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Lions Fall Short in Regular Season Finale

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By Erin Neri, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse dropped a hard fought overtime decision to Michigan Saturday afternoon to end the regular season. The Wolverines scored the game winning goal 58 seconds into the overtime period, winning 10-9. 

Postgame, coach Jeff Tambroni felt the team never settled into a steady rhythm, unable recover from a slow start in the first half. Instead, it was the Wolverines who took advantage from the first whistle.

"Every time we started to build momentum we were our own worst critics," Tambroni said. "We were the ones stopping the momentum. We just did so many things today that created an imbalance of flow and just couldn't get out of it."

The Nittany Lions ended the challenging first half trailing 5-3, but were able to turn things around to start the second half. Penn State managed to keep the Wolverines scoreless in third quarter, finding the back of the net four times to move ahead, 7-3.

The defense struggled in the first half, allowing multiple turnovers and failing to get the ball to the offensive end. In the third quarter, the offense took advantage of more opportunities with the ball.

"In the beginning of the game we had a really hard time clearing the ball," junior redshirt defenseman Mike Aronow said. "I thought we came out in the second half and had more of an urgency getting out of our defensive end."

While the Nittany Lions and the Wolverines kept the score close in the fourth quarter, it was sophomore Mac O'Keefe who found the back of the net with just 40 seconds left in the game to put Penn State up 9-8. The celebration was short-lived when Michigan sophomore Decker Curran scored no more than 20 seconds later to tie up the game and send it into overtime. 

As the Nittany Lions have found themselves in overtime situations before throughout the season, Tambroni put his faith in his team and its ability to execute.

It was Curran again who found the back of the net to end the game.

"We wanted to go man-to-man, we believe in our people and I thought our guys did a really good job of that," Tambroni said. "They just made a play, unfortunately it was just a poor result for us."

Although the Nittany Lions didn't get the result they wanted to finish the regular season, Tambroni found comfort in the way his team battled through adversity in the first half to come back strong in the second half.

Despite the final score, the coaching staff was proud of the determination. 

"I thought we fought back after playing so miserably in the first [half]," Tambroni said. "There's a lot of great kids on that sideline and the seniors have done so much for our team. I'm sorry for them because it was a culture changing year for us but it just didn't live through the success of the last couple games of the season."

The Nittany Lions will now  wait to find out their postseason fate, which is determined based on the winner of the Ohio State, Rutgers game Saturday evening. 

"I've seen a lot of good lacrosse out of this group so I know it's there even though it hasn't shown in the last couple games," Tambroni said. "With good leadership and a little luck, we'll live another day."

Senior Class Leaves Legacy of Hard Work

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse is gearing up for its final home game of the regular season against Michigan. Come Saturday afternoon, the Nittany Lions will also hold their annual senior game to honor graduating seniors.

Among Jeff Tambroni's earliest recruiting classes, the eighth-year head coach is especially proud of how far this group of student-athletes has come.

"When I look at Penn State lacrosse as a whole, the word that comes to mind is 'culture,' and I think this senior class has had a significant and positive impact on our culture," Tambroni said. "The overall investment in terms of what it means or what it takes to be a Penn State lacrosse player can be attributed a great deal to this group."

The Nittany Lions will be graduating seven seniors, including three of their four team captains. 

Midfielder and captain Ryan Keenan will continue his lacrosse career at the nest level, drafted to the MLL 54th overall by the Ohio Machine. 

As Keenan is looking forward to playing at the next level, he has the coaching staff and his fellow teammates to thank for helping him get there.

"It has been an awesome experience but I have to thank my teammates, I couldn't have gotten here without them," Keenan said. "The everyday practice and intensity of being a Penn State lacrosse player, along with the work ethic, [has prepared me for the next level]." 

Keenan was recruited by Tambroni when he was in high school, but even then, he knew he wanted to be a part of a program where he could help lay the groundwork for future teams.

Even though it would require hard work and dedication, Keenan and other members of the senior class were up for the challenge of changing the culture surrounding what it means to play lacrosse at Penn State. 

"When I came here, I just bought into Penn State lacrosse and building the program brick by brick," Keenan said. "It resonated with me and the kind of person I am. I wanted to build up and be the first one to change the culture and be a part of something new. That's what a lot of guys, especially in my class, came here for."

The senior class ushered in what Tambroni and the seniors call a 'culture shift' in the program, focusing on aspects like hard work, discipline and being a good teammate. The senior class has exemplified these ideals in the last four years and hopes rising Nittany Lions will continue to follow in their footsteps.

