By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 17 Penn State men's lacrosse team (8-6, 2-3 Big Ten), takes on No. 3 Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Thursday.
Maryland, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, edged the No. 4 seed Penn State in April, with an 11-10 overtime win in Happy Valley.
Throughout the regular season, head coach Jeff Tambroni emphasized that the Nittany Lions were working towards more consistency, something he explained is still a work in progress.
"The consistency remains to be seen but there's no better time throughout the course of the season to have consistency than right now as we enter playoffs," said Tambroni.
The Nittany Lions will also build momentum off of last Saturday's win against Michigan to propel them into the post season. The dominant 14-9 win has given Penn State the last bit of motivation it needs after three tough losses in a row.
"It's that time of the year you hope to see these guys starting to peak in terms of their potential and I think we've got some guys who are really starting to bust out and that's what you hope happens toward the later part of the regular season going into playoffs," said Tambroni. "You hope you can get on a little bit of a run and allow these guys to enjoy all the work they've put in."
Tambroni indicated that with the shortened week between games, the coaching staff instead of changing strategies has encouraged the team to remain confident in their abilities.
Taking on the No. 1 team in the tournament presents its challenges, but also opportunities for the Nittany Lions. Playing a familiar team has allowed Penn State to prepare accordingly; something that Tambroni said he knows will help the Nittany Lions' performance.
At attack, the talented trio of freshman Grant Ament, junior Nick Aponte, and senior TJ Sanders will remain a strong presence, while other contributors like junior Matt Florence will be used during certain times that play to their strengths, such as on the man advantage. Florence is tied for third on the team in goals with Ament, both with 19. Sanders leads the team with 27, and Aponte is a close second with 26.
Tambroni will be looking toward his defensive players to remain strong against Maryland's relentless offense, but knows players like junior Peter Triolo and senior James Chakey are up to the task. Chakey collected 21 ground balls during the regular season and Triolo collected 14.
Lastly, sophomore goalkeeper Will Schreiner will hold down the defense in net. Schreiner made 123 saves during the regular season, and averaged a .469 save percentage.
"If you look on paper it's a first-team All-American going against [Schreiner] who wasn't projected to be a starter coming into this year," said Tambroni of the goalkeeper matchup. "If you look at save percentage you'd say that Maryland has the advantage, so we have to do a good job at protecting Will in the goal but also trusting Will."
The trust Tambroni has in Schreiner stems from his confidence that has built up throughout the season, as well as his leadership on defense. A starting goalkeeper as a sophomore, Schreiner has stepped into the pivotal role of being the backbone for the team and has improved with every performance.
"He's done a decent job at saving the ball, especially when we give up shots that are realistic saves," said Tambroni. "We will expect no different this weekend, but if we're going to beat Maryland, a team that is talented at both ends, we're going to have to hope for one of Will's better games if not his best game of the year."
Penn State faces off against Maryland Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Baltimore. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The job search is difficult for any student in college, especially one playing a Division I sport. For the Penn State softball program that search has gotten a little easier, as Lee Beard and Elizabeth King have created a program to help current Nittany Lion softball players have future success in the real world.
First, Lee Beard and her husband, William Beard, donated funding to create the brand new softball facility in October of 2009. Now, Lee is positively affecting the futures of the players by donating her time.
"The program that we've set up is really about providing networking, opportunities and some instruction, as well as mentoring for the softball team," said Beard.
The idea was formulated by head coach Amanda Lehotak, who reached out to Beard and King last year in an effort to ensure future success for her student-athletes down the road. Only less than a year from its conception, the program has already assisted many of the girls with gaining jobs and internships for this upcoming summer and beyond.
Two seniors, Macy Jones and Christy Von Pusch, are going to be working at the same supply chain rotational program in North Carolina and will be roommates. Senior Shannon Good will be attending Upstate Medical University in the fall. Junior Sam Shanahan has accepted one of two offered internships in her home state of Washington at the University of Washington giving Sports Nutrition counseling to the student-athletes there. Meanwhile, star pitcher and junior Marlaina Laubach has decided she will be working with children with autism, helping out in a special education program.
