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 organized."
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 determination.
"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 summer.
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 the distance.
"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."
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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
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 Hopkins.
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 Big Ten.
"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 right now."
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 Tambroni.
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 ballgame.
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 inaugural tournament."
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 Michigan.
"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 win."
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."
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.
Fueled 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.
Associate 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.
"Based 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."
Penn 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 without challenges.
The 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 against Michigan.
"We 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."
Focus 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.
Throughout 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.
"I 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."
One 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.
"Time 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."
While 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.
"I 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," said Toner.
Penn 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 on Sunday.
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 work.
"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 for us."
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
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 field."
Statistically, they 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 seniors.
"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.
"I'll probably 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.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
BALTIMORE, Md. - Penn State battled back from an early four-goal deficit to force double overtime against Johns Hopkins. Despite stellar performances from both Connor Darcey in net and the entire offense, the Nittany Lions came up just short to the Blue Jays, 11-10.
Goaltender Connor Darcey made 13 saves in net for Penn State (3-8, 0-3 Big Ten) during the Saturday evening showdown against Johns Hopkins (5-6, 2-1 Big Ten). Darcey's solid performance was yet another reminder of how far the redshirt sophomore has come since the beginning of the season. Having started every game in net this campaign, Darcey continues to improve with every passing game.
"One of our issues has been getting off to a good start and right from the get-go. Connor seemed to be locked into the defense and the game itself," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "He certainly kept us in it early and gave us a chance late so he was just very consistent throughout the course of that entire game."
During the first overtime period, Darcey blocked both of Johns Hopkins' two shots on net. With neither team finding the target in the first overtime, the game moved into a second overtime. Darcey and the defense geared up for another long five minutes of withstanding Johns Hopkins' determined offense. Unfortunately, with seven seconds left in the second overtime, the Blue Jays snuck one past Darcey, into the back of the net, ending what would have been the biggest comeback of the season for the Nittany Lions.
"Without [Connor Darcey] it certainly could have been a whole different ball game," said Tambroni. "It's nice to see the way Connor played from start to finish."
Another Nittany Lion had a stellar performance against Johns Hopkins, this time on the offensive end of the field. Senior Pat Manley had four goals against the Blue Jays, all coming within a twelve-minute span. Manley's first goal of the night, coming at the end of the first half, gave the Nittany Lions the momentum they needed to spark a second half comeback.
"I think [Pat Manley's first goal] was a big one for us because it brought [momentum] into the half and more energy and a little bit more enthusiasm," said Tambroni. "Even though it's just one goal it made a big difference and it gave our guys a chance to come out the second half and play the way they did."
Coach Tambroni had stressed earlier in the week that the Nittany Lions needed to get back to the basics against Johns Hopkins.
Tambroni saw his team get back to the basics during the second half against the Blue Jays, but not before they had to find their footing first.
"I certainly didn't think we did it in the first half, I thought we were a bit disorganized defensively, played hard, played a little bit on discipline, but played a little bit tight, maybe a little bit selfish offensively," said Tambroni. "I think they were trying to do a little bit too much on both sides of the ball."
Once finding their footing, the Nittany Lions dominated the field, scoring and keeping the Blue Jays on their toes, but in the end it wasn't enough.
"I thought we got back to the basics in man-to-man defense in the second half," said Tambroni. "It gave our guys a lot to build on as we look ahead to the final two games in the Big Ten."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior defenseman JP Burnside has been a huge contributor during his final season with Penn State men's lacrosse. He may be a standout player on the field, but Burnside's biggest contributions to the team are what he does when the game clock isn't running.
Since a young age, Burnside felt at home on a lacrosse field. After moving to Garden City, New York, in fifth grade, Burnside's friends encouraged him to try the sport.
"Garden City is a very lacrosse-rich town," said Burnside. "All the kids I became friends with when I moved there told me to try it, and that's how it all started."
After being named an All-American his senior year at Garden City High School, Burnside decided to continue his lacrosse journey at Penn State. Head coach Jeff Tambroni has had the opportunity to coach Burnside during all his years at Penn State. Tambroni has seen first hand the growth that Burnside has experienced both as a player and as a young man.
