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Feb. 14, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 18th-ranked Penn State women's lacrosse team (1-0) showed its heart in a 9-8 Valentine's Day victory over No. 14 Loyola (0-1) on Sunday afternoon in Holuba Hall, coming from behind to claim its 2010 season opener. The contest between opponents which have each been selected to place fourth in their respective conferences in preseason polls featured five ties and two lead changes.
In what has become their trademark fashion, the Nittany Lions didn't rely on one player for a gaudy-goal total but instead used a balanced attack to upset the higher-ranked Greyhounds. Six different players scored for Penn State, led by juniors Laura Lesnick (Jarrettsville, Md.) and Jen Steadman (Sykesville, Md.) and sophomore Theresa Zichelli (Severna Park, Md.), who each netted two.
Playing without one of its top stoppers in senior and team co-captain Margo Josephs (Reisterstown, Md.), who is still on the mend from a knee injury suffered last season, the Nittany Lions kept what is expected to be a high-powered Loyola attack in check for much of the game. The sound defensive effort was anchored by junior Ashley Boccio (Northport, N.Y.), who had a game-high five ground balls in addition to two caused turnovers, and senior goalkeeper Stephanie Ellis (Bryn Mawr, Pa.), who recorded seven saves, including stellar back-to-back stops late in the game.
Zichelli scored the game's first goal, off a free position attempt, giving Penn State a 1-0 advantage 4:15 into the game. The teams traded goals over the next seven minutes until the first career goal from sophomore Aly Adams (Springfield, Pa.) put the Nittany Lions up 3-2 with 16 minutes remaining the half.
From that point until halftime, Loyola wrested control of the game, scoring the final three goals before the break, including two in the last 30 seconds. The Greyhounds headed into halftime with a 5-3 lead and the momentum.
Penn State halted the Loyola tide by coming out strong in the second half, netting three unanswered goals, including two from Steadman, to regain the lead at 6-5. However, a score from Loyola's Meg Decker at the 22:46 mark knotted the contest once again. Goals from Zichelli and freshman Hayley Sofarnos (Williamstown, Australia) came in response, providing Penn State with a key 8-6 advantage.
The Greyhounds' top scorer, Grace Gavin, pulled them within one with her third goal of the game with just over 15 minutes left but Lesnick netted what would prove to be the eventual game winner, off a pass from senior midfielder Maria Valderas (Catonsville, Md.), with 14:30 showing on the clock.
Loyola drew closer with a goal just under a minute later but that would be the last time it would find net. The Penn State defense held the Greyhound attack at bay and off the scoreboard for the final 13-plus minutes. Gaining control of the ball late in the game, the Nittany Lions played a game of keep away for the final minutes, frustrating Loyola and forcing it into four fouls and two yellow cards.
The Nittany Lions will be back in action on Tues., Feb. 16 when they make their first road trip of the season, traveling east on I-80 to Lewisburg, Pa. to face regional rival Bucknell in a 4 p.m. contest at the Bison's Graham Field at Holmes Stadium. Penn State owns a perfect 13-0 record versus Bucknell, including last year's 18-5 rout in University Park. The Bison are coming off a nine-win season (9-9), the program's most in its 11-year history.
With cold temperatures expected and the possibility of additional snow falling early this week in central Pennsylvania, check back to GoPSUsports.com for potential time, date, and/or location changes of the Penn State-Bucknell game. Two years ago, the match-up between the Nittany Lions and Bison in Lewisburg was canceled due to inclement winter weather.