The program consists of frequent meetings about building LinkedIn profiles, resume workshops and etiquette dinners, among other things. All of these skills are being taught by Lee and Elizabeth, who have extensive experience in the fields of banking and human resources.
"Its been really helpful, the entire process, with both Elizabeth and Lee," said senior Reina Furuya, who is in the process of interviewing for her next step post-college.
"Elizabeth has been a successful VP with Starbucks for 18 years now. Having that direct contact with her, learning her tips and [having them look] at our resumes and [having them] follow us through the entire process has been very helpful," she added.
King reflected on why she is lending a helping hand and why it is important for alumni to give back.
"When I was a student-athlete, there wasn't a program like this, and I think what has happened over the years is as the student part of the student-athlete has become more and more important. Coaches like Coach Lehotak understand how critical it is to provide resources to the students to get them ready for after college."
The tradition that Beard and King have started with the softball program will likely spread to other Penn State sports, as the duo have also helped a Penn State swimmer better her skills during her interview process.
Beard and King lending their time and effort to the softball team not only is helping the student-athletes themselves, but will also serve to help the community where these talented individuals will find themselves later on down the road.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When Levi Brown began looking at colleges as a
high school student-athlete at Granby High School in Norfolk, Va., he had a
couple things in his mind.
Firstly, Brown knew that no one in his family had ever obtained a college degree.
Secondly, he wanted to play on the defensive line in college.
Looking for a combination of academics and athletics, Brown leaned on his high school coach, Dave Hudak, for advice. It turns out that Hudak was fan of the way Penn State and coach Joe Paterno offered student-athletes elite academics and football at the highest level.
"It was a place where academic integrity and football could be put into one," Brown said. "Growing up in a house where I was taught that sports were a good thing to have, but education was more important than that. I felt like this was a place I needed to be. The stars aligned and everything worked out."
Following the guidance of his parents and coach, Brown selected Penn State as the place he wanted to attend. After all, it was one of just three programs that recruited Brown as a defensive player.
When he walked on campus as a student, Brown knew he had the opportunity of a lifetime and sought out to maximize what he had been given. That mindset began in 2002 when he started college. Nearly 14 years later, and Brown is still maximizing the Penn State experience.
After earning two undergraduate degrees and a successful career in the National Football League, Brown will graduate with a master's degree this week.
"My parents wished they had the opportunity to get a college degree and a chance to make more income and have a better life than what they grew up in," said Brown. "They instilled that into my sister (Brionna) and I. They urged us to go get an education and make our lives as good as they can be."
Knowing his football career could end at any moment, Brown worked tirelessly to achieve whatever was necessary to have a successful life after his playing days ended. From the moment he arrived, Brown still recalls words of wisdom Coach Paterno instilled in him.
"Coach Paterno reinforced the fact that football is here in the present, but it's just a game," said Brown. "There are more important things in life, and you need to be contributing member in society. Education is one way to do that. Having people like my family and Coach Paterno in my corner really pushed me to be a better person so that I could do these things in my life."
Things didn't exactly come easy for Brown in his first year at Penn State. Staring at becoming academically ineligible to compete on the football field, Brown turned to Todd Kulka and the academic support staff as mentors to help shape the rest of his time in the program. It was the first time in his life he'd been away from home, and the transition into college life was entirely new for the North Carolina native.
"It came to down to me bearing down and focusing on what I needed to do," said Brown. "If you wanted to be serious about getting a degree, you needed to focus. Having the academic staff in my corner really helped me turn things around that first year. And I just grew from there."
On the field, Brown overcame the hurdle of switching positions, something he wasn't too keen on at the time. But Coach Paterno had a vision for Brown as an offensive lineman. He knew that Brown could be successful, and in hindsight, it's safe to say that Brown can't really argue with the decision.