"Our preparation and our work ethic, I think those are the biggest things our senior class will leave behind," Keenan said. "Hard work in the weight room, doing extra work on off days, team comradery and team chemistry, we do a lot of things that bring this team closer together."

Redshirt junior Mike Aronow is the lone Nittany Lion captain who will remain in Happy Valley to play out his last year of eligibility. Even though he'll watch his own recruiting class and some of his best friends graduate in just a couple weeks, he will bring valuable leadership experience to next season's team. 

"If you can have a redshirt or hold over from time to time who has that experience, that does carry on that class and maturity, it's always a positive," Tambroni said. "I think [Aronow] has done that. You bring back a two-year starter, a captain, that knowledge of that it meant to decide [to commit] at that point and to watch Penn State grow, I think it can only be a benefit."

Penn State's captains aren't the only leaders it will be parting with though, as many other members of the senior class also took leadership roles, like defenseman Chris Isenberg. 

Although Isenberg was forced to spend a good chunk of his four-year career sidelined due to injuries, he learned from the challenges and accepted a new role as an emotional leader on the team.

"I definitely saw my mentality pivot from being discouraged and angry at the idea of not playing to the overall big picture - that it's not just me playing lacrosse but me and my team," Isenberg said. "That's one of the biggest aspects of the 'culture shift,' we're not a selfish team, we're extremely selfless and we enjoy success amongst each other and not just individually." 

Although the journey back to the field was long and frustrating for Isenberg, being able to play the last few games of his senior season alongside his teammates made it all worth it. 

Injuries made him cherish the little moments throughout the season, leading up to what could possibly be his last game inside Panzer Stadium with his fellow seniors.

"I just appreciated everything and coming back and playing," Isenberg said. "It's one of the best things I could have asked for, just to know I get to play with these guys to finish out my career." 

With a small class of seven, the group has been able to grow extremely close. As they approach the end of their time in blue and white, they have taken time to reflect on everything they have had to overcome to get to this moment. 

"We're the last ones standing and we've been through so much together on the field and off the field," Isenberg said. "It's definitely going to be a really emotional day."

Nick Spillane Embracing New Role

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By Erin Neri, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Junior attackman Nick Spillane played a major role in helping No. 12 Penn State men's lacrosse to its first program win against Johns Hopkins last week, as the Nittany Lions upset the Blue Jays 14-12.

After spending his first two years with the Nittany Lions in the midfield, Spillane has embraced his new role at attack this season in light of junior Grant Ament's injury. Although the position swap was a big change for Spillane at first, he's finding his stride.

"It's gotten a lot better, I've definitely gotten more comfortable throughout the year," Spillane said. "The way we play offense has definitely made it a little bit easier with that free flowing style. It's great playing with guys that are so focused on each other and don't care about individual stats, but how the offense in general does." 

Spillane had a stellar outing against the Blue Jays, scoring two goals to go along with a personal-best five assists. Spillane also picked up honors from the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association for his performance Saturday afternoon.

Now starting to reap the benefits of his hard work at the new position, Spillane has experienced some bumps along the way.

"This has been a process," Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "Never in the struggle has he allowed himself to wallow in self-pity and when he's had great success, you would never know. I think that's what has allowed him to maintain his hunger and his trajectory to where he is right now." 

There were many adjustments Spillane had to make to play the 'X.' Not only did he have to get used to playing behind the net, but he also had to learn to draw the coverage of the opposing team's best defender. 

Spillane hasn't had to face the challenge alone though, receiving constant support from his fellow teammates.

"Whether I had a really good game or a bad game, everyone's confidence in me has just stayed really high," Spillane said. "That's made it so much easier knowing that everyone is behind me and supportive because it's definitely not easy to step into a role like that."

One of Spillane's biggest supporters and mentors has been Ament himself. Even though Ament has been sidelined this season, he has remained actively involved with the team.

Although Ament has been a source of help and advice for everyone on the team, he and Spillane have forged a special relationship as the season has progressed.

"He's been great with staying involved," Spillane said. "I talk to him about what he sees throughout the game because he has a great mind for the position and the sport in general. It's definitely been an open conversation between him and myself throughout the entire year. He has given me some pointers throughout games and practices, so he's definitely made my transition a little easier."

