Recently in Men's Lacrosse Category

Patient Offense, Composed Defense Propelled Lions Past Delaware

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9950017.jpeg
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- During a sunny Easter weekend in Happy Valley, the Penn State men's lacrosse team took down Delaware behind a disciplined defensive game plan and a potent offensive attack.


"We harped on discipline and hustle all week," said senior defender Tyler Travis.

The Nittany Lions put on a fundamentally sound performance in front of their home crowd en route to a 10-6 victory over the Blue Hens. A display of patience on offense and composure on defense earned the win for the Blue and White, moving their record to .500.

"I thought that collectively they made a lot of big plays," head coach Jeff Tambroni said of the defense after last Saturday's win. "We just asked each one of those guys to do their part and Coach Toner did a great job of putting a game plan together."

On the attack, senior Shane Sturgis's stick came to life in front of nearly 1,500 fans in attendance. A six-point performance (4g, 2a) was exactly the spark that the offense needed to rally behind.

"He took charge of the offense," Tambroni said. "He's by far our biggest and most dynamic leader in the offensive end and typically when he's playing well, everybody feeds off his energy and confidence."

Sturgis' big game increased his goal total to 30 on the season, which is already three more than what he scored in 2013. The senior has been a staple in Tambroni's offense since his freshman season, and the coaching staff is pleased to see him finish his career strong.

"Earlier in the year he was playing hard and productive; in the middle of the season he was playing hard but shots weren't falling, but today he was the one guy that was shooting consistently," Tambroni said.

The offense went on a 6-1 run that spanned three quarters against Delaware, fueling the Nittany Lions with all of the momentum. The scoring run was sparked by the timely decision-making and poise displayed by Sturgis.

"He did a wonderful job of reading Delaware's offense and getting our guys organized on the fly," Tambroni said.

Sturgis and fellow senior Tom LaCrosse have been tremendous leaders to the younger players this season, enabling them for success in seasons to come.

"Between TJ Sanders and our freshman crew, it's taking a little while for those guys to season and develop," said the fourth-year coach. "It was nice to see those guys (the seniors) come out and play the way they did because they complemented that group of freshmen very well."

Seniors on the defensive side of the ball were extremely impactful as well. Travis and Steven Bogert combined for 11 ground balls while goaltender Austin Kaut was locked in to the Delaware shooters and made 14 saves.

"I thought what stood out is some of the seniors made some consistent efforts and consistent plays that made us comfortable in the offensive end," Tambroni said. "Travis, Kaut and Bogert were so reliable and they just made such a difference to holding Delaware to low-angle looks."

The Nittany Lions are down to just one game left on their 2014 slate as they prepare to host CAA rival Hofstra next Saturday. Faceoff against the Pride is set for 12 p.m. on senior day. 

Defense Gets Confidence Boost Heading Into Final Home Stand

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
9930409.jpeg
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Senior goalie Austin Kaut's monster game Saturday night at Towson has given the Penn State defense just what they need to finish the season strong - a boost in poise and tenacity.


"It really gives our guys a lot of confidence defensively to know that Austin is going to make those saves," said assistant coach Peter Toner. "That was a great boost for the defense and certainly a great thing for him to find a groove.

Kaut rejected all 11 Tiger shots that came his way en route to a dominant 8-1 Nittany Lion victory, which moved the team's record to within one game of .500.

"It seemed like everywhere they shot the ball he was a step or two ahead of them," Toner said.

The only Towson goal came with just over a minute remaining after Kaut was pulled and replaced by freshman netminder Connor Darcey. Although the defense was just a minute away from the program's first shutout in almost 50 years, giving up that lone goal doesn't take away from their dominant showing.

"It just seemed like we were always the aggressor defensively whether it was defending the ball, sliding into a double team or picking up ground balls," Toner said.

Kaut, 2013's NCAA goalie of the year, was determined and focused last week in practice on finishing his senior season strong.

