End of year Penn State sports wrap-up

Just for sake of completeness, I thought I’d give everyone a final wrap-up (OK asemi-final wrap-up – we still have a bowl game left but that’s next year 🙂 ) of the PSU Fall sports scene. My hospitalization three weeks ago got in the way of my weekend posts and it turns out my superstitious fears were justified.

In case you don’t remember, Penn State’s five fall sports programs (football, women’s volleyball, field hockey, and men’s and women’s soccer) had gone through an unprecedented Big Ten season. The teams each won a Big Ten championship going a combined 49-1 with the sole loss being the football teams last second loss at Michigan. Each of the teams advanced to post season play (the football team is headed to the Orange Bowl while the other four squads all competed in NCAA tournaments.

As I reported earlier, the #8 ranked Field Hockey team was the first to taste defeat when they lost to #6 ranked American University. As I’ve also previously mentioned, UncleLar niece Natalie Berrena (shown here with me during our Santa Crawl) was named first team All-American.

The next team to fall by the wayside was the men’s soccer team. The guys won their first two NCAA matches to make it to the Sweet Sixteen but fell to Creighton in a 3-1 loss at home. That loss happened while I was in the hospital.

The women’s soccer team had more success. The made it to the College Cup, soccer’s equivalent of the Final Four, the weekend after I was hospitalized. Unfortunately, the way that the College Cup draw worked, #2 ranked Penn State had to meet #1 ranked Portland in the semifinals. Both Penn State and Portland were undefeated going into their semifinal match and the consensus opinion was that the victor of this game would probably take home the national championship. The two teams battled to a 0-0 first half tie. This was the first time all year that Portland had been held scoreless in the first half of their game. That defensive battle continued as both teams failed to score in the second half also. They continued play through two 10 minute sudden death overtimes, so after 110 minutes of soccer play neither team was able to eke out a goal. They meant that the winner would be determined by a shoot-out. Portland’s two time Hermann Trophy winner (soccer’s equivalent to the Heisman trophy) nailed the final kick of the shootout to give Portland the 4-3 shootout win. Because the game ended in a shootout, it will go into the record book as a tie. That means that Penn State becomes the first undefeated team in NCAA soccer history to not win the title. As expected Portland went on to claim the crown with a 4-0 victory over UCLA two days later.

Two weekends after my operation, the women’s volleyball team took on Tennessee in the NCAA Regional Semifinal. The regionals were being held on Penn State’s home court and the #2 ranked Nittany Lions were huge favorites to win at home and advanced to the Final Four. Unfortunately, one of Penn State’s star players, Christa Harmotta, had gone down with a season ending injury in Penn State’s last home regular season match and the loss showed. Tennessee pulled off a huge upset knocking off Penn State in four games (that made three staight weekends where one of our teams lost – all no doubt due to my failure to make my regular weekend blog post). The Lady Vols then went on to beat Missouri the next day and advanced to the Final Four.

Two of UncleLar’s volleyball buddies did receive post season honors however. Senior libero Kaleena Walters (also shown here in a Santa Crawl photo) was named B10 Ten Defensive Player of the Year and third team All-American.

Senior setter Sam Tortorello (of course in a Santa Crawl photo) was a unanimous pick as B10 Player of the Year and was also named a first team All-American.

Since the bowl game is scheduled for next year, i.e. January 3rd, I thought this would a good time to make a year end wrap up. As promissed, you won’t have to put up with all these sports reports in the future (of course, that’s partially because our basketball team sucks so much – we did beat New Hampshire (sorry Shannon) this week though).