UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
- Penn State's 2014-15 season was one marked by excellence on the field, in the
classroom and in the community. GoPSUsports.com takes a look back at the
campaign in a season highlight reel.
Penn State has won 92 Big Ten titles, including 21 in women's soccer (16 regular season).
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just four months into his tenure as commissioner of the
Big Ten Conference, Jim Delany recalls an idea brought to the table by former
Illinois President Stan Ikenberry.
It was October of 1989 when Ikenberry, who spent time as a senior administrator
at Penn State earlier in his career, broached the thought of adding an
institution to the Big Ten for the first time since Michigan State was invited
to become a member in 1949.
The Big Ten then began a formal research process of an institution that would
bridge a Midwestern league to the East.
The Pennsylvania State University was on the table for discussion as a superb
academic institution with a rich tradition in athletic success.
Delany, whose sister attended Penn State as a graduate student, didn't need much
convincing. He knew the level of potential a partnership between Penn State and
the Big Ten could foster.
Big Ten hadn't changed in many, many decades, but I thought if the opportunity
to expand presented itself it was a no brainer," Delany said earlier this week.
"Excellent academics. Excellent athletics. And pointed towards the East Coast,
I thought there was a lot of potential there. That was my recommendation at the
The process moved forward with the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten
institutions discussing the topic before news broke just before the holidays in
December of 1989 that Penn State could be on its way into a new conference. Under
the direction of athletic director Jim Tarman at the time, Penn State had been
competing as an independent in football for more than a century, and the rest
of the department had been a member of the Atlantic 10 since 1976.
When the news initially surfaced, women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose, who
along with field hockey coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss are the two current Penn
State head coaches who were on staff in 1989, was giving a presentation at the
annual women's volleyball coaches convention (AVCA) about the importance of
NCAA Tournament at-large bids for teams in smaller conferences.
"I remember talking in front of the group about
the importance that not all of the at-large bids go to the bigger conferences
and that there were good teams in other conferences even though they didn't
have the same notoriety, said Rose. "We have a lunch break. I turn on ESPN at
lunch, and I see that Penn State is going to be a member of the Big Ten. I come
back. I say to some people that I would like to retract what I said about
The formal process concluded with a vote in Iowa City on June 4, 1990, at which
time Penn State was officially accepted as a member of the Big Ten Conference.
Twenty-five years have passed in a partnership that allowed both the University
and conference to reach unprecedented heights on the field and in the
a broad perspective, at the time, my view was that it was a tremendous fit for
both sides. And history has proven that," Delany said. "With all the other
expansions around the country, I'm not sure there was one that benefitted both
institution and conference as much as this did, largely because of the
characteristics of Penn State were so well matched with the characteristics of
the Big Ten."
The positive news zipped throughout campus shortly after the vote in Iowa.
"I remember hearing about the announcement from Mary Jo Haverbeck, from the Sports
Information office," said Morett-Curtiss. "She told me about us going in and
how it was going to have a major impact for women's athletics at Penn State."
It was an announcement that changed the landscape of funding and development
for all of Penn State's 28 programs at the time, and it was a day
Morett-Curtiss remembers quite well.
"Ironically, I had gone for a run that day on the trails near Sunset Park and
as I'm running, I see someone walking in front of me and it was Joe Paterno,"
Morett-Curtiss said. "And it was that day, so I said to him, 'hey what's going
to happen?' He said, 'I think this is going to be a really good thing for Penn
State and the exposure all of the programs are going to get.'"
The women's volleyball program captured Penn State's first Big Ten title in 1992, marking volleyball's first of 16 conference crowns.
Penn State's teams felt the impact of the Big Ten conference almost
"What it did for us when we joined the Big Ten is that it No. 1 it resulted in
a reassessment of the levels of commitment we had to the various programs,"
Rose said. "We became fully funded when we joined the Big Ten. Prior to that,
we were not fully funded. And we were not fully staffed. Entering Big Ten,
collectively, for all of the sports resulted in us having a new commitment from
the University to try and be competitive. From a volleyball perspective, we had
been competitive prior to that, but playing in the Big Ten in women's
volleyball made us better because the level of competition was better than we
were experiencing in the Atlantic 10."
At the time, women's volleyball had just one assistant coach on the staff
alongside Rose and nine scholarships to field a roster. Joining the Big Ten
boosted the program to full funding and 12 scholarships.
"As I look at it now, we could have had some great teams if we had funding in
the early years," said Rose. "That was just the way that it was. When you take a job, that is the job you
took. When we joined the Big Ten, a lot of us got a better job without having
to move. But it's way more competitive. Recruiting is a lot different than what
we had experienced in the Atlantic 10."
