BLOG: Lions Look to Continue Road Success
Nov. 1, 2013
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
This season, the team's schedule has been primarily made up of away games, but these student-athletes have proved that they are more than capable of playing successfully on the road. Of the eight away matches that have taken place so far this season, the Lions have emerged victoriously seven times. Additionally, five of those games resulted in shutouts that showcased the team's talent and dedication.
"When I first looked at the schedule, I thought, `Wow, we're on the road a lot,'" said head coach Char Morett. "We were on the road a lot in the beginning, but having that break where we were home three weekends in a row, I think that just settled us a little bit so that having to go back on the road wasn't like, `Oh, we're at it everyday. We're at it every week.'"
The team most recently returned from Iowa after defeating both the Hawkeyes and UC Davis during their weekend trip.
"What I like when we go on the road, when we play games like last week, we played Iowa Friday and Davis Saturday, I let them spend time with their families," said Morett regarding the student-athletes. "They spend time together every day they're here. The families get on the road, and they sacrifice a lot to travel. I think it's great for them to spend time with their families. That way they sort of get a break from each other, but at the same time, then we come together. We do our pre-game practice; they're energized. Whatever it is, our practice the day before we play on the road is so much fun. They just bring it."
With a 7-1 road record, the success of these Nittany Lions speaks for itself. The team has remained composed in all situations, relying and trusting one another, which Morett believes is a key part to the team's record.
"I think it's everybody understanding their role, and everybody being motivated to be at their best when the game starts," said Morett. "We don't put a lot of restrictions on them. They have an itinerary. They know our team meal. They know our team meeting. They know the team breakfast, bus leaves, but other than that, just letting them have their down time a little bit I think is healthy."
Giving the team time to relax and manage on its own is highly important to Morett, as she believes it teaches the girls a valuable lesson.
"I know a lot of coaches control stuff," Morett said. "I don't want to ever be that type of coach. I want them, when they get in their life, to know how to manage their time. They're pretty good at it already."
Junior captain Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.) expressed a similar opinion to that of her coach, believing that time management is an important aspect of playing on the road.
"The worst part is sometimes we get a little rushed, just with the timing of the bus schedule and leaving for the field," said Gebhart with regards to playing away matches. "Sometimes I feel like I'm not as prepared as I want to be, and I don't have as much time as I want for visualization and stuff. That's the only downfall."
Despite occasionally being crunched for time, the Lions enjoy traveling together and believe playing on the road enhances team bonding and friendships.
"It's super exciting and a really fun atmosphere because you get to be with everyone," Gebhart said. "You're kind of like forced to hang out because I mean you're in a hotel, you're on the bus together, so it's just a lot of fun team time. That helps with the games."
As the team enters its final leg of the season, it plans to play aggressively in its final Big Ten regular season match-up against Michigan. The last time the Lions took on the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, during the 2011-`12 season, they were defeated 2-0. The loss snapped the team's nine-game winning streak.
"We had a little chat about last time we went to Ann Arbor," said Morett. "We were playing well, and I think the kids put it a little bit on cruise control. It's a 70-minute game, and as we said, everybody's got a stake in the Big Ten standings and beyond that. For us, it's about having the two consistent halves. I think we've improved a lot, just having confidence, even when we're down a goal or two, to come back. I think we played more and more together as a team and as a unit, so I think that's positive for us."
Looking to further improve the season's road record, the Nittany Lions know they will have to come out strong against this Michigan team.
"We know Michigan's going to be very tough at home," Morett said. "They're very organized, well coached, some amazing talents on the field. Rachael Mack's the leading scorer in the Big Ten. Just with the career that she's had, it's going to take a village to shut her down."
Although they know the match in Ann Arbor will be difficult, the Lions are prepared and ready to play.
"It's all about going hard and playing this Michigan team just as we've played every other Big Ten team and every other team in our season," said Gebhart. "We're absolutely not letting on the brakes. We're going full force. We want to finish out the Big Ten with a bang, go undefeated."