Head coach Missy Doherty is set for her 10th year at Penn State in 2020. Doherty's guidance has seen Penn State reach seven straight NCAA Tournaments and four NCAA Quarterfinals in that timespan including Penn State’s first Final Four in 17 years during the 2016 season. Doherty guided the Nittany Lions back to the Final Four in 2017.
In 2019, the Nittany Lions went 8-9 including a 3-3 mark in Big Ten play and reached the Big Ten Semifinals. Penn State earned wins over No. 11 Towson and No. 21 Johns Hopkins. The Nittany Lions won four of their final six games of the regular season.
Penn State played its first season in Panzer Stadium, opening the venue with a 15-5 win over Lehigh. The Nittany Lions won five games at home, including victories against Towson (13-7), Lehigh, Albany (11-9), Ohio State (21-5) and Rutgers (18-7). Three Nittany Lions earned All-Big Ten honors, including junior Maria Auth and seniors Kayla Brisolari and Reilly Masterson. Brisolari and Masterson collected IWLCA All-Region selections. Brisolari was selected for the IWLCA Senior All-Star Game and was drafted No. 12 overall in the WPLL Draft by the WPLL Brave.
Brisolari led the Big Ten with 1.53 caused turnovers per game. Auth led the Nittany Lions with 46 points (32 goals, 14 assists), while junior Quinn Nicolai led the squad with 34 goals. Brisolari added 31 goals, while pacing PSU with 37 ground balls, 73 draw controls and 26 caused turnovers. Freshman Taylor Suplee ranked second in the Big Ten in saves per game (9.71), third in saves (165) and third in save percentage (.481).
In 2018, Doherty led her team to an NCAA Tournament appearance for the seventh straight year. The Nittany Lions went 10-10 and reached the Big Ten Championship game. Penn State went 3-3 in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions knocked off four ranked opponents, including No. 17 Cornell, No. 22 Johns Hopkins, No. 6 Virginia and No. 7 Northwestern.
The Nittany Lions tied the team record with 303 goals on the season. Three Nittany Lions earned IWLCA All-America honors, including senior Katie O'Donnell (First Team), junior Madison Carter (Second Team) and Kayla Brisolari (Third Team). O'Donnell was a Second Team All-America selection by Inside Lacrosse and was named Big Ten Midfielder of the Year, the first in program history, before being drafted 4th overall by the New England Command in the WPLL Draft. O'Donnell finished her career ranking fourth all-time at Penn State in goals (203) and sixth in points (227). Carter and Brisolari joined O'Donnell as All-Big Ten and All-Region selections. Carter led PSU with 62 goals and Brisolari had 10 goals and 76 draw controls. Sophomore Maria Auth led the team with 71 points, including 54 goals.
In 2017, Doherty's team went 17-4 finishing second in the Big Ten and securing the second most single-season victories in program history and the most since 1989 when Penn State went 19-1. Doherty coached three IWLCA All-Americans during the 2017 season including the program's 43rd First-Team All-American, Steph Lazo, and the first in 13 seasons. Katie O'Donnell and Madison Carter earned second-team recognition.
The Nittany Lions set program records for goals with 303 and points with 427 while their 124 assists were the second most in a single-season in program history. Penn State earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and hosted the first three rounds advancing to its 11th Final Four in program history at Gillette Stadium.
In 2016, Doherty’s team went 14-7 finishing second in the Big Ten, but were upset in the first round of the Big Ten Championship Tournament by Northwestern, 9-6. Her squad earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and immediately caught fire outscoring their opponents 38-23 en route to the Final Four where they came up just one goal shy, bowing out to eventual National Champion North Carolina, 12-11. Doherty coached Madison Carter to the 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Year honor while two players earned IWLCA All-America status and five earned IWLCA All-Region accolades. Penn State finished fourth in the final IWLCA national poll.
Doherty has led her Nittany Lion teams to double-digit wins each year since stepping foot on the University Park campus including a 16-5 mark in 2015 while capturing the Big Ten Tournament Championship with a 13-11 victory over Ohio State.
