By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The pouring rain and physical Delaware attack couldn't slow down a dominant team performance by the Penn State men's lacrosse squad on Saturday night.
The conference foes didn't waste any time, each scoring a goal within the first four minutes of the opening period.
With four first-half lead changes, the contest started as an evenly matched battle, but the Nittany Lion took control after the break. The team exploded out of the locker room after halftime and scored four-third quarter goals on their way to a 13-9 win.
"We made a few adjustments at halftime but overall we stuck to our game plan," said senior captain Matthew Mackrides (Newtown Square, Pa.). "This win is exactly what we needed as a team and we came out and did it tonight."
Mackrides registered his 23rd, 24th,and 25th goals of the season on Saturday night, making it the ninth multi-goal game of the season for the senior.
The captain was one of five Nittany Lions finding the back of the net against the Blue Hens, and four of those five put up multi-goal performances.
"We knew we needed to come out hot in the second half," said sophomore attack Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.). "It didn't matter who or what it was, but we needed a spark."
LaCrosse may have been that spark for the Nittany Lions himself, scoring three second-half goals--including a score just 55 seconds into the third quarter.
"It really was a team effort tonight," said LaCrosse. "If Danny Henneghan didn't get hot we never would have had the possession time that we did."
Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) was instrumental in Penn State's third quarter push. The junior won five of seven faceoffs in the period, contributing to the Nittany Lions dominant second half possession time.
Another spark for the Lions was sophomore attack Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) who tallied four goals and two assists during the rainy contest.
Sturgis attributed his dominant offensive performance to his teammates and their ability to move without the ball.
As Penn State started to pull away in the second half, the game took a physical turn. Delaware was called for two unnecessary roughness penalties in the final minutes, but the Nittany Lions kept cool heads.
"Credit our seniors--they have done a great job of setting the tone of our team," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "We remain who we are here at Penn State. We preach to our players to play with emotion but not to let their emotions get the best of them."
The sound of the horn at the end of the fourth quarter meant more than just a win to the Nittany Lions. In their first year playing at the new Penn State Lacrosse Field, the team clinched a No. 2 seed in the CAA Tournament, earning the right to host a playoff game.
"Clinching the No. 2 seed is huge," said sophomore goaltender Austin Kaut. "The CAA is such a competitive league and having our first playoff game be at home is a big deal for us."
The team hosted a CAA Tournament game last season, but lost in overtime to Massachusetts.
"It takes a lot of stress of our backs just to have two more home games," said LaCrosse. "It will be a good way to get settled in to the playoff mindset having a home tournament game."
Before the team can gear its mindset towards hosting a CAA Tournament game, they must get through Hofstra first.
"We need to win as many games as we can and start thinking about the big picture...and that starts with Hofstra," said Tambroni. "In no way shape or form are we looking too far ahead but it is important for us to keep up the momentum and get another win."
Penn State will host Hofstra next Saturday for the final game of their regular season. Faceoff is set for noon at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.