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Nittany Lions Confident in Stony Brook Win

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By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the roars from THON echoed alongside silently falling snow,  Penn State men's lacrosse remained focused, dominating Stony Brook,15-8, Saturday. Playing outside for the first time during the regular season, the Nittany Lions relied on strong performances from juniors Kevin Hill and Kevin Fox to spark the win.

 

"It was fun," Hill said. "Just going out here with the guys and playing outside - defending our own turf is always what we are trying to do so it was a lot of fun. A little snowstorm, but it was fun playing in it for sure." 

 

Penn State quickly made a statement, finding the back of the net three times within 63 seconds of the game's starting whistle. Both Hill and Fox were crucial offensive weapons in creating those opportunities.

 

Off of sophomore Gerard Arceri's face off win, Fox shot a dagger into the back of the net within the first 10 seconds of play. As Fox replaced sophomore Nick Cardile in this weekend's matchup, he stepped up to cement his first goal of the 2018 slate, setting the tone for the game.

 

"I thought Kevin played really well today," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "I thought he played with a lot of energy. Kevin was our starter earlier in the year and then kind of got bumped out but he came back today."

 

Sophomore Mac O'Keefe's dime to the upper right corner came almost immediately after to put the Nittany Lions up 2-0.

 

In similar fashion to his teammates, Hill made quick work of the Seawolves' defense, notching the third goal for Penn State with 13:57 still remaining in the first quarter.

 

"I thought Kevin was probably our main focus on the offensive end," Tambroni said. "He seemed to be the guy with the most confidence, the most conviction. He wanted to be the guy taking over in the offensive end and I think he got off to a good start."

 

Hill maintained his momentum throughout the entirety of play, even as the snow began to pick up. With three seconds left in the first half, Hill dashed up the field to put another dent in Stony Brook's game plan. Penn State went into the intermission leading 8-4.

 

"It was very critical we came out here today just trying to keep it simple. Really, that was the game plan," Hill said. "We came out with a lot of energy today. We played a good Stony Brook team so we just wanted to come out fast as best we could."

 

Scoring his ninth goal of the season and fourth of the day, Hill helped motivate his teammates to push beyond the weather and the Seawolves in the second half.

 

"You know coming out of the second half we talked to our guys about being a little more confident with the ball in the stick," Tambroni said. "He seemed like he was demanding the ball. He really wanted it in his stick. I think he really pushed us into the second half with that goal he had in the third quarter. I think Kevin was a guy that just continues to be very poised and very level-headed and had another nice game today."

 

Beyond Hill and Fox, the Blue and White rallied around their faceoff unit, led by the dynamic efforts of Arceri. Arceri went 20-for-27 from the faceoff x and found the net for the first time this season.

 

"That was a big emphasis the whole week, the faceoff unit, I think we did a good job today," Hill said.

 

Having proved pivotal last week, Tambroni was again pleased with the Nittany Lion faceoff unit.

"I thought our faceoff unit in general was just crucial throughout the entire day," Tambroni said. "I think Stony Brook did well on both ends of the field but we just dominated possessions and when things started to slip away, Gerard did a great job in that third and fourth quarter of bringing it back it back."

 

Arceri's dominance also played a major hand in the string of goals the Nittany Lions rattled off in the first quarter.

 

"Not only was he getting possessions, but they were involved in probably four goals today," Tambroni said. "They made us feel a lot better than we should have felt throughout the afternoon."    

VIDEO: 2018 THON Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Among the most highly anticipated THON weekend events, check out men's lacrosse's athlete hour pep rally dance!

Arceri Key in Hobart Victory

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For Penn State men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni, the symbol of a great team comes down to winning the battles between the 30-yard lines. Come Saturday afternoon, the Nittany Lions bounced back from a disappointing season-opener with a 15-8 win against Hobart.

Following last weekend's overtime loss to Villanova, there was perhaps nobody more disappointed than Nittany Lion sophomore faceoff specialist Gerard Arceri.

"He felt horrible after last week's game and it wasn't on him, but he holds himself to such a higher standard," Tambroni said.

This week, Arceri spent time in practice keying in on communication with his wings, focusing on helping the defense by giving his team more opportunities for possession.

"In practice we do this drill where instead of the wings, traditionally in the game where they're so far out, we kind of bring the wings in and they give me a lot of pressure when I pull out the ball and they do a good job of boxing each other out so I think we really improved from last game on that," Arceri said. "It's something to be pretty excited about I'd say."

