Before its win Sunday against Ohio State, the Penn State women's lacrosse team had an unexpected visitor in its locker room.
Nittany Lion basketball star Jamelle Cornley was there to provide the team with some inspirational words before its Senior Day matchup with the No. 13 Buckeyes.
Cornley said he was approached by lacrosse head coach Suzanne Isidor and asked to speak to the team before the game.
"She felt I was the most inspirational player on campus," Cornley said. "She asked if I could just come in and say a few words and share a couple of experiences to fire her team up."
Cornley explained to the team how important it was to defend its home field. He also told the underclassmen on the team to play as hard as they can for the seniors and make sure their last home game was a memorable one.
Although the basketball season ended earlier this month, the senior used the leadership quality that has endeared him to so many Penn State fans and motivated the lacrosse team to a victory over a conference foe.
"We already had a lot of motivation," senior attacker Marisa Lozano said, "but having the confidence of another fellow athlete was definitely inspirational to us going into that game."
Because the Lions were playing the Buckeyes and Cornley is a native of Columbus, Ohio, he gave the pre-game speech with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. Although he grew up in Columbus, Ohio State did not recruit him, so he always relished the chance to get back at the school that showed no interest in him.
Cornley said the Lions' opponent provided a little extra incentive for the speech.
"That's where I'm from," Cornley said. "I was unable to beat Ohio State in my career from a basketball standpoint, but they told me they were gonna try their hardest to win that game not only for themselves, but for me."
Cornley's words seemed to do their job as the Lions came out firing against the Buckeyes and jumped on them early. The intensity that Cornley brings to the basketball court could be seen in the faces of the players on the lacrosse field.
At one point in the game, two Penn State defenders forced a turnover and celebrated by emphatically hitting their sticks together. For the entire game, the Lions played with an intensity that had not been seen earlier in the season by coach Suzanne Isidor.
"I talked to him before he talked to the team about what our goals were and what we're trying for the season," the coach said. "We talked about toughness and he talked about doing everything you can on the field."
Goalie Stephanie Ellis said it wasn't hard for Cornley's intensity to rub off on the players.
"He's a senior, and he might not be the most skilled," Ellis said. "He's not the best basketball player ever, but he makes the energy on the court and the energy in the [Bryce Jordan Center] contagious."
Isidor described the choice to have Cornley come in as an easy one. The leadership he demonstrated during his team's championship run was all Isidor needed to know what kind of motivator Cornley can be.
The coach added that Cornley's example should stretch beyond athletics, and every Penn Stater should look at the basketball player as a role model.
"He's done such a good job of representing himself and Penn State this year and in his career," Isidor said. "He's definitely someone who I think everyone on campus who has seen the basketball team play would look up to and is inspired by."