After redshirting in 2002, Brown started 45 of his 48 career games on the offensive line, earning second-team All-American and All-Big Ten honors in back-to-back seasons (2005 and 2006). Brown was instrumental in helping Penn State win the 2005 Big Ten Championship and the 2006 Orange Bowl, earning a 20-5 record his last two seasons.
After three and a half years, Brown graduated with a degree in labor and industrial relations in December 2005. Rather than take the easy way out and have a light class load as a senior, he sought to finish a second degree.
"When I went college, I just felt like, 'look, I'm here and I need to make the most of this opportunity,'" said Brown. "I'm getting a free education and you get to play a sport that I loved. I tried to make the most of my opportunities."
In December 2006, Brown earned his second undergraduate degree in psychology. He then shifted attention to a master's degree.
"I told myself, if I'm going to be here, I'm not going to just take a golf course just to be eligible," said Brown. "I wanted to make the most of it, and see what I could do with the opportunity. It worked out."
The standout left tackle got a jumpstart in the master's program for human resources and employment relations because he had some room for a couple course spots to fill. A full course load in a master's program leads to completion in two years.
However, that third degree took a backseat when Brown was selected by the Arizona Cardinals as the fifth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, which is the highest Penn State selection during the past 15 years. In seven NFL seasons (six with Arizona and one in Pittsburgh), Brown played in 81 career games, which included 79 starts at tackle.
Despite making a living in the pinnacle of the sport he loved, Brown always had the master's degree on his mind.
Through the National Football League's tuition reimbursement program, Brown decided to finish what he had started in 2007. So in 2011, he began taking one master's course via Penn State's World Campus during each offseason. Brown worked as an intern at a law firm during the process, and he recently finished the research portion of the program by assisting a company with its human resource practices.
"With the NFL reimbursing it for me, there was no reason not to take advantage," said Brown. "At any time during my career, I could have gotten injured and cause my career to be cut short and not be able to make the money I was able to make. I needed to have something to fall back on if things didn't go the way I planned. That's what I did, and here I am ready to finish the masters program."
Having been part of a team nearly his whole life, Brown has aspirations of continuing to help lead individuals in the workforce by getting a foot in the door to do human resources work with a company.
Brown has been married to his wife, Lynette, since 2009. The two met at Penn State. Currently in the process of moving from Chandler, Ariz., to Austin, Texas, the Browns have three children, twin daughters, age 3, and a seven-month-old daughter.
When he opted to attend Penn State, Brown told himself that he was not going to pass up an opportunity to succeed. As the first member of his family to earn a degree, Brown will now have three diplomas from a world-renowned educational institution.
Penn State and football opened the door, but it was Brown's drive and initiative that fueled a journey maximized to its fullest.
"If you are going to start something, you need to finish it," said Brown.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the 26th time, at least five Nittany Lion
football products were selected in the NFL Draft.
Austin Johnson, Christian Hackenberg, Carl Nassib, Anthony Zettel and Jordan Lucas were each selected as part of the 2016 NFL Draft, which was held in Chicago over the weekend. In total, there have now been 343 total selections for Penn State in the NFL Draft.
Take a look at highlights and more from the busy weekend with Penn State and the NFL Draft.
Round 2 (Pick 43) - Austin Johnson - Tennessee Titans
Round 2 (Pick 51) - Christian Hackenberg - New York Jets
Round 3 (Pick 65) - Carl Nassib - Cleveland Browns
Round 6 (Pick 202) - Anthony Zettel - Detroit Lions
Round 6 (Pick 204) - Jordan Lucas - Miami Dolphins
Welcome to Miami, Jordan Lucas! pic.twitter.com/qPPMdZ1gfH-- Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) April 30, 2016
"I'm happy to be a Dolphin and I'm ready to work."https://t.co/aQXL3uPZ4N-- Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 1, 2016
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 18 Penn State men's lacrosse team (8-6, 2-3 Big Ten) defeated Michigan (3-10, 0-5 Big Ten), 14-9 on Saturday afternoon, securing a spot in the Big Ten Tournament. Contributions from several attackers were key for the Nittany Lions in their last regular season home game.