While Spillane and Ament are two unique individuals, it wasn't a coincidence the coaching staff selected Spillane to step into the open spot on attack. With Spillane's talented skillset and mind for scoring, moving him made the most sense to Tambroni.

Fellow attackman, sophomore Mac O'Keefe, also sees similarities between Ament and Spillane, which has made the transition easier for the other members of the offense. 

"They're pretty similar," O'Keefe said. "They both have very good vision and their heads are always up looking to make a play." 

Looking ahead to Sunday night, the Nittany Lions will head to New Jersey to take on No. 10 Rutgers.

Although Tambroni hopes the team's win over Johns Hopkins will provide an extra boost of momentum, he also doesn't want the victory to prompt complacency.

"It can certainly provide confidence and justify the work and the collaboration that this group has put in, and that's what you hope," Tambroni said. "It can also go the other way. You can tend to be a little short-sighted with wins like this and start to think about big picture instead of focusing on the details. We have to make sure there is still a sharp focus on our daily goals and an attention to detail on a daily basis versus end results."

The Scarlet Knights are coming off a strong game of their own, losing only to top-ranked Maryland by a single goal, 11-10.

Sunday night's game could also prove to be of great importance later in the season, as both the Nittany Lions and the Scarlet Knights are on the cusp of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.

All that aside, the Nittany Lions are sticking true to their own strategy, focused on improving their own game instead of concentrating all their attention on Rutgers.

"I think our guys are just going to have to continue to go out and play hard and play together," Tambroni said. "There's no magic or secret to our success, it has been a selfless collaboration and if our guys stay connected to that foundation, we'll be in a good position."

Offense Shines in Johns Hopkins Victory

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By Erin Neri, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 15 Penn State men's lacrosse pulled off the upset, defeating fourth-ranked Johns Hopkins to earn the program's first win against the Blue Jays.

Headed into the matchup, Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni knew he'd need to rely on a heavy rotation as the Nittany Lions delivered in a stellar offensive performance.

"I was really grateful with the contributions both midfields made, we had seven guys playing at the midfield and three at the attack and every one of those guys did their part," Tambroni said. "We knew we were going to need that kind of performance to make this thing happen today."

The Nittany Lions saw goals from eight different Nittany Lions, including sophomore attacker Mac O'Keefe and junior midfielder Kevin Hill, who both score three goals apiece.

It was the midfield that generated more than half of Penn State's goals Saturday afternoon, led by five different goal-scorers.

"I think we have some very talented players, but I think in order for us to be good everyone has to contribute," Tambroni said. "Sometimes it's the attack's turn and sometimes it's the middies' turn. Today we just had a few more opportunities with our middies and they took advantage of that." 

Penn State's offense thrives on the involvement of everyone. While the team has been working on trying to include everyone in its offensive production throughout the first half of the season, things are starting to finally take shape during Big Ten play.

"That's what we preach every day, we're a team offense," Hill said. "There's not one guy that's the all-star, we work as a team every single day, that's how we succeed. We take a lot of pride in that and that's why we won this game and played so well in the first half offensively."

Perhaps the true star of the game was sophomore attackman, Gerard Arceri. After leaving last weekend's game late in the fourth quarter with a leg injury, it was unclear if he would play Saturday afternoon against the Blue Jays.

Even though Arceri battled through the pain, he went an impressive 16-23 on the day. 

"He's been saying he's going to play since Sunday night, there was never a doubt in that young man's mind," Tambroni said. "Our trainers had a different opinion and we did as well, but he proved every one of us wrong today and got out there and had the performance of a lifetime."

The week leading up to the game wasn't easy though, as Arceri spent all of his time in the training room instead of taking reps on the field.

Knowing the importance of Saturday's game against the Blue Jays, Arceri was determined to make it onto the field to help his teammates fight for the win.

"I've never seen a kid spend so much time in the training room," junior midfielder Nick Spillane said. "He was just so determined to get on the field and just so locked in on what he haxd to do. That's one of the more impressive performances I've ever seen out of anyone."

After taking a big hit at the end of the first half, it looked doubtful Arceri would return to the field. He ended up sitting the third quarter out, giving sophomore Nick McEvoy time at the face off X. McEvoy was spectacular in the meantime, finishing 2-4 with a goal off a face off win with just a second remaining in the third quarter.

Arceri re-entered the game in the fourth quarter, providing yet another spark of momentum for the Nittany Lions to help them secure the victory. There were just a few changes Arceri had to make to his game plan in light of his leg injury though.

