New Season, New Mentality, Same Tradition
Jan. 30, 2012
By Cassie Speno, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
"Our pre-season is obviously very important," said head coach Missy Doherty. "We are still a young team and our schedule really doesn't allow us to ease into things.
Penn State will travel to Lewisburg Pa. on Feb. 15 to take on the Bucknell Bison for their opening game of the season. Within the first month of competition the Nittany Lions will also face Maryland, Virginia and Loyola, all very talented squads.
"We have to prepare in these next few weeks to start off hard especially against those teams," said Doherty. "With a young team you are continuing to work on a lot of different things. Leaders have emerged throughout fall ball, which has been great. We have two great leaders in our captains Dana Cahill and Theresa Zichelli and a lot of returning players that have emerged into starting positions."
During fall ball the Nittany Lions faced off against the Maryland Terrapins on two separate occasions. Playing against such a tough competitor really help the team put things into perspective. Doherty says the squad learned a lot from each of those games. It helped both the players as well as the coaches focus on what aspects of the game they needed to work on individually and as a team.
"Playing Maryland for our first scrimmage in fall ball really helped us focus on some things we really needed to work on," said Doherty. "For the rest of the fall we kept improving on those things. Maryland is a high scoring team. We need to be ready defensively to keep them out. So we are continuing to build our defense. Our defensive end is going to be young. We graduated a lot of really good low defenders, as well as defensive midfielders. So we are going to need to grow up quickly in that position before Bucknell and Maryland."
The freshman class has done a great job adjusting to the speed and skill level of the college game. Tatum Coffey and Kelly Lechner have really stepped up to the challenge and proven themselves this pre season, and could potentially find themselves in the starting line up.
"Our starting line up this year is really competitive and there could potentially be two to three freshman in those positions," said Doherty.
While focusing on the basics and continuing to build their defense the team has also put a major emphasis in practice on pressure situations. This helps with both the physical and mental aspects of the game.
"As a coach you are always trying to continue to push the mentality of your team," said Doherty. "We want to be ready to compete every second of the game and to do that you have to control a lot of different things. As a team we have to be ready to play under pressure so in practice we have emphasized those types of situations so come game time we are ready for the challenge both physically and mentally."
Before the season officially begins Penn State will take on Cornell in an exhibition match up in Ithaca, N.Y., on Feb. 12.