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2017 Season Previews: Defense

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com 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. 

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"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.

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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, GoPSUsports.com 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. 

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"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.

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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, GoPSUsports.com 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."

Nittany Lions Earn Medals at FIL U-19 World Championship

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While August may have been all about the Olympics, just prior the lacrosse community had its eye on the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Under-19 Men's Lacrosse World Championship. Three members of the Nittany Lion men's lacrosse program were a part of the action, earning a total of three medals, two gold and a bronze.

The tournament, held in Coquitlam, British Columbia, included 14 teams. In addition to the United States and Canada, other notable teams present were the Iroquois Nationals, and teams from England, Israel, and Korea.

Penn State freshman Mac O'Keefe was one of the 23 members representing the United States. On the USA coaching staff was Penn State's associate head coach, Peter Toner.

Team USA won the tournament, after coming from behind to beat Canada, 13-12, in the gold medal game.

"Canada was very well coached, they had a game plan, and they executed for 59 minutes out of the 60 we played," Toner said. "We didn't have a lead until the last eight second of the game. It was certainly exciting to be a part of."

Before the United States could earn its gold medal, hard choices were made picking the team. O'Keefe explained that there was an application process and additional tryouts over the course of a few weeks in the early months of the summer.

What made figuring out the team a bit harder was finding the right combination of players who could properly mesh with one another and complement each other's playing styles. 

When it came down to it, the 23 chosen for the team were a group of selfless young men who, after only a few practices, played like a team who had been together for years.

"You basically have to have everyone check their ego at the door," Toner said. "It was a challenge to find guys who wanted to buy into our philosophy and our program, but I believe for the entirety of the tournament we genuinely had guys who wanted the win the gold medal for their country."

O'Keefe found it extremely helpful and beneficial to have the opportunity to be coached by Toner prior to starting his freshman year at Penn State.

"It was a little taste of the future," O'Keefe said, speaking about being coached by Toner before and during the tournament. "I got to see what he's like on the field, off the field and that was definitely nice to experience before college started."

In addition to O'Keefe and Toner, Penn State assistant coach Chris Doctor was also participating in the FIL World Championship, as an assistant coach for the Iroquois National team. The Iroquois Nationals won the bronze medal in the tournament after a resounding victory over Australia, 20-8.  

Toner emphasized that he is extremely proud to coach the Nittany Lions during the season, but appreciated the opportunity to be a part of a unique tournament with Team USA. 

"The biggest challenge is to constantly remind yourself that you're a part of something different," said Toner. "I'm 100 percent a Penn State employee, but being able to represent your country is a unique and special honor."

Lions Eager for Rematch Against Maryland

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11918195.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 17 Penn State men's lacrosse team (8-6, 2-3 Big Ten), takes on No. 3 Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Thursday.

Maryland, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, edged the No. 4 seed Penn State in April, with an 11-10 overtime win in Happy Valley.


Throughout the regular season, head coach Jeff Tambroni emphasized that the Nittany Lions were working towards more consistency, something he explained is still a work in progress.

"The consistency remains to be seen but there's no better time throughout the course of the season to have consistency than right now as we enter playoffs," said Tambroni.


The Nittany Lions will also build momentum off of last Saturday's win against Michigan to propel them into the post season. The dominant 14-9 win has given Penn State the last bit of motivation it needs after three tough losses in a row.

"It's that time of the year you hope to see these guys starting to peak in terms of their potential and I think we've got some guys who are really starting to bust out and that's what you hope happens toward the later part of the regular season going into playoffs," said Tambroni. "You hope you can get on a little bit of a run and allow these guys to enjoy all the work they've put in."

Tambroni indicated that with the shortened week between games, the coaching staff instead of changing strategies has encouraged the team to remain confident in their abilities.

Taking on the No. 1 team in the tournament presents its challenges, but also opportunities for the Nittany Lions. Playing a familiar team has allowed Penn State to prepare accordingly; something that Tambroni said he knows will help the Nittany Lions' performance.