Junior attacker Nick Aponte reached for the ball in mid air, and the pass from freshman attacker Grant Ament found Aponte's stick. Dodging around a defender, Aponte threw the ball over his shoulder and it found the back of the net.
Aponte had scored his fourth goal of the game, with 11:39 left to go in the third quarter. On that goal, Ament picked up his third assist of the game.
In total, Aponte had four goals and one assist, while Ament had four assists and one goal.
The duo of Aponte and Ament have been on a hot streak recently, due in part to their innate ability to communicate almost seamlessly. Combined this season, the two have 45 goals and 51 assists.
Aponte is second on the team in goals with 26, edged only by senior attacker TJ Sanders who has 27. Ament leads the team in assists with 32 in the regular season.
"It's been really fun playing with him and learning from him," said Ament of Aponte. "Obviously because he's a little bit older and I've been learning some of his moves and vice versa."
Head coach Jeff Tambroni has also noticed the pair's success, and credits the young players' drive for pushing them through a tough middle part of the season. Penn State lost the last three games by just one goal, and bouncing back against Michigan was key to securing a spot in the Big Ten Tournament.
In addition to Aponte and Ament's success, Tambroni noted how he believed Sanders had stepped up his game and was more aggressive at attack on Saturday, which contributed to success on offense.
"I think those guys individually have been good all year so it was great to see those guys play a little bit more in collaboration with one another," said Tambroni.
Tambroni explained how he believed Sanders hadn't been playing up to the standards he'd set for himself, but against Michigan came out strong and finished off Senior Day with a win. Sanders had three goals and two assists.
"He was involved much more around the ball, not just shooting," said Tambroni. "I think as a senior it was great to walk off the turf here this afternoon with that kind of performance. His leadership in the offensive end was one of the biggest attributes of today's game."
After securing the win over Michigan, the Nittany Lions now look forward to the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Johns Hopkins will host the tournament, which starts on Thursday.
For now, the Nittany Lions will use the shorter week to reset and prepare.
"We needed that win after three straight losses," said Ament. "We do the simple things very well. We're obviously not the flashiest team, we're a hardworking team and that's what's got us in position for some good wins and I think if we got back to those simple things and just play hard and play smart the rest will kind of take care of itself."
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (25-20) dropped two of three to Big Ten foe Maryland (24-19) and now rests in seventh place in the conference over the weekend.
In the second game of the series, senior closer Jack Anderson completed a four-out save to place himself among Penn State's all-time elite relief pitchers. The save marked the 23rd of his career, breaking the record for most saves in school history.
"It's an honor to have my name in there," Anderson said. "But I think saves are really more of a team stat and a team record because I wouldn't be put in that position if I didn't have great guys around me. It's kind of a record that I hope is broken fairly shortly because then it would mean we're winning a lot of games and staying really competitive in the near future."
"This is the oldest sport on campus, and he's the all-time saves leader. That's a pretty cool thing," said head coach Rob Cooper.
Anderson has registered a 0.63 ERA this season, which would rank as the lowest in the country if he were qualified. He has pitched 42.2 innings in Penn State's 45 games, but Anderson would need to match his innings total with the team's games played to be qualified for lowest ERA.
In the opening game of the series, Penn State's bats were quieted by Maryland's starting pitcher Mike Shawaryn in a 7-1 loss. Shawaryn pitched a complete game and held PSU to four hits while striking out six.
"It was a well-pitched game by him," Cooper said. "But I thought our guys continued to stay in the game, continued to battle, and we competed. We got to have a short-term memory and turn around tomorrow."
Seemingly the only Nittany Lion to find success against the hard throwing right hander was second baseman Connor Klemann. He ripped a double and a single in his first two at-bats, but PSU couldn't capitalize on either opportunity.
"You got to hit early in the count because when you get late in the count [Shawaryn] mixes it up real good," said Klemann. "The key for that guy was just jumping on stuff early."
