March 20, 2011

Penn State Snaps Losing Streak with Upset of No. 12 Vanderbilt

from press release

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State women's lacrosse team built a sizeable first half lead and then staved off a furious second half comeback attempt to claim an 11-8 upset win over league foe No. 12 Vanderbilt (5-4, 1-1) on Sunday afternoon at Bigler Field. The victory, the Nittany Lions' third straight, put a resounding halt to their four-game losing streak to the Commodores and catapults them to the top of the early-season American Lacrosse Conference standings.

Penn State (4-4, 1-0) employed a balanced attack to down VU, as nine different players accounted for its 11 total goals. Senior Maggie Dunbar (Cockeysville, Md.) and junior Theresa Zichelli (Severna Park, Md.) were the only Nittany Lions to score multiple goals, netting two each. Senior Mary Dean led PSU in points with four (1 goals, 3 assists).

Junior goalkeeper Dana Cahill (Towson, Md.) was brilliant again in anchoring the Penn State defense, tying her career high by recording 13 saves against a barrage of 33 Vanderbilt shots. She also added four ground balls and caused one turnover.

Penn State stunned Vanderbilt with a lightning-quick start, scoring the first four goals of the game through the first eight-plus minutes. Senior Laura Lesnick (Jarrettsville, Md.) put the Lions on the scoreboard with her team-high 15th goal of the season. Scores followed from Zichelli, Dean, and senior Jackie Eastman (Springfield, Pa.), giving PSU the early momentum.

Vanderbilt fought back, cutting the Penn State advantage in half with consecutive goals by Ally Carey and Meghan Rose. After Rose found net at the 17:49 mark, the Commodore offense would not be heard from again for the remainder of the half, as the Lions' defense firmly put the clamps on.

While the defense was preventing Vanderbilt from scoring goals, the Penn State attack kept on producing. The Nittany Lions ended the half on a 5-0 run highlighted by a goal and two assists from senior Jen Steadman (Sykesville, Md.) and free position conversions by Zichelli and Dean.

Vanderbilt came out of the break aggressively, attempting to get back in the game. The Commodores scored two goals in five minutes to cut the PSU lead to 9-4 but consecutive scores by freshman Mackenzie Cyr (Westminster, Md.) and Dunbar, who was the recipient of a spectacular cross-field pass from Lesnick on the play, over the span of four-plus minutes temporarily stemmed the tide.

Vanderbilt then ramped up the defensive pressure, chasing Penn State players from sideline to sideline attempting to force turnovers. With the large lead, the Nittany Lions were content with playing keep away and picking their spots to take shots.

The Commodores were able to finish the game on a 4-0 run but it was too little, too late and Penn State prevailed, securing its first win over a ranked opponent this season.

The Nittany Lions will wrap up their four-game home stand on Wed., March 23 when in-state foe Lafayette (1-6) visits University Park for a 7 p.m. mid-week clash. A year ago, behind a career high seven points from Mary Dean (4 goals, 3 assists), Penn State upped its all-time record versus the Leopards to 18-2 with a dominating 19-5 victory in Easton.

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