Penn State Women’s Lacrosse Season Preview

Story posted January 3, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Maddie Brightman

On Sunday February 16th, the No. 6 Nittany Lions will kick off the 2014 lacrosse season against Penn. Moving up one spot from last year’s ranking, Penn State is ready to continue on their success from last season. The Nittany Lions finished the 2013 season with a 14-7 record, an undefeated season at home, and an appearance in the quarterfinals against the previously ranked No. 2 team in the country.

Assistant coach Brooke Matthews said her favorite memory from last season was when Penn State beat Florida 16-11 at home.

“It means a lot when you beat the number two team in the country and that game was by far our best performance all season,” said Matthews.   

Remaining in the top 10 all season and advancing to the playoffs were some of Matthews’ other standout moments from last year. After ending the season as Co-Champions of the American Lacrosse Conference, Matthews was pleased with her performance, but explained she wanted more.

“We don’t want to just make the playoffs, we want to improve on our most recent success and compete for a national championship.”

Many familiar faces will be returning to the lacrosse field this spring, for the team has only eight freshmen and a small number of transfers. Key returners this spring will include, seniors Mackenzie Cyr and Lizzy Carney, and juniors Kelly Lechner, Tatum Coffey, and Maggie McCormick.  All of these girls, with the exception of Coffey will serve as this year’s women’s lacrosse captains.

Midfielders, Coffey and Carney tallied a combined total of 45 points last season and were both named to the Inside Lacrosse All-American Second Team. Attackers, McCormick and Cyr scored a total of 82 goals in 2013 and were the team’s leading scorers. Matthews frequently referenced to the offense as the “Maggie and Mackenzie show.”

Matthews has praised Lechner for her most recent successes and her belief that she will be the team’s standout player in the upcoming season. In 2013, the junior midfielder, scored 47 goals, tallied 55 points, and had a shot percentage of 50%.

“Kelly is the middie who does everything. We rely on her to win the draws, make one versus one stops on defense, and score goals.”

Freshman Steph Lazo is expected to make an impact in the midfield with her speed and Cat Rainone will be a key addition to the goalkeeper position. Defenders Sarah Piazza and Jane Truffer, are talented in their position and know how to play the game smart. The coaching staff has been pushing the eight new freshmen in the midfield in order to give them reps and help them adapt to the speed of college lacrosse.

This year’s schedule includes 16 games and eight against ranked opponents. Penn State will only play three teams with a higher ranking, Maryland (No. 2), Northwestern (No. 4), and Florida (No. 5). The Nittany Lions most difficult matchups will come against those three teams, however this team has completed upsets in the past. Penn State will look for redemption against Northwestern and to potentially create a streak of upsets against Florida.

Matthews said Penn State’s biggest competitors this season will be Florida, Northwestern, and Ohio State. She also remarked that in conference games “are always tight” and the games that end up making a difference.

Conference games will be played against, Vanderbilt, Michigan, Ohio State, and Johns Hopkins.  After finishing the year as Co-Champions of the ALC, Penn State hopes to own the title by the end of the 2014 season. Penn State will be able to improve their record with easier matchups against Bucknell, James Madison, Rutgers, and Drexel.

Penn State women’s lacrosse will join the Big Ten in 2015 and Matthew’s was excited about what it would do to schedule.

“We are excited to play in even more big time games. We played Northwestern three times last year and it will be great to now have them in our conference, along with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland.”

Penn State will kick off the season ranked No. 6 in the nation, moving up one spot from last year’s ranking. In her most recent interview with ComRadio, Matthews talked about the ranking and sometimes going unnoticed.

“We were in the top 10 all of last season and that is something we are really proud of. We had been underrated for a while, but not that we are being noticed we must continue to earn it and prove ourselves.”

Matthews said that although ranking are important; “We try not to get complacent. We just forget about it and play.”

Penn State will look to fulfill Matthews’ goal of competing for a national championship in the upcoming weeks. With the help of transfers, eight new freshmen, returning veterans, healed injuries, and a strong fall ball season, the Nittany Lions are ready to return to the lacrosse field. This women’s lacrosse team is looking forward to improving on their most recent accomplishments and will be anxiously counting down the days until February 16th.

Maddie Brightman is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email mvb5601@psu.edu.