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Notebook Notebook

Corey Persson of Danvers thrives on Penn State soccer team

A scorer at Danvers High, Corey Persson stepped up on defense for Penn State.

Barry Chin/Globe Staff/File 2009

A scorer at Danvers High, Corey Persson stepped up on defense for Penn State.

Corey Persson fitting in at Penn State

When freshman Corey Persson joined the Penn State women’s soccer team last year, she was unsure of how her game would translate at a Division 1 school that was ranked No. 9 in the country during the preseason polls.

A heralded offensive player at Danvers High, Persson graduated with 103 goals scored, and set the Falcons’ all-time scoring mark with 140 points. But for the Nittany Lions, the midfielder cut her path on defense after preseason injuries left the team down two defenders.

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Coach Erica Walsh used Persson at left back to start the season, and her season included a start in the team’s third game against Stanford, which was ranked No. 1 nationally. Persson logged 1,730 minutes in 27 appearances (14 starts) as Penn State went 21-4-2 and advanced to the national championship game, a 4-1 loss to North Carolina.

“With the freshmen, so much happens on the first day of the fitness test,” Walsh said. “That will make or break you. [Persson] was fit, strong, and because of her upper body strength, she wasn’t pushed off the ball early on.

“We knew we’d be using her; the question was to what capacity and how often? Ten days into the preseason we lost two of our starting defenders. [Persson] played against Stanford, and had never played in the back line before. That feat alone was incredibly impressive.”

While her freshman season was memorable, Persson said she is eager to return for her sophomore season. With an abundance of experience, Persson is primed to make an impact on the field as Penn State hopes to return to the national championship.

“It was probably one of the most exciting seasons I’ve ever been a part of,” Persson said. “I think I learned a ton from all my new teammates I was playing with and the coaching staff.

“The only way to top it is to win a national championship. I’m not focusing too much on last season.”

With defenders Lexi Marton and Jackie Molinda out of the lineup for part of last season, Persson played alongside Kori Chapic , Whitney Church, and Bri Hovington . Transitioning to an unfamiliar position was difficult, but she said she felt welcomed by her back linemates.

“Being surrounded by all the players I was playing with, it brought my level up,” Persson said. “I was just in awe of how good everyone was — I just wanted to play as well as everyone else was playing.”

After her freshman season, Persson spent the summer home in Danvers and played for two club teams, the well-known FC Stars of Massachusetts and the Aztecs of the Women’s Premier Soccer League. On Tuesday, Persson will make her way to Penn State for the beginning of soccer workouts for a new season.

“It’s definitely very different, even different playing with a different team and not Penn State,” Persson said. “I’m excited to get back and see everyone again.”

Before coming to Penn State, Persson played with the FC Stars under coach Jason Dewhurst , who has won 15 Massachusetts state championships. When Persson committed to Penn State, Walsh said Dewhurst “instilled hard work, a good attitude, and qualities we were looking for.”

Those intangible assets are what most helped Persson assimilate at the collegiate level and will help her excel as her career continues, Walsh said.

“There was nothing she could have done to be prepared for what she did,” Walsh said. “She made mistakes, but her ability to press on and learn to apply what we were asking for her was spectacular.

“We will continue to encourage her in her willingness to communicate and her confidence to communicate with players around her. She is a staple of this team right now.”

Frisoli to coach lacrosse at Wagner

In the college football-obsessed state of Alabama, where the underlying question is whether you support the Crimson Tide or the Auburn Tigers, Winchester native Liz Frisoli has been introducing women’s lacrosse to Huntingdon College in Montgomery.

Women’s lacrosse had not been played an hour north, south, east, or west of Montgomery, but she managed to land 19 recruits in 2011-12, and led the team to an 8-6 record in its inaugural Division 3 season earlier this past spring.

At Huntingdon, Frisoli displayed an innate ability to teach the game and recruit athletes, which she calld her forte.

Her success garnered the attention of Wagner College athletic director Walt Hameline , who was searching for a coach for his Division 1 program in New York City. On July 17, Hameline named Frisoli as the next head coach for Wagner.

“He didn’t finish his sentence and I screamed yes into the phone,” Frisoli recalled. “It’s everything I ever wanted, back in the Northeast and back in Division 1. Wagner really fits me — it’s small, tight-knit, and all about family. The team has so much potential.”

Frisoli, who was a standout defender for Holy Cross, said she is excited to focus on recruiting and coaching.

“One of my friends who’s a head coach in Division 3 said your lacrosse knowledge and coaching ability accounts for only 2 percent of the job,” Frisoli said. “At the Division 1 level, I’m learning as I’m going, but I have a staff, two assistant coaches, and can truly focus on recruiting. I love that the administration is so knowledgeable and has high goals and expectations.”

Anthony Gulizia can be reached by e-mail at gulizia.ant@gmail.com.
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