"I think JP has grown up a lot in many ways," said Tambroni. "He has certainly taken a more, I would say, professional attack at being a student-athlete. At first he was always pretty talented on the field but I'm not sure if he realized the impact that his personality, his behavior, and his work ethic was going to affect others around him. I think the older he got, the more he realized, and the more mature he became."
Coach Tambroni has been able to count on Burnside for always being a leader by example and always giving full commitment to everything he does.
This season, Burnside has been a constant presence in front of the Penn State net, having started every game so far in the 2015 campaign. Burnside's role as a senior and as a leader has been to be vocal on the field, but that doesn't mean he didn't have things to work on before the season started.
"I think he's had to grow more this year into a communicator and realize that guys aren't always going to be able to do what he does just because he's doing it," said Tambroni. "He had to learn to get other guys who are younger on the same page as him."
Although his senior season is winding down, when asked to reflect on his time at Penn State, Burnside had many memories that stood out in his mind.
"[My favorite memory was] when we watched the selection show my sophomore year and we found out we'd be hosting a tournament game," said Burnside. "There have been a lot of great memories but that one was just been a time where everyone was screaming and yelling and hugging. It was pretty awesome."
Burnside's journey with Penn State lacrosse has been an unforgettable one. Having grown close with his teammates and class over the years, Burnside is looking forward to finishing off the last few games of his senior season on a high note.
"You get to hang out with these guys every single day," said Burnside. "From being in the locker room, to out at night, to here at practice. You've got some of your best friends here and you get to hang out with them for four or five hours a day, you've got to love it."
This weekend Penn State (3-7, 0-2) will again be on the road, this time facing Johns Hopkins (4-6, 1-1), a team rich in lacrosse tradition. Burnside and his fellow seniors, all members of the founding class of Big Ten lacrosse, will battle it out on the field for a much-needed win for the Nittany Lions. Burnside knows his role and knows how important these last few games are to himself and his teammates.
"I try to be very passionate and emotional," said Burnside. "I try to be loud [on the field] if the team makes a good play. And then I try to make plays as well. We've been talking a lot about 'well done is better than well said' so I'm just trying to be a guy who's making plays out there and just trying to be loud and get everyone excited and motivate my team."
Penn State will face Johns Hopkins this Saturday at 6 p.m. in Baltimore. The game will air on ESPNU.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Nittany Lions dropped a tough 12-5 decision at Maryland on Saturday.
Taking on their second Big Ten foe, the Nittany Lions traveled to College Park over the weekend in arguably their biggest matchup of the season so far. No. 3 Maryland opened the game with several unanswered goals, giving the Lions a lot of ground to make up for.
Head coach Jeff Tambroni explained that after the first quarter, Penn State's defense had to adjust to withstand Maryland's explosive offense. The Nittany Lions also had to change strategies for getting possession of the ball. Possession time has been one of the team's biggest struggles this season.
"We just couldn't seem to get into any rhythm today and that really hurt us," said Tambroni. "Trying to stop [Maryland] before we got the ball in the offensive end is not a very good strategy."
In response to Maryland's strong start, Penn State's defense had to really batten down the hatches to keep the game close. The defense, led by senior JP Burnside, kept Maryland to just four goals in the final 45 minutes of the game. However, it was the offense's struggle to make opportunities for themselves that led to very few scoring chances.
"I don't think we played great team offense," said Tambroni. "I thought we had extremely limited possessions in the first half and maximized all we could, but in that third and fourth quarter we just couldn't adjust."
The outcome may have not been ideal, but this game proved to be yet another learning opportunity for Penn State. Now knowing what it takes to keep a top five offense at bay, the Lions will go into this week of practices with new motivation and momentum.
"I think we've got to take away the fact that we got down by a bunch and were able to come back and at least fight and make the last few quarters a competitive contest," said Tambroni. "We gotta take that as we move forward."
The Lions will take the tough road loss and use it as motivation to prepare for another trip to Maryland to play Johns Hopkins on Saturday.