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O'Keefe Powers Penn State Past Villanova

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By Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer 

VILLANOVA, Pa. - No. 9 Penn State men's lacrosse showed up at Villanova Stadium Saturday afternoon motivated once again to display its offensive power from last week's victory. After a slow start, the Nittany Lions secured a 17-12 win against the Wildcats, marking the first time the Nittany Lions have opened the season with a 4-0 under head coach Jeff Tambroni.

Freshman attacker Mac O'Keefe kept the large Penn State crowd entertained, scoring eight goals for the Nittany Lions. With a team-high eight goals, O'Keefe broke his own freshman single game scoring record that he set in just the first week of the season. 

"He makes it look so easy," Tambroni said. "I know how hard he works to put himself in that position, so he is reaping a lot of rewards from his work ethic."

On attack, the trio on the front lines featuring O'Keefe, sophomore Grant Ament, and senior Nick Aponte accumulated 13 of the 17 goals scored Saturday. Ament netted three goals for the second time this season, scoring all three in the third quarter. 

Tambroni credited Villanova's defense with holding their own during the first half, forcing the Nittany Lions to be more creative on offense. However, it was Ament's third-quarter performance that sparked the Penn State motivation to pull away in the second half.

"Grant was just super aggressive and I thought our offense became a lot more confident and aggressive because of it," Tambroni said. "He played with a lot of enthusiasm and today out there in the third quarter. He just looked like he was having a lot of fun."

Ament's performance also gave Penn State the opportunity to relax a bit during the second half and settle into a scoring groove. The Nittany Lions scored three unanswered goals to end the third quarter, wrapping up a seven-goal frame that sent Penn State surging ahead 14-8.

At the other end of the field, freshman goaltender Colby Kneese remained steady throughout the game, making 11 saves in the first half alone. Saturday's contest marked Kneese's third start of the season.

"We knew he was going to be tested today, these guys shoot the ball from all areas and they shoot the ball very well," Tambroni said. "Colby had a great week of practice, we were very pleased with the week of practice that he had and just knowing that he was going to be the starting goalie this week without looking back, having a game under his belt really helped."

Kneese made 18 saves on Saturday afternoon, securing a .600 save percentage. 

"He continues to keep getting better," Tambroni said. "We needed every save that he had today."

Off the field though, Tambroni was pleased with the large turnout of fans who made the trip to support the Nittany Lions. Both Villanova and Penn State share a similar color scheme, but the constant "We Are" chants ringing down from the bleachers, only added fuel to the team with a large support system behind them.

"This has always been a thrill for us heading back into the Philadelphia area whether it's Penn or Villanova, we're extremely grateful for our alumni base," Tambroni said. "You talk about Penn State in general, you talk about passion, you talk about loyalty and these lacrosse fans are no different. It was nice to see a group like this come out and support these guys."

Depth Builds Strength in Goal

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By Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 10 Penn State men's lacrosse has talent and depth between the pipes this season, thanks to a capable quartet of goalies and targeted instruction from the coaching staff. 

Junior Will Schreiner, sophomore Trevor Scollins, and a duo of freshmen in Colby Kneese and Jack Rusbuldt, make up the Lions' skilled group of goalies. Each Nittany Lion has their own unique playing style that they've molded to their individual strengths, bringing something different to help strengthen the unit as whole 

The two goalies that have seen the most playing time this season, Kneese and Schreiner, have almost opposite styles between the pipes. Schreiner likes to draw the opposing team's offense to get them to shoot the ball in a way he knows he can save.

"For example, if I'm on the left side of the net it's easier at that point to make a stick-side save," Schreiner said. "So I might hug the pipe a little bit longer."

Schreiner said his style of goaltending is more common from Philadelphia-area players and that he has played that way his whole life. Former Penn State men's lacrosse standout and decorated goalie, Austin Kaut, is a notable baiter in net also.   

Schreiner earned the first start of the 2017 season against Robert Morris, helping the Nittany Lions to a 15-11 victory.

Kneese, on the other hand, tends to wait for a shot before reacting. Head coach Jeff Tambroni praised Kneese's quick hands and said his natural instinct in net is a great sign of things to come for the young player.

