It marks the highest preseason ranking in the poll for the Lady Lions since starting seventh during the 2003-04 season. Last season, Penn State started the season at No. 12 and peaked at No. 9.
The Lady Lions are the highest of four Big Ten teams ranked in the preseason Top 25, joining Nebraska (18), Ohio State (19) and Purdue (21). Penn State will face six teams in the preseason list. In addition to playing the Cornhuskers, Buckeyes and Boilermakers, the Lady Lions will also face Connecticut (2), Texas A&M (15) and Miami (24).
After claiming it sixth Big Ten regular-season title and making the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004, Penn State was chosen as the preseason favorite in the Big Ten in a vote of coaches and media. In addition, senior point guard Alex Bentley was selected as the coaches’ preseason Co-Player of the Year and preseason All-Big Ten first team by the media. Junior guard Maggie Lucas also was selected to the All-Big Ten preseason first team by both the coaches and the media. Bentley and Lucas are additionally among 25 players on the watch list for the State Farm Wade Trophy.
The Lady Lions play an exhibition game Nov. 3 against California, Pa., which is coached by former Penn State standout Jess Strom, and open the regular season Nov. 11 against Howard at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Single-game tickets for this season go on sale Monday.
PSU earns share of title
The No 5 Nittany Lions (15-3, 5-1) can claim the crown outright if No. 8 Northwestern (16-2, 4-1) loses to No. 12 Iowa (12-5, 3-2) today to close the regular season.
It marks the first time since 2008 Penn State has been at the top of the conference standings.
“I thought that they played a great second half,” head coach Charlene Morett said. “We were able to get more shots on goal and control the circle. I just think that we really played as a team in that second half. It was a great way to win a Big Ten Title.”
Taylor Herold scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, Lauren Purvis added a goal and an assist and one goal each came off the sticks of Laura Gebhart, Whitney Reddig and Brittany Grzywacz. Lauren Alwine and Hannah Allison each contributed assists.
Abby Baker was the only Spartan to break through the defense of goaltenders Ayla Halus and Kylie Licata. Halus made seven saves as the Lions outshot the Spartans 23-10.
Penn State next heads to the Big Ten tournament, which begins Nov. 1 at Iowa. The pairings will be determined after today's game.
Men's ice hockey
Lions score often against Pioneers
Michael Longo, Max Gardiner, Jonathan Milley, Nate Jensen, Mark Yanis and Curtis Loik all scored for the Nittany Lions (4-2), who were coming off a 5-0 win over Army on Friday. Michael McDonough collected three assists while Joseph Lordo had two and one each came from Jensen, Yanis, Eric Steinour, David Glen, Luke Juha, Casey Bailey and Connor Varley.
PJ Musico made 16 saves for his second victory of the weekend as the Penn State outshot Sacred Heart 31-19. The Nittany Lions also were 0-for-5 on power plays while the Pioneers (0-4-1) were 0-for-4.
Penn State, which jumped to a 3-1 first-period lead and never lost the advantage, travel to Fredonia State on Tuesday.