"I tried to find my wings a lot faster," Arceri said. "I still tried to pull the ball to myself, but I tried to find them as quick as I could because I couldn't run. Also trying to find [Colby Kneese] back there as an outlet and as many outlets as possible after winning the face off."

As his teammates and coaches noted, Arceri's performance was nothing short of amazing. Even though he was hampered with pain, it was his strong mindset that helped him stay in the game.

"The key was his mental toughness outside of his physical ability," Tambroni said. "What he was able to do out there, just focus and eliminate any thoughts about his leg and dominate the way he did, that was a special once in a lifetime kind of performance."

Penn State Focused Amid Busy Weekend

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse is set for another tough Big Ten matchup Saturday afternoon against Johns Hopkins. After a close loss to Maryland Sunday night, the Nittany Lions are looking to create a shift in momentum heading into the rest of the season.

Last week, the team attacked the week of preparation focusing on the little things, honing in on the process rather than the results. While the plan is to do the same this week, the Nittany Lions are also making some additional adjustments in preparation for the Blue Jays.

"We'll definitely have to do some different things in our defensive end because they have some guys that can give us some trouble in some different ways [and we will have to] attack their offense a little bit differently because they're a little different, stylistically," Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "When it comes to the simplicity of the game plan [and] focusing on smaller details versus bigger picture stuff, without question, we feel it is in our best interest to make sure we do that." 

In the midst of the Big Ten season, Penn State has started to play perhaps its best lacrosse of the season. After cycling through the peaks and valleys of the first half of the season, for Tambroni and the team, things started to turn in their favor around spring break.

Over the course of the week away from campus, the Nittany Lions played three games and scored a combined 32 goals. Penn State beat Penn and Furman early in the week, before dropping a tough battle to Cornell.

"I think it was the moment we came back and took a day off, our preparation into those next games really just seemed to take on a whole different spirit," Tambroni said. "Our guys came to the field not just as players wearing the same uniform, [but] truly started to understand what it meant to be a great teammate." 

Not only does the coaching staff feel that way, but also the players. Senior midfielder and captain Tanner Peck also felt the team's attitude shifted after the loss against the Big Red. 

Along with members of the coaching staff, the team has praised the camaraderie of the group. Not only has their closeness made them better teammates, but it has also improved their performance on the field. 

"After the loss against Cornell we got together as a team and talked about the potential that we have and the importance of coming together," Peck said. "With a few injuries early in the season and throughout the fall, it's been really important to come together as a team. Just using all of our strengths has been really important as we've been on the up-swing later in the season."

 Saturday's game takes on a bit of an extra special meaning not just because Johns Hopkins is coming to Happy Valley, but also because the team will be welcoming back alumni and members of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation.

Penn State will also honor the 2003 team in a special ceremony recognizing the first Nittany Lion squad to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

"From a historical perspective, we're very proud of the legacy our alumni have left behind," Tambroni said. "We're thrilled to be able to honor that group that is coming back and extremely grateful that they would take the time to come back, to get in the car and drive to central Pennsylvania is a commitment."

Penn State will also honor its adopted teammate Gavin Royer, a 9-year-old cancer patient, who is currently in remission. The team was paired with Gavin through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation back in 2014. Since then, Gavin and his family attend most of the Nittany Lion home games, seated on the sideline. This week, he will serve as an honorary captain. 

While Gavin and the rest of the Royer family have certainly benefited from the impact of the team, they have also made a huge impact on the Nittany Lions. 

"He's a special kid," Peck said. "I've grown so much in my relationship with him over the last four years and just the perspective he brings to life every day is something special. No matter what you're going through, no matter how hard a practice or a workout is, you know there's a kid that's part of this team that's going through way worse, and he continues to bring a smile in everything that he does."

Despite all the different events scheduled for the afternoon, the coaching staff wants to make sure the team keeps its attention on the Blue Jays. While the staff wants the team to enjoy the festivities and take in the special day, it is also important to shift their focus to the game plan once they step on the field.

"With all that's going on, we're just thrilled that we can celebrate all that's great about Penn State," Tambroni said. "At the same time, this is going to be the greatest task of the year to see if they can just focus on the details. It's a lot on our coaching staff to make sure that our guys focus on the details of just doing what they need to do, playing hard and playing together against a really good Johns Hopkins team. If we can do that, not only will we maximize our potential, but we'll also help celebrate all that's great about Penn State."