Klemann has started only 16 games and has appeared in 21 this season, but he has been productive when he's on the field. The freshman owns a .315 batting average and has totaled 17 hits in his first year.
Nick Riotto and Ryan Sloniger were the only other Nittany Lions to notch hits in the game, and Tyler Kendal provided the team's lone RBI. Riotto, in his first game back from a hand injury that kept him out a few games, also made a full-stretch diving catch in the first inning to save a run.
Taylor Lehman started on the hill for the Blue and White and pitched four innings, giving up three earned runs and five total. Tom Mullin added four innings of relief and held the Terrapins scoreless until an eighth inning homerun.
"I'm so proud of [Mullin]. He pitched his tail off," Cooper said. "He went a big chunk of the season without seeing the mound, and he kept working and kept fighting. He kept us in that game."
Penn State came out with a sense of urgency in game two. It wasn't until the 22nd batter of game one that PSU was able to get a run across. In game two, it only took one batter and one swing.
On the sixth pitch Riotto saw, the junior belted an inside fastball over the right field wall to waste no time getting Penn State on the board. It was his second homerun of the season.
Riotto and Jim Haley led the charge with two hits apiece in game two. They have the highest batting averages among PSU starters in 2016.
It wasn't until the eighth inning when PSU was able to tack on an insurance run, but that was enough to pull out the 2-0 shutout.
Starter Sal Biasi turned in a solid performance to improve his record to 5-4 on the season. Biasi pitched five and two-thirds innings, surrendering four walks but holding the Terps scoreless.
In relief, Dakota Forsyth tallied two innings behind Biasi and Anderson closed the door for the save. It marked Anderson's Big Ten leading 11th save of the season.
Maryland threw the first punch in game three of the weekend series. The Terrapins tallied four runs in the first four innings off PSU starter Justin Hagenman and cruised to an 8-3 victory.
Hagenman suffered only his second loss of the season. He pitched an effective six innings giving up just two earned runs, but a few errors in the early innings and another silent offensive game doomed the Nittany Lions.
Throughout the game, Penn State totaled four errors that led to four unearned runs, but Hagenman still kept PSU in the game. Hagenman has gotten used to dealing with errors all season. Out of the 40 runs he has allowed this year, 18 of them are unearned.
"It doesn't faze him," Cooper said. "He does it the way you want most of your pitchers to do it, like 'Hey you know what, now I got a chance to pick up my infielder.' He's very mature and he understands that's not in his control."
The offense struggled yet again as Maryland starter Brian Shaffer recorded the win, surrendering only four hits and two runs in seven innings of work. Maryland needed just five pitchers the entire series.
The Nittany Lion bats managed just four hits total in game three and five runs in the series. Greg Guers led Penn State with two hits in game three, while James Coates and Willie Burger recorded RBIs.
Burger's two RBIs over the weekend pushed total to 32 on the year. He leads the team in that category even though the freshman missed 15 games due to injury.
The Nittany Lions have five days off to prepare for perennial powerhouse TCU's visit to Happy Valley next weekend. The Horned Frogs stand at 29-11 and are ranked ninth in the country.
By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK. Pa - As shortstop, Reina Furuya is always busy on the diamond. She's constantly running between second and third base, trying to prevent as many hits as possible from crossing over into the outfield.
She was especially busy in Penn State's (28-21, 13-7) three games against No. 2 Michigan, but none more so than in game one on Friday night, a close 4-2 loss to the visiting Wolverines.
With a steady rain coming down onto Beard Field, the senior shortstop dropped a popup to shallow left field, when it fell into her glove and popped right back out.
But the Hawaii product didn't let it get to her head; the next time the ball was hit to her, she got the final out of the inning by running the ball herself to third base.
"That's what Reina does," head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "She does a great job, she took them out of a couple innings and we had that momentum shift because of her defensive play. It was huge how she played tonight. She played like a senior tonight."
On the other end of the spectrum, Lehotak also saw some good play from the next generation of Nittany Lions: freshmen Tori Dubois and Meghan Williams.
