FEATURE: Nittany Lion Men's Lacrosse Looking Ahead to 2013

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By Jackson Thibodeau, Special to GoPSUsports.com from the College of Communications
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Eight seasons removed from their last NCAA Tournament bid, the Penn State men's lacrosse team looks to build on veteran leadership and a redefinition of roles to push the team to the next level.

7655610.jpeg"Urging them to take another step within their roles on the offense or the defense is going to be key," said head coach Jeff Tambroni at a recent practice. "If these guys come back and see themselves in the same role as they were in last year--we will have not moved forward."

The veteran-rich roster, consisting of nine seniors, has a far different look than last year's youthful squad.

"Across the board they are all capable but we just haven't found one or two guys yet that just have separated themselves from the crew as captains," Tambroni said in reference to replacing the strong leadership of last year's four seniors. "We've got a ways to go at least in that regard."

Among the team's veterans is redshirt senior Jack Forster, who is actively striving to help guide a very talented freshman class.

"We are trying to show them by example how hard we work and hopefully they will follow," Forster said.

Tambroni has been impressed with the level of competition and effort the freshmen have brought to the team this fall, stating that some are even pushing upperclassmen for playing time and roles as starters.

Joining Forster as an established veteran is senior Nick Dolik, who is coming off an impressive 18-goal junior year campaign.

"I've been trying to grow a lot as a guy that can be reliable and someone the younger guys can look up to," Dolik said.

With four months remaining until the season-opening faceoff against Denver, the team continues its offseason training after finishing up a fall competition schedule.

The team traveled to Bethesda, Md. the first weekend in October for the Capital Lacrosse Invitational--a fall-ball tournament featuring Penn State, Cornell, Johns Hopkins University and The University of North Carolina benefitting the Mario St. George Boiardi Foundation.

Although official statistics weren't recorded, Tambroni and the squad expressed a number of benefits that came from competing in the tournament.

"On the field it gives us a chance to measure up against two of the most talented teams in the country," Tambroni said. "It gives this team a wonderful perspective going down to play for the Mario St. George Boiardi Foundation--a foundation near and dear to my heart."

The Boiardi Foundation supports cultivating and nurturing underprivileged youth through athletics and academics and it donates proceeds to numerous charities.

The Nittany Lions competed against Johns Hopkins and North Carolina at the tournament--two of the nation's perennial lacrosse powerhouses.

Tambroni was unable to cite any gameplay-oriented aspects of the game that could be improved upon because of the considerable amount of time before the season starts, but he did stress the importance of veteran leadership.

"Finally we've got upperclassmen at the attack," he said. "That's going to help us create a little bit more of a veteran movement."

Although fall competition is all wrapped up, the team will continue offseason practices and workouts leading up to its first exhibition game of the 2012-13 season against Army in late January.

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