"We come out and work as hard as we can and never give up--that's our motto as a senior class," Kaut said.

The senior's showing on Saturday demonstrated that playoffs or not--this team is still motivated and always hungry for a win.

"I think he just made a decision during the week that he was going to take a step in the right direction and that's why he was dominant Saturday night," Toner said.

Towson's offense, led by senior Thomas DeNapoli, was denied three times in each of the first three quarters. The few times that the Tiger attack broke through the Nittany Lion defense, Kaut was there to deny their shooters.

"[DeNapoli] is definitely a catalyst to their offense and Towson does a lot to move him around and get him shots," Toner said.

Senior defender Tyler Travis was matched up against DeNapoli, which is a paring he has become familiar with. Travis has defended the prolific Tiger attackman in multiple games over the last few seasons, including last year's CAA championship loss.

"Tyler did a really good job on DeNapoli," Toner said. "That's a matchup he's had the last couple of years and it was a big part of our defensive game plan to stop DeNapoli. Tyler got a lot of help from the guys around him."

The Blue and White are down to just two games left on their 2014 slate--both of which will be CAA battles at home. When Delaware and Towson come to Happy Valley the next two weekends, fans can expect to see a focused, gameplan-oriented defense.

"As the year goes on it's good for these guys to get some confidence and have a sound game plan going in," Toner said. "They've done a very nice job of buying into finishing this season on a good note."

Faceoff against Delaware is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Blue Hens come into Happy Valley with a 6-7 overall record and a 0-3 mark in conference play. This will be the second-to-last CAA matchup for the Nittany Lions before they join the Big Ten in 2015.

Lions 'Dead Set' On Finishing Season Strong After 3OT Loss

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9913466.jpeg
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- With a 4-6 overall record and just three games left to play, the Penn State men's lacrosse team is focused on finishing the 2014 campaign with a winning record.

"In these last few games, it is important for us to be flexible but still very confident," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "Our goals may need to change a bit."

The Nittany Lions entered this season with high hopes and aspirations of earning a second-straight NCAA Tournament berth. However, without the chance to compete in the CAA Tournament and secure an automatic bid--there wasn't much room for regular season losses.

Last weekend, the Blue and White were outmatched in a triple overtime thriller to Drexel. Despite dropping four of its last five, this resilient group is determined to send the seniors off valiantly while building for the future.

"We are dead set on finishing this season on a high note," Tambroni said.

Finishing on a high note can be defined a number of ways by this coaching staff. Winning out, seeing more production from a number of players and witnessing growth from the talented freshman class are all examples of goals for finishing strong.

"You have to believe in what you are doing but also understand that you may have to make some adjustments under these circumstances," the fourth-year coach said. "First and foremost we have to believe in ourselves as coaches and players."

Regardless of any adjustments made in these last few weeks, the coaches were adamant about one thing - continuing to play 'the Penn State way'.

"Our standards have to stay the same," Tambroni said. "The standard of this program, the standard of our work ethic and the standard of the expectations of each and every day will stay the same."

Penn State's remaining slate consists of all CAA matchups. A final road test at Towson this Saturday will be followed by two home battles against Delaware and Hofstra. Opening faceoff against the Tigers is slated for 7 p.m.

Seniors Austin Kaut and Tyler Travis were joined by freshman Mike Sutton in giving their thoughts and interpretations on finishing the season strong.

Triple Overtime Setback to Drexel Provided Some 'Bright Spots'

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
9691926.jpeg
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- For the Penn State men's lacrosse team, dropping a triple overtime thriller to Drexel last Saturday provided far more than just heartbreak. The team exhibited grittiness, determination and persistence from all depths of the roster.


"Look no further than guys like Michael Sutton and Danny Craig," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "Those guys have just stayed the course and have been persistent all year. They deserve all the playing time they get because of their resilient efforts."

The freshman duo of Craig and Sutton combined for nine points against the Dragons, displaying their will and deservedness to earn more minutes and starts.

