BLOG: Nittany Lions Edged Late Against RIT

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<b>Senior Jenna Welch</b>

Senior Jenna Welch

Nov. 19, 2013

By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Two hard-fought losses over the weekend at RIT marked the second and third straight games that the Nittany Lions have seen a late third period lead slip away and result in a loss.

Despite the unfavorable outcomes of these contests, the team is confident that by sticking to their process and focusing on execution--they will begin to generate the results they desire.

"If we take individual accountability to stick to our systems for a complete 60 minutes, we will start to find success and be rewarded on the scoreboard," said senior assistant captain Jenna Welch.

The Blue and White took a late lead in Friday's game in Rochester when senior forward Taylor Gross scored with under ten minutes remaining, but two RIT goals in the final six minutes halted Penn State's efforts and resulted in a 2-1 setback.

The Nittany Lions also saw a late lead slip away on Saturday when a one goal lead entering the third period was erased by two Tiger goals in the third, handing the visitors a 3-2 defeat.

"When we get ahead of ourselves and start thinking about the outcome of the game during the game, rather than taking it shift by shift, is when we get ourselves into trouble," said Welch.

The team that prides itself on resilience and focusing on positivity will take the same approach with these losses as they have with setbacks in the past.

"We know that we can hang with any team that we play," said Gross, who saw several positive components to the RIT series. "The offense has improved a lot...especially when we get it into the zone and down low."

Gross scored her team-leading fifth goal of the season on Friday, and that is just one of many positive takeaways from the weekend's losses.

On Saturday, sophomore forward Jill Holdcroft registered her first multi-goal game of her career. The goals came in two different fashions, with her first a power play goal before netting the program's first-ever shorthanded goal.

 

 

"We have been focusing on how we can get more offensive opportunities this year," said Holdcroft, who has four points this season. "We are getting more shots and running an aggressive forecheck to keep the puck in the opposing zone."

Contributing to the increase in offensive opportunities at RIT was success in the faceoff circle.

The Nittany Lions won 56 faceoff battles compared to the Tigers' 55, which was an improvement from the previous weekend series against Syracuse. Freshman forward Laura Bowman went 24-17 in the circle in the two games combined.

Also being rewarded on the stat sheet on Saturday was forward Emily Laurenzi. The sophomore, who has been tabbed the team's "unsung hero" in the past, notched her second assist of the season on the Holdcroft powerplay goal.

On the other end of the ice, goaltenders Nicole Paniccia and Celine Whitlinger continued their streaks of success with dominant performances against the Tigers. Paniccia turned away 36 of 38 RIT shots on Friday while Whitlinger registered 37 saves on Saturday.

Penn State proved in Rochester that they are very capable of competing in close contests with some of the most talented teams in the conference. Although the Nittany Lions have yet to record their first CHA victory (0-6), they certainly appear to be on the brink of flipping the script.

"We fought hard this weekend and we played well," said Holdcroft. "We knew we could play with RIT and both games could have gone either way."

The team will head to Wentzvillie, Mo., next weekend (Nov. 22-23) to face CHA foe Lindenwood on Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. before returning home on Nov. 30 to host Maine.

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