The daily collegian. (University Park, Pa.) 1940-current, December 09, 2010, Image 10

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    10 I Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010
Senior pair proves vital to season’s finish
By Andrew Robinson
Shortly after her final season
with the Penn State women’s soc
cer team had ended, Megan
Monroig was talk- ====^=== __
ing with former WOMEN - S
teammate Katie wulvltN 5
Schoepfer about SOCCER
the year Monroig ——
had just gone
While Monroig and forward
Dani Toney were the only seniors,
the co-captain realized they had
accomplished something this past
year. And as Schoepfer put it, it
wasn't bad for what was supposed
to be a rebuilding year.
“[Schoepfer] said, ‘When you
think about it, you guys had a good
season,’ “ Monroig said. “ ‘Yeah
you had that skid where you lost
five games, but you had two sen
iors, you had how many freshmen
in your starting lineup sometimes,
how many sophomores?’ She said,
This is technically a rebuilding
year for you so the fact you guys
could still come out and win the
Big Ten was huge.’ “
Though they were a small sen
ior class, Toney and Monroig were
instrumental in the late-season
surge that led the Lions to their
record 13th straight Big Ten title.
Despite being housemates and
the closest of friends, the seniors
brought drastically different styles
of leadership to the field.
Teammates called Toney more
of a lead-by-example type of play
er. someone who let their play on
the field make their statements.
While Monroig also played with
that mentality, the senior was also
Veteran safety Polamalu serves as Steelers’ closer
By Alan Robinson
Braves once prized Oregon high
school athlete IToy Polamalu as a
prospect.- even
though they knew ..p.
his heart was in
They loved his
speed and. most of all, how he
played with enthusiasm, passion
and a determination to win.
Polamalu has long since estab
lished himself as one of the NFL's
premier defensive players, but it
seems as if he hasn't totally forgot
ten his baseball roots.
What Mariano Rivera is to the
Yankees. Polamalu is to the
Steelers. When a game needs to
1K& you know,
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the vocal leader of the team, one of
the loudest voices on the field and
in practice.
“If you combine them together,
which we were able to do this sea
son, you get a great leader with
the emotional side and the side
that’s going to say, ‘l'm going to
put the team on my back and
score a crucial goal,’ “ sophomore
Christine Nairn said. “Dani was
able to do that at the end of the
season and Mons is just a work
horse so we're definitely going to
miss Dani’s scoring and Mons'
emotional Penn State mentality of
working hard until you can't work
Even though the season had its
share of low points, none of it mat
tered on Nov. 7 when Ali
Schaefer’s double-overtime goal
ensured the seniors would leave
Penn State with a full set of four
conference championship rings.
Once the junior midfielder
scored, the team rushed the field
and the stadium erupted in eele
bration. except for Monroig who
was trying to clear the field, not
realizing the 17 seconds left on the
clock were moot. Once the realiza
tion set in. Monroig joined in the
“It was absolutely fantastic
once I realized what had hap
pened and everyone was rushing
the field." Monroig said. “Its one
of those feelings you can't put into
words. It's not one of those things
where we were like. We can't let
the streak end.' it was. We re a
new team, we're a new set of 2.1
players, let's win ourselves a Bia
Ten championship.' “
While they had to lead a young
team. Toney and Monroig had
be won, Polamalu is their closer.
Give him a situation to save a
game, and Polamalu often does it.
The five-time Pro Bowl safety
made one of the NFL's biggest
defensive plays of the season
Sunday in Baltimore, surging m
on quarterback Joe Flacco late in
the fourth quarter to tomahawk
chop the ball away and cause a
fumble that led to the Steelers
decisive touchdown and a !:■>■-to
It might have been the pla> ol a
career for a normal player, but
Polamalu certainly isn't that. He
made a similar game-altering play
the week before in Buffalo and
another earlier this season at
You’ve been seeing that from
him for years," safety Rvan ('lark
their own play to worry about as
well. With such a youthftil lineup at
times, Toney wasn’t able to repli
cate the scoring she had put up as
a junior, but still caught fire late in
the year.
For Monroig, the season saw
her lose her role as the starting
left back in late September, but
instead of wallowing in it, she
embraced her new position as an
outside midfielder and her crosses
became a dangerous weapon over
the last month of the season.
To Lion coach Erica Walsh, it
was an easy answer to the ques
tion of which players caught her
attention in the closing weeks of
the season.
“Down the stretch, undoubtedly
Dani and Mons. No question they
were the two that put us on their
backs." W'alsh said.
“They were going to make sure
that we gave the program a
chance to continue its successful
streak. There were games where
both of them played the best
games of their careers down the
Nairn said there's no way to
replace players such as Toney and
Monroig. but the midfielder added
the team's freshmen were able to
learn plenty of lessons from the
seniors. While Monroig didn't look
at this team as an extension of last
. ear's, the senior said getting that
last ling still meant a lot.
Just to have completed my full
set. it's absolutely fantastic,"
Monroig said. "This is definitely
my favorite just because of the
turnaround season that we did
have "
t mail reporter:
said. We try to put him in position
to where he can do that. You want
him to be comfortable, and he just
makes great plays."
The kind that can change the
• -curst' of a season.
i: tin Ravens (8-4) had held on
to their 10-6 lead, they would have
effectively led the Steelers (9-3) by
two games with four to play in the
AFC North. The Steelers would be
staring tit the likelihood of no
heme playoff games, and a diffi
cult t o-tr-averse, three-game road
trip !o the Super Bowl.
Instead, the Steelers lead the
division, own the tiebreaker and,
with a three-game homestand
about to begin Sunday against the
reeling Bengals (2-10), are in posi
tion to secure the No. 2 seed in the
AF<' playoffs and a first-round bye.
Megan Monroig celebrates Penn State's Big Ten title
In the last 18 seasons, under
coaches Mike Tomlin and Bill
Cowher. they've never once blown
a effusion lead this late in a sea
No wonder, with a closer like
Polamalu. He finished the Ravens
game with five tackles, a sack and
a forced fumble and twice caused
hurried throws bv Flacco.
"He's capable of doing that any
week against any opponent and all
season long, every week." said
Carson Palmer, the Bengals quar
terback who once was Polamalu's
roommate at Southern Cal. "He's
really made some very significant
plays in games at very significant
points in games."
The week before, with Buffalo
attempting to complete a potential
game-winning drive late in the
The Daily Collegian
fourth quarter. Polamalu
stretched out to make an intercep
tion near the goal line that eventu
ally sent the game into overtime,
where the Steelers won 19-16. It
was his fourth interception this
In Tennessee, he timed a
Titans' snap so perfectly on a goal
line play with barely a minute
remaining that he leaped over the
offensive line and sacked Kerry
Collins before Collins had taken a
To Tomlin, it wasn't just that
Polamalu turned the ball over with
Baltimore trying to run down the
clock, it was how he did it.
"A lot of guys would go in there
and sack the quarterback." Tomlin
said. “He sees the game a little dif