Penn State Draws Takeaways from Maryland

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By Erin Neri, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a cold night at Panzer Stadium, No. 18 Penn State men's lacrosse battled No. 2 Maryland down to the wire but came up one goal short when the final whistle blew. The Nittany Lions lost 13-12 to the reigning NCAA national champions in their second Big Ten outing.

Although the Nittany Lions couldn't pull off the upset, Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni didn't feel the scoreboard reflected the amount of effort his team poured into their performance.

"I always think you get what you deserve when you walk off the field," Tambroni said. "I don't think our guys deserved to lose, but we didn't make enough plays today. On the other hand, I'm really empathetic for our guys because I thought they competed so hard tonight and they did everything we as coaches asked them to do in terms of their effort and just staying focused on the details." 

In the week leading up to Sunday's game, Tambroni noted his team wanted to come out and take control from the first face off. They managed to do just that, scoring the first two goals of the game. Penn State led the Terrapins 6-5 at the half, while keeping the score tied 9-9 headed into the fourth quarter. 

With neither team leading by more than two goals throughout the entirety of the game, the clock hit zero with the Nittany Lions a goal short of forcing overtime.

"The toughest part about it is when you're up the whole game and you get down to the wire, you feel like you could have done something that would have prevented that one less goal or you would be up one if you did something differently," redshirt junior defenseman Mike Aronow said. "During the game I thought we did a good job of being composed. I don't know what happened at the end, I think [Maryland's] players made a lot of really good plays and we just didn't execute." 

While both teams' offenses put on a show for the packed stadium, it came down to a battle of the goalies.

Even though Nittany Lion goalkeeper Colby Kneese was coming into Sunday night's game riding a huge wave of, it was Terrapin goaltender and fellow Texas native, Dan Morris who emerged with the win. Morris registered a total 12 saves on the day to Kneese's nine.

During the week the Nittany Lions gave special attention to Morris' style of play, but in the end, the senior made multiple difficult kick-saves throughout the game, with several Penn State shots hitting the pipes of the cage.

"We scouted him pretty well and we knew going in he had some strengths," junior midfielder Nick Spillane said. "Early on we were hitting spots and I think down the stretch he caught onto where we were putting the ball. Kudos to [Morris], he was big down the stretch for [Maryland]."

At the end of the 60-minutes, the Nittany Lions have a lot to be proud of but also a lot to learn from.

Penn State gained the confidence it will need heading toward the rest of the Big Ten season. When it comes to lessons though, Penn State knows its takeaways.

"I think we have to learn that's the standard of college lacrosse right there, that's the talent we're going to have to beat if we want to get to that next level," Aronow said. "If we take it as a learning experience and move forward, then I think we'll be fine going into the final games we have."

Looking ahead to next weekend, the Nittany Lions will have a short week to prepare for another big conference test in No. 6 Johns Hopkins.

For Tambroni, if the Nittany Lions attack the upcoming week of preparation like they did leading up to the Maryland game, he has no doubt they can defeat the Blue Jays in front of another home crowd.

"We talked all week about not focusing on the result and just focusing on our preparation, the details and the process that needed to go into this," Tambroni said. "This is going to sting for sure when we go back in the locker room but we need to reset. We can't feel sorry for ourselves in the middle of the Big Ten season. I'm hopeful this group will recognize the effort they put in this week and we're just going to have to replicate it, there will be another exciting competition next week against another top 10 team."

Kneese Growing in Goal

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By Erin Neri, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sophomore goalkeeper Colby Kneese led Penn State men's lacrosse to its first Big Ten victory of the season as the Nittany Lions took down Ohio State, 12-4. Kneese finished the game with a season-high 16 saves and an 80 percent save percentage. He also recorded two shutouts in the first and fourth quarters to earn Big Ten Specialist of the Week honors.

The stellar performance against the Buckeyes was a long time coming for Kneese. After long hours of hard work in practice and plenty of mistakes, the sophomore learned valuable lessons that prepared him for last week, some dating all the way back to the first game of the season. 

"I think from the [Villanova] game in particular, Colby has progressively gotten better," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "I think our defense has worked very hard on its cohesion, coach Toner has done a really nice job with this particular group this year. I think they really believe in the system and each other, more so than any defense we've been a part of here at Penn State."

Kneese earned the starting position in net as a freshman and has remained there since, establishing himself as one of the leaders in the defensive zone, alongside Nittany Lions like redshirt junior captain Mike Aronow and junior Chris Sabia.

