By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Leading up to Sunday night, freshman goalkeeper Colby Kneese's preparation was locked on remaining focused and more determined than ever to be strong between the pipes. His preparation was on full display in the Big Ten opener, as Penn State men's lacrosse defeated Ohio State, 9-4, to remain unbeaten on the year at 10-0.
"Coach really got on me about not taking a play off in practice," Kneese said. "He just stayed on me all week."
Visualizing every play in practice as a live scenario, Kneese prepped for the Buckeyes focusing his mind on the level of competition Ohio State would bring offensively. The mental preparation allowed him to come out strong from the start, blocking the first Ohio State shot on net to start the game.
"I just thought he was really consistent tonight," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "We weren't overly pleased with the effort we got last week and I feel Colby would be the first one to tell you he didn't play his best game. I thought he prepared really well in the middle to latter part of the week."
Both Tambroni and the staff had many conversations with Kneese leading up to Penn State's conference opener, all to help the freshman focus on the task at hand, letting him know the Nittany Lion defense would be there to help in his first Big Ten game. Kneese made 13 saves against the Buckeyes, securing a .765 save percentage on the night.
"I thought [Kneese] was surrounded by a group of defenders who really just competed with a ton of heart tonight," Tambroni said. "They've taken a lot of abuse in terms of where they stand statistically this year and I thought they really stood up and stood the test of a very good offensive team with a lot of weapons."
The defense in front of Kneese also put on a show. Holding the Buckeyes scoreless for more than 37 minutes spanning as many as three quarters, the Penn State defense combined for what Tambroni says, is without a doubt, the best performance all season.
"I think we just finally played a full 60-minute lacrosse game," senior defenseman Peter Triolo said. "We knew we have all the components to be a successful team, and a top tier team in the NCAA."
For Triolo, it was a team effort that propelled the Nittany Lions past the Buckeyes, without a single Nittany Lion effort left unnoticed. Senior defensive midfielder Drake Kreinz added that the win was the culmination of each and every one of the Nittany Lions putting in the work during practice.
"It's easy to do you job when the guys around you are doing their jobs," Kreinz said. "It's easier to do you job when the preparation started Tuesday and they were just knock-out, drag-out practices. The scout guys were doing their job giving us unbelievable looks. So when it came to game day it was easy to execute based on our preparation from that week."
Kreinz also made an appearance at the faceoff "x," earning four faceoff wins as well as goal to start the third quarter, sparking a 5-1 second-half scoring streak that lifted the Nittany Lions to a 9-4 decision at the final horn."I'm just really proud of these two guys in particular," Triolo said of Kneese and Kreinz. "And our entire defense, our entire offense, and our entire team even from the guys on the sidelines played a full 60-minute game, competed our butts off the entire time and it was great to see."