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Feb. 9, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State has been selected to place third in the 2012 American Lacrosse Conference Preseason Poll. In addition, senior co-captains Dana Cahill (Towson, Md.) and Theresa Zichelli (Severna Park, Md.) have been named ALC Preseason Players to Watch.
Defending national champion Northwestern was chosen as the conference favorite while 2011 NCAA semifinalist Florida was voted second. Ohio State was picked to place fourth followed in succession by Vanderbilt and Johns Hopkins.
Penn State's preseason ranking marks the second straight year that the Nittany Lions were tabbed to place third in the ALC. The 2012 preseason order mirrors the final standings from the regular season of 2011.
Penn State is also garnering national recognition heading into 2012, receiving the No. 17 ranking in the IWLCA Preseason Poll and a No. 18 preseason ranking by Inside Lacrosse.
In 2012, second-year head coach Missy Doherty will lead a Nittany Lion squad that returns 16 letterwinners and five starters from last season's squad that won 10 games and advanced to the semifinals of the ALC Championship. Sophomore Mackenzie Cyr (Westminster, Md.) is Penn State's leading returning scorer, posting 35 points (12g, 23a) in her freshman campaign, while senior Colleen Shea (Baltimore, Md.), who started 15 games in 2011, is back as the team's most experienced defender. The Nittany Lion roster will also be bolstered by a top 10 nationally-ranked recruiting class, headlined by U-19 U.S. National Team member and 2011 U-19 World Championship MVP Tatum Coffey (Toms River, N.J.).
In 2011, Cahill established herself as one of the nation's top goalkeepers, earning First Team All-West/Midwest Region and All-ALC honors in addition to being named ALC Goalkeeper of the Year.
Anchoring a Penn State defense that ranked among the nation's top 20 for much of the season, the two-time ALC Defensive Player of the Week had several standout performances that highlighted her first season as a starter. In an 11-10 double overtime win over rival Ohio State, Cahill recorded 14 saves, including several late in regulation that allowed the Nittany Lions to come from behind to tie and then later win the game. She earned National Defensive Player of the Week recognition from Synapse Sports following her 13-save effort in an 11-8 upset of Vanderbilt on March 20. In helping Penn State to its fifth consecutive opening round ALC Championship win, a 17-11 rout of Johns Hopkins, Cahill notched a career-high 15 saves.
Cahill finished the 2011 season with a 9.95 goals against average, an ALC-best .466 save percentage, 150 saves, and a team-high 47 ground balls.
A two-year starter in the midfield, the versatile Zichelli is a force on both ends of the field for Penn State. Last season, she took on a more defensive role than her previous two years in Happy Valley but still totaled 17 points on 11 goals and a career-high 6 assists. She ended the year ranked second in the team in draw controls (27) and caused turnovers (18) and third in ground balls (34), all single season personal bests.
Playing in all 52 games since her freshman season, Zichelli has tallied 54 goals and 10 assists (64 points) for her career and tops all current Nittany Lions in ground balls (76), draw controls (66), and caused turnovers (42).
Penn State opens ALC play on Sunday, March 18 when it travels to Nashville, Tenn. to face Vanderbilt. Other league road games include visits to Florida (April 1) and Ohio State (April 15). The Nittany Lions welcome conference foes Northwestern (April 6) and Johns Hopkins (April 21) to Happy Valley in 2012. The 2011 ALC Championship will be hosted by Florida in Gainesville from May 3-5.
Penn State will see its first action of the year this Sunday when it meets Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y. in a 1 p.m. exhibition contest. The Nittany Lions open the 2012 regular season on Wednesday, Feb. 15, traveling regionally to face Bucknell in a 4 p.m. non-conference game.