Since his first year with the team though, Tambroni says there has been a noticeable difference in Kneese's level of maturity and confidence. It's his approach to the importance of practice that has shaped his attitude though.

"This year I think [Kneese has] shown much greater maturity in the goal," Tambroni said. "Each practice is an opportunity for Colby right now to get better, and I think he's taken advantage of it. I would not have said the same thing last year. I think there were certain days he really focused in on his task and his job at hand in practice. There were definitely certain games that he had a sharper focus, but I think a lot of those things come with the position. We probably require a little bit more out of Colby at the goalie position than we do at any other position and then to pile it on as a freshman, I don't think any of those things are characteristic of what most goalies go through."

Another integral part of Kneese's growth since he has arrived has been Tambroni's influence and mentorship. 

Throughout Tambroni's coaching career, even though he played as an attackman in college, he has served as a goalie coach before landing at Penn State. Now as a Nittany Lion, Tambroni still remains involved with training his goalkeepers, splitting responsibilities with volunteer assistant coach John Hogan.

With his unique insight at the goaltender position, Tambroni has developed a special relationship with Kneese, one the sophomore says has helped him a great deal throughout the season so far.

"[I've] definitely built a better relationship with coach Tambroni, we've been working daily throughout the preseason, the fall and the regular season," Kneese said. "Working with him has really helped me develop my game and instill a lot more confidence in my game."

The relationship has also established a mutual respect between the two.

Even though Tambroni has been around goalies his whole career, his time working with Kneese has given him a new perspective on the position.

"I think it is a special mentality that any individual has to have to step in between those pipes and face what [Kneese] does on a daily basis," Tambroni said." I truly respect and admire anyone who is courageous enough to step in there."

Although Tambroni is now starting to see the direct impact of Kneese's new level of focus, that competitive spirit has always been inside of him. The word Tambroni would use to describe it though - is driven.

 "He's always looking to prove something to himself, to his family, to his teammates and to those around him," Tambroni said. "Whether it's those who believe in him or those who doubt him, I would say his personality in that regard is more competitive and driven." 

Off the field, Kneese's personality is quite different from when he's in the net. Tambroni and his teammates described the sophomore as always cracking jokes and keeping the mood light. He is also passionate, even when defending his beloved Dallas Cowboys inside a locker room full of division rival Philadelphia Eagles fans. 

However, when Kneese steps on the field, he knows how to flip the switch and get serious.

"He jokes around a lot but he knows when to stop joking and when to be serious," Aronow said. "I think that's really important because once it's time to focus and lock it down, he's really good at doing that." 

Kneese also didn't hesitate to proclaim himself as the "best two-handed threat on the team," for his skill in both saving shots and taking them.

"When you go out to practice, on a daily basis if you saw the first two or three minutes prior to his warm up, he always out there shooting on goal," Tambroni said. "I'd say [Kneese] probably puts himself in there as one of the better shots on the team in an offensive sense as well." 

Come Sunday night, Penn State will face another tough conference test in Maryland. While the Terps are coming off a dominant 13-5 win over Michigan, the Nittany Lions are sticking to their usual strategy, remaining focused and confident in their preparation.

"If we beat Maryland this weekend, in the eyes of our players, I don't think there would be anything we could see stopping us from taking that momentum and going as far as we possibly could with it, which would be all the way to the end of May," Kneese said.

Nittany Lions Look to Extend Momentum

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By Erin Neri, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a dominant win against Cleveland State, Penn State men's lacrosse will face perhaps its biggest test of the season so far, opening up conference play on the road at Ohio State.

Although Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni and his staff are preparing for the Buckeyes like they would for any other team, he noted it's hard to ignore the fact that something is different when it comes to the team's mentality heading into the game.

"You'd like to think every week the focus of your preparation is exactly the same but there is definitely a sharper focus this week," Tambroni said. "When you go to school at a place like Penn State, or any school in the Big Ten and you see a school like Ohio State or Michigan it is an institutional rival, not just in football or basketball, it's an institutional rival. Everyone at [Penn State], whether you play a sport or not, in some way shape or form has a beef with [other Big Ten schools] but you also share a certain respect." 

The goal of practice this week is simple. Stay hungry. While it has been easy for the Nittany Lions to lose focus after winning a few games, Penn State wants to make sure it can stay consistent moving forward.

Coming off two commanding wins, Tambroni hopes Penn State can stretch the momentum right into Saturday's game in Columbus.

