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Penn State Women’s Lacrosse 2021 Big Ten Tournament Preview

No. 20 Penn State women’s lacrosse is just one day away from the Big Ten Tournament at Panzer Stadium to decide who will be the conference champion.

Penn State will get started Thursday night at 8 p.m. against No. 13 Johns Hopkins, a team the Nittany Lions have yet to beat this season.

Here is what to expect for the Nittany Lions ahead of the postseason:

Quarterfinal: Johns Hopkins (Thursday, 8 p.m.)

Johns Hopkins finished out its regular season 7-5, while the Nittany Lions went 4-8.

Penn State succumbed to Johns Hopkins after two very close games in the regular season. The Blue Jays bested the Nittany Lions 13-10 at home and then again 13-11 at Panzer Stadium.

Both games were close back-and-forth battles, but Penn State couldn’t catch up to Johns Hopkins in the second halves after the Blue Jays went on scoring streaks to take unassailable leads.

Johns Hopkins is led by a strong scorer in Aurora Cordingley, who has 35 goals in the regular season and will be a key opponent to watch out for in the quarterfinal game.

If the regular season is anything to go on, Thursday is sure to be a close game. Penn State’s top players this season, Maria Auth, Olivia Dirks, and Kristin O’Neill, will need to be at their best if the Nittany Lions are to move forward in the tournament.

Semifinal: Maryland Or Michigan

Should the Nittany Lions advance to the semifinal game, their next opponent would either be No. 13 Maryland (7-5) or No. 7 Michigan (3-8).

The Nittany Lions beat Maryland twice in the regular season, which will give some confidence to Coach Doherty’s team. In their first meeting together, Penn State beat Maryland 15-13 to clinch its first win against Maryland since 2005, including a five-goal performance from Dirks.

They beat Maryland again 16-9 on Penn State’s Senior Day after taking the lead early to secure the season sweep over Maryland. Maryland has dominated the Big Ten since 2015, winning three-straight Big Ten Tournaments from 2016-2018. They will not be a team to underestimate should the Nittany Lions play them in the semifinals.

In its matchups against Michigan, Penn State split the weekend series with the Wolverines. The Nittany Lions lost 12-9 in their first game but won 13-12 two days later following a huge overtime goal by Maria Auth with 38 seconds left. Auth led that game with five goals and three assists, while Dirks scored four goals and had two assists.

Both will be two very challenging opponents if the Nittany Lions are to secure a semifinal spot in the tournament. The Nittany Lions will need to force turnovers and win draws if they want a chance to take the early lead against either team.

The semifinal game will be played on Friday, April 30 at 8 p.m.

Big Ten Championship

Northwestern is looking like a very strong favorite to make it to the Big Ten Championship game if it beats No. 16 Rutgers or Ohio State in the semifinal game. The Wildcats are ranked No. 2 nationally after going 11-0 in the regular season.

The Nittany Lions lost to the Wildcats 24-13 in their first game of a two-game series before falling 17-13 in a hard-fought battle against the Wildcats. Penn State kept Northwestern within reach throughout the entire game but was unable to catch up in the end.

Dirks recorded a career-high 14 draw controls that game, helping Penn State to win the control battle 20 draws to 11. Taylor Suplee also made 12 saves that game, marking her 18th career double-digit save performance.

Should the Nittany Lions get there, they would play in the championship game on Sunday at noon.

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About the Author

Sarah Sacker

Sarah is a junior majoring in journalism and a writer for Onward State. She is from Annapolis, Maryland, and is a huge fan of the Ravens and Capitals. If not hanging with friends you can catch Sarah playing XBOX, Assassin's Creed/Modern Warfare gang, or binging a new TV show with her roommates. Follow her on Twitter @Sarah_Sacker8 or email her at [email protected]

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