"They were both tremendous bright spots," Tambroni said. "Our freshmen are starting to play with confidence and playing to what we thought their potential could be."

Sutton, a midfielder, netted five goals in the 13-12 setback on Saturday. His numbers weren't the only thing that impressed his coaches in his first start--but his demonstration of persistence and effort that has culminated all season long.

"Mike Sutton has never waivered in his own ability," Tambroni said. "He's continued to embrace his role whether it was on the scout team, deep within the second unit or now as a starter and very high contributor."

Sutton isn't alone in this display, as Craig and fellow freshman Nick Aponte also had big games against Drexel.

"Credit the guys that have been sitting on the bench all year, keep working hard and continue to believe in themselves," the fourth-year coach said.

The roller coaster game against Drexel marked the fourth loss in the last five for the Nittany Lions.

"It is not from a lack of trying," Tambroni said. "Our guys are continuing to give a great effort and keep moving forward with the belief of being successful."


A major theme in the last four losses has been that the team hasn't gotten off to the early start in each half that the coaches would like to see. Despite scoring three goals in the first quarter last Saturday, Tambroni would like to see a faster pace in the opening quarter.

"For whatever reason--the start of the game and the start of the third quarter have not been very kind to us in the majority of our games," Tambroni said. "If you take the first ten minutes of every game and the first five minutes of every third quarter--it's a lopsided affair."

With three games remaining on the schedule, the team is looking to tighten up this disconnect in the opening quarters of both halves.

"We have to do a better job as coaches and our guys have to do a better job as players of providing a little more focus to when that first whistle is blown."

The Blue and White are committed to finishing this season strong, which means a variety of things to players and coaches. Winning out, seeing more production from numerous players on the field and seeing growth from the freshmen class are among the team's goals.

"I believe this group is committed and we need to find a way to play up to our potential," Tambroni said. "We are dead set on finishing this season on a high note."

The Nittany Lions will travel to Maryland next Saturday to take on Towson. Opening faceoff against the Tigers is set for 7 p.m.

Offensive Chances Stifled in Rainy Setback to Villanova

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9878243.jpeg
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The typically high-powered offense of the Penn State men's lacrosse team was subdued on Saturday in a 9-7 loss to the visiting Villanova Wildcats.


"We just didn't seem to have enough opportunities offensively to get it going," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "For whatever reason I just thought we played a little bit timid."

The offense was held to its second-lowest goal total of the season as the visitors stifled their late comeback effort in the fourth quarter. In each of the Nittany Lions' five losses, the team is winless when they are down or tied at halftime.

"In the second half we were trying to fight uphill and I'm not sure we are built to be that kind of a team to fight uphill and to come from behind," Tambroni said. "We are going to have to find a way to do that because it seems like we are there in a lot of these games."

Where was the offense that has put up double-digit scores in six of nine games on Saturday?

It was simply shut down by the Wildcats' control of possession and halted by turnovers.

"Between our shooting and our decision making offensively, I thought we gave the ball away far too many times in the first half to provide any rhythm," Tambroni said. "That ultimately became our Achilles' heel."

The weather certainly wasn't ideal for a game in late March, as the chilly temperatures and misting rain persisted throughout the contest. Penn State's 21 turnovers could have been a result of the miserable weather, but coaches and student-athletes didn't want to use that as an excuse.

"It seemed like it (the weather) affected us more in the first half more so with our overall stick work," Tambroni said. "I'd say more credit to the Villanova shooters and credit to their defense than the impact of the rain."

Despite the offensive miscues and the result, the team displayed several impressive aspects of its game. Faceoff man Drake Kreinz proved that his talents in the X could keep the team in a game regardless of a deficit while the defense played admirably against a formidable offensive attack.

The defense displayed its ability to adjust mid-game after they turned a lackluster first half into a more promising second half.

"At halftime we talked and just said that we needed to calm down and play the way we are capable of," said senior goalie Austin Kaut, who tallied a season-high of 13 saves.