For Arceri and the Nittany Lions, the excitement didn't come easy, as Hobrt erased a 3-goal Penn State lead to tie the score, 4-4, at the end of the first quarter. At the faceoff x, Arceri was also just 2-for-8. 

By halftime, the Nittany Lions were trailing by one, 7-6, as senior Ryan Keenan broke up 3-0 Hobart scoring streak with a wraparound goal off a feed from junior Nick Spillane with seven seconds remaining in the second quarter.

It was all Penn State out of the break, as the Nittany Lions put away back-to-back goals from junior Matt Donnelly and Spillane early in the third quarter to pull ahead, 8-7, igniting the offense.

The Nittany Lions saw Arceri win all five faceoff attempts in the third quarter as Penn State dominated possession.

"When I'm dealing with that adversity and stuff like that, I just try to stay true to my ability and I think that worked out for me," Arceri said.

Arceri also gave credit of course to his wings, who dialed up the toughness in the second half.

"We talked about in the second half trying to keep the wings off of me and just letting me go one-on-one with the other faceoff guy so I could direct the ball wherever I need to," Arceri said. 

For Tambroni, it made all the difference.

"Last week, we just kind of lost focus in the second half and just played, we didn't execute, we just played," Tambroni said.  "Today I thought for 60 minutes, we didn't win them all, certainly didn't win our fair share in the first half, but I thought we stayed the course and tried to at least execute a game plan and I thought today was just a much better start to finish job by those wing guys. They made a big difference, that's a unit. I know Gerard gets a lot of credit for what he does but I thought today, those guys battled when the ball was on the ground and kept it alive." 

Penn State capitalized on the increase in offensive possessions, scoring four goals in the third quarter. The Nittany Lions kept momentum alive in the fourth quarter to widen the scoring streak to a 9-1 advantage that spanned the second half. Arceri also went 5-6 in faceoffs in the third quarter to finish 16-for-24 on the day.

"Bouncing off last week, the third quarter we had a bunch of goals and then the fourth quarter, we just fell off," Mac O'Keefe said. "We just wanted to stay together and not fall off like we did last week, it was something we focused on."

The Nittany Lions had little trouble executing a strong finish, as O'Keefe added three goals in the fourth quarter to conclude the day with a team-high five goals. 

"Our message to our guys was lets reflect back," Tambroni said. "Remember what happened when we were coming out of the huddle and to use that experience to fuel a more cerebral second half. A more cerebral fourth quarter. Today I thought they played with a much better mindset, they were much more aware how the game was going situationally and took advantage of the situations that were available."

Spillane Adds Skill and Experience to Attack

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Focusing on the positives from the season opener, Penn State men's lacrosse is ready to bounce back and take on Hobart this weekend.

Putting away 16 goals last weekend, there's plenty to be optimistic about, but The Nittany Lions were in an interesting position playing without a key veteran piece of their attack, missing an injured Grant Ament.

"With losing that big piece of our offense it was just important to really keep the confidence in the offensive group," senior captain Tanner Peck said. "We can do it, we have to work together as a six man unit and it's not just going to be one guy." 

Bolstered by its senior leadership, the Nittany Lions made the most of a limited amount of practice time with their shifted lineup, with Penn State's off practice day typically falling on Thursday.

It was junior midfielder Nick Spillane who was called on to fill the missing piece of the lineup, playing alongside starters sophomore Mac O'Keefe and junior Matt Donnelly.

"Nicky has done a great job in his role over the past couple years as a midfielder and we have played him [at attack] in various situations over the last year," Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "He was the next best option for us."

As the next best option, it was a no-brainer for Tambroni and his staff when it came to who had the experience and the skill needed to get the job done.

"It wasn't like you were just replacing anyone, you were replacing our top goal scorer and we needed someone down there who could manage that with a little bit more maturity, manage the ball and complement Matt Donnelly and Mac O'Keefe," Tambroni said. "With the experience that Nicky has given us over the past few years, he was the clear cut and easy choice down there."

Although the jump from midfield to attack can be challenging for some, as Tambroni noted, Spillane has experience at the position, having also played there his whole high school career.

The New York native was actually recruited to Penn State as an attackman, but when the team had an overabundance at the position and needed middies, Spillane was more than willing to switch positions to help the team and see more time on the field. Now back on attack, Spillane does have to make some adjustments to get in the mindset of his new but old position.