The same can be said for what Morett-Curtiss experienced within the field
"The financial support from a scholarship standpoint was huge right away," said
Morett-Curtiss. "And knowing our field that we were going to build was going to
be a first rate facility."
The investment for success around the Big Ten stood out during Penn State's
transition. Every institution and athletic program strives to be the best. It's
a trait that has not changed during the department's 25 years as a member, and
it's something that will be a trademark of the Big Ten for decades to come.
"The level of commitment to being good across the conference, everybody cared,"
said Rose. "I don't believe every conference across the country has that sort
of commitment in all of their sports. I think that is one of the things that
makes the Big Ten really unique. If they offer it, they care and they want to
Penn State's time in the Big Ten has been marked by excellence in the classroom
and on the field of play. In all, Penn State's programs have accounted for 92
Big Ten championships from 15 different programs - 76 regular season and 16 post-season. Additionally,
more than 170 student-athletes have accounted for nearly 300 individual Big Ten
Penn State student-athletes have earned more than 5,000 Academic All-Big Ten
recognitions since it joined the conference, with its three highest totals
during the past three years, led by 296 in 2012-13.
"Penn State's entrance into the Big Ten not only changed the
intercollegiate sports landscape, it also changed our academic landscape and
our future. Our size, our academic reputation and our athletic tradition
matched up well with Big Ten schools," said Penn State President Eric
Barron, who also noted that all Big Ten schools are flagship universities for
their states. "The academic side of the Big Ten is known as the Committee
on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the institutions together have annual
research expenditures topping $10.2 billion -- more than the Ivy League and the
University of California System combined -- and they educate a total of nearly
600,000 students. The benefits from being part of such an outstanding and
prestigious organization with such an expansive footprint across the nation are
The women's volleyball program earned Penn
State's first Big Ten crown during the 1992 season, just one year after the
team began competing in the league. The title marked the first of Penn State's superlative
16 Big Ten titles in women's volleyball, in addition to seven NCAA
Championships since 1999.
Like women's volleyball, the women's soccer program has been a benchmark of success
in conference play. The program became the department's 29th varsity
sport in 1994. Since then, Penn State has won an unprecedented 16 conference
titles, including a string of 15-straight from 1998-2012.
The football program claimed the Big Ten title in its second season of
competition during an undefeated Rose Bowl championship campaign in 1994. Coach
Joe Paterno's '94 squad became the first Big Ten team to ever post a 12-0
record. The '94 crown marked the program's first of three Big Ten championships
to date (2005 and 2008).
The fall season of 2005 stands out as a monumental period in Penn State's
history within the conference. Nittany Lion teams clinched five Big Ten titles
in a span of 30 days. The list included field hockey, football, men's soccer,
women's soccer and women's volleyball. Since the fall of 2005, Penn State teams
have won 51 Big Ten championships (5.1 titles per year in a 10-year span).
Penn State clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days
during the fall of 2005, including one for the women's volleyball team.
It's impossible to quantify how the partnership between Penn State and the Big
Ten altered the recruiting landscape for the teams on campus and how the
recruiting gains equated to success on the field of play. But pitching a
world-renowned education with an elite conference affiliation cultivated
relationships with premier student-athletes.
"The name recognition was big for football, but when you see how many of the Universities
and programs have been successful on a national level, I think that has greatly
helped," Morett-Curtiss. "Exposure for all of the Universities within the
conference has helped us all grow. Combining the academic side of what these
Universities have with the athletics, it's a very powerful combination when we
go out recruiting student-athletes."
A big piece to the exposure of Penn State teams during the past 25 years was
the launch of the Big Ten Network on Aug. 30, 2007. More than 800 Penn State
sporting events have aired live on the BTN since it launched. The benefits of
the conference's TV network, which is in more than 60 million homes, increased visibility across the country for
the department in a way that cannot be measured.
"The Network was a major step for us," Morett-Curtiss. "Just having the
opportunity to have games on TV so that little girls can watch and learn about
the sport. It's helped, not only exposure for the program, but it's helped the
sport grow. It's just a phenomenal avenue for us to showcase our University and
The BTN's impact goes back to what Rose talked about as one of the immediate
impacts his program felt - funding. Not only did the BTN infinitely increase
exposure for Penn State teams, it has played a paramount role in increased
revenues for each institution.
"Certainly, the Big Ten Network has been instrumental in generating funds for
the Universities and the conference and the bowl revenue sharing has resulted
in more money for all of the schools and the conference," said Rose.