Halftime adjustments held the Wildcats to three goals in the second half compared to six in the first half. Kaut registered eight saves in the second half alone and the defense was nearly perfect in it's clears.

"Our defense played really well," Tambroni said. "I thought mixing some man and some zone put us in a position to keep them off guard and keep them on their heels."

"But we just didn't get it done," Kaut said.

This setback drops the Blue and White's record to 4-5. Without the ability to compete in the CAA tournament, the team doesn't control it's own destiny to be called on Selection Sunday.

"At this point we are looking to do a little of everything to give ourselves a chance to break out of where we are right now," Tambroni said. "It seems like we are in a little bit of a slide, or a lot a bit of a slide."

With four regular season games remaining--two of which will be at home--the coaching staff is looking for ways to end the season on a high note.

"I don't think it is one person that is going to make the difference," the fourth-year coach said. "It's more of the collective mentality of our team."

The Nittany Lions will be on the road the next two weekends with trips to Drexel and Towson before returning home to round out the season. Next Saturday's faceoff with the Dragons is slated for 2 p.m. in Philadelphia.

"We just need to play with more confidence and composure these next games," senior Shane Sturgis said.

Offensive Miscues Leading Factor in Allowing 17 Goals to Albany

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9857903.jpeg
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "I think when you look at it, you look at what we were doing defensively," said head coach Jeff Tambroni following Saturday's 17-10 loss to Albany at home. "I think conversely it was what we weren't doing offensively."


The 17 goals scored by the Great Danes were the most the Nittany Lions and goalie Austin Kaut have allowed all season. Rather than attributing the uneven spread to a defensive lapse, the coaching staff pins this one on missed chances in the offensive end.

"They took advantage of some of our missed opportunities, failed clears and missed ground balls," Tambroni said. "If you give a team like them that many opportunities, you're probably not going to win a lot of games against them."

Tambroni's squad outshot the visitors 50-36 throughout the game and failed on three clears in the pivotal second and third quarters combined.

"I think we more or less beat ourselves to be honest," said freshman attacker Dan Craig.

Albany used a 9-1 scoring run in the second half to give them a cushion that was insurmountable for Penn State.

"We come back one goal at a time and that was our thought process," Craig said. "That's what we tried to do and we scratched a few in there, but just couldn't get enough to make it a game."

A big turning point in the contest was at the very end of the second quarter when the Great Danes and their high-powered offense scored with just six ticks left in the half. It gave the visitors a two-goal edge on the Blue and White, and enough momentum to run away with it in the third quarter.

"It just hurt us," Tambroni said.

The offense wasn't stagnant all day, however. The Nittany Lions' attack came to life late in the second half but at that point it was simply too late.

"We went to an offense later in the game that was probably more conducive to our personnel," Tambroni said.

Craig and junior attacker Pat Manley were the sparks in the brief comeback effort, each registering hat tricks. Manley's performance furthered his resurgence as an offensive weapon for Penn State. He was held scoreless his entire sophomore season, but has tallied five goals since the Denver game this year.

The seven-goal setback at home to Albany drops the Nittany Lions to a No. 20 ranking nationally and sets their record back to .500 at 4-4.

 

"We felt like we were building on things this week in practice and felt good going into the weekend, so it's just so tough coming out with a loss," Manley said.

Without a chance to compete in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament this spring, the team is approaching every game from here on out as a 'must win'.

"We don't know what's going to happen out there," Tambroni said. "We may have enough good wins on our schedule to move on so I think it is important to maintain a semblance of building...we are still building."

The Nittany Lions have five games left on their schedule, four of which are CAA contests and three of which are at home. They round out nonconference action this Saturday when they host Villanova.

A second-straight berth in the NCAA Tournament is still entirely possible and in the sights of this veteran-heavy squad.

"I think we owe it to our senior class," Tambroni said. "As much as they've done for us--we need to keep chugging away."

