January 22, 2013

#LMranks: No. 9 Penn State Nittany Lions (Women)

by Laurel Pfahler | LaxMagazine.com | Team Page/Schedule

Penn State sophomore midfielder and Tatum Coffey is "a great player, and even though she was so young last year, a leader for their team," one rival coach said.
© Zac Hardy

Lacrosse Magazine is counting down its preseason rankings throughout the month of January exclusively on LaxMagazine.com.

Today continues a look at our NCAA Division I Top 20 rankings. For more, visit LaxMagazine.com/LMranks. Follow @LacrosseMag on Twitter and Tweet using the hashtag #LMranks. The countdown will resume Wednesday with profiles of the eighth-ranked teams in NCAA Division I men and women.

Power Ratings

Offense: 4*
Defense: 2
Goalkeeping: 2
Draw Control: 3
* Out of 5

Top Returner

M Tatum Coffey (So.)
Fresh off a stint with Team USA, Coffey is one of the most exciting players in the country. She was the lone freshman All-American in 2012 after starting all 19 games with the Nittany Lions and finishing with 34 goals, six assists, 25 ground balls, 53 draw controls and 18 caused turnovers.


D Katie Guy (Sr.)
With All-American defender Lizzy Carney out for the season with a knee injury sustained in the fall and the loss of two-time ALC Goalkeeper of the Year Dana Cahill, Guy will be counted on to help anchor a defense that returns only starter Colleen Shea. Guy, who at 17 became the youngest member of Team Canada, moves from the midfield, where she accounted for 23 ground balls, 30 draw controls and 13 caused turnovers.

What's New?

Penn State finished the fall without a set starter in goal, as junior Melissa Lloyd and freshman Emi Smith remain in a close competition for the spot and could end up splitting time throughout the season. Lloyd played just seven minutes last year. Fifth-year field hockey goalkeeper Ayla Halus, who played 21 minutes of lacrosse last year, also will be in the mix but wasn't available in the fall.

What's Not?

The Nittany Lions return all three starting attackers, including leading point scorer Maggie McCormick, and six of their top seven goal scorers. McCormick (29 goals, 30 assists) and Mackenzie Cyr (34 goals, 23 assists) were the only two players to reach double figures in both goals and assists. Fellow attacker Molly Fernandez is back as the team's top goal-scorer after netting 35 goals.

2012 Recap

Record: 12-7 (3-2 ALC)

In a Nutshell: Penn State took a step forward in coach Missy Doherty's second season, despite giving up an ALC-worst 193 goals last year and ranking just 46th nationally in ground balls per game (15.58). The Nittany Lions made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years, advanced to the quarterfinal round and earned the program's most wins since 2005.

"It was a great turn of the corner for our program," Doherty said. "It was great for the girls to experience the NCAA tournament and see what all the excitement is about and kind of have that hunger coming back to want to do it again."

Penn State's biggest challenge is playing in a conference that includes juggernauts Northwestern and Florida. Of its 12 victories last year, only two came against NCAA tournament teams (Virginia and Towson).

High Point: A 15-12 win over Ohio State, who was ranked No. 10 at the time, followed by a 12-9 victory over then-No. 18 Johns Hopkins, helped lift the Nittany Lions into the top 10 of the national rankings. The Ohio State game marked Penn State's third win over a top-10 team, as the Nittany Lions got career days from a trio of offensive players and a big game from goalkeeper Dana Cahill. Maggie McCormick and Mackenzie Cyr both notched eight points off four goals and four assists, and Haley Ford added four goals, and Cahill had 10 saves against 28 shots.

Low Point: Penn State ended its regular season with a 13-12 overtime loss to Princeton, coming back to tie it with two goals in the final two minutes of regulation only to lose on a goal scored with 17 seconds left in the first overtime. The Nittany Lions followed that with a first-round exit in the ALC tournament, falling 13-12 to Johns Hopkins, a team they had beaten just two weeks prior.

#LMranks WD1 Preseason Countdown

No. 20 Princeton
No. 19 Boston College
No. 18 Stony Brook
No. 17 UMass
No. 16 Towson
No. 15 Cornell
No. 14 Georgetown
No. 13 Ohio State
No. 12 Penn
No. 11 Dartmouth
Monday: No. 10 Notre Dame
Tuesday: No. 9 Penn State
Wednesday: No. 8
Thursday: No. 7
Friday: No. 6

More: Countdown schedule | MD1 | MD2 | WD2 | MD3 | WD3 | JuCo | MCLA | WCLA

2013 Preview

Best Case: The Nittany Lions overcome early struggles on defense thanks to an experienced offense, which carries the team to a repeat of last season's success. A young but talented midfield picks up some of the slack on defense to help in the transition with a new goalkeeper, and Penn State advances to the NCAA quarterfinal round for a second straight year.

Worst Case: The uncertainty on defense and lack of an established goalkeeper hurts Penn State in close games, and the youth of a team with just three seniors becomes painfully obvious. Doherty's hopes of taking the program to the next level will have to wait another year, as the Nittany Lions fail to qualify for the NCAA tournament a year after making their long-awaited return.

Inside Scoop

Coach Missy Doherty's comments on...

A Maggie McCormick (So.)
"Our goals for her are to continue to do what she does well, as well as to be a little more aggressive to cage. She is so good at feeding and feeding people from behind and putting the ball right on their stick, but we want her to continue to get even better and maybe go to the cage and take some more shots and see if she can increase the number of goals she had last year."

M Tatum Coffey (So.)
"Our midfield is going to be very young and very strong, and Tatum is going to be a big part of that. She's just an incredible athlete and a very versatile player. We also have Kelly Lechner and Haley Ford, all a part of our sophomore class that has really brought a lot to our midfield, and then we also have some freshmen coming in, Jenna Mosketti and Ally Heavens, who could potentially start for us. I think our midfielders are really going to grow together in the next two years, and that will be fun to see them get even better."

D Katie Guy (Sr.)
"Katie Guy is our captain and we're going to need her to step up and be a leader for us defensively, along with Colleen Shea, who is a fifth-year senior. We're always looking to improve our defense, and she is a player we can count on back there."

Rival Coaches Say

"Missy does a great job. She's really has gone in there, and built on everything, all the tradition they already have. I think she's doing a great job recruiting and getting great players. Tatum Coffey's a great player, and even though she was so young last year, a leader for their team. They had some ups and downs last year, but you'll see them making some waves. Missy is absolutely an inspiring coach, and someone that kids really want to play for...

"The thing about Penn State, I thought they were really young last year with Mackenzie Cyr and Maggie McCormick. They're two of the best attackers you're going to find behind the goal, and Mackenzie can attack up top too, and they have Molly Fernandez, who's just as crafty and quick. You never know what that kid's going to do. You add Tatum Coffey into the mix, and that is certainly a team on the rise. They were young last year. With another year of experience, they're going places as well...

"They have some turnover in the goal, but they're just a really solid team across the board from top to bottom. It'll be interesting because they are a team that people need to be aware of. Everybody who plays them is nervous because they are very, very good team with a great coaching staff."

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