In 2008, Penn State captured its third Big Ten title in football
en route to a trip to the Rose Bowl.
the competitive atmosphere is intense between teams across all of the
conference's sports, each member institution understands that the individual success
aids in the growth of the collective conference.
"I think the relationship has been a really positive one," said Rose. "There
are a lot of similarities between the various Universities."
"Everybody in the Big Ten shares what they do and why they do it; best
practices," said Dave Baker, Associate Athletic Director for Business
Operations. "We share lots of ideas, at least from the business manager and
ticketing perspective. We learn things from one another. And there aren't
secrets. We all work together and try to help each other out...We all don't do
things the same way. We all have limitations, but we are all looking to help
one another out for the betterment of the conference.
"Some people would find it hard to believe that people in the Big Ten root for
other Big Ten teams in the postseason, but we do. We follow what is going
on...It is a cooperative spirit and a partnership."
Baker is one of just a handful of Penn State administrators and coaches who
have been with Intercollegiate Athletics during the past 25 years. That list
includes Jan Bortner, who was head coach of the men's tennis team in 1990 and
has since transitioned into a role as an associate athletic director. Among the
key changes Baker felt from the business operation centered on travel. Bus
trips were the norm for Penn State teams in the Atlantic 10, but the geography
of the Big Ten led to more plane travel.
A quarter century has passed since initial discussions of a new relationship
took place and bonds were formed. Many things have changed significantly for
Penn State, the conference and intercollegiate athletics nationwide, but it's
been 25 years marked by growth stemming from a vision in 1989.
"Pennsylvania is a very important state. It served as a bridge to the East for
us. It made our football offerings stronger," said Delany. "It has been
excellence with national championships in a variety of sports. And I have
always felt that the 1994 Penn State team was the best team in the country; no
disrespect to Nebraska. When you look at the players that team had (five first
team All-Americans on offense) and what that group accomplished. That team was
the national runner-up. That was a tremendous football team. I've seen some
very good basketball teams both on the men's side and the women's side. And
obviously, the wrestling and volleyball programs have been dominant on the
Penn State has won a total of 27 national championships since joining the Big
Ten, including three in 2013-14, and the department's collective success speaks
By no means was the integration in 1990 an easy one, but the partnership
between the University and Big Ten is a match that enabled both sides to
mutually prosper in a way neither side could have envisioned when the formal vote
concluded 25 years ago today.
The wrestling team began a string of four-straight Big Ten
titles in March of 2011.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's lacrosse 2015 season may be
concluded, but the team's persistence and energy will be forever remembered as
staples during their inaugural season as part of Big Ten lacrosse.
The Nittany Lions (5-9, 2-3 Big Ten), in a season of many firsts, fought
until the end, culminating in a playoff birth to the Big Ten Tournament.
After a solid start to the season, the Nittany Lions were unable to find
their footing in the middle of the season. However, after a double overtime
loss against Johns Hopkins, Penn State was able to find the confidence needed
to finish out the season strong.
"Beginning and the middle of season I think we weren't truly confident
with ourselves," said junior James Chakey. "Once we gained some confidence, I
think once we played Johns Hopkins the first time, we started believing in
ourselves a little bit more and our leadership came together and we were more
Head coach Jeff Tambroni believes that this team has laid the foundation
for Penn State's role in the Big Ten. Tambroni emphasized that the class of
2015 set the tone for the younger players and for any class that comes after
them. Led by the first lone captain since 1978, Kyle Zittel, the senior
class paved the way for the season with great grit and relentless
"Through it all I look back at our seniors and certainly appreciate and admire
what they've done for this program," said Tambroni. "But with great excitement
we look with our underclassmen at what we believe will be a bright future."
With the season concluded, Tambroni and the rest of the coaching staff
will use the summer to develop off-season training programs, as well as take
time to travel and watch high school players committed to Penn State lacrosse.
The summer is a great time to watch some of the young commits and see how they
have progressed over the season. This time also allows the coaches to get an
idea of what the new class will bring to the program.
As for the players returning next season, summer is a time to relax, but
not completely. Players are expected to workout on their own and keep up with
their skills. It is an individual's responsibility to remain in shape over the
A defenseman, Chakey knows that if an individual doesn't work hard over
the summer, it will affect the whole team once they reconvene for fall
workouts. He also knows that as part of the class of 2016, he and his fellow
seniors now bare responsibility for the team, to not only make sure players are
working out over the summer, but to make sure all players are in the same
mental and physical shape upon returning to school.
