By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse (10-1, 1-1 Big Ten) is keen to get back to its winning ways this weekend at Johns Hopkins (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten). Despite falling to Maryland (7-2, 2-0 Big Ten) last Saturday, the Nittany Lions have learned a lot from their first, and only, loss of the season.
"I'm not sure we reserved enough preparation and confidence during the week of practice leading up to the Maryland game to get us over the hump," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "Maryland is a good team, we certainly learned that over the course of the day, and it always felt like we were coming from behind, which is a challenging venture."
Tambroni noted the Nittany Lions could have done better in a few areas, namely ground balls. The Nittany Lions picked up only 16 ground balls against the Terrapins, compared to Maryland's 34. The previous week, Penn State picked up 34 in its first Big Ten win of the season against Ohio State.
Tambroni said he felt his team had also been extremely focused before facing the Buckeyes two weeks ago, but felt the Nittany Lions had been a little less intensive in practice for the Terrapins. For Tambroni, the key to success this weekend will be Penn State's ability to once again battle it out during the week and give 100 percent in the days leading up to Saturday
"I think our guys have done a pretty good job at bouncing back and getting right back into a good mindset and having a focus for Johns Hopkins this week," Tambroni said."
As for the Nittany Lions, senior and captain Nick Aponte said the attack needs to get back to the basics this weekend, focusing on quality of shots on net and communication on the field.
"We met with our leadership cabinet before [Monday's] practice and we kind of just said we need to do the simple things, but we've just got to do it harder," Aponte said. "That's our motto this week and just getting back to little stuff like ground balls and little details on every single play we make."
Aponte said that he and his fellow teammates can't simply save their energy for Saturday. Rather, they need to commit to every practice, even if it's tiring. He's looking toward every single member of the team, from starters to reserves, to be dedicated this week in practice before leaving for Baltimore. Aponte emphasized that this weekend's game will be a team effort.
"Johns Hopkins just lost to Ohio State, so they're going to have a chip on their shoulder this weekend, we know that," Aponte said. "So we have to answer their attitude this week and we have to work a little bit harder. It's always great playing in Homewood, we always have great games when playing Johns Hopkins the last two years we went to overtime and double overtime, so we know it's going to be a good game."
Despite knowing the Blue Jays will come into the game determined to win, for Aponte, the Nittany Lions first and foremost need to focus on themselves and their game."Last week we focused a little too much on the weekend and weren't focused on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday," Aponte said. "So we have to focus on Penn State right now, and just preparing ourselves for Johns Hopkins and bringing everything we've got."