Meet the Freshmen Series: Penn State Women’s Lacrosse
The Penn State women’s lacrosse program welcomed eight new faces to the field this fall. The Class of 2017 spans the East Coast with girls from New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania and one new member who comes all the way from Texas. A few transfers joined the team this year as well, but assistant coach Brooke Matthews believes this year’s freshmen class is special and a group that can make a difference.
During her most recent interview with ComRadio, Matthews stated that the freshmen’s biggest challenge is, “adjusting to college ball.” With the exception of a few injured freshmen, Matthews and the rest of the coaching staff have been using the team’s newest members in the midfield. Although only three of the eight freshmen actually play in the midfield regularly, Matthews believes this is the best way to push them.
“They need to adjust to the speed and quickness of college lacrosse and by playing them in the midfield we can push them and they can get the most reps.”
This year’s freshmen class is not only extremely talented, but also versatile, playing all positions spanning from attack, defense, midfield and goalie.
The women’s lacrosse team will have three goalies this year, including freshman Cat Rainone. Matthew’s stated, “All three girls are great options, and having this many goalies creates great competition for determining a starter.”
Rainone is a native of Newton Square, Pennsylvania, and was a member of the Ultimate Goal Lacrosse club team. While in high school, Rainone was a two-time captain and four year starter for the varsity squad.
The program also welcomed two of Bel Air, Maryland’s top recruits this fall. Abby Smucker and Sarah Piazza have been playing together for years, and the next four years will be no different. Piazza and Smucker were teammates at C. Milton Wright High School and they also played club lacrosse together for NEMS (North Eastern Maryland Select).
Piazza is a strong defender who led her high school team to four state tournaments. She was a two-year captain and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. As a senior, Piaza earned a spot on the Under Armor Baltimore Team and Baltimore Metro First Team.
Smucker’s decision to attend Penn State was an easy one…she is the seventh member of her family to become a Nittany Lion. Smucker was one of the top midfielders in the 2013 recruiting class and she was named a Baltimore Sun Player to Watch her senior year. While in high school, she was named team MVP twice and earned US Lacrosse All-America honors.
Taylor Bleistein is a defender from Bayville, New York. Although Bleistein is expected to be one of Penn State’s top defenders this spring, while in high school she recorded 230 goals and 110 assists during a six-year varsity career. Beleistein played club lacrosse for on one of the top programs in the country, the Long Island Yellow Jackets. She led her club team to multiple tournament championship appearances and she was the MVP of her high school team in 2013.
Megan Callaghan is the sole attacker and non-East Coast native of this year’s freshmen class. Callaghan is from Dallas, Texas, and was a four-year varsity starter for her high school. She was a team captain her senior year and earned all-state honors as a junior after scoring a total of 53 goals.
Midfielder Steph Lazo became one of the team’s four sets of sisters this fall, when her sister, Dani Lazo transferred from Louisville. The younger Lazo is from Stevensville, Maryland, and is known for her standout speed. Matthews and other members of the coaching staff have praised Lazo for her quickness and believe it will make a great impact on the team. She was named to the 2013 Under Armor All South All America Team and was a two-time varsity team captain at St. Mary’s High School. As a senior she tallied 51 points and earned all conference honors and team MVP.
Natalie Schmitt is midfielder from Malvern, Pennsylvania. She lead Archbishop High School to four straight championships and she was named a US All American her senior year. In 2012, Schmitt was honored as a US Lacrosse High School All-America athlete. Schmitt is known on the lacrosse field for her speed as an attacker, but strong defending abilities in the midfield. Schmitt’s versatility is expected to be a great asset for the team this spring.
Jane Truffer is a defender from Arnold, Maryland, who has been praised for ability to quickly adapt to the speed of the college game. Truffer played lacrosse at Archbishop Spalding High School and played with teammate Steph Lazo for the Maryland United club team. Truffer was a four-year starting defender on the varsity squad and helped lead her team to a ten-win improvement from 2011-2013. While at Spalding, Truffer was honored with the C. Markland Kelly Award for her sportsmanship, leadership abilities, and talented play on the field. Truffer’s uncle attended Penn State and her grandfather was also a member of the Nittany Lion football team.
Brooke Matthews has high hopes for the freshmen class and hopes they will make a difference on the field this spring. Matthews stated, “There is great chemistry on the team this year and everyone is working well as a unit.”
The freshmen received a lot of playing time during the fall ball season and they are expected to improve in practices leading up to the season. There will be many new faces on the women’s lacrosse team this spring, but even more new talent on the field when the season kicks off.
Maddie Brightman is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism and Spanish
Maddie Brightman is the General Manger of ComRadio and a reporter and producer for the Centre County Report. A member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, Maddie was recently a part of reporting trips to Cuba and Super Bowl 50. At ComRadio, she also serves as a producer for multiple Penn State sports has done play by play for Penn State football, baseball and lacrosse.