"I hope his preparation includes confidence," Tambroni said. "It's been a long preseason for him since he walked on campus, just trying to fit in here at Penn State. Then to try and find his way on the team and put himself in a position to realize a position of playing time, and then to earn the starting spot and to have some struggles in his first start only to back it up with a much stronger performance."

Kneese earned his first start February 11 in a 21-15 win against Hobart. He also started between the pipes last Saturday against Cornell, helping the Nittany Lions secure a 20-10 win. 

Despite strong performances from both goalies so far, Tambroni said he is still likely to use the two-headed monster of Schreiner and Kneese in net, opting to wait a few more games before making a final choice of a starter. 

For the goaltending unit, preparing for games is how victories are secured. Assistant coach Chris Doctor broke down the preparations the goalies make during the week.

"They usually have an individual session during the week," Doctor said. "Sometimes guys will come in before practice starts or in the morning and they'll get half an hour of extra work. All four of them do that." 

Doctor said during practices, all the goalies have time to warm up in net, and then break up into stations where they're needed. Some of them will work with Tambroni with the offense shooting on them while another goalie might work with associate head coach Peter Toner focusing on defensive game plans. To finish out practice, the whole team works on live drills, such as man-down scenarios, half-field exercise and riding and clearing segments. 

Doctor said that when he's not working with his faceoff players he tries to give the goalies extra attention and help with any developmental exercises. He also praised the veteran defense in aiding whichever goalie is in net at the time, especially Kneese as a freshman.

"We've communicated to Colby that he is the goalie, obviously, but he's just another member of our defense," Doctor said. "Knowing that he doesn't have to take on the burden of being the best part of our defense, his role is to just be one of seven guys that communicates and talks through things and help keep the ball out of our net."

Doctor said that as a freshman seeing a lot of playing time between the pipes, it's important for Kneese to know he's not alone, adding that all four of the goalies encourage one another to play their best. 

"Some of them are classmates, some of them are older," Doctor said. "Will is the oldest guy we have so he's kind of the teacher, Jack and Colby are the younger ones, and Scollins is a little bit of both. It's a unique situation to have four guys who are not only close in age, but also as a group. It's fun to have a competition knowing that guys are pushing each other every day."

Team Effort Propels Nittany Lions

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By Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 11 Penn State (3-0) men's lacrosse dominated on both ends of the field in a 20-10 win against Cornell (0-1) Saturday afternoon. The Nittany Lions held the Big Red scoreless the first 17 minutes of play, while the offense found its stride in the second quarter.

Head coach Jeff Tambroni praised associate head coach Peter Toner's command of the defense as the stepping stone that sparked the productive first quarter for the Nittany Lions.

"I thought we got off to a sluggish start offensively, but I thought our defense really played well," Tambroni said. "They were just sound and a lot of stuff that coach Toner talked about coming out of the Hobart game really reflected the way we practiced this week."

On defense, Tambroni complimented freshman goaltender Colby Kneese's confidence between the pipes. Kneese made nine saves in 52 minutes of play.

Starting in the faceoff circle, freshman Gerard Arceri continued to showcase his talent at the 'x.' Arceri, who last week was named the Big Ten Specialist of the Week, won 15-of-21 faceoffs. Once command of the faceoffs was established, the Nittany Lions gained control of possession time.

From there, Tambroni looked toward the midfielders and attackers to set up smart plays and find their way into the box. Key for the Nittany Lions was another strong performance from freshman Mac O'Keefe, who netted five goals on 10 shots. However, it was the depth at attack that pushed the Lions past the Big Red.

Sophomore attacker Grant Ament had a standout third quarter, netting three of his career-high six goals in those 15 minutes. During the fourth quarter it was all about freshman attacker Conor Smith, who came off the bench and scored three goals.

"It's awesome to see a guy like Conor Smith, who's getting the same amount of reps as all of us in practice, but doesn't always get the game exposure that he necessarily should," Ament said. "He's a great player and to see that pay off is awesome for him." 

Also entering the game for the Nittany Lions making an immediate impact was sophomore midfielder Robby Black. Black had the assist on senior midfielder Matt Sexton's lone goal of the game, which came in the fourth quarter. 

