Team Culture Propels Penn State Women’s Lacrosse To Historic Victory

Penn State women’s lacrosse’s overtime thriller to upset No. 1 Northwestern Friday night not only marked a historic victory but was just what the team needed heading into the remainder of its season.

The Nittany Lions have had their share of ups and downs over the past few years with high rankings and disappointment like any other team, but they haven’t knocked off a No. 1 seed since March 19, 2005. At that time, Penn State was ranked No. 10 and offset Princeton, the current No. 1 seed at the time.

Miss Doherty’s team’s Friday night upset marked a change in the trajectory of the rest of the season for the Nittany Lions. Penn State has been in and out of the top 25 rankings this season and was unranked heading into the matchup with the Wildcats at Panzer Stadium.

With the triumph over Northwestern, Penn State is 2-0 in the Big Ten and has a long, exciting road ahead of it. The success was exactly what it needed to bring motivation and showcase its talent on a larger level.

“This win shows us that the season is nowhere close to over,” game-winning goal scorer Kristin O’Neill said postgame. “We viewed this game as an awesome opportunity to come out and show how good we are when we play 60 minutes, and it just shows that we can do this the rest of the year, and I’m really excited.”

Playing a No. 1 seed is never an easy task for a team. Players are forced to play the mental game and believe they’re capable of competing. This mindset starts with types of players like O’Neill and is representative of team culture as a whole.

O’Neill demonstrated once again why she is the dominant leader of this year’s team by producing an exceptional six goals, including the overtime free-position game-winner.

“Going into that last shot, I was just like, ‘Run as fast as you can off the line and shoot as hard as you can,’ and it worked out,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill’s shot was just one of many she took from the eight-meter, and the precision and composure with which she executed her final shot is one that few players in the collegiate scape can replicate.

O’Neill currently sits on the Tewaaraton Award watch list and continues to rack up Big Ten Midfielder Awards, among others, each week. Although she is continuing to be the driving force behind the team, she’ll rarely take credit for its success.

“Honestly, I was so calm the whole game even going into overtime, and I think that’s a reflection of my teammates and how much I trust them,” O’Neill said.

Ally is a first-year Public Relations major from York, PA and is one of Onward State’s social media editors. She is an avid lover of all things sports, the beach, and coffee! Find her on Twitter (@ally.eaton31) or in her inbox ([email protected])!

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