"I think coming back with the mentality that we're going to hit the
ground running everyone should be on the same page," said Chakey. "So as the senior class that's going to be
our goal, have everyone on the same page over the summer."
As for the 2016 campaign, the Nittany Lions are already looking forward
to it. The Lions have set both individual and team goals to reach, with
strategies for getting there as well.
"I think we just need to prepare as a team more on an individual basis
once the season hits," said Chakey. "Next January/February when we come back we
should treat every game like a Big Ten game, so therefore when we get to Big
Ten games at the end of the season we'll be ready to go."
Although Chakey and his fellow rising seniors now have responsibility
over their team, that doesn't mean this responsibility only applies to
lacrosse. As a senior, an individual's role develops further and spans being a
mentor to younger players both on and off the field. Chakey believes there are
a few characteristics that make someone an effective leader, and he hopes that
the class of 2016 can apply all of them to their final season.
"Being effective when it comes to communication," said Chakey. "Also,
making sure the team doesn't separate and make sure there's not a break in the
tight bond we have, especially off the field. We have to make sure the guys are
enjoying being a student athlete here at Penn State and at the same time
getting their schoolwork done, not getting into trouble, and making sure they
focus on what they have to do here."
The 2015 campaign certainly saw the foundation being laid of a team that
is capable of being a powerhouse in Big Ten lacrosse. For now, the Nittany
Lions can enjoy their summer breaks, but not without a bigger goal emerging in
"It's important to get moving on 2016 quickly," said Tambroni. "Our hope
is that these guys are going to go home with a great deal of urgency and a
great deal of hunger and start to focus on how well prepared they need to be
and how well prepared we will be."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The Penn State men's lacrosse team battled Johns
Hopkins until time ran out in the first round matchup of the Big Ten
Tournament. Despite the strong effort, and outstanding performance by several
Nittany Lions, the No. 4 seed Penn State fell 14-9 to the No. 1 seed Johns
After putting is a valiant effort, the Nittany Lions (5-9, 2-3 Big Ten) found
themselves on the defense early and weren't able to hold off Johns Hopkins' quick
start. Penn State let up five goals in the first quarter, and Johns Hopkins
(8-6, 4-1 Big Ten) was able to hold Penn State to just 14 shots in the first
half. Head coach Jeff Tambroni knew that to come back and be competitive he had
to bring his team in and calm their nerves.
"I said relax, just relax," said Tambroni. "I felt like defensively we
tried to do some things that didn't seem to work. Offensively, we were just
rushing everything and giving the ball right back to their offense. We were
exhausted within the first ten minutes of that game. I think we were just
really worn down."
Once the Nittany Lions defense was back on track, the offense took the
lead, netting in what seemed to be an endless stream of goals kick-started by
junior TJ Sanders. From then on it was a constant game of cat and mouse, with
Johns Hopkins and Penn State trading leads and ties throughout the second half.
The two opponents would tie each other twice during the game, and were never
separated by more than two goals during the third quarter.
"I thought when we had our hand free and had room and space to shoot the
ball we did a really nice job with it," said Tambroni. "When we didn't the
result was evident, we turned the ball over on four possessions in the second
half and that proved to probably be a little more than we can handle."
Connor Darcey had an outstanding game in net, saving 11 shots in the
first half. Darcey's 11 saves helped him achieved a feat that hasn't happened
since Penn State's March 23, 2013 game against Bucknell. His total saves for
the night would come to 17, a large number by any comparison.
Although the season ended sooner than they would have liked, the Nittany
Lions have much to be proud of from their 2015 campaign. Being a part of the
inaugural Big Ten conference for lacrosse makes this season that much more
special. Having secured one of only four spots in the Big Ten Tournament, Penn
State further proved their ability to contend against the elite programs in the
"It was a honor to be involved in the Big Ten," said Tambroni. "It was a
lot of fun for all of us to be involved in the first ever Big Ten Tournament.
It is such a first class conference from start to finish. From the way that
they promote and market, run games, run the tournament. It has been an honor
and I think our guys sensed the difference from where we were to where we are
For the 2015 senior class, this season was the opportunity to steer Penn
State men's lacrosse in a new direction, with them at the helm. The nine
seniors set the standard for work ethic and sportsmanship that will be in place
for years to come in Happy Valley.
"We said to these guys during their senior day, they are the link," said
Tambroni. "They are the link to the past and the future."
Penn State men's lacrosse has a bright and promising future ahead thanks to
their senior class.