At attack, the talented trio of freshman Grant Ament, junior Nick Aponte, and senior TJ Sanders will remain a strong presence, while other contributors like junior Matt Florence will be used during certain times that play to their strengths, such as on the man advantage. Florence is tied for third on the team in goals with Ament, both with 19. Sanders leads the team with 27, and Aponte is a close second with 26.

Tambroni will be looking toward his defensive players to remain strong against Maryland's relentless offense, but knows players like junior Peter Triolo and senior James Chakey are up to the task. Chakey collected 21 ground balls during the regular season and Triolo collected 14.

Lastly, sophomore goalkeeper Will Schreiner will hold down the defense in net. Schreiner made 123 saves during the regular season, and averaged a .469 save percentage.


"If you look on paper it's a first-team All-American going against [Schreiner] who wasn't projected to be a starter coming into this year," said Tambroni of the goalkeeper matchup. "If you look at save percentage you'd say that Maryland has the advantage, so we have to do a good job at protecting Will in the goal but also trusting Will."

The trust Tambroni has in Schreiner stems from his confidence that has built up throughout the season, as well as his leadership on defense. A starting goalkeeper as a sophomore, Schreiner has stepped into the pivotal role of being the backbone for the team and has improved with every performance.

"He's done a decent job at saving the ball, especially when we give up shots that are realistic saves," said Tambroni. "We will expect no different this weekend, but if we're going to beat Maryland, a team that is talented at both ends, we're going to have to hope for one of Will's better games if not his best game of the year."

Penn State faces off against Maryland Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Baltimore. The game will air on the Big Ten Network. 

Aponte, Ament, and Sanders Dynamic on Attack in Win Over Michigan

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 18 Penn State men's lacrosse team (8-6, 2-3 Big Ten) defeated Michigan (3-10, 0-5 Big Ten), 14-9 on Saturday afternoon, securing a spot in the Big Ten Tournament. Contributions from several attackers were key for the Nittany Lions in their last regular season home game.

Junior attacker Nick Aponte reached for the ball in mid air, and the pass from freshman attacker Grant Ament found Aponte's stick. Dodging around a defender, Aponte threw the ball over his shoulder and it found the back of the net.

Aponte had scored his fourth goal of the game, with 11:39 left to go in the third quarter. On that goal, Ament picked up his third assist of the game.

In total, Aponte had four goals and one assist, while Ament had four assists and one goal.

The duo of Aponte and Ament have been on a hot streak recently, due in part to their innate ability to communicate almost seamlessly. Combined this season, the two have 45 goals and 51 assists.

Aponte is second on the team in goals with 26, edged only by senior attacker TJ Sanders who has 27. Ament leads the team in assists with 32 in the regular season.

"It's been really fun playing with him and learning from him," said Ament of Aponte. "Obviously because he's a little bit older and I've been learning some of his moves and vice versa."

Head coach Jeff Tambroni has also noticed the pair's success, and credits the young players' drive for pushing them through a tough middle part of the season. Penn State lost the last three games by just one goal, and bouncing back against Michigan was key to securing a spot in the Big Ten Tournament.

In addition to Aponte and Ament's success, Tambroni noted how he believed Sanders had stepped up his game and was more aggressive at attack on Saturday, which contributed to success on offense.

"I think those guys individually have been good all year so it was great to see those guys play a little bit more in collaboration with one another," said Tambroni.

Tambroni explained how he believed Sanders hadn't been playing up to the standards he'd set for himself, but against Michigan came out strong and finished off Senior Day with a win. Sanders had three goals and two assists.

"He was involved much more around the ball, not just shooting," said Tambroni. "I think as a senior it was great to walk off the turf here this afternoon with that kind of performance. His leadership in the offensive end was one of the biggest attributes of today's game."

After securing the win over Michigan, the Nittany Lions now look forward to the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Johns Hopkins will host the tournament, which starts on Thursday.

For now, the Nittany Lions will use