Dubois played in all three games, as the designated player (DP) in the first two and as catcher and right fielder in the third; she also caught for a few innings in game two. Williams was put at first base in game three, replacing Kristina Brackpool.
"It was important for them to get that game like experience and for them to get to see that kind of pitching," Lehotak said. "[They got] to kind of see what they have to work into and hopefully what they're going to be one day. We had a couple of injuries so we had to move some people around today but I was very impressed with their poise. So for our kids to have poise like that and to go after Michigan as freshmen is big."
Next up for Penn State is their final series of the season, when Illinois travels to Beard Field for a three game series next weekend. Game one is slated for Friday at 6 p.m.
By: Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- As the rain poured down over the lacrosse field yesterday evening, the Penn State Nittany Lions took on the undefeated Maryland Terrapins in a tough battle looking to tie for the top spot in the Big Ten. Although Penn State fell to Maryland with a final score of 10-9, the girls put up a tough fight and gave the Terrapins a run for their money.
Penn State is one of only two teams to get within one goal of Maryland in the final score this season, which just goes to show that the Lions made themselves a worthy opponent last night.
At the start of the game Maryland won the draw, bringing the ball down to Penn State's goal.
The Lions were able to gain back possession for a while, as a result of some slipping and falling due to the weather, but unfortunately, Maryland got the ball back and earned themselves the first goal of the game.
Maryland followed up with another two goals to bring the score to 3-0.
Penn State won the next draw allowing Jenna Mosketti to net a goal off an assist from Madison Cyr.
Another goal followed that at the hand of Steph Lazo as she came in from the side and beat out her defender to the net.
The team was proving that they could hold their own against the No. 1 team in the country, and they were able to maintain a close score throughout the game.
Lazo spoke about their performance against Maryland and how well they were able to keep up with the reigning Big Ten regular season champions.
"Maryland is number one and it's a great challenge to rise against, but we hung with them and I'm so proud of the team today," said Lazo.
Throughout the rest of the first half, both Maryland and Penn State each netted three goals apiece, with Penn State getting the last two goals of the half.
Going into halftime down only one goal, the team was feeling confident for what was to come in the second half, and the girls were ready to keep fighting hard on both sides of the field to keep up with their Big Ten rivals.
A huge contributing factor to the team's performance in the first half was the efforts of their defense and goalkeeper Emi Smith, who praised her team for helping her to succeed in stopping Maryland's shots.
"My defense did an insane job today; the shots I saw were because of them and they hustled the entire time and stopped a lot of Maryland's shooting opportunities," said Smith.
The second half did not start off in Penn State's favor, as Maryland scored the first goal of the half, once again bringing them further into the lead.
To follow that up Penn State was forced to play with a man down after senior Ally Heavens got a yellow card.
With the ball down by Maryland's goal, the girls passed it around until Heavens was back on the field.
With the all their girls back in play, Penn State pulled it together and netted another three goals, bringing the Lions into the lead.
A majority of those goals were with the help of Steph Lazo, who assisted both Jenna Mosketti and Kelly Daggett in pulling the team ahead.
Head coach Missy Doherty commended Lazo for her performance in the game and her ability to see her open teammates and feed them the ball, while also seeing opportunities for herself and being able to put away her own shots on goal.
Unfortunately, the girls were not able to keep their lead and Maryland scored three consecutive goals to bring back their lead.
Penn State got off one more successful shot to bring them within one goal of tying up the game, but despite their best efforts they were unable to tie up the game and force the contest into overtime.
Although they lost, the entire team and their coaches agreed that they played one of their best games all season last night.
"Losing isn't the greatest feeling, but to know that they are the number one team in the nation and that we can hang with them, that is great for us," said Lazo.
Next week the team will enter into postseason play in the Big Ten Tournament, and with that the team is noting the improvements they can make based off of tonight's game to come back and try to win another tournament title.
"I think we just really needed to put our shots away. We had some good looks on cage, but we didn't put our shots away," said Doherty.
