FROM PENN STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS
The unseeded and 11th-ranked Penn State women’s lacrosse team is off to its first NCAA Final Four since 1999 following an 8-4 victory over seventh-seeded and 14th-ranked Penn on Saturday at Penn State Lacrosse Field. The Nittany Lions to the national semifinals at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa., to meet No. 3 North Carolina Friday (game time TBA).
“It was an awesome win for our program and just an awesome day in general,” PSU head coach Missy Doherty said. “Our defense just played out of their minds today. They were stopping their main threats. I was so proud of them, how on top of things they were. Emi (Smith) made some crazy saves this game and our mark-up defenders did a great job on their key players. It was a little rattling there and you could see the nerves coming out cause of the immense stress this kind of game provides but I was so proud of them to come through strong and make huge plays when it mattered.”
Penn State (14-6) used a 6-0 first-half run over a nearly eight-minute span, while holding Penn (15-5) scoreless for 27:32 to punch its ticket to the final four. The Nittany Lions will be making their 10th all-time appearance in the national semifinals.
The game was played in a steady rain and certainly affected the quality of passing, eventually leading to 34 total turnovers. Penn, which came into the game ranked third nationally in turnovers per game (10.5), committed a season-high 18 turnovers, 11 alone in the first half.
The Nittany Lions were led defensively by Emi Smith (Denver, Colo.) who stopped eight shots and allowed only four goals. Smith was vital down the stretch, stopping five Penn opportunities. The Nittany Lion defense shut down Penn’s top three scorers including the NCAA leader in assists, Nina Corcoran, who didn’t record a point for the first time all season.
Junior captain Abby Smucker (Bel Air, Md.) had a game-high three-caused turnovers as Penn’s top three scorers—Corcoran, Iris Williams and Alex Condon—combined for 12 of the team’s 18 turnovers. The four goals allowed were a season-best for the Nittany Lions.
Offensively, senior Madison Cyr (Westminster, Md.) posted a four-point day on two goals and two assists. Freshman Madison Carter (Davidsonville, Md.) pitched in with a pair of goals and the scoring was filled out with tallies by Kelly Daggett (Bainbridge, Pa.), Steph Lazo (Stevensville, Md.), Jenna Mosketti (Fallston, Md.) and Maggie Gallagher (Bel Air, Md.).
Six different Nittany Lions tallied goals during its crucial 6-0 run that turned a 2-0 deficit into a 6-2 halftime lead. For the second straight game, Daggett diced up the opposing defense and scored PSU’s opening goal, cutting the two-goal deficit in half with 19:34 remaining in the first half.
Only 22 seconds later, Cyr connected on a free-position chance to even the score. Just 90 seconds after that, Mosketti scored from the 8-meter mark for Penn State’s first lead, 3-2. Mosketti finished with a game-high four draw controls as well.
Cyr moved to the feeding side of the offense, finding a cutting Gallagher for a 4-2 lead with 16:24 remaining and forcing a Penn timeout. Less than a minute later, Cyr again was finding a cutter, as Lazo scored her 33rd of the season for a 5-2 lead.
Penn State’s scoring run was capped by Carter faking off her defender and cruising down the middle of the field for an unassisted tally with 11:58 remaining as the two teams went into the break at 6-2.
With the rain picking up in the second half, Penn ended its scoring drought with Caroline Cummings’ second goal of the day with 24:59 remaining. The Nittany Lions responded 66 seconds later on a Carter’s free-position chance and a 7-3 lead.
The Nittany Lions made it 8-3 on Cyr’s 57th of the season as she dashed through the Penn defense and slid the ball home with 21:27 remaining.
Cummings’ hat trick trimmed the lead back to four with 14:59, but that would be the final goal of the game as the two teams traded empty possessions and missed passes down the stretch.
Penn State was out-shot for a second straight game as the Quakers held a 25-18 edge, including 16-9 in the second half. The Nittany Lions held the Quakers to just 22.2 percent shooting and 0-for-3 from the free-position. Penn State was 3-for-5 from 8-meter chances.
Penn also held margins in ground balls (18-13) and draw controls (8-3). The Nittany Lions kept slightly better care of the ball with only 16 turnovers and clearing 18-of-22 times, while Penn cleared on only 75 percent of its chances (12-for-16).
• Penn State improved to 10-6 all-time against Penn and snapped a four-game skid against the Quakers. Saturday’s win was the first over Penn since April 6, 2005.
