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Lions Look Toward Improvements

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By Maria Canales, student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite a strong fourth-quarter effort, including five goals from the Nittany Lions in the final 15 minutes, Penn State men's lacrosse (10-2, 1-2 Big Ten) fell short against Johns Hopkins (7-4, 2-1 Big Ten), 13-11.

The Nittany Lions were down 10-5 at halftime and looking to spark a comeback. Freshman attackman Grant Ament started the Nittany Lion scoring streak in the fourth quarter, securing a goal only nine seconds in.

Ament, who earned his 100th career point during the Johns Hopkins game, is one of only two active Penn State lacrosse players to reach or be above the milestone. Fellow starter, senior attackman Nick Aponte has 124 points in his career.

With less than two minutes left, the Nittany Lions came within one goal of the lead, 12-11, but Johns Hopkins secured one final goal for the victory. Head coach Jeff Tambroni said he felt his team played with more heart in the fourth quarter than in the rest of the game, noting Johns Hopkins came out fighting for a win despite his team's best efforts. 

"We certainly knew both teams were going to come in here and put a great deal of emphasis on possession and possession time," Tambroni said. I think both [Penn State and Johns Hopkins] struggled against our previous opponents in the Big Ten and for whatever reason Johns Hopkins just imposed their will a little bit more so." 

Tambroni is now looking toward next week's outing against Rutgers, already knowing there needs to be a few changes if his team is going to come out on top. He's looking toward focusing more on the basics, making sure each possession is calculated and purposeful, as well as making sure transitional play remains consistent.   

For Tambroni, despite Penn State's late surge in the game, the Nittany Lions will also need to address a few problem areas that have been inhibiting the team's success lately. Tambroni said one of those areas is ground ball performance. The Nittany lions picked up 24 ground balls at Johns Hopkins, but Tambroni said there's always room for improvement. 

"Ground ball play just includes so many different things, picking the ball up off the ground takes courage especially in a crowd," Tambroni said. "But moving the ball from the point of the pick up and creating opportunity defensively, trying to create clears offensively, trying to create transition and I felt that's where we really struggled today."

Tambroni said he felt his team's efforts were respectable, but that Johns Hopkins just had the edge on Saturday afternoon. 

"We need to address it, we need to fix it, and the coaching staff needs to do a better job of preparing our team to just be a little bit more passionate, be a little bit more focused on that kind of stuff," Tambroni said. "So it'll definitely be a point of emphasis this week as we prepare for Rutgers."

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