"This was really the last group between the old coaching staff and the
new coaching staff and I think they've done a pretty good job of holding on to
what we believe is a honorable past, but also leading this group to a new
culture and a future to what we think is going to be really bright," said
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's lacrosse team has fought for
every win so far this season, and on Thursday the team will battle for one
more, this time in the first round of the inaugural Big Ten Tournament.
With history waiting to be written, the No. 4-seeded Nittany Lions (5-8, 2-3
Big Ten) are prepared to face a familiar foe, the No. 1 seed Johns Hopkins (7-6,
4-1 Big Ten).
The Lions and Blue Jays saw one another just less than three weeks prior
they took to double overtime in one of the most thrilling games of the regular
season. Although the outcome of that game didn't land in the Penn State's
favor, this time around the Lions hope to change that; playoffs are a whole new
Head coach Jeff Tambroni knows the significance of what his team has
accomplished so far this season. Tambroni noted that just being in the
tournament is an accomplishment in itself, since only four of the six Big Ten
teams qualified; Michigan and Rutgers missed the cut.
"I think it's significant because of the fact that it's the inaugural Big
Ten Tournament," said Tambroni. "I feel really good for our guys. I just think
it's a wonderful group of young men who have worked very hard, we just have not
always gotten the results that we would hoped for throughout the course of the
regular season, but winning the last two games - must-win games - I think feels
real good for our guys. I'm sure there's a sense of relief, but also a sense of
pride, knowing that they're going to be representing Penn State in the
The pride the Nittany Lions have going in to the tournament stems from two
strong wins to end the regular season, a home win against Rutgers and a win in
Ann Arbor against Michigan. Penn State also has a sense of familiarity going in
to their matchup against Johns Hopkins, after an 11-10 decision decided the
first meeting in double overtime.
"I think it certainly provides our guys with the link of understanding that
we can play with Johns Hopkins," said Tambroni. "Both teams were at a different
place, I think both teams were coming off a loss, so I think the mindset of
both teams coming in there was probably a little bit questionable. It's going
to be a completely different game when the whistle blows [on Thursday] and you
got to go back to square one."
Penn State will turn to its key players to contend with Johns Hopkins.
Attack men like TJ Sanders will now more than ever need to find the back of the
net, and continue to be aggressive in the offensive zone. Goalie Connor Darcey
will need to find his groove early and settle in in net to stave off his
opponents. And the defense must build off of its strong start against Michigan
and continue holding off their opponents early on in the game.
"I think if we want or expect to win then our best players are going to
have to show up and make plays, I think that's just fact of the matter," said
Tambroni. "Both teams really want to win; I think it's going to come down to
willingness of certain guys to make plays at certain times."
Although there are four teams in the tournament, Coach Tambroni emphasized
that it's not about being better than all three of the other teams; it comes
down to beating one team at a time.
"We don't have to play three teams; we have to play one team on Thursday,"
said Tambroni. "The reality of it is we don't have to be better than all three
teams; we have to be better than one team on Thursday and one team on Saturday.
I think if we don't bite off more than we can chew, we can put ourselves in a
position to win."
Coach Tambroni has put great importance during the past month on his
players getting back to the simplistic way of playing lacrosse. This strategy
has proven successful, giving the Nittany Lions necessary wins to qualify for
the Big Ten Tournament.
"You can tend to over prepare, so hopefully we just give these guys
confidence in themselves," said Tambroni. "I think if we put in too much stuff
they'll start to question if they can do it. [Back to the basics] will be the
same philosophy going in to this one."
The Nittany Lions have proven they're fully deserving of their bid to the
Big Ten Tournament. Now it is just up to Penn State to bring the competition
with them to College Park.
"Hopefully [the team] will have stepped back and reflected for just an
instant on the opportunity for us and take advantage of the opportunity that
they have earned," said Tambroni.
No. 1 Johns Hopkins (7-6, 4-1 Big Ten) Points Leader: Ryan Brown 60 points Leading Goal Scorer: Ryan Brown, 51 goals Assists Leader: Wells Stanwick, 31 assists
The Blue Jays, coming off an upset against Maryland, are on a hot streak
entering the Big Ten Tournament. Johns Hopkins led in both shots (37) and
groundballs (34) against Maryland, and will look to bring momentum into the
game against Penn State in the first round of the tournament. Junior Ryan Brown
looks to continue his standout season, already becoming the first Big Ten
player since 1995 to surpass 50 goals in a season. Brown was also named the
2015 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Freshman Joel Tinney was named the
2015 Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
No. 2 Maryland (12-2, 4-1 Big Ten) Points Leader: Matt Rambo, 40 points Leading Goal Scorer: Matt Rambo, 28 goals Assists Leader: Bryan Cole, 12 assists
Although they didn't win the outright Big Ten regular season title due to
their loss to Johns Hopkins last Saturday, the Terrapins will be looking to
bounce back against Ohio State during the first round of the Big Ten
tournament. Casey Ikeda was named the 2015 Big Ten Defensive Player of the
Year, helping the Terrapins keep opponents to just 6.43 goals per game.