Lazo also spoke of the improvements that can be made on the offensive end heading into the tournament.
"We're a very diverse and powerhouse offense and we just needed to stay calm and composed because we can get those shots," said Lazo.
The team will begin postseason play next week in their quarterfinal game of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday, May 5th at Northwestern. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before faceoff on Saturday against Michigan (3-9, 0-4 Big Ten), the Penn State men's lacrosse team (7-6, 1-3 Big Ten) will recognize seven graduating seniors for their dedication to the program.
Tommy O'Neill, Ryan Guittare, James Chakey, James Burke, TJ Sanders, John Von Nessen and Connor Darcey will all be honored. Matt Sexton will be returning next campaign after spending this season, his academic senior year, as a medical redshirt.
The class of 2016 entered Penn State with hopes and expectations for the future, as individuals and as members of the lacrosse program. None of them knew starting their journey that their class would have such an impact.
Overcoming adversity during every campaign, the seniors have learned to be humble through the good and determined through the bad, and have set the tone this season for the underclassmen. A class that leads by example, each one of the graduating seniors used their individual personalities to bring something unique to their leadership.
"I feel like coaching is one of the most rewarding professions," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "You have an opportunity as a pivotal age to be around young men and you grow from them and hopefully they grow from you. This particular group of young men, since they got to campus back in the fall of 2012, we have seen them grow up, but with this group I think it's been a little bit different based on the experiences they've gone through."
O'Neill, one of the captains this year, is a natural born leader who emulates maturity, head coach Jeff Tambroni explained. Alongside O'Neill, fellow captain Burke defined his role as a fierce competitor, unafraid of holding players accountable.
Guittare has become the face of persistence on the team. Securing a starting spot his sophomore year, then having to overcome the challenges to obtain that spot once again, has displayed Guittare's dedication to the team and determination within himself.
"When things aren't going well and you aren't playing it's more challenging to be selfless in your contributions," said Tambroni. "All of these guys are great teammates but [Guittare] has been selfless and mature through the latter part of his career and it's put him in a position where I would imagine he'd want to be, back on the field contributing at a very high level."
Von Nessen, who also had to overcome challenges of his own, has displayed his true love for the game of lacrosse since day one. Starting as a offensive midfielder, and moving to long-stick midfielder before settling in as a face off midfielder, Von Nessen has showed his versatility on the field, and willingness to step in where needed, two qualities of a player Tambroni greatly appreciates.
Chakey is the epitome of persistence, Tambroni explained. As Chakey navigated the difficult task of being a student-athlete over the past four years, he's also had to deal with regulating his Crohn's disease.
"I can't imagine he's ever had a day where he's felt 100 percent healthy, and you would never know it," said Tambroni. "What was going on underneath the skin was never what you saw outside and he always portrayed himself as a young man with great poise."
Sanders, who has made a name for himself on the field, isn't someone who should be judge solely on statistics. Sanders is a quiet leader that is tremendously talented, whose compassion for others fuels his love for the game of lacrosse and his teammates.
When asked what they'll miss most about their time with Penn State lacrosse, one moment came to mind for three seniors. Burke, O'Neill, and Chakey all agreed that what they'd miss most would be the time spent in the locker room after the team's 6 a.m. Friday morning workouts.
"Those workouts were brutal," said Burke. "That's definitely up there when it comes to memories."
Other players noted how on the field their favorite memories are between hosting the first round of the NCAA tournament their freshman year in 2013 and beating then-No. 1 Denver this past March.
The senior class knows their time at Penn State is almost up, but their season isn't over yet and the focus must remain on their final home matchup.
With no other games after the regular season guaranteed, the senior class knows Senior Day will be filled with emotions, but hope they can continue to set the tone for their teammates and focus on the bigger task at hand.
"It's tough knowing it's the last guaranteed game with these guys," said Chakey. "But it's awesome that it's Michigan because our first college game was against Michigan before the Big Ten even started. As a class we don't want to keep the focus on us we want to play as a team and we're really looking forward to it."
