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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State women’s lacrosse team looks to build off their Final Four run in 2016 as their season gets underway on February 4th when they host Albany at 12 p.m.
The Nittany Lions return eight of their 12 starters from last season’s National Semifinal run and add 11 fresh faces to the mix entering the 2017 season.
Penn State will be without two of their top scorers and starting midfielders Madison Cyr ’16 and Jenna Mosketti ’16. Cyr paced the squad with 83 points and 59 goals last season while adding 24 assists. She also led the team with 38 ground balls and 42 caused turnovers. Cyr finished her Penn State career tied for ninth on the all-time scoring list, ironically enough with her older sister Mackenzie Cyr ’14, with 202 points. Her 156 goals also places her fourth on the all-time list. Mosketti was fifth on the team in scoring last season with 39 points on 33 goals and six assists. She also led the team with 76 draw controls and was second with 32 ground balls.
The Lions also graduated co-captain Allie Heavens ‘16 from last year’s squad. Heavens started all 21 games at midfield last season and was third on the team in caused turnovers with 26 while adding eight goals and two assists for 10 points. She also collected 25 ground balls and 23 draw controls on the year.
PSU will also be without their starting net-minder as Emi Smith ’16 graduated last May and is now an assistant lacrosse coach at UC Davis. Smith 73 games during her Nittany Lion career compiling a 48-22 record, .419 save percentage and a 10.10 goals against average. She was the Big Ten Goaltender of the Year in 2015 after leading PSU to the Big Ten Tournament title.
Penn State does return three of their top five scorers from their 2016 roster with senior Steph Lazo (Stevensville, Md.), junior Katie O’Donnell (West Chester, Pa.) and sophomore Madison Carter (Davidsonville, Md.) while senior classmates Abby Smucker (Bel Air, Md.) and Erika Spilker (Severna Park, Md.) add experience and leadership through the middle and back end of the field.
Lazo was second on the team with 71 points and led the team in assists with 37 while adding 34 goals in 2016. Carter and O’Donnell ranked second on the team in goals with 48 and 46, respectively while each adding four assists. Smucker was second on the team with 27 caused turnovers and third with 30 groundballs while adding 22 draw controls and only turning the ball over seven times all year.
Lazo and Carter will lead the way up front along with junior Maggie Gallager (Bel Air, Md.). Junior Bridget Chakey (Havertown, Pa.) serves as the only other upperclassman to sub in on offense, but the Nittany Lions have a solid group of young players who will battle for playing time. Sophomores Katie Garvey (West Chester, Pa.), Kelly Daggett (Bainbridge, Pa.) and Delaney Muldoon (Silver Spring, Md.) could see split time between attack and midfield while senior Shelby Wells (Timonium, Md.) and freshman classmates Katie Schluederberg (Elkridge, Md.) Kristen Knaff (Exton, Pa.) and Maria Auth (Street, Md.) will battle for minutes throughout the course of the season.
Losing three starting midfielders to graduation from their 2016 Final Four team will be an obstacle to overcome, but they Lions are deep and talented at the position. Smucker and O’Donnell will lead the group heading into the 2017 season and will be joined by sophomore Kayla Brisolari (Crofton, Md.) and freshman Kristin Roberto (Miller Place, N.Y.) come opening day. Freshman Shannon Moore (West Chester, Pa.) will also be a key piece rotating in-and-out to keep legs fresh. Sophomore Reilly Masterson (Newton Square, Pa.) and freshman Yasmain Hamood (Hinsdale, Pa.) will also serve as valuable options off the bench for head coach Missy Doherty.
Spilker will lead the charge on defense with fellow seniors Natalie Schmitt (Malvern, Pa.) and Taylor Bleistein (Bayville, N.Y.) and sophomore Lucy Haubold (Malvern, Pa.) with freshmen Brittany Dolan (Ashburn, Va.) and Hayley DeAgostine (West Chester, Pa.) rotating in. Senior Sarah Piazza (Bel Air, Md.), junior’s Allie Dolder (Bay Shore, N.Y.) and Madison Day (Bushwood, Md.) and freshman Clair Cassie (Westfield, N.J.) round out the defensive corps for the Nittany Lions.
Senior Cat Rainone (Newtown Square, Pa.) is the only goaltender with experience on the 2017 Penn State roster as she has appeared in 19 games over her three seasons in State College with seven starts. She will be joined by freshman Madison Cunningham (Davie, Fla.) who will battle for time between the pipes this season.
The season begins with three straight home contests including an opening day match with Albany on Saturday February 4. Penn State then begins Big Ten play at home against Rutgers on March 18. A rare April non-conference game against Virginia lands on April 8 before back-to-back Thursday night affairs on the road at Northwestern (April 13) and home against Maryland (April 20).