"My role changed a little bit," Spillane said. "I would say I have to carry the ball a little bit more and be more of a presence consistently in our offense, which is ultimately the biggest difference between attack and midfield."

Spillane did just that Saturday, making his presence known to the defense, coming up with four shots on goal along with two goals to help to spark momentum.

Headed into this week's game, Spillane will be tested again against a difficult opponent in Hobart. The Blue and White registered a 21-15 win over the Statesmen last season, but Spillane noted they haven't played Hobart as well as they would have liked to in recent years.

Coming off a season-opening loss, the Nittany Lions will be going into the game looking to earn their first win in 2018. 

"Coming off an opening week loss is pretty difficult and I've never experienced that as an upperclassman," Spillane said. "Hobart is a tough team they're going to come ready to play."

Keenan Shines in Season Opener

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Making for a dramatic season-opener, Penn State men's lacrosse forced overtime but ultimately fell short to Villanova. Despite the final score on the scoreboard, the Nittany Lions have lots of positives to build upon headed into week two.

"I thought we did a nice job early," Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "I thought we battled in the middle portion and the second and third quarter. I was really proud of what we did going into that fourth quarter." 

Captain Ryan Keenan had a record day, scoring a career-high five goals to go along with two assists. The senior midfielder is already showing promising signs of being a main contributor offensively, but for Tambroni this isn't anything he didn't expect. 

"It didn't surprise me because that young man is as much of a competitor as anyone I've ever coached," Tambroni said. "He takes a lot of chances out there and today it really payed off for him."

Tambroni also noted during a pregame dinner with the team last night, Keenan wore his heart on his sleeve and made it clear to everyone how special he felt to be able to play with all of his teammates. 

"He stood up in front of the team and said a few heartfelt words to his team about what it meant to be a part of this team and he followed it up today with an unbelievable performance," Tambroni said.

In the eyes of Keenan, the unbelievable performance was simply doing what he had to do to help his team. Hardly focusing on his own accolades, the New York native made humbly plays his best and does whatever is asked of him. 

"I see myself as a role player on offense, just part of the unit out there," Keenan said. "I do what the coaches ask, if they want me to play defense [or] if they want me to play wings, I just play hard compete and that's really it." 

Alongside his career-day, Keenan also wore Penn State's No. 16 jersey for the first time in the regular season, continuing a Penn State men's lacrosse tradition. 

In honor of Penn State goalie Connor Darcey's tragic passing in 2015, the program has made it a yearly tradition to pass down the No. 16 jersey in his honor.

Last year it was redshirt senior Matt Sexton who had the honor of wearing No. 16, who then passed it onto Keenan for the 2018 season.

"He's a competitor, there's a reason why he wears No. 16," Tambroni said. "He is so symbolic of Connor Darcey and the way he used to compete as a goalie."

Although Keenan's regular season game wearing the special jersey didn't have quite the anticipated outcome, he'll continue to honor Darcey's legacy as the year progresses. 

"First day wearing No. 16 is just an honor and I wanted to go out there, compete and honor Connor's spirit," Keenan said. "That's really all I wanted to do."

Considering the outcome as a team, Penn State's season opener was one filled with shifts in momentum giving an opportunity for both positives and negatives to learn from moving forward. While there is still plenty of lacrosse left to play this season, Tambroni is looking for the Nittany Lions to move on quickly, preparing for next weekend's outing against his alma mater, Hobart. 

"We have a really resilient team and a team I really love to be around," Tambroni said. "I think they were a little bit uncharacteristic in certain areas today and Villanova took advantage of it."

Aronow's Journey Back To the Field

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For men's lacrosse redshirt junior Mike Aronow, his road back to the field following a season-ending injury last year has been both long and frustrating, but worth it.

Watching his team's success from the sideline last year, Aronow has now gained a different kind of perspective on the game he loves as well as what it means to be a good teammate.

"Now that I sat out, I realized what matters the most is my teammates and just being fully engaged in everything I'm doing," Aronow said. "Whether it's in practice and being in a live drill or being on the sideline and talking to my teammates about the drill."

Being given the opportunity to step back from playing, the defenseman was able to become a support system and a resource for his teammates off the field.

When it came time for the team to vote for captains, it seemed clear who one of the best choices was to lead the program into the 2018 season.

"You would think that people vote for the best player on the field or someone who has a presence on the field and the fact that people voted for me when I wasn't playing at all, it means a lot to me," Aronow said. "It showed me I'm not only a leader on the field but I can also be there for people off the field when they need me." 