Maryland will face Ohio State on Thursday at 8 p.m.
No. 3 Ohio State (10-5, 3-2 Big Ten) Points Leader: Jesse King, 58 points Leading Goal Scorer: Jesse King, 35 goals Assists Leader: Jesse King, 23 assists
The Buckeyes will enter the Big Ten Tournament coming off a 17-10 loss at
Rutgers. Despite the late April loss, Ohio State finished 10-5 overall, including
wins against Penn State, Johns Hopkins and Michigan. Jesse King earned All-Big
Ten Team honors, as well as Carter Brown. Tom Carey and Robby Haus were Big Ten
Honorable Mentions. The Buckeyes face Maryland on Thursday at 8 p.m.
No. 4 Penn State (5-8, 2-3 Big Ten) Points Leader: TJ Sanders, 39 points Leading Goal Scorer: TJ Sanders, 27 goals Assists Leader: TJ Sanders, 12 assists, Nick Aponte 12 assists
The Nittany Lions have been gaining momentum following two consecutive wins
against Rutgers and Michigan to finish off the regular season. After their win
against Rutgers, Mike Sutton was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week,
and goaltender Connor Darcey took home Defensive Player of the Week honors. TJ
Sanders has been Penn State's most standout player of the year, netting 27
goals to end the regular season. Sanders leads the team in points and goals,
and is also tied with sophomore Nick Aponte for assists. On April 28th,
TJ Sanders and Mike Sutton were awarded Big Ten honorable mentions. The Nittany
Lions will take the field against Johns Hopkins on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer ANN ARBOR, MI. - The Penn State men's lacrosse team (5-8, 2-3 Big Ten)
secured a playoff spot after defeating Michigan (5-8, 1-4 Big Ten), 10-9, on
Saturday. Penn State will be the No. 4 seed in the inaugural Big Ten Lacrosse Tournament.
The Nittany Lions came out strong offensively during their matchup
against the Wolverines. Nick Aponte and TJ Sanders led the team in goals,
netting three apiece to add to Penn State's dominant offensive start against
"I think in the offensive end Nick Aponte did a great job just managing
our attack, managing our offense once again, so that was a bright spot for us,"
said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "You know when we were lacking a little
creativity and a little ability to run by [Michigan] early, he was the one guy who
stood out and made the plays. I think the other side of it is it was nice to be
in a close game and learn how to win."
Associate head coach and defensive coordinator Peter Toner had said
earlier in the week that his goal for the defense was to begin the game strong
and not give up early goals, as they had in weeks past. Head coach Jeff
Tambroni believed the defense was able to get their best start of the season,
holding off any Wolverine goals until the second quarter.
"I thought [the defense] played really well for two and a half
quarters," said Tambroni. "I thought the first half, Connor [Darcey] was
playing well but I also thought that our defense was playing really well. I
thought we managed two or three sizeable threats in the offense and I thought
our guys did a pretty good job of managing possession time and did a pretty
good job at limiting quality looks."
During the second half, Michigan mounted a comeback. The Wolverines were
also fighting for the fourth Big Ten tournament spot, and were determined to
not give up a postseason spot so easily. It was up to the Nittany Lion defense
to stave off the relentless Wolverines and hold on for a win.
"I thought late in the third, early in the fourth, Michigan made a run," said
Tambroni. "They were winning more than their fair share of face offs and I
think we ended up having two or three possessions in the fourth quarter
offensively. The good thing is not only did we get off to a good start but we
found a way at the end to just doing us to walk away from Ann Arbor with a
Penn State's defense was able to hold off Michigan's attack men and come out
with a 10-9 win. This win validated the last few weeks of hard work the team
has put in during long practices.
The Nittany Lions, the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament, will face
No. 1 Johns Hopkins (7-6, 4-1 Big Ten) on Thursday in the first round. All Big
Ten tournament games will be held on the campus of Maryland in College Park.