• The Nittany Lions improved to 8-3 all-time in NCAA Tournament home games and 21-19 in all NCAA games. Penn State has won three straight NCAA Tournament games since May 9, 1987-May 15, 1988 (four straight).
• Penn State won a game while not scoring 10 goals for the first time since March 22, 2013 vs. Drexel (9-8). The last time Penn State allowed fewer than for goals in an NCAA Tournament game was on May 20, 1989 in the national semifinals vs. Temple (9-3).
• Madison Cyr has scored in every game this season and is currently on a 29-game scoring streak dating back to last year. This season, Cyr has tallied at least two points in every game and has 12 hat tricks.
• Cyr’s goal brings her career total to 154, which ties her for fourth all-time at Penn State. Her next goal will give her sole position of fourth place.
• Cyr’s four points brought her career total to 199 to move into a tie for 12th all-time at PSU. Cyr has a career-high 80 points this season.
• Madison Carter has scored in 19 of 20 games this season. Carter now has 47 goals this season.
• Penn State improved to 102-21 all-time against Keystone State foes and upped its winning streak to 30 straight games over Pennsylvania teams.
Penn State Head Coach Missy Doherty
It was awesome. It was an awesome win for our program and just an awesome day in general. Our defense just played out of their minds today. They were stopping their main threats. I was so proud of them, how on top of things they were. Emi (Smith) made some crazy saves this game and our mark-up defenders did a great job on their key players so it was the little rattling there and you could see the nerves coming out cause of the immense stress this kind of game provides but I was so proud of them to come through strong and make huge plays when it mattered.
Q: Were the nerves coming more from you or them?
A: Maybe that is my fault but I definitely just always want the best for them. They seemed a little rattled in the moment. You’re always going to find a time in the game when the other team is making plays and you’re a little bit jittery. Those times happen every single game so I called a couple timeouts just to settle the group down to be sure that we’re not letting those overwhelm us too much. I think the players did a great job of coming up with some huge defensive plays and then finishing the game strong.
Q: You mentioned momentum the other day. How much did Kelly’s (Daggett) goal really get everything going?
A: Kelly (Daggett) did a great job coming through with that goal. Our offense is counting on players like her to step up when they’re marking our leading scorer as well. It was huge and momentum wise today, we really got it from our defense. They just gave us huge momentum. From Emi (Smith) making some crazy saves to some players getting some really important charges and caused turnovers. I think the momentum really came from our defense.
Madison Cyr, Senior Midfielder
Q: For the seniors, this is your last home game here. How does it feel to advance to an NCAA final four with your last home game?
A: It was great. It was completely unexpected. We thought our last home game was a couple weeks ago. It was great to play on our home turf and see everyone come out. We’re just excited to make it to the final four.
Emi Smith, Senior Goalkeeper
Q: How are you seeing the ball back there? You had five second-half saves and the game could have been easily 6-8 or 7.
A: Amy (Altig) told me they’re going to come out and they’re going to be ripping shots so just be ready. The defense did a great job forcing them in a certain direction where I could make a great save or an easier save than just a one-on-one opportunity. They work so hard down the field and I just wanted to back them up and that’s what I did. NCAA QUARTERFINALS | UNIVERSITY PARK, PA | MAY 21, 2016 Penn State 8, Penn 4
Penn Head Coach Karin Corbett
I think Penn State had a great game today and they were the better team. I wish that we had shot a little better we obviously had our chances in that second half with how many shots we were generating but we missed the net a lot and just didn’t capitalized. I was proud of my team for how much they fought till the end and that’s what this team has showed us all year, that they have a lot of fight and a lot of heart and I’m proud of my team for the season that what we had and we’re sad to leave and we wish Penn State the best of luck.
Q: What do you think this says about lacrosse and Pennsylvania and what you were both able to accomplish with two in state teams going at it, despite the weather?
A: Pennsylvania lacrosse has been great. A lot of lacrosse for women started in Pennsylvania, so it’s great to be in Pennsylvania. We don’t have a rivalry with Penn State we really haven’t played them much – I know a lot of people have asked us that question. We don’t have any ties to Penn State really on our team either, so for us it was just another game and quarterfinals and we were hoping to come here and play our best and come out on top.
Q: What did they do defensively to slow you guys down after the first two goals?
A: We weren’t attacking as hard in the first half, we were sort of doing one and done kind of things and I felt we changed that a lot in the second half, we had a lot of opportunities in the second half and we made some good adjustments, our kids really started to fight harder and go to the goal more, we created a ton of looks and we just didn’t finish on the inside.