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No. 17 Penn State Women’s Lacrosse Commands Bucknell 22-8 In Season Opener

No. 17 Penn State women’s lacrosse (1-0) beat down Bucknell (0-1) 22-8 in the season opener for both teams on Tuesday afternoon in Holuba Hall.  

Head coach Missy Doherty had Penn State more than prepared for the first game of the season. The defense, led by goalie Sydney Manning, looked much more disciplined than Bucknell’s backline, and the offense, led by Kristin O’Neill, took advantage of an abundance of free-position shots early.

How It Happened

The opening draw was won by Bucknell, and the Bison wasted no time getting on the board, finding the back of the net in just 49 seconds thanks to Allie Boyce. The Nittany Lions struck back 50 seconds later from a perfectly placed free-position shot from Kelly MacKinney.  

The first two goals were followed by exciting back-and-forth play that Penn State took advantage of by winning another free-position shot. This time, it was Ally Lipkin who took advantage of the space as she buried her first goal of the season into the top left of the net.  

Lipkin wasn’t done after one, though, as her confidence seemed to rise after her first goal. On the next possession, she took her defender to the top of the restraining box before blowing past her and beating the Bucknell goalie, Colleen Kazanjian, with a nice fake for another unassisted goal.   

The next two goals also belonged to the Nittany Lions, winning two more free position shots before the seven-minute mark of the first quarter. Brooke Hoss scored on the first attempt, and Gretchen Gilmore on the second. Both goals were their firsts of the season.  

Another goal for Penn State forced Bucknell head coach Jackie Dando to call a timeout to regroup her team.  

Directly after the timeout, Bucknell put together a strong offensive possession resulting in a free-position shot and a yellow card for Rachel Spilker. Bucknell’s Boyce converted the free-position chance which brought the score within four.  

Another quick response from the Nittany Lions through O’Neill was followed by two more Penn State goals to end the first quarter with a score of 8-3.

The start of the second quarter proved to me more of the same for Penn State. One minute and 37 seconds in, Kayla Abernathy scored her first goal due to a free-position rebound.  

The Nittany Lions had a chance early on to put the game completely out of reach for the Bison, but they couldn’t convert on their next three free position shots. Bucknell took advantage of this and scored on its first attempt of the quarter with nine minutes remaining. This also marked Boyce’s first half hattrick for the Bison.  

Bucknell shortened the lead even more following another Penn State missed free position. Taylor Kopan found the back of the net after a great feed from behind the net.  

Finally, with two minutes left in the half, Abernathy broke the Nittany Lions’ free-position curse by beating the goalkeeper on the left side. The Penn State bench was reinvigorated with energy following the goal after what had been a slow second half for its standards.  

The first half ended with a promising 13-5 lead for Penn State.

Bucknell started the second half strong with a goal just 51 seconds in. Emily Baird spun past her defender and bounced the ball into the back of the net, cutting the lead to seven. 

Penn State didn’t let the Bison hold onto any momentum and responded one minute later with a goal of its own. Once again, a free-position shot was taken advantage of by O’Neill. She piled on another from yet another free position with 12 minutes remaining for her fifth goal of the game.  

The rest of the quarter was all Penn State as it scored three unanswered goals to end the quarter with a score of 19-6.

In the fourth quarter, Penn State rested its more proven players to give fresh faces a chance to show what they can do. This didn’t slow down the Nittany Lion momentum as they started the fourth quarter with a quick goal by Meghan Murray.  

Penn State’s conditioning and depth showed for the last 15 minutes as it looked to be the much fresher side in the final quarter. The Nittany Lions outscored the Bison 3-2 in the final quarter and ended the game with a 22-8 final score.  


  • Kristin O’Neill put on a six-goal masterclass in Holuba Hall. Whenever the Nittany Lions went into an offensive lull, they turned to the senior to get them rolling again.  
  • The defense was extremely disciplined, especially for the first match of the season. Even with some miscommunications throughout, head coach Missy Doherty has a lot to be excited about with this group. Compared to a sloppy Bucknell team, the Nittany Lions rarely gave up any free-position opportunities to the Bison.  
  • Looking around the field, Penn State outsized its opponents across all positions. The use of this size and its ability to match it with speed proved to be a killer throughout.  

What’s Next?

Penn State will take on Colorado at 4 p.m. on Friday, February 16, in Happy Valley for the Pink Zone game. 

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About the Author

Collin Ward

Collin is a first-year majoring in digital/print journalism. Born in Hartford, he now lives in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. As a die-hard Chelsea FC fan you can normally find him yelling at his TV screen each weekend. To reach him, follow him on Instagram: @cward829, or email him at [email protected].

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