"I think just being fresh is going to be the most important thing right
now," said Tambroni. "It's been a long season, a lot of travel, and the premium
will be having a fresh team walk on to the field on Thursday."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY
PARK, Pa. - After a strong win on Sunday over Rutgers, Penn State (4-8, 1-3 Big
Ten) looks to finish the regular season on a high note when they take on
Michigan (5-7, 1-3 Big Ten) on Saturday Saturday in Ann Arbor.
by an outstanding performance by the Nittany Lion offense last weekend, Penn
State looks to gain a playoff birth with a win against the Wolverines. The
winner of Saturday's contest will secure the No. 4 spot in the Big Ten
tournament, a spot the Nittany Lions hope to find themselves in.
head coach and defensive coordinator Peter Toner is hoping this game will prove
the final piece to the puzzle that was a trying 2015 regular season. A win
against Michigan and a playoff spot will bring validation to the young group of
men who have worked hard throughout the season.
on where we're at in the Big Ten we have to kind of treat this as a playoff
game," said Toner. "I think at this point I wouldn't say it's do or die but obviously
if we don't win our season probably comes to an end mathematically. For the
guys we're excited about the opportunity to go to Michigan and do what needs to
be done on the field and earn our way into the Big Ten championship series."
State has faced Michigan every season since 2012. The Nittany Lions have won
all three contests in those years, including a dominant 22-7 win to open the
2014 campaign. Despite recent successes, this weekend's game will not be
Nittany Lions, having come back from a two-goal deficit against Rutgers, will
need to come out strong on defense to stay confident in all 60 minutes of play
still have yet to start a game defensively on the right note," said Toner.
"Unfortunately we always seem to go down by a couple and I'm not sure if it's
our guys overthinking or if they're a bit nervous, I don't know, but we keep
working on it during practice. We keep using these scrimmage opportunities and
adding emphasis on the early portion of the scrimmages and hopefully our guys
will just continue to just have a better focus when the game starts."
will be another key for the Nittany Lions this weekend. In previous years the
Nittany Lions have been strong away from University Park, but this year have
been inconsistent on the road. This weekend's matchup, in Michigan's "Big
House," will prove a challenge for a team that needs one final win. The bus
ride will give the players and coaches time to focus and strategize on their
one goal of the weekend: to win.
the season, the team's motto has been "one game at a time." By never getting
ahead of the next game on the calendar, the Nittany Lions focus all of their
energy on one opponent at a time. Coach Toner emphasized that although this has
given the team a new perspective on their season, he does still see room for
improvement even as the season winds down.
think we just got to keep working on us," said Toner. "I think that's the key.
We were talking to our guys last week about just doing what we do, but just
doing it a little bit better. I think a lot of our focus earlier in the year
tended to be on our opponent versus fixing the things that were going on within
our own team."
other area of improvement the team looks to tackle this weekend is possession
time. To start, faceoff specialists like Drake Kreinz will need to win face
offs, it then comes down to Penn State's ability to keep and possess the ball.
of possession in this game is going to be key," said Toner. "It certainly
highlights our ability to clear the ball effectively. To tip the scales a
little bit more in our favor in terms of possession time for our offense and
limited possessions for [Michigan's] offense. The fewer times we have to defend
them the better off we'll be."
every game offers the opportunity for improvement, the little changes that the
Nittany Lions are focusing on this week could be the difference between extending
their season and cleaning out their lockers sooner than they would like.
think this is an exciting opportunity for them and for us, knowing that we can
extend our season with a win and we certainly look forward to the challenge,"
State will face Michigan Saturday in Ann Arbor at 6 p.m. The game will air on
the Big Ten Network.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind a complete team effort, the Nittany Lion
men's lacrosse team powered past Rutgers, 11-6, on Senior Night in Happy Valley
Looking to snap a skid, the Nittany Lions came out with their strongest
first quarter of the year against the Scarlet Knights. Although Rutgers got on
the board first, Penn State quickly answered, and never looked back. The Nittany
Lions dominating performance gave them a convincing win after weeks of hard
"I feel really good for our seniors," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "You
know they've worked so hard and fought through a very difficult stretch and
when you're losing over a four or five week period it's not easy to keep coming
back every day like these guys have."
Although several players had multi-goal games, the performance of senior
Pat Manley stood out to those in attendance and those watching on TV. His five
points, three of which came in the first half, helped rocket the Nittany Lions
past the Scarlet Knights.
"I think all year we've kind of had trouble with initiating the offense
and too much one and done, taking the ball to the goal, so I kind of took it on
myself to look for the open guy today," said Manley.
Four of Manley's points came from assists, a contribution that didn't go
unnoticed. Earlier in the season, the Nittany Lions had difficulty in creating
opportunities in front of the net. Against Rutgers, the story changed.