After a steady performance from the defense and an outstanding performance from the offense, the Nittany Lions are excited to build off a strong win against a program that has made the NCAA tournament five times in the last seven years. It's also the second season in a row the Nittany Lions have started out 3-0 on the year.

"I think the one thing I take away from today, from top to bottom just about everybody had a chance to go in there and compete today," Tambroni said. "I thought when their number was called, it may not necessarily show up on the score board, but a lot of stuff that they did put us in a position to finish the game the way they did. I was proud of the way guys came off the bench." 

Tambroni concluded that Saturday's win was really the product of his team coming together and acting as a unit. 

"At the end of the day we can feel good that it was a team effort and a team win," Tambroni said. 

VIDEO: Men's Lacrosse THON 2017 Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Another highly anticipated THON event, check out men's lacrosse's full pep rally dance! 

Nittany Lions Benefit from Routine Shakeup

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By Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse is off to a strong start, opening the season with wins in both games this season. A few changes in practice and conditioning though has helped the Nittany Lions build endurance and strength, all while pacing them to handle the next few months of the season.

"We've been pleased with the effort in these first few games," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "I think the energy was solid against Robert Morris, but I think the energy against Hobart was very good."

For Tambroni, the early success stems from putting in hours of effort in fall preseason workouts, led by performance enhancement coach Matt Dorn, who is in his first season with the Nittany Lions. Dorn also works with men's and women's swimming and diving in addition to men's lacrosse.

During preseason, the Nittany Lions focused on maintaining their skills, but also improving as a team.

With the season underway, the coaching staff has weekly meetings with Dorn, along with assistant athletic director for applied health and performance science, David Hamilton. Additionally, the coaching staff meets twice a week with training staff to go over the schedule and plan for the team. 

"Every day they're keeping us tuned in to how our guys are," Tambroni said. 

Penn State keeps its practices ideally less than 90 minutes, whereas in preseason, practices spanned a few hours. During the season it's more important for the Nittany Lions to be fresh and focused on games, rather than spending hours practicing or attempting to add new workouts, especially for younger players who are still getting used to the routine.

"We're trying to do a good job right now of making sure we're maintaining the level of energy and enthusiasm," Tambroni said. "I think it's important to have a little bit of shorter durations of practice to keep their attention span high and keep their bodies in great shape." 

With school and practice both ramping up, the season can get busy and it's important to use the team's time wisely, giving the Nittany Lions enough time to rest between games and practices. 

There are many factors that determine practices, including weather and field availability. Since the men's and women's teams share the same facilities, often the two teams will switch off between who has the early practice time and who has the night practice slot, in addition to being inside or outside based on climate. Student-athlete academic schedules also affect the agenda, and sometimes tests or classes conflict with practice times. 

"We're flexible based on a very inflexible schedule," Tambroni said.

Based on evaluations of the practice schedule from previous seasons, the coaching staff also made a few more adjustments this year. Previously, the team took Mondays slow, ramping up the energy on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That pace has changed this season.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are full gear practice days for the team, focused on drill work or intra-squad scrimmages. Thursdays have changed, having been scaled back this season to allow the team more recovery time two days before games. Friday workouts are more high-energy practices and include walk-throughs if the team is traveling that day. 

Even with just two weeks of games the Nittany Lions have already started to notice a different in how much the schedule adjustment has helped them.

"We kind of take a day off of running on the field," senior attacker Nick Aponte said of the new Thursday schedule. "We go through a workout with Coach Dorn and we stretch. We usually do 45 minutes of just stretching and then guys can use the ice tubs if they want."

Aponte said that changing the recovery day to two days before games rather than one day has allowed for better body recovery time.

If early season success is an indicator, the new Nittany Lion practice schedule is showing immediate benefits. Penn State hopes these changes continue the positive trend for the remaining 12 games of the regular season.

Depth at Specialist Positions Adds Advantage

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By Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After Penn State men's lacrosse beat Robert Morris in its season opener last Saturday, head coach Jeff Tambroni had time to evaluate the film from the game.

The Nittany Lion specialists came out in full force. At the faceoff 'x,' freshman midfielder Gerard Arceri made a big impact in his first collegiate game. Arceri went 21-for-30 in the faceoff circle, and netted his first career goal less than 10 seconds into the first quarter. 

