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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Separated by a mere 3,450 miles, two teams from two different countries and two different continents came together to compete and represent some of the best their nations have to offer on the lacrosse field.
That's what happened Wednesday afternoon, when the Wales Women's Lacrosse National Team came to Holuba Hall to partake in an exhibition with the Nittany Lions, edging Penn State 13-12 with a goal in the closing seconds. It consisted of two 30-minute halves of action with a continuous clock and featured a mixture of international and collegiate rules.
Penn State, coming off a 2-0 start to the season, was able to use the scrimmage as both a chance to regroup and to get a look at some of the younger and less-experienced players on the team. Coach Missy Doherty utilized a lot of her less-seasoned players and was pleased with how they handled their time on the field.
"Tonight we were really able to see a lot from the players that are up-and-coming players. So it was an interesting game to see who emerged as maybe our next leaders of the future," Doherty said. "It was just good to see that the people you think are the possible next leaders were the ones that did really stand out."
Among the young standouts mentioned were freshman attacker Maria Auth, freshman midfielder Shannon Moore and sophomore midfielder Reilly Masterson, all underclassmen who made major contributions throughout the duration of the exhibition.
On the other hand, Wales was in the midst of its trip through America's lacrosse capitals for its annual USA tour. Penn State marked the fifth of nine stops in Wales visit to the States that lasts from the 12th to the 18th, spanning three states. Wales already had finished its tour of several Virginia schools and now is working through Pennsylvania and Maryland in matchups against some of each state's top lacrosse schools.
The tour acts as an opportunity for the national team to get better as well, as they are in a World Cup year. Wales is one of just six national teams to play in every single Women's Lacrosse World Cup since its inception in 1982. This year's July tournament will feature 28 teams, including Wales, as they compete to be called the world's best.
Being a national squad, the team boasts players from all different backgrounds and styles of play, making them a special task for the Nittany Lions.
"The players were telling me the ages vary from 17 to 32 on their team, so it's just a wide variety of different styles and what they're bringing," Doherty said. "They were just so gritty that you don't know quite what to expect."
The match was competitive all throughout as the teams traded runs and were equally matched across the board. But even at the end of an hour of battling, pushing one another to the limit, both teams met at midfield to congratulate one another and share a moment as friends, taking a group photo together to encapsulate it all.
After traveling to Amsterdam and Greece last summer to play international competition and now expanding that to an in-season exhibition, the Blue and White continue to play teams from across the border, something the team hopes they can continue in the future.
"Being able to play someone new, especially from a different country, is always kind of a cool thing," senior Steph Lazo said. "I'm pretty honored we get to do that."
Penn State will continue its regular season schedule this Saturday at 3 p.m. when the team hosts Lehigh.