By Don Bell

ABINGTON, Pa. (CBS) — Something special is happening at the Penn State Abington campus — the women’s lacrosse team has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament after struggling mightily for years.

With a 12 -1 record, they’ll host the Northeast Athletic Conference Tournament. It’s the best season they’ve ever had, but their success is routed in two catastrophic losses early in the program’s history.

Noelle Powell, the Penn State University, Abington lacrosse head coach, said, “When Penn State Abington first introduced women’s lacrosse, they tagged Deb Andress as the head coach. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and we lost Deb three years ago. It was eight days after Deb passed away we lost one of our former players, Sara Sawick. Again, all within a week’s time.”

Two major members of the lacrosse family gone way too soon. Each year Deb Andress is honored with a 5K on Abington’s campus and her vision for the program remains in place.

“She was passionate about the game and teaching the game, not just coaching the game and I try to bring that every single day,” said Powell. “She reminded me to bring the joy to the game, and to let them love it every single day.

And love it they do. The players say the key to this year’s success is simple. They set a goal and worked together as a team.

Michaela Mast, a junior at PSU Abington, said, “I never imagined us being here just because we are such a new program that I didn’t think we would get here so quickly.”

Sophomore Marah Hayes said, “I think it basically started for day one, during preseason we all knew just knew we had the potential to make it this far. We all had the same goal of making it to the playoffs. It’s amazing to see that our hard work is paying off.”

Junior Bridget Meade added, “Playoffs is the goal. And we still all hold that goal. If you ask any of us, that would still be the goal, as of right now and as you can see we are on our way.”

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