Overcoming an injury not only made Aronow a better teammate, but has also given him a new outlook on his final two seasons as a Nittany Lion. Now, the New York native is ready to make the most out of the 2018 campaign, appreciating every second of his time on the field along the way.

"Being captain I hope that I can bring an edge every day, where people say 'wow he's going really hard, he's living in the moment, he's not taking anything for granted.'" Aronow said.

However, getting back into the swing of things hasn't come without its challenges. Following two surgeries, Aronow was ready to go in August but was then out again until October with a broken thumb.

After the long road of recovery and physical rehab, Aronow has had to work harder than his teammates to get back to where he was before the injury. Even more difficult than the physical struggle though, has been the mental adjustment.

"It was really hard at first, I think it's more of a mental battle rather than physical," Aronow said. "The hardest part was actually keeping a positive mindset and just getting my confidence back." 

With two scrimmages under his belt, both Aronow and Tambroni feel the worst of the mental conditioning is behind them, with only room for improvement from here on out. 

"That memory of him being on the sideline has actually helped him in my opinion," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "I think he goes about his business day in and day out without taking it for granted."

Heading into the start of the regular season, the Nittany Lions will face a tough opponent in Villanova. Among the leaders of the Penn State defense, Aronow and the Nittany Lions will have to maintain focus.

"[Villanova] is going to go directly to the goal if you give them an opening," Tambroni said. "If you take a step back or lose focus in either end of the field they really do a nice job of taking advantage and can score quickly."

Underclassmen Adding Depth

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For Penn State men's lacrosse, last weekend's season-opening scrimmage against Navy was all about taking risks and trying out new combinations to establish chemistry in preparation for the regular season.

Testing out new lines and units will also be the game plan heading into this weekend's scrimmage against Army, with the added challenge of trying to add some depth on both offense and defense.

"We feel we have that front line of 10 guys that is fairly consistent," Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "We think we have a lot of decent options but we really need some guys to step up to create some much needed depth." 

Even with the Nittany Lions returning key individuals on both attack and defense, finding young dependable underclassmen to back them up will be the top priority heading into February. Tambroni is not only looking for skill to achieve success, but also consistency.

"We have to rely on some of these guys week in and week out to be great," Tambroni said. "Our seniors have to be great and the guys that have been around for the last two or three years have to be great in order for us to be great."

While the coaching staff is still heavily depending on the seniors and other veterans on the team to lead production, they have also left the door open for freshmen and other underclassmen to fight for their own spot in the lineup.

Freshman defenseman Jake McCaughan took full advantage of the opportunity given to him against Navy. The New Jersey native picked up three ground balls against the Midshipmen as well as playing a key role on the wing during faceoffs to help faceoff specialist Gerard Arceri. His stellar performance did not go unnoticed by Tambroni.

"I felt of all the freshman he probably played with the most poise," Tambroni said. "There were probably four or five plays that he was asked to make throughout the course of the game and he made every one of them. Some were a little bit more challenging than others but he never wavered." 

Tambroni also gave some insight to the kind of hardworking Nittany Lion McCaughan has established himself as so early on in the year. In addition to the coaches though, McCaughan's debut also impressed his fellow defensemen, including redshirt junior captain, Mike Aronow. 

"He's a good player, he had a great scrimmage," Aronow said. "I think he's going to start to have a way bigger role, which is good to see."

McCaughan, who is joined by three of his cousins at Penn State including two who play on the men's tennis team, was happy with his performance, glad to see he is hitting his stride early and blending well with the upperclassmen. 

Playing with such a strong defensive unit with veterans like Aronow, Chris Sabia and Kevin Fox can be intimidating for a first year Nittany Lion, but McCaughan was able to rise to the high expectations.

"I like to learn from [them], watch and just see how they play," McCaughan said. "I can always learn from them, they have experience out there so it's just good to always have them to look up to."

It is still early in the year and McCaughan still has a long way to go, but taking it one step at a time, he is ready to learn and grow throughout the regular season. 

"It's just been an opportunity you could say," McCaughan said. "It's a learning process so I just have to keep going with it."

An Early Look at the 2018 Nittany Lions

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a new season quickly approaching, Penn State men's lacrosse is ready to build upon the success it found last year.