"At this point in the season, having gone through the nonconference schedule, I am hopeful that as our guys reflect back, they've learned [from those games] and that momentum built from the last two wins against Fairfield and Cleveland State will push us and put us in a position to work harder to achieve more success," Tambroni said. "Versus earlier in the year, we'd win games and the following week at practice instead of remaining hungry and humble in our approach, I felt we became a little complacent at times." 

Fixing the issue of complacency is a team affair, involving everyone from coaches to individuals and staff members. This week, the coaching staff took several opinions from around the team into consideration and decided to change up practice. Although the changes were nothing major, Tambroni hopes the shakeup will establish a new mental outlook throughout the week.

The other part of the solution is execution. If this hard-working group continues to have the right perspective and focus, the coaching staff is confident that success is imminent. 

"These kinds of decisions can't just be lectures from our coaches to our players and it can't just be our players talking to one another. There has to be a plan and there has to be an action item," Tambroni said. "I think we've taken a little bit of this responsibility for what has happened in the past, but now it's the onus and accountability for the way we would like to be in the future. Part of it is planning, part of it is execution but I think our guys are doing a really good job with it." 

In addition to working out some internal kinks, the Nittany Lions will also have to prepare for a tough, veteran Buckeye defensive unit. 

While the Blue and White offense has been finding the back of the net fairly easily over the past couple games, scoring 33 goals in the last two games, finding opportunities against Ohio State will be a challenge. The Nittany Lions are confident though, that if they stick to their game plan and their own identity, their shots will find a way to the back of the cage.

"[Ohio State] is tough on both ends, but in the defensive end they're an extremely stout team," Tambroni said. "They play very well together so I think it's just a matter of making sure our guys believe in us and believe in what they can do."

While watching film and studying the opponent is critical, Tambroni wants to make sure the Nittany Lions don't get lost in concentrating too much on what the Buckeyes are doing.

After Saturday's win, Tambroni noted postgame the team only ran one set play throughout four quarters and felt the offensive play more less predictable and more fluent as a result. This week, the Nittany Lions will be going in with that same strategy, letting chances come organically instead of trying to force them.

"You don't want to paralyze your offense or any player in the offensive end by over-analyzing what [Ohio State does]," Tambroni said. "If you over-analyze what they do, now you're thinking a little too much instead of playing instinctively and that's one of the best things our guys do best. When they can play with great instincts and just read and react to what's going on in front of them, in real time, they're going to make some mistakes but they make a lot more plays."

Penn State and Ohio State get underway at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 31st in Ohio Stadium.

Defense Shines in Cleveland State Win

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By Erin Neri, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse closed out its nonconference slate in dominating fashion, defeating Cleveland State 16-5 Saturday afternoon. 

Although the Nittany Lions looked slow to start the first half, they quickly bounced back, scoring 10 unanswered goals throughout the second half. 

"It was definitely a good ending [to nonconference play]," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "I thought we came out in the second half and right off that first faceoff, [Gerard Arceri won] and two or three guys [got] involved in moving the ball up the field for that first goal. I thought that set the stage for our second half. We played hard and kept things simple at both ends of the field." 

Perhaps one of the more consistent units for the Nittany Lions, Penn State's defense put on a stellar show against Cleveland State, allowing only one goal in the second half. 

All season long though, Tambroni has placed a great deal of importance on getting the team to play as one cohesive unit. During Saturday's outing, Penn State's defense perfectly executed what the coaching staff has been waiting to see. 

"I thought our defense did a better job of just playing together," Tambroni said. "Not just one guy had to do anything in particular, it was about just getting seven guys to do a better job of connecting with one another and I thought they did a really nice job in the second half."

Although the score was 6-4 in Penn State's favor at the end of the first half, associate head coach Peter Toner knew the Nittany Lion defense could be better. During halftime, he and the team went over key adjustments, which then resulted in a nearly flawless second half.

One of the standouts from the defensive unit was sophomore Nick Cardile. Not only did he defend well against a hardworking Vikings offense, but even netted a goal of his own in the fourth quarter. Along with fellow veterans in his defensive unit, Cardile is confident Penn State can continue the momentum headed to Big Ten play. 

"Coming out of halftime, the defense really put their foot down," Cardile said. "We came together and said we can't let this happen and especially moving on forward, if our offense isn't playing as well we're going to have to put our foot down."