Penn State hosts Michigan on Saturday at noon. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.
By Michele Jaroszewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State baseball was back at Medlar Field on Wednesday facing Kent State for the second time this season.
The two teams played against each other exactly one week ago at Schoonover Stadium, with the Golden Flashes coming out on top in both games. With a late scoring by the Nittany Lions in the bottom of the eighth, the home team came up short falling 6-2.
The visiting team was first on the board in the top of the third inning, with a RBI single by Mason Mamarella. The centerfielder made the last pitch on a full count matter, cranking the ball into right field. Runner on base Luke Burch made it home after advancing to second on a ball and third on a wild pitch.
Mamarella got the next tally two batters later on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Dylan Rosa.
With four innings down and two runs on the board, Penn State's Eli Nabholz stepped up to the pitcher's mound to relieve starter Nick Hedge. In the top of the fifth, Rosa swung on the second pitch for a two run RBI single passing a diving Jim Haley at shortstop. Teammates Reilly Hawkins and Burch got the tallies making the score 4-0 Kent.
Pete Schuler was up next, hitting the same spot getting on first base after an infield error by Haley. Zalewski came off of second, picking up speed to make it home for the fifth run of the game.
Mamarella got his second RBI with a single that resulted in a triple. The batter singled a line driver into right field, later advancing to second then third on a fielding error by James Coates. Making this the final run for the Golden Flashes in the top of the sixth.
A change in the lineup was in favor of the home team, as relief pitcher Eli Martin started the top of the eighth inning. Haley was first on base finding the sweet spot in centerfield for a single. Tyler Kendall followed shortly after with another hit to left center, advancing Haley to third.
It wasn't until two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week Willie Burger stepped up to the plate to get a pair of runs for the Nittany Lions. The idea of a comeback shook Kent State, bringing in new pitcher Tim Faix for the last batter of the inning.
The Flashes saw three Nittany Lion pitchers in the span of three innings during the latter stages of the game. Nick Distasio came in for relief in the sixth, while Tom Mullin followed shortly after in the seventh, staying until the eighth. The game finished with Tim Scholly stepping in as the fifth and final pitcher for Penn State, holding the opponents until the end.
"We didn't do well getting on base to begin. Got to have opportunities to score runners," said Head Coach Rob Cooper about the teams' performance. "Their guy [Joey Murray] did a good job keeping us off balance."
Coach Cooper said that it was Murray's late life in his curve balls that threw off batters at the plate. Making the players chase for the balls. The winning pitcher had nine strikeouts and allowed four hits. Keeping the Lions of the boards for a sold seven innings.
"It was good, he had two different arm angles," said Tyler Kendall. "I think as a group we kind of let fast balls early and some breaking balls left. We were taking and put us in some holes. We're going to learn from it. Come back tomorrow, practice it, and be ready for the weekend."
As for the many faces at the pitcher's mound for Penn State, Cooper said that it was an initial plan to take Hedge out early in the game and have pitchers like Mullin and Scholly get more playing time.
"We wanted Hedge to get another start. Eli we knew we wanted him to touch the ball..." Cooper said. "We said all along that we got a deep bench and a lot of young guys that haven't as much playing time as they would like. Just trying to get some guys off their feet."
Both Cooper and players noted that Wednesday's game was not their best performance. With four fielding errors, the Nittany Lions are looking to reduce this number when playing Maryland in the next series.
"As a whole it was kind of a sloppy game. They're a good hitting team and they're a great pitching team, spotting them a couple of walks, errors, and some base running errors was not part of our game plan," Kendall said. "But it happens, its baseball. Everybody that made errors tonight is a good player and will come back tomorrow with confidence."
"At the end of the days it comes down to us. Come down to us taking care of ourselves, and it comes down to making sure that we do the things that we need to do," Cooper said. "Pitch well, get ahead of guys, and find a way to score. If we do that, it'll take us up against anything."
The first game of the Maryland series will start Friday at 6:30 p.m.
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