No. 18 Penn State Routs Temple to End Regular Season

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. The No. 18 Penn State women's lacrosse team (9-6) used a sparkling defensive effort, which included a rare first half shutout, to finish the regular season on a high note and send its senior class out in style, cruising past Temple (7-10), 14-3, on a sun-drenched Saturday afternoon at Jeffrey Field.

Senior goalkeeper Stephanie Ellis (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) shined in her final home game, registering seven saves to spearhead a dominating Nittany Lion defensive performance. Junior Ashley Boccio (Northport, N.Y.) also starred, shutting down Temple's top scorer Chelsea Rosiek, who entered the game with 55 points, by holding her to one goal on three shots. As a unit, the Penn State defense forced 11 of the Owls' 17 turnovers, including a game-high three by junior Maggie Dunbar (Cockeysville, Md.).

On a day which six departing players were honored in a special pre-game Senior Day ceremony, it was two freshmen who primarily fueled Penn State's attack. Molly Fernandez (Baltimore, Md.) (3 goals, 2 assists) and Hayley Sofarnos (Williamstown, Australia) (1 goal, 3 assists) combined for nine of its 24 points. In total, nine different Nittany Lions scored goals, including senior Theresa Bucci (Hudson, Ohio), who netted two to become PSU's first 30-goal scorer since 2006.

After three minutes of scoreless play to begin the non-conference contest, Molly Fernandez scored back-to-back goals in the span of 2:16, getting assists from junior Mary Dean (Wyncote, Pa.) and Dunbar, to put Penn State in the lead for what would prove to be for good. Senior Maria Valderas (Catonsville, Md.), who made her 66th consecutive career start for Penn State on Saturday, then netted her third goal of the season by converting on free position attempt to extend the advantage to 3-0.

Subsequent goals by Dean and Sofarnos forced Temple to call a timeout to stem the tide but it was only temporarily was successful. The capper to Fernandez's hat trick followed soon thereafter and was quickly chased by consecutive goals by sophomore Theresa Zichelli (Severna Park, Md.) and junior Jen Steadman (Sykesville, Md.), giving Penn State a commanding 10-0 lead. Bucci's 29th goal of the season with 15 seconds remaining put a bow on the first half.

After holding Temple scoreless for the game's first 33:20, Penn State finally surrendered a goal and then another just over one minute later, making the game 11-2. But that's as close as the Owls would get. The Nittany Lions were content with holding the ball and not pressing the issue for much of the remaining 24-plus minutes but still outscored Temple, 3-1, with goals coming from sophomore Bridget Callahan (Moorestown, N.J.), senior Erica Mihm (Annapolis, Md.), and Bucci.

Penn State outshot Temple for the game, 38-18, and had a 29-22 and a 11-8 advantage in ground balls and draw controls, respectively. Zichelli and Boccio recorded a team-high four ground balls each while Valderas led PSU with three draw controls.

The postseason begins for the Nittany Lions next week when they travel to Columbus, Ohio and the host campus of The Ohio State University for the 2010 ALC Championship. Play begins on Thurs., May 6 when the No. 4 seed meets the No. 5 seed (3:00 p.m.) and the No. 3 seed faces the No. 6 seed (5:30 p.m.). Semifinal action is scheduled for Fri., May 7 and will feature top-seeded Northwestern taking on the 4-5 seed winner (3:00 p.m.) and No. 2 seed Vanderbilt clashing with the 3-6 seed victor. The ALC Championship title contest will take place on Sat., May 8 at 2:00 p.m. All games will be played at the home of the Buckeyes, Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

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