Manley was one of nine seniors honored prior to the opening face off
against Rutgers. A win on home turf during Senior Night meant the world to the
oldest players on the team.
"It's great to get a win," said Manley. "It's been a tough year so far.
To get our first Big Ten win on Senior Day is just awesome, it's been such a
relief. All the stuff we've been through this season, just having our families
here [for the game] and seeing them all day today it's just been a great moment
Tambroni was pleased with his players' performance against Rutgers and
thought the team had worked hard all season, deserving the win. Tambroni has
admired the senior class and how they have led the team the whole season,
during a time of significant transition for the Nittany Lions' program.
Tambroni believed it was the seniors who set the tone for the Sunday night win.
"I think it was a culmination of their belief and their hard work and
their persistence that really pushed us over the edge today," said Tambroni. "I
just feel for that group. They're a wonderful group of young men who earned
this victory here today."
Now having a fourth win under their belts, the Nittany Lions look
forward to their final game of the regular season. A win against Michigan would
be enough to place Penn State in Big Ten tournament contention. The Nittany
Lions will take their newfound confidence from a long awaited win and channel
it to improve every day during practice this week.
"We just want to keep playing," said Manley. "If we win this next game it's just another
chance for us to keep playing and I know us seniors and all these guys want to
keep playing after the season that we've had so we're just gonna have to take it
one day at a time next week. Michigan is a great team, up and coming program so
we're gonna have our work cut out for us."
Penn State travels to Ann Arbor for their final game of the regular
season at Michigan this Saturday.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student
Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK,
Pa. - Before the final home game of the regular season, Penn State men's
lacrosse will honor nine graduating seniors. Playing at home for a final time,
seniors Kyle Baier, JP Burnside, Jack Donnelly, Brian Gerrato, Pat Manley, Ryan
Mullen, Michael Richards, Taylor Stothoff, and Kyle Zittel look to win one last
game in Happy Valley.
Tasked with leading
their young team during their first season as members of the Big Ten lacrosse
conference, the class of 2015 met many obstacles along the way. The leadership
of the senior class will easily be one of their lasting legacies.
Head coach Jeff
Tambroni is fond of this senior class because it was one of the first classes
he recruited as Penn State. Tambroni has been able to see the young players he
brought in four or five years ago transition and grow into better players but
also respectable young men.
"I would measure
the significance of this group in the quality of their character," said
Tambroni. "I don't think statistically you can quantify what this group meant
because some of these guys have just not played a lot of minutes for our
program over the last four years, yet have still really contributed a great
deal in the locker room, on campus, and within the community. In a limited
amount of time some of them have done a wonderful job of contributing on the
may be overshadowed, but that doesn't mean the senior class has not made an
impact. Falling in behind sole captain Kyle Zittel, the senior class quickly
set the tone for what was expected from their younger teammates, whether it was
their attitude in practices or their mentality on game days.
"Looking at Kyle
Zittel I think he is someone that is symbolic of the entire class," said
Tambroni. "He has done really well in the classroom, he's super involved in the
community, and has become a leader of our program because of the quality of his
character and because of his integrity."
During its time at Penn State, the senior class has made many memories, both on
and off the field. Some moments will forever stand out in the minds of the
"For me [my
favorite memory] was our 4-2 double overtime win against Notre Dame our
freshman year," said senior Jack Donnelly. "[It] was just an unbelievable game;
a great experience. At that point we were pretty much nobodies so it was a real
eye-opening experience for a lot of us. I think that really just sparked a
passion for a lot of us."
Triumphs on the
field will certainly be highlights for the senior class, but for others, the
moments that happen behind the scenes will forever be their favorites.
remember most of the stuff off the field, in the locker room, with teammates,
during practice," said senior Taylor Stothoff.
Tambroni and the rest of the coaching staff have become very fond of their
senior class. During a time of great transition, the seniors faced many
challenges and led their team head-on into the fight. The class of 2015 paved
the way for Penn State men's lacrosse for years to come and has set the
foundation for Penn State's time as a member of Big Ten lacrosse.
"From what we have
seen as a coaching staff, this class has meant a lot in the transition of this
program from where we were and where we'd like to be," Tambroni said. "They'll
be remembered by our coaching staff as a class that really did a lot to allow
that bridge to happen."
As the class of
2015 looks ahead to their last few games as a Nittany Lions, the seniors want
to end their reign in Happy Valley on a high note. For now, Sunday's game
against Rutgers is just one more game for the departing 2015 class to leave
their mark on.
Penn State hosts
Rutgers on Sunday at 6 p.m. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.