From key returners to a packed and exciting 2018 schedule, there's plenty to be excited about as the Nittany Lions are merely days from getting back to competing. As with any offseason, there's still plenty of changes, with Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni making staffing additions now charged as a unit with finding ways to replace some veteran production lost due to graduation departures.

Navy Exhibition Game
Come Saturday in Holuba Hall, the Nittany Lions will see their first action against Navy, hosting the Midshipmen in their first of two exhibition games. While Penn State is still trying to find its chemistry and solidify roles, this weekend is all about taking risks. 

"This year we are still trying out a lot of different combinations in the offensive and defensive end," Tambroni said. "[We are] hoping to stabilize some systems offensively and defensively and trying some different things. [We're] going to take some chances as coaches and hopefully our guys are going to take some chances as players to find out who we really are."

Although Penn State is looking to take risks, the Nittany Lions also want to make sure their combinations and systems are solid on both sides of the field before the official season opener arrives. For Tambroni and the team, Navy will prove as a true early test of Penn State's ability.

"The scoreboard will matter to a certain degree, we want to find out if we can defend a very good offense, find out if we can score," Tambroni said.

Leadership
Last season, senior attacker Nick Aponte was chosen as the team's lone captain, but this year the coaching staff took a different approach to the makeup of the leadership. Leading this year's team will be senior midfielders Ryan Keenan, Tanner Peck, Tripp Traynor as well as redshirt junior defenseman Mike Aronow.

Although Tambroni himself has never coached a team with four captains, he is confident the added leadership is the right change for where the program is headed.

"This year it's just a different benefit, all four are reflected in different ways and I think they all bring something different to the table," Tambroni said.

With more captains playing on both sides on the ball, Tambroni noted the leadership helping to build better relationships among members of the team on the field as well as off the field with different personalities.

Relying on Underclassmen
The Nittany Lions graduated several seniors on both ends of the field that played a key role in the team's overall success. While no one could replace what the special group contributed for the culture of the program, Tambroni and his staff are looking for younger Nittany Lions to step up and follow the strong legacy that was left behind for them. 

"The freshman, we're hoping that they have a chance to adapt and learn through their first year," Tambroni said. "Sophomores and juniors, they've had that opportunity, were looking for some of those guys to really step into those rules and step up their opportunities to compete and play through both practices and games."

Tambroni stressed the importance of Nittany Lions like sophomore 2017 Inside Lacrosse  All-America honorable mention faceoff man Gerard Arceri and sophomore 2017 USILA All-America honorable mention attacker Mac O'Keefe. Both made an impact in their first season in the blue and white, now returning with the expectation of a bit more responsibility in year two.

For O'Keefe in particular, he's coming off a stellar rookie campaign, which saw him set a program record dating back to 1957 with 51 goals for the most in a single season in Penn State history.

"I'm confident with the leadership of our seniors and with the development of our sophomores and juniors," Tambroni said. "The combination of that is going to help us with the graduation we left off from last year."

Lions Look to Build on Historic Season

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Making its fourth NCAA postseason appearance in program history, seventh-seeded Penn State men's lacrosse's historic 2017 season came to a close in the first round of the tournament.

Equipped with multi-goal performances from arguably one of the top attack trios in the nation, Grant Ament, Mac O'Keefe and Nick Aponte combined for all eight goals, with Ament and O'Keefe scoring three apiece. 

For Towson head coach Shawn Nadelen, he knew coming into the matchup that the Tigers would likely meet their toughest attack of the season.

"We knew we were going to be challenged," Nadelen said. "It's hard to keep an attack like that at bay."

Without surrendering the lead until the midway point of the third quarter, Penn State battled from behind to tie the score at 7-7 early in the fourth quarter before Towson shifted the momentum and ran away with the win. 

Under the cloudy skies, the Nittany Lions lost to the Tigers 12-8, but as head coach Jeff Tambroni took just a moment to reflect postgame, there's still much to be proud of despite the final score. 

For Tambroni, Penn State lacrosse has plenty to build on and even more to look forward to in 2018. Proud of the progress the Nittany Lions have made throughout the last few seasons, it's what's still to come that will continue to drive motivation even with an unwelcome outcome.

"I'm excited about the future, I've got one on my left and one on my right here," Tambroni said, nodding to Ament and sophomore Chris Sabia. "They're going to be back for the next couple years and I'm hopeful that the sting of this game will help us look forward." 