During that 2015 season, Doherty earned Big Ten Coach of the Year, ECAC Coach of the Year and IWLCA Regional Coach of the Year accolades Penn State went 13-1 late in the season to reach the NCAA Quarterfinals and narrowly missed the program's first semifinals appearance in 16 years. Doherty coached three IWLCA All-Americans, six IWLCA All-Region players and five All-Big Ten honorees including Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year Emi Smith.
PSU has made five straight NCAA appearances under Doherty's watch, the most consecutive appearances at the school since 1993. The 16 wins in 2015 were the most since the 1989 national championship.
Following a pair of NCAA Quarterfinals appearances in 2012 and 2013, Doherty guided her Nittany Lions to a 10-8 overall mark and a third NCAA Tournament showing in 2014.
During Doherty's third year at the program's helm in 2013, Penn State continued its national ascension. The Nittany Lions reached the NCAA quarterfinals for the second straight season, making back-to-back appearances for the first time since a three-year span from 1995-97, and captured the program's most wins since 1999. Penn State, which went 14-7, also claimed a share of its first ALC regular-season championship with a 4-1 conference mark.
Under her guidance, Penn State defeated its highest ranked opponent since 2007 with a 16-11 upset victory against then-No. 2 Florida. The Nittany Lions, who were ranked as high as No. 6 for the first time since 2007, also finished a perfect 9-0 at home to complete their first undefeated home campaign since 1991.
In 2012, Doherty led Penn State to a 12-7 record, earning the program's most wins since 2005 and its third consecutive double-digit win season. Five of those wins came against ranked opponents, including three versus top-10 teams. Penn State excelled on the road in 2012, registering eight victories, the most by the Nittany Lions since the 1989 national championship team. Penn State received an at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA championship, advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1999.
In her first season at the helm of the collegiate women's lacrosse's second winningest program, Doherty led the Penn State to a 10-8 record and a second-place finish in the American Lacrosse Conference. The Nittany Lions knocked off four ranked opponents during the regular season and advanced to the semifinals of the ALC Championship.
In five seasons in Happy Valley, Doherty has coached 34 IWLCA All-Americans, 34 IWLCA All-Region athletes, 37 all-conference members, one CoSIDA Academic All-American, 28 IWLCA Honor Roll selections, one Big Ten Attack Player of the Year, one Big Ten Midfielder of the Year, one Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year and one Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
In seven years at Towson, Doherty built the Tigers into one of the top teams in the Colonial Athletic Association and into a nationally recognized and competitive program. At Towson, she posted an impressive 79-46 (.632) record, including five seasons with 13 or more victories, and led it to three CAA Tournament championships (2005, 2008-09) and a share of one CAA regular season title (2008). Doherty coached six All-Americans during her tenure, including Towson's first three-time honoree in program history.
In 2010, Doherty guided Towson to a season of unprecedented success, as the Tigers earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history and received their first-ever top 10 national ranking in the IWLCA Division I poll.
Prior to arriving at Towson, Doherty had a successful six-year stretch as an assistant coach at three different schools. At Princeton University, she was an integral member of the coaching staff that led the Tigers to NCAA championships in 2002 and 2003. During Doherty's tenure, Princeton compiled a 49-9 record and captured three straight Ivy League crowns.
Doherty also served two seasons at Brown University (1999-2000) after starting her coaching career at Vanderbilt in 1998.
A 1997 graduate of the University of Maryland, Doherty (nee Holmes) was a four-year letterwinning defender, helping the Terrapins claim three NCAA championships. Maryland was a dominant force in collegiate women's lacrosse during her career, amassing a remarkable 68-2 record, including an NCAA record 50-game winning streak. Also a standout in the classroom, Doherty was a three-time honoree on the ACC Academic Honor Roll.
In 2010, Doherty earned a master degree's in Biology from Towson University.
The former Missy Holmes, she is married to Brian Doherty. The couple has two sons, Evan and Nathan.