"Gerard is just so quick off the whistle, I think it starts there." Tambroni said. "He just prepares so hard in the week of practice that his performances are won and lost well before he even takes the field."

Tambroni credited Arceri's work ethic for giving him a solid foundation, but said that senior midfielder and fellow faceoff man, Billy Lombardi, has done an outstanding job encouraging his younger teammates to do their best in practice and games.

"If you look at the statistics and how well Gerard did, I'll bet you he'd be the first one to tell you that Billy Lombardi is the guy who just pushes him on a daily basis," Tambroni said.

Lombardi played in 14 games for the Nittany Lions last year, and finished 104-219 at the faceoff 'x.' He also led the team in ground balls with 37 on the season. 

Freshman midfielder Nick McEvoy will be also competing for some time in the faceoff circle this season. McEvoy played for Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., winning back-to-back WCAC Championships in 2014-15. 

Between the pipes, Tambroni gave the nod to junior goaltender Will Schreiner to start in net last Saturday against the Colonials. During the 2016 campaign, Schreiner started all 15 games for the Nittany Lions and ended the season with a .458 save percentage. He played a little more than 21 minutes in net for the Nittany Lions on Saturday, making three saves.

Freshman goaltender Colby Kneese finished Saturday's contest in net for the Nittany Lions, securing a .615 save percentage. Kneese made eight saves during 38:45 minutes of play.

"It's been great to have some competition in there," Tambroni said of the goaltender position. "Will is definitely a little bit more poised in his style, a bit more consistent. I would consider Will to be a little more traditional in his approach. He calculates angles and anticipates shots really well."

Tambroni noted Schreiner's style contrasts with Kneese's style.

"Colby, he has a little bit more of a flare for the dramatic," Tambroni said. "He's willing to take a few more risks out of goal, but can make the big save at any time."

Tambroni also emphasized both Schreiner and Kneese have great hand speed, an important quality for a goalie.

Additionally, the Nittany Lions fill out their depth chart at the goalie position with sophomore Trevor Scollins. The Marshfield, Massachusetts native saw playing time in three games last season with a .538 save percentage. 

Tambroni said the friendly competition between all three have allowed each player to get better throughout the preseason, especially the competition between Schreiner and Kneese.

"I think these guys realize their role as teammates before competitors," Tambroni said. "They're doing a wonderful job of getting out there and supporting one another, knowing that the team is what's most important." 

Freshman Class Makes Early Impact

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By Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In their first game wearing the Blue and White, Penn State's freshman class made a statement. Proving they were ready to go from the first whistle, three freshmen formed the core of No. 15/16 Penn State's 15-11 win against Robert Morris in Saturday afternoon's season opener.

The Nittany Lion class of 2020 came out swinging from the start, as head coach Jeff Tambroni tabbed freshman midfielder Gerard Arceri Penn State's opening faceoff guy. Arceri won the opening faceoff, gained possession and ran straight up the middle of the field to score just eight seconds into the game.

 "Just starting off my college career I knew I had to come out with a bang," Arceri said. "I just got the fast break off the faceoff and took it all the way down, luckily it went in."

Arceri was a highly anticipated addition to the Nittany Lions roster this season. As a two-time Suffolk County Championship MVP in 2014 and 2015, Tambroni noted that Arceri's natural talent at the faceoff "x" could be a key for Penn State's success this season.

Arceri took all 32 faceoffs on Saturday, winning 21 in his collegiate date. For Arceri, having two scrimmages before the home opener helped him gauge his performance before the start of the regular season. 

"It was great to see the consistency of his success throughout the course of the whole game, and we certainly needed it," Tambroni said. "For a freshman to come out here and play with as much poise as he did, again, in back-to-back weekends says just so much about him."

Another freshman pegged for an early impact was attackman Mac O'Keefe. The Syosset, New York native more than delivered, scoring a game-high seven goals against Robert Morris, which finished tied for the fourth-highest single game tally in program history. 