Saturday's showdown with the unranked Wildcats is slated for 2 p.m. at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

Second Half Surge Launches Lions Past Dartmouth

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
9835620.jpeg
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A physical, back-and-forth game was on display at the Penn State Lacrosse Field on Tuesday evening when the Nittany Lions took down Dartmouth, 10-6. It wasn't until the third quarter when sophomore TJ Sanders and the entire offense ignited and never looked back.

"It was nice to see us go out during the second half and play with a little more energy," said head coach Jeff Tambroni, who was preaching a balanced offensive attack to his team throughout the game.

"The bottom line is I felt like our offense was just too isolated," Tambroni said. "For the most part, when things started getting going it was because more than one or two guys were involved."

Seven players registered at least one goal in the gritty contest with Sanders being the only with multiple strikes. The sophomore's four-goal game increased his season goal total to 17, which is second on the team behind fellow attackman Shan Sturgis with 23.

The Blue and White scored seven second-half goals, which ultimately pushed the 12th-ranked Lions past the visitors. In the final two frames, Tambroni's offense went on a 6-1 run which included all four of Sanders' scores.

Before the second half runaway, the game was extremely fast-paced and both teams would answer the other's scores almost immediately. Sanders struck net back-to-back times in the third quarter, giving Penn State a cushion that they would never relinquish.

"TJ started it off in the third and that was probably the big spark," Sturgis said. Sturgis was held scoreless for the first time all season, but that doesn't faze the senior.

"We like to score in any way we can," he said.

A second-half offense spark wasn't the only defining characteristic of this battle, as it was also an intensely physical contest. Senior Kessler Brown dished out a hit on a Dartmouth midfielder in the third quarter that shifted some momentum to the Penn State bench.

"I was excited that we were playing a more physical brand of lacrosse," Tambroni said. "Today I felt like we were being the team that was imposing the physicality. Hopefully that is going to inspire the guys but I also think it shows the passion that this team has."

The victory ends a brief two-game slide and pushes the Nittany Lions above .500 with a 4-3 record. Given the fact that the team is hosting No. 18 Albany on Saturday, the game against the Big Green was described as a "must-win" by multiple players and coaches.

"The last few games and in the first half of the game today we've been in a funk," Sanders said. "I think we had a 'nothing to lose' attitude that started to click. Hopefully it carries over to the next game because that's what we need."

Ending the game with on a roll is exactly what the team had envisioned and hoped for as they prepare for another ranked opponent.

"We are hoping that this feeling our guys have is going to provide some confidence in the latter part of the week because we are going to need that facing Albany," Tambroni said.

Albany has offensive firepower from their trio of attackmen that are all related. Brothers Lyle and Miles Thompson and their cousin, Ty, pose a serious threat to defenses and goalies across the NCAA as they all have registered over 30 points this season.

"We are excited to play Albany and we are going to need to maintain our focus," Tambroni said.

Faceoff is slated for 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

Lions Look to End Two-Game Skid Against Dartmouth

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9830369.jpeg
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Discipline. Leadership. Responsibility.


These three factors are what the Penn State men's lacrosse team and head coach Jeff Tambroni are focusing on to right the ship after dropping two in a row.

After a 15-11 setback in the Mile High City against Denver and an 8-6 loss at home against UMass, the team is looking to its leadership to help the Nittany Lions persevere.

"The seniors have been terrific," Tambroni said. "Like all great leaders, they have accepted responsibility along with our staff and have continued to plug away."

The losses to the Pioneers and the Minutemen were handed to the Blue and White in much different fashions. Against Denver--Penn State put up double-digit goals and shared the wealth on offense, but simply came up short. Against UMass--the squad held strong defensively, but was held to its lowest goal total on offense all year.

There were some factors in common with each loss, however.

"We feel as if we have hurt ourselves the past two games with far too many unforced turnovers and a poor shot selection," Tambroni said. "We need to be more disciplined which is ultimately a coach's responsibility."

