of fall, those who know Nittany Lion athletics know that it's the bright lights of Jeffrey Field that mean fall has officially arrived at Penn State.

Those lights will illuminate Park Avenue Friday, Aug. 19 as No. 2 Penn State women's soccer kicks off its 2016 campaign against sixth-ranked West Virginia at home in Jeffrey Field. Fresh off their first NCAA national championship in program history, the Nittany Lions return ready to defend their title with 10th year head coach Erica Dambach at the helm of the program.

Prior to Friday's opener, the Nittany Lions, who went 22-3-2 last year, will raise an NCAA championship banner and unveil a new championship tarp on the stands, welcoming Penn State women's soccer alums from around the nation.

We caught up with Coach Dambach and captains Brittany Basinger and Nickolette Driesse to talk 2016, the season opener and of course, Jeffrey Field.

In the meantime, here's five things to know before making your way out to Jeffrey Field to see Penn State women's soccer open the 2016 season. 

1.     Continuing the Culture
Coach Dambach mentioned that a key to the 2015 NCAA title, even with all the talent on the roster, was having the right culture. This year the focus is all about keeping with the foundation of a family environment to continue building championship culture.

2.     A Familiar Foe
The top-10 meeting between second-ranked Penn State and No. 6 West Virginia is not the first time the two teams have met. In fact, it's the 15th time in program history and the first time since the Nittany Lions knocked the Mountaineers out of the 2015 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals to advance to the College Cup. 

3.     Tough Competition
Four of five non-conference opponents on deck are teams that made the 2015 NCAA Tournament. After the Mountaineer matchup, the Nittany Lions will regroup and play Hofstra at home Sunday, Aug. 21. The Pride advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round just a year ago, having also played Penn State in its 2015 season opener. 

4.     There's No Place Like Home
Senior captain Nickolette Driesse says Jeffrey Field is like no other place in the world, echoing Dambach who added that there is no better feeling than walking through the tunnel on gameday. With a 215-24-10 all-time record at Jeffrey Field, the Nittany Lions tied a program-best mark with 14 home wins in 2015.

5.     Speaking of Jeffrey Field ...
Penn State women's soccer drew some of it's largest home crowds in 2015, helped out by the Park Avenue Army, the official Nittany Lion women's soccer supporter's club. Flags, chants and face paint means you can't miss this enthusiastic group that attends all home games and even a few on the road. Check them out or give them a follow on Twitter @ParkAvenueArmy. 

VIDEO: Athletes Volunteer at 2016 Special Olympics Pennsylvania Summer Games

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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.

Photo Gallery: Special Olympics Opening Ceremony





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Penn State Athletics THON 2016 Coverage

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IMG_9032.JPGUNIVERSITY 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 Four Diamonds. 

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.

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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.



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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 program.

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 photo.

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 on Saturday.

Football THON Explorers Event



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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



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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. 

THON 2016 Pep Rally Photo Gallery



9185732.jpegTHON 2016 Pep Rally Full Dances
Football (Men's & Overall Champion) 
Women's Soccer (Women's Champion)
Men's Fencing
Men's Golf
Men's Gymnastics
Men's Hockey
Men's Rugby
Men's Soccer
Men's Tennis
Men's Volleyball
Field Hockey
Women's Golf
Women's Gymnastics
Women's Hockey
Women's Rugby
Women's Volleyball

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.

Take a look at his full remarks.

James Franklin at THON 2016 Photo Gallery



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.

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GoPSUTony

VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Women's Soccer

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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.

VIDEO: 2015 Women's Soccer National Champions

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Celebrate with the 2015 Penn State Nittany Lion national championship team on a special day at WakeMed Soccer Park.





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