"I wanted to stay loose, get a few shots off at the beginning," O'Keefe said. "I just wanted to get it going and that's what happened. We really let [Robert Morris] dictate the tempo a little bit but once we started shooting it was better for us."

O'Keefe put his trust in his teammates to help him get off to the strong start, as a few points on the scoresheet helped to elevate his comfort level.

"He played really well," Tambroni said. "The one thing Mac can do really well is shoot the ball."

Junior goalkeeper Will Schreiner earned the start for the Nittany Lions, but it was freshman goalie Colby Kneese who finished with the win between the pipes. Kneese entered the game during the second quarter and made eight saves.

Kneese's biggest takeaway from his first collegiate game though, is to persevere even if the other team gains momentum. 

"It was a close game the entire time," Kneese said. "Finally at the end, we kept fighting, pulled through and won by a few more, which gave us a cushion."

For Tambroni, the trio of freshmen were vital in Saturday's, only adding to his excitement when it comes to what more the newcomers can do in the coming weeks.

"I thought right up the middle with Colby Kneese in goal, Gerard Arceri at the faceoff 'x' and Mac O'Keefe, I thought all three freshmen played in a very difficult spot," Tambroni said. "In their first college game to come out here and played the way they did, I think it's a very bright future for us and for them."

2017 Season Previews: Defense

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By Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Heading into the 2017 season, the Penn State men's lacrosse team will be looking toward veteran leadership and some new faces to help propel its defensive performance.

Head coach Jeff Tambroni noted that senior defender Peter Triolo has been doing a great job mentoring the younger players who have had to step up even before the season started. 


"Now that he has become a senior, he has just become very consistent in his day to day mentoring of these younger players," Tambroni said. "He has been extremely vocal, he has been a tremendous leader and mentor on and off the field and has been by far our most consistent defender."

Tambroni also noted that he's looking forward to Triolo becoming even more comfortable as a defensive leader on the field as the season progresses, and thinks that's what will make him an even more effective leader.

Triolo started all 15 games during the 2016 season at close defense. He picked up 30 ground balls in his last three seasons with the Nittany Lions, 14 of those during last year's campaign. 

Despite an injury sidelining junior defenseman Mike Aronow, the Nittany Lions defense is confident in its healthy players. Aronow was second on the team last season with nine caused turnovers picking up 18 ground balls.

The Nittany Lions will look to fill the gaps left by defensive midfielder Tommy O'Neill, who picked up 25 ground balls last season, and defenseman James Chakey, who picked up 23 ground balls last season, as both graduated last year. Despite the loss, Tambroni has seen several players move into the positions vacated by O'Neill and Chakey.

"Dan Craig has absolutely stepped into that role and has fulfilled a lot of that void," Tambroni said. "He's an extremely poised and mature young man off the field, very well connected with seniors through the freshmen."

Craig, who is a senior midfielder, will be taking on a more defensive role than previous seasons. He started all 16 games for the Nittany Lions last season, closing out the year with 12 goals and seven assists under his belt.

"He's got every tool necessary to have an absolute breakout year," Tambroni said. "He could be one of the best lacrosse players in the country and he just needs to believe it on a daily basis." 

Tambroni noted that during the exhibition game against Army last Saturday when the Nittany Lions looked a little sluggish, it was Craig who took the initiative to put in a great effort to get some points on the board, sparking momentum to get the team back on track.


Sophomore defender Tommy Wright is also back for the Nittany Lions. During last Saturday's exhibition game against Army, Tambroni praised Wright for his performance and playmaking in the last quarter of the game.

Sophomore defender Chris Sabia is looking to make yet another impact this year. Sabia said he has learned a lot since his freshman campaign last season and is looking forward to contributing more on the score sheet. Sabia was one of two freshmen to start all 15 games last season, and finished second on the team with 26 ground balls. He ended the season second on the team in caused turnovers with 12.

"For me last year I looked up to a lot of the seniors and juniors like [Triolo]," Sabia said. "It was a completely new world for me, so if the new guys this year can do the same thing and see what the older people do as an example I think that's a good start."

New faces for the Nittany Lions include freshmen defenders TJ Connellan, Nick Cardile, and Matt Fisher, a trio that Tambroni pointed out as already having stepped up in the preseason games as injuries presented challenges in the lineup. 

