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Jan. 22, 2013
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After back to back winning seasons and an NCAA quarterfinals appearance, the Nittany Lion women's lacrosse team is preparing to take another step forward.
Under the guidance of third-year head coach Missy Doherty, the team has strung together consecutive double digit win seasons, and it beat three top 10 teams en route to a 12-7 record in 2012.
"Penn State is a place where you know lacrosse should be big; we should be successful here routinely every year. We're looking to get back into NCAA's and continue to be successful there and hopefully push the limit as much as we can," said Doherty. "The girls are working really hard and getting better and better each day and that's really all you can ask for."
The Nittany Lions started practice last week and although, they do not kick off the season until mid-February, the excitement is in the air.
With the return of key players Mackenzie Cyr, Tatum Coffey and incoming freshman like Madison Cyr, Doherty has assembled an extremely talented roster. Mackenzie Cyr notched 34 goals and 23 assists in 2012 and looks to continue her success. Coffey was named a preseason All-American after a stellar freshman performance, which included 34 goals and a team high 53 draw controls.
Along with Cyr and Coffey, the Nittany Lions will also be getting back their leading scorer from 2012, Molly Fernandez. Fernandez had 35 goals last season on just 80 shots, while playing attack. As a whole, the team scored just under 12 goals a game last season.
Senior captain Katie Guy has emerged as a vocal leader for the squad. The midfielder had 23 groundballs and 30 draw controls in her 2012 campaign. The leadership from Guy has not gone unnoticed.
"Katie Guy is one of our senior captains and she is definitely one of our vocal leaders for us on the field," Doherty said. "Offensively we have Mackenzie Cyr who has really stepped up as a junior to kind of become that vocal leader down on offense. Between Mackenzie and Katie Guy being more of the vocal leaders, we have a lot of others coming in to lead by example."
The Nittany Lions enter 2013 as a younger team with freshmen and sophomores accounting for 16 roster spots.
"We have a really young team this year," said Doherty. "We only have three seniors, so a lot of our leadership is going to come from our underclassmen, which is exciting as you're building a team to have that. With that being said we're going to have to be ready to experience some of the ups and downs."
The Nittany Lions will play eight games at home, highlighted with contests against Vanderbilt, Florida and Ohio State. Last season the team went 3-2 in conference play, beating Florida, Ohio State and Johns Hopkins. They will also take on out of conference powerhouses Maryland and Virginia on the road.
"If you're number one in our conference, you're probably number one in the nation," said Doherty of the depth in the American League Conference.
The Nittany Lions still do have to figure out who will start at goalkeeper in just a few short weeks. With Ayla Halus coming over from the field hockey program, the redshirt senior offers some experience to the program. She will be competing with freshman Emi Smith to be the starter.
"We have young keepers in the sense, Ayla is coming in from field hockey. She played a little with us last year, but you know still getting back into the groove. Then we have a freshman goalkeeper, so in that area we are definitely a little inexperienced but thankfully just like the players our goalkeepers are definitely getting better everyday," says Doherty. "We have to know that they're young and we're going to work harder defensively to not give up good shots and work in some other team stuff to be sure we maximize what we have on the field."
After two consecutive successful seasons, Doherty and the women's lacrosse team are looking to take another step forward in 2013. The team will kick off their season with an exhibition match against Penn on Feb. 14 before welcoming Bucknell on Feb. 20.