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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2017 senior class is one of the most decorated groups in Penn State history.
Over the last four years, the senior class has led the Nittany Lions to a record of 63-15-7. The group was instrumental in Penn State's first ever National Championship run in 2015.
"This is a really special group of seniors," said head coach Erica Dambach. "To be able to get all of them out there and all of them contribute--just really proud of this group of seniors overall."
Seven seniors--Elizabeth Ball, Brittany Basinger, Megan Schafer, Frannie Crouse, Haleigh Echard, Salina Williford, and Isabelle Clauss--were honored before Sunday's game against Michigan State on Senior Day.
Each player and their families received a bouquet of blue and white flowers, a standing ovation from the crowd of 1,649, and a hug from Dambach. Even a few of the players' dogs made the trip to Happy Valley to join in on the day's festivities.
"Throughout the four years we've felt like family," Schafer said. "For everyone to come together to honor the seven of us, I think it's a really cool environment that we created and I couldn't have asked for a better senior day."
It was an emotional afternoon for all, but there was still a game to be played. A game that had major implications in fact, as Penn State came in to the game tied with Purdue and Minnesota for second place in the Big Ten. With only four regular season games remaining, every point is crucial.
As they've done their entire careers, the seniors rose past the distractions and emotions of senior day and played lights out in route to a 4-0 victory. Every goal was scored by a senior.
Schafer scored the first in the 14th minute and added another in the 60th. She has now scored three goals in the past two games after scoring three in the first 11 games.
"[Megan's] been working. I haven't been disappointed at all with her work rate," Dambach said. "There's been some chances she's missed but you can see her feeling it. You can see her just driving this team right now."
Ball then joined in on the senior magic in the 77th minute to put the game out of reach for the Spartans. She hadn't scored a goal all season until Sunday's game.
If that wasn't enough, Echard found the net in the 87th minute for her second goal of the season. Crouse left the match in the first half with an injury, but the way the game was going she probably would've scored too.
"We were going crazy," Schafer said of Echard's goal. "It was just a lot of fun. She scored with three minutes left to go and we didn't take the foot off the gas. It's great to be part of this team."
The senior class has one more regular season game on Jeffrey Field, and both Ball and Schafer said they're cherishing the few games they have left in Blue and White.
"It's never a good feeling when you know you're about to say goodbye to a really special group, but they've certainly left their legacy and hopefully we got a lot of soccer still ahead of us," Dambach said.