So what can this veteran-loaded squad do to regain a sense of momentum as they push into the midway point of the season?

Stay focused on the next opponent, not the last opponent.

"It's always important for us to stay focused on what's next and not get caught up on what we did last week," said senior captain Tyler Travis.

This isn't the first time that a Tambroni-led squad has dropped consecutive games. During his staff's tenure, the teams have proven their resiliency after dropping multiple contests in a row. Just last season, the Nittany Lions lost three-in-a-row before going on to win ten-straight and earn an NCAA Tournament bid.

Tambroni doesn't expect this year's squad to be any different.

"This is a resilient group with a tremendous senior class," Tambroni said. "We are disappointed by the way that we have prepared and played but we are excited to move on and play again."

The intangibles of discipline, responsibility and leadership have been defined as factors that can help the Lions bounce back. As for the tangibles--the team is looking to tighten up some areas on offense and defense to regain its stride.

"Team offense--we need to get all six player's hands on the rope so that we can pull in the same direction," Tambroni said. "Back to the basics this week."

Against Denver, six different players contributed a goal to the scoreboard while only three players posted goals against Massachusetts.

Looking ahead to tonight, Dartmouth (1-2) is playing its first game in over two weeks in its trip to Happy Valley. The Nittany Lion offense will have the opportunity to get back on track against the Big Green defense that is allowing almost 14 goals per game. The visitors entered this season without their top-five scorers from 2013, a positive for senior goalie Austin Kaut and the entire defense.

Faceoff against Dartmouth is set for 5 p.m. at the Penn State Lacrosse Field on Tuesday night. 

Road Warriors Focus on Professionalism, Detail

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9799108.jpeg
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "We always have the same motto of 'travel like a pro'," said redshirt senior Kyle VanThof. "Every single week and every opponent is different, but we always travel with a purpose as a team."

VanThof earned Colonial Athletic Association Co-Player of the Week honors last week after he and the veteran-charged Nittany Lions downed Ohio State. The win in Columbus marked the program's 14th-straight true road victory, an impressive feat even in the student-athlete's eyes.


"Any time you win 14-straight on the road, you know you are doing something right when you travel," VanThof said. "The experience on this team is really paying off--we know what it takes to be successful on the road."

VanThof put up impressive numbers against the Buckeyes, registering five points on three goals and two assists. He scored two of his three goals in a pivotal fourth quarter, propelling the team to an 11-8 win.

"Obviously it's a great honor, but it's not just about how I performed--it was the whole offense," VanThof said. "Whenever someone gets a weekly honor, you really have to look at everyone else around him. It all starts right from practice and how well the scout team prepares the starters for the game."

The road win streak spans over three seasons and extends back to the 2012 campaign--head coach Jeff Tambroni's second year at the helm. It has helped Penn State ascend to its highest-ever ranking in the USILA Coaches' Poll, in which the team sits at No. 7, four games into the season with a 3-1 record.

This season the Blue and White have downed two ranked opponents on the road. With trips to Ohio State and Notre Dame out of the way, a matchup in Colorado against No. 12 Denver still remains.

"We have had a tough span over these four games including Denver," said senior defender Tyler Travis. "We've gone up against very good offenses and they've been a good test against our defense as a unit.

After a heartbreaking overtime loss to Loyola at home in February, the defense knew they needed to step up and bring their highest level of competition for the road stand. After earning two wins against electric offenses and allowing just fifteen goals in those games, they've proven their ability to rise to the occasion.

"There's always a need to make improvements on all areas of the field, but these guys have put together a disciplined collective effort," Tambroni said about the defense.

But with a trip to face the No. 12 Pioneers up next, the Nittany Lions know that they aren't done yet.

"A big part of our success is the mindset we take on the road with us because it helps us stay focused," Travis said. "We are going to have to take that same mentality into Denver."