"I think that since we're a younger defense we're starting to finally realize that we can compete with and defend some of the best offenses in the country," Sabia said. "I think that's huge for us mentally heading into the season." 

Triolo noted that he has a great deal of confidence in his teammates heading into the first regular season game against Robert Morris this weekend.

"Having a bunch of younger guys out there sometimes they're nervous to communicate with upperclassmen on the team," Triolo said. "We just want to bridge that gap and not view those guys as younger, but as members of the defensive unit."

Men's Lacrosse Season Previews: Offense

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9333516.jpegBy Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's Nick Aponte knew as soon as he was named 2017 team captain, he was going to be the example for the younger Nittany Lions. Head coach Jeff Tambroni knew that Aponte, Penn State's lone captain this year, was fit for the job based on his work ethic on the field and his approachable personality. 


"I think in a lot of ways, it provides a great deal of confidence because he has a productive balance of being very loose and very confident, but also being very focused," Tambroni said. "I think you can become very loose and very vocal and lose your focus, or you can become too focused and become too tight and not be able to adapt to adversity throughout the game."

Tambroni said that his team has really played off of Aponte's fun-loving personality off the field, but the team and coaches respect how driven and focused he is on the field.

Aponte is one of the key returning starters at attack this season and his 30 goals for the Nittany Lions during the 2016 campaign led the team, making his offensive presence essential for Penn State's success. He also had 19 assists last season, good for second on the team.

Among a wealth of highlights from the season, Aponte secured Penn State's upset win against then-No. 8/7 Harvard with the game-winner in overtime. He also closed out the season with a team-high four goals in each of the final four games of the season, entering 2017 on a 32-game point-scoring streak that dates back to April 5, 2014.

At attack, the Nittany Lions also return sophomore standout Grant Ament, who quickly gained recognition last season for his playmaking abilities in just his first season at Penn State. 

Ament scored 20 goals last season, but his 34 assists were what made him a dual threat as a distributor with the ability to finish if needed. Ament's 34 assists also closed out the year as the most for a Nittany Lion since John Hollerbach notched 38 in in 1989. His 2.43 assists per set also closed out the year ranked third in the conference and sixth nationally.

Between Aponte and Ament, the pair took more than 120 shots on net, combining for 50 goals.


In the offensive zone, the Nittany Lions return all but one starter this season, having lost senior TJ Sanders, Penn State's second all-time leading scorer to graduation last spring. In his place, freshman attacker Mac O'Keefe has quickly emerged, even with just preseason games under his belt.

O'Keefe comes into the mix at a critical time, since Sanders' departure had already left a hole for another left-hander to take his place. For Aponte and Ament, O'Keefe has been fitting into that spot nicely.

"To be able to add someone with Mac's skill set is perfect for [Aponte and I] considering we're more dodging attackers, not necessarily finishers," Ament said. "With the things Mac is able to do with the ball from about 12 yards and in, if we're able to set him up we should be able to compliment him really well."

Tambroni also highlighted that the return of sophomore attacker Jimmy Nowoswiat in addition to midfielders Matt Florence, Kevin Hill, and Ryan Keenan, who will all be essential for the Nittany Lions this season. Tambroni has said that he might switch things up at midfield, but those changes won't be sorted out until closer to the regular season.

Aponte said that during fall practices and into the preseason, the offense has keyed in on being more creative on the field, which he says hopefully will transition into an explosive offense. Additionally, the offense has focused less on set plays and more on going with the flow of the game. 

"We've been really focused on transition offense, early offense, offense where if it's just us three playing against our defensemen, maybe if we're up a man, down a man, seeing if we can maybe get a shot off before we settle into our 6-on-6 offense," said Aponte. "But just looking at the offense as a whole, we have that talent there it's just a matter of working hard out on the field."

Spring Sports Media Day: Five Things to Know

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By Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni, along with senior midfielder Dan Craig and senior defenseman Peter Triolo answered questions Monday afternoon for Spring Sports Media Day. Check out five things to know from the first session of the annual media event.

