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Nittany Lions Work Toward Building Depth

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By Erin Neri, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a dominant win against Stony Brook last week, Penn State men's lacrosse is focusing on learning from both its success and mistakes heading toward Robert Morris.

Faceoff man Gerard Arceri played a key role in the win, going 20-for-27 on the draw, picking up 16 ground balls. The New York native was named Big Ten Specialist of the week and selected to the USILA Team of the Week.

"We're really fortunate and lucky enough to have a skilled player in Gerard Arceri," senior captain and midfielder Tripp Traynor said. "He's a hard worker too and it makes our other wing players' jobs a lot easier."

Before the season, Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni noted that during his first year on the team, Arceri struggled with finding and maintaining his confidence on the field. With a year complete, he took the summer to train and work on his skill at the faceoff x. In year two, Arceri is seeing his work pay off, with the Nittany Lions able to capitalize on the increase in possessions.

While the staff is pleased with Arceri's confidence, they are quick to remind him and the team, there is still a lot of lacrosse left in the season.

"Whereas we are excited about the confidence that [Arceri] should have accumulated based on last game, I think we're quick to remind our entire group including [Arceri] that none of those statistics on Monday carry over and we have to go back to work," Tambroni said.

Moving forward, Tambroni wants to make sure the offense and defense are creating balance, both doing their part to generate opportunities for success in their own respective zones.

"We just can't live and die at that point for the rest of the season," Tambroni said. "I think last year that was one of the problems. I think we were so dependent upon [Arceri] through the course of the first 10 games that once we started going fifty-fifty or losing some of those faceoffs, we struggled." 

While Tambroni was happy the positives from last weekend, he also mentioned a few areas of improvement. One point of emphasis in particular, is finding depth on the roster.

The Nittany Lions present a menacing starting lineup on both attack and defense that can cause problems for many teams. Beyond their starters though, there are a lot of question marks on both sides of the ball at an early point in the season.

The challenge for Tambroni and his staff is motivating the rest of the team to step up and make meaningful contributions. 

"Inevitably, every student-athlete wants to play, everybody wants to contribute on game day because they work so hard," Tambroni said. "The onus falls on Jeff Tambroni. It's my job to make sure there's a grander purpose than coming in here and playing. There's got to be a reason why these guys come here."

Although the message starts with the coaching staff, it is then on the team to uphold it in the locker room and on the field.

Headed into its fourth matchup of the year, Tambroni hopes this is a point of significance that Penn State can buy into.

"We have to provide that purpose and perspective that it's more about being a part of something bigger than yourself, about the preparation over four years and about being great teammates." Tambroni said. "If these guys can encapsulate that perspective, it makes it a little bit easier." 

This Saturday's home game against Robert Morris will mark the end of a four-game home stretch for the Nittany Lions before they play the next four games on the road.

"I think every game we have just tried to learn something about us," Tambroni said. "If we can continue to strengthen the depth pace, continue to stay realistic at both ends of the field and know what's going on at the faceoff x, then I think we'll have a pretty good handle on where we are at least in this first four game stretch."

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