Travis said that he is pleased with the defense's attention to detail since the Loyola game and that he has seen steady improvements the past few weeks.

With the chance to extend the road streak to 15-straight wins, team leaders are preaching to the younger student-athletes to stay focused on their role.

"We've been making sure the younger guys know how much we need them to contribute, especially on the road," VanThof said. "With the streak, our focus hasn't been looking to the games further ahead--but just what is next for us."

Faceoff in the Mile High City is set for 9 p.m. ET, but the team traveled out west on Saturday morning to acclimate to the altitude and rest up before the battle.

Timely Playmaking, Leadership Recapture Creator's Trophy

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9774413.jpeg
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "Making plays at crucial points--if there was a statistic for that, it would've been the key factor in our win over Ohio State," said Penn State men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni.

One year after surrendering the Creator's Trophy to their foes in scarlet and gray, the Nittany Lions brought their prized possession back to Happy Valley after an 11-8 victory in Columbus over the weekend.

The team's second-straight road victory against a ranked opponent this season was earned via discipline and clutch playmaking.

"Ohio State plays at a very frantic pace and they do it very well," Tambroni said. "We play at a bit more organized of a pace. When we played at our pace things went our way and when we played at their pace things didn't go so well."

This season's matchup with the Buckeyes and 2013's contest were very similar in that both games were dictated by a team going on a scoring streak. Last season, a seven-goal spree spanned over the third and fourth quarters gave Ohio State the 10-9 OT victory. Last Saturday in Columbus, Penn State used a six-goal run to earn their third win of the season.

"Our guys did enough coming down the stretch to earn a victory," Tambroni said. "We talked a lot before the game about senior leadership getting us through these kind of situations and I credit that more than any statistical factor."

Seniors Austin Kaut, Shane Sturgis and Kyle VanThof had impressive showings and were crucial in dictating a composed tone throughout the game. Sturgis, the NCAA leader in goals per game (4.50), added five points (4g, 1a) to his already impressive season. VanThof contributed three goals to the Lions' attack to earn himself CAA Player of the Week honors.

"We kept attacking, playing our offense and executing our game plan," VanThof said.

Defending the crease, Kaut was pleased to see the defense step up and slow down the speedy Buckeye attack.

"I think the defense played really well," Kaut said. "We said earlier in the week that we needed to make some plays out in the field and we did."

Statistically, the Blue and White dominated their opponents at the faceoff X (16-22) and in securing groundballs (31-20).

Also largely contributing to the winning effort was the team's display of discipline. For the first time this season, Penn State didn't send a man to the penalty box all game.

"Knowing that it was a physical game and that our guys played their hearts out, it was nice to see us stay out of the box," Tambroni said. " It's a fine line. You want to play with physicality--especially on your defensive end--if you want to impose a willingness to set a tone in and around the crease."

Tambroni said that maintaining a disciplined yet physical style of play will be crucial to the team's success in the coming games at Denver and against Massachusetts.

Since Tambroni's staff arrived in Happy Valley four years ago, the team has taken on a "road warrior" identity. Last weekend's win marked the 14th-straight true road victory, a streak that spans over three seasons.

"In order to be successful on the road you have to have great leadership and the team needs to understand the mentality it takes of getting on the bus or the plane," Tambroni said. "We approach those things in a more business-type fashion."

The Nittany Lions impressive road wins this season (at Notre Dame and at Ohio State) have catapulted the team to its highest national ranking ever of seventh.

The road tests aren't over, however. This week the team will prepare for a Monday night, mile-high showdown next week at No. 12 Denver.

"Our primary focus is rest," Tambroni said about this week of practice. "We've been going pretty good since January and it gives the guys the chance to hit the reset button academically and catch up on sleep."

With a few extra days to prepare, the team has a unique opportunity to get some rest and still have a full week of practice.

"This will give us a chance to work more on Penn State and not just on our opponent and game planning," Tambroni said.

Monday night's clash is set for 9 p.m. ET.