On the offensive side of the ball, redshirt sophomore Dylan Foulds continued to find success in the back of the net. Foulds scored four goals on eight shots to go along with a lone assist in front of a crowded Panzer Stadium.

While the coaching staff is still looking for a leader on the offense to step up and take their play to the next level, it is reassuring to see Foulds continuing to put up high numbers on the stat sheet, week after week.

"Seeing what he's doing in the time that he's doing it, he's just super-efficient right now," Tambroni said. "You can see his confidence grow, it's palpable. On the field in the last couple games and watching him in practice, he's just a completely different player over the past couple of weeks."

While Foulds is only spending about half the game on the field, he has continued to rank among the team's top scorers with a total of 13 goals. Conference play though, is the perfect time for gaining confidence shooting the ball. 

"It's been fun to watch him play, this is what we had imagined Dylan Foulds to be like coming on his redshirt sophomore year," Tambroni said. "It's taken a little bit longer than we thought but it's nice to know he continues to keep developing into the player we know, and he knows, he's capable of becoming."

Although the Nittany Lions have a whole week of preparation ahead of them before heading to Ohio State, they feel they are in a good place after Saturday's win. 

"We feel really good as a team, we have a lot of confidence in each other right now," senior captain Tanner Peck said. "It's important to be peaking as the season goes on and that's what we'll look to do as we enter Big Ten play and continue on. As important as it is to play well right now we want to be around campus in May."

Penn State Focused on Consistency

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By Erin Neri, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Headed toward the final nonconference outing of the season, Penn State men's lacrosse in honing in on fine tuning its offensive identity.

Although the unit has been thriving in its most recent outings, scoring a combined 50 goals in the last four games on the road, Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni is looking for more regularity out of some of his offensive Nittany Lions.

"In the offensive end we're still trying to find the consistency of one or two guys that are just premiere, go-to guys," Tambroni said. "That will allow everyone else to kind of relax [and] play the way they're capable of."

While it's not an ideal situation for Tambroni, the occasional lack in consistency has given rise to some clutch performances. One of the most notable Nittany Lions being redshirt sophomore attacker, Dylan Foulds.

"He has a wonderful work ethic both on and off the field," Tambroni said. "He's an easy guy to coach because there's no distractions, no fluff, what you see is what you get."

Foulds' hard work in the offseason has allowed him to become one of the team's top four scorers, with nine goals and seven assists.

While Foulds noted he feels comfortable in his new role within the offense, he also added it takes a group effort to get goals in the back of the net. 

"I think I do a pretty decent job [of playing off the ball]," Foulds said. "I have a lot of background in that from playing in Canada and offense in general, of just being aware and a threat even when [I] don't have the ball. As an offense it's pretty easy to be good off-ball when you have four or five guys working as a unit, so playing together [makes it a lot easier]."

On the other side of the field, Tambroni feels as though the defense has been able to hold its own against several very tough opponents.

Unlike Penn State's offense, the defensive unit features strong leadership in experienced Nittany Lions like redshirt junior Mike Aronow and junior Chris Sabia. This veteran guidance has allowed the unit to find stability early in the season.

"I think defensively we're just a little bit more mature," Tambroni said. "I think the group back there has been our most consistent group. I think they've grown each and every week and have given us a chance to win in every game thus far. We're more hopeful that they continue their trend of consistency and tighten up in certain areas [instead of any] drastic changes."

A quick glance at the first half of the year shows a bit of a pattern when it comes to results for the Nittany Lions. Looking at the schedule, after Penn State loses a game, it returns with back-to-back wins. 

While the Nittany Lions have played a tough nonconference schedule in the first half of the season, it will only get more challenging from here on out. Headed toward Big Ten play in just over a week, Tambroni noted this trend in the team's focus and skill will not be enough against conference teams like Johns Hopkins and Maryland. 

"I do think we faced some teams prior to the Big Ten that are just as competitive, if not more, than some of the teams we will play," Tambroni said. "We can ill-afford to have complacency and hunger, complacency and hunger on alternating weeks. We have to lock it down and make sure each and every week there's a little more consistency, to our focus, to our game planning [and] to the details of our practice."

While getting ready to face some of the best teams in the country, the adversity the Nittany Lions have already faced in the nonconference stretch will only make them stronger for what's ahead.

"The beauty of playing a competitive non-league schedule is that we will be prepared and more battle tested," Tambroni said. "We've gone through some adversity [and] I think if we can reflect back and learn from that, I think we will be seasoned and prepared for those challenges."


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