Veteran Presence Adds to Chemistry
The Nittany Lions return all but one starter from the 2016 team, something Tambroni is excited about. On attack, familiar names like sophomore Grant Ament and senior Nick Aponte will be staples this year. Ament and Aponte combined for 50 goals last season. 

At the other end of the field, returners like senior defenseman Peter Triolo, along with sophomore defensemen Chris Sabia and Kevin Fox all return for the Nittany Lions. Triolo caused nine turnovers and picked up 14 ground balls during the 2016 campaign.

"There's a great deal of chemistry going into this year's season," Tambroni said. "As a coach we've been able to step back a little bit. This group is very mature, especially in the offensive end, there's a lot of veteran either starters or guys who logged a lot of minutes last year. Even the sophomores are playing like veterans right now and it's allowed them to have a lot more creativity."

Tambroni said the veteran presence on the field has allowed his coaching staff to allocate some responsibilities to the players, giving the coaches more time to observe the team and challenge them to play at the next level. 

Schreiner Returns in Net
Junior goalie Will Schreiner will once again suit up for the Nittany Lions in net, after starting all 15 games during the 2016 season. Schreiner made at least 10 saves in 10 games last season, securing a .458 save percentage.

"His confidence has grown significantly over the course of the summer and into this fall," Tambroni said. "I would say that in conjunction with the competition we have, the two freshmen who came in, are really pushing him to be as good as he can be."

Tambroni said the competition between all the goaltenders on the team has only encouraged Schreiner to be game ready and focused.

Nonconference Schedule Challenges
The Nittany Lions start their regular season on February 4 when they host Robert Morris. Penn State will play nine nonconference games before facing their first Big Ten opponent, Ohio State, on April 2.

Tambroni and company are excited for their nonconference schedule, as the Nittany Lions will face teams such as Cornell and Cleveland State. Prior to Penn State, Tambroni was the head coach of Cornell's program from 2001-2010, while the 2017 season marks Cleveland State's first year as a Division I lacrosse program. 

"I think it's important for us to do two things, one prepare our guys with a challenging schedule that is going to present some of the same issues that may rear themselves at the end of the season as we enter into the conference schedule," Tambroni said. "But also give our guys an opportunity to maybe try some things throughout the course of the year and see if we can get into the depth of our team."

Passing Down No. 16
After the summer of 2015, the Nittany Lions decided as a program to honor the memory of goaltender Connor Darcey in several ways. Penn State commemorated his memory by pinning the No. 16 to the back of their nets for every home game starting at the beginning of the 2016 season. The Nittany Lions also named the locker room after Darcey during a pregame ceremony before their Apr. 30, 2016 game against Michigan on senior day. 

But one of the most personal things the team has done, is pass down Darcey's jersey number. During the 2016 season, midfielder James Burke wore No. 16 to honor Darcey. This season, senior midfielder Matt Sexton was selected to wear No. 16 in a tradition that has become very important to the Nittany Lions.

Tambroni said he hopes passing down of the No. 16 will become a long-standing tradition for the program, long after his time as head coach is over and long after the players who played alongside Darcey have graduated. 

"We had talked about retiring the number altogether, just throwing it back into the mix, or what they came up with was each year somebody would wear that and for the following year when the season was complete they would then hand it down to another senior," Tambroni said. "It would provide them an opportunity to talk about Connor Darcey and what he meant to them, what the number meant to them, what it meant to shoulder that responsibility but also that spirit."

Tambroni said he hopes that through this tradition, the memory of Darcey will resonate with players now and in the future, and allow future Nittany Lions to remember Darcey's enthusiasm for the sport but also his competitive nature on the field.

Former Nittany Lion Chris Hogan Headed to Super Bowl
With the Super Bowl just around the corner, a familiar face to Penn State lacrosse fans will be donning a New England Patriots jersey for the occasion. Wide receiver Chris Hogan, who once wore the Blue and White as a part of the Penn State lacrosse program, will be competing for New England come Super Bowl Sunday on February 5. Hogan, a Penn State men's lacrosse graduate, also played football for one season at Monmouth. 

"It's pretty surreal seeing him out there on the field on such a big stage knowing that he was one of us at some point in his life," Triolo said. "I think it puts into perspective that you can do anything you set your mind to and I'm really happy for him."


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