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April 2, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 14 Penn State women's lacrosse team (5-4) will take its grueling 2009 schedule to another level this weekend when it faces national powers No. 2 Maryland (11-0) and No. 4 North Carolina (9-2) in the span of three days at the ALC/ACC Challenge. Hosted by Ohio State at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, Penn State will meet the Terrapins on Fri., April 3 at 5 p.m. and the Tar Heels on Sun., April 5 at 11 a.m. at the annual event.
Last weekend, the Nittany Lions snapped a four-game losing streak, besting William & Mary on the road, 14-12, in a back-and-forth, down-to-the-wire affair. Senior Marisa Lozano (Pittsburgh, Pa.) extended her team lead in goals (16), assists (10), and points (26) by notching three goals and one assist in PSU's first road victory of the season. Sophomore Jen Steadman (Sykesville, Md.) came off the bench to tie Lozano with a team-high four points, totaling two goals and two assists. Junior goalkeeper Stephanie Ellis (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) highlighted an otherwise off day by the defense, registering 12 saves and a tying for team lead in ground balls with three. In recognition of her performance, Ellis was named ALC Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in her career.
Past the midpoint of the 2009 season, Penn State continues to excel in the face of stiff competition, placing among conference and national leaders in several statistical categories, both as a team and individually. The Nittany Lions rank first in the ALC and fifth nationally in ground balls per game (24.22) and top the ALC in caused turnovers per game (10.33). Penn State also owns the nation's No. 6-ranked defense, allowing 8.33 goals per game. Stephanie Ellis is ranked 12th in the NCAA in goals against average (8.94), junior defender Margo Josephs (Reisterstown, Md.) is first in the ALC and seventh in the country in caused turnovers per game (2.22), and sophomore Jackie Eastman (Springfield, Pa.) tops the ALC in ground balls per game (2.86), despite not starting any of Penn State's nine game this season.
Maryland brings its undefeated record to Columbus along with an offense and a defense ranked in the top 10 in several statistical categories. The nation's No. 7 attack is fronted by a quarter of 20-plus goal scorers in Kari Ellen Johnson (38), Caitlyn McFadden (26), Sarah Mollison (22), and Brandi Jones (21). Mollison, a sophomore from Melbourne, Australia, tops the team in assists with 23 and in points with 45. The Terrapin defense in anchored by sophomore defender Brittany Poist and freshman goalkeeper Brittany Dipper. Poist, a transfer from Louisville who led the nation in caused turnovers in 2008, tops Maryland in caused turnovers (18) and ground balls (24). Dipper boasts an 8.70 goals against average, ranking her 11th in the nation.
After early season losses to Northwestern (12-7) and Penn (11-2), North Carolina has reeled off six straight wins, including victories over ranked teams Virginia (12-8) and Georgetown (12-7), and rocketed up the national polls. Junior midfielder Megan Bosica headlines the Tar Heel attack, totaling 20 goals and 16 assists through 11 games. Jenn Russell and Corey Donohue are also key to the UNC offense, with each totaling 22 goals. Senior Amber Falcone is North Carolina's top defender. She tops the team in ground balls (34) and is second in draw controls (18) and caused turnovers (16). Logan Ripley has started every game in goal, amassing a 8.57 goals against average and .439 save percentage.
A year ago at the 2008 ALC/ACC Challenge in Chapel Hill, N.C., the Lions fell to the Terrapins, 12-11, in overtime, and dropped a 14-9 decision to the host Tar Heels. Penn State is a combined 17-38-1 all-time versus Maryland and UNC.
Fans can follow all of the Penn State action at the ALC/ACC Challenge this weekend on the Internet with live stats and instant scoring updates. Find a link on the official website of Nittany Lion athletics, www.GoPSUsports.com.
The Nittany Lions will return home for the first time in over two weeks when they host in-state opponent Lehigh (8-3) on Wed., April 8 in a 3 p.m. match-up at Jeffrey Field. Penn State has dominated the all-time series, compiling a 17-0 record, but has not faced the Mountain Hawks since 2001, a 17-2 victory in University Park. The Lions are 3-0 this year against the Patriot League, boasting wins over Lafayette (20-7), Bucknell (18-5), and preseason conference favorite Colgate (16-6).