Penn State returns several of its key contributors next season, including Ament who netted 30 goals this season in addition to O'Keefe. With a three-goal outing, O'Keefe set a single season program record with his 50th and 51st goals, surpassing a 60-year old record set by Bill Hess (49).

On the opposite end of the field, the Nittany Lions return freshman goaltender Colby Kneese, and important underclassmen defensemen in Sabia, Tommy Wright and Kevin Fox. Standout freshman faceoff man Gerard Arceri will also return next season. 

"It's obviously an exciting thing," Ament said. "We can learn from this, specifically Chris [Sabia] and I are going to be upperclassmen next year which is kind of scary to think of, but we're just excited, we have a lot of young guys who are excited to come back and grind in the fall, day in and day out, get better and hopefully we can get past this first round and more next year."

Among all of the optimism surrounding who's back and what's ahead, Tambroni, Sabia and Ament didn't end their media session without acknowledging the foundation for the success of the season - the senior class. 

"They've made the path for us, specifically with Nick [Aponte], I've learned so much from him," Ament said. "I've played alongside him the last two years, it's going to be sad to see him go but I know he left a great legacy that I think the entire offense can build off of." 

For Tambroni, the loss is just a little more bitter considering the impact the senior class has made on something a little more intangible, the culture of the program.

"They set a really high standard," Tambroni said. "In past years we've had some great kids that have done their very best to kind of push this thing forward and kind of taken incremental steps, and I think they've learned very well from the groups behind them, but then [this year's senior class] stood on top of that standard to try to raise the bar a little bit more."

Evident in the upward trajectory of the program even amidst the move to the Big Ten Conference, both Tambroni and the rest of the team are grateful for the positive leadership of such an impactful senior class.

Now ready to move forward with tremendous returning talent, that hunger to build on the strengths of the season and the foundation of those who have come before, the drive to reach the NCAA Tournament again for another shot will only grow stronger in time.

"This group that is coming back next year, the juniors, sophomores, and freshmen will learn from the optimism of [the senior class], the fun that these guys created," Tambroni said. "At the same time they worked really hard to get to that point and instill the sense of belief, the championship type culture that needed to be instilled here and I think is here now, we just have to take the ball and keep running with it."

Nittany Lions Ready for NCAA Tournament

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni addressed the media earlier this week ahead of the first Nittany Lion appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2013. This will be Penn State's second appearance under Tambroni, and the fourth in program history, with the Nittany Lions securing the No. 7 overall seed.

"They had a goal coming in, back in the fall," Tambroni said. "To be here at this very moment, with an opportunity to compete and play in the playoffs."

Expanding on his statement, Tambroni noted the determination of this year's team has stemmed from the leadership of the senior class, specifically the example shown by senior captain Nick Aponte.

"They have done a wonderful job of just keeping us all on track," Tambroni said. "We've had our moments where I feel like we were really going in the right direction and some moments where I feel like we've gotten off track, but those guys have kept us focused the whole year."

Last year, Penn State concluded its season with a loss to Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament, marking a season where the Nittany Lions developed strength but opposing teams capitalized on areas for improvement. 

While Penn State ended the 2016 campaign with a winning record at 8-7, they worked hard in the months leading up to the 2017 season with a goal of playing in both the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament as long-term goals. 

Undefeated in their nonconference schedule to start the 2017 slate, the Nittany Lions built on the early success of freshman attackman Mac O'Keefe, combined with the veteran presence of Aponte and sophomore attackman Grant Ament. Together, the trio has combined for nearly half of the team's 205 goals this season (97) with O'Keefe leading the way with 48 of his own. 

At the other end of the field, veteran defenseman Peter Triolo has provided a steady presence in front of freshman goaltender Colby Kneese, who earned the starting job earlier this season securing a .507 save percentage through 15 games. At midfield, Nittany Lions like Gerard Arceri and Billy Lombardi often do the dirty work to secure faceoff wins.

For Ament, this year's team has built great camaraderie, which is both important for the team's success early on, and continued success into the postseason.

"As time goes on our chemistry has grown," Ament said. "I think that's a big focal point for us."

As for last Sunday's selection show, senior midfielder Matt Florence said it was phenomenal seeing Penn State on the television screen, securing the No. 7 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament and another chance at a home outing Saturday against Towson.

"It was definitely exciting to hear," Florence said. "Just to have this tremendous opportunity presented to us, it definitely brings a smile to all the senior's faces knowing we have another game to play, another opportunity to continue our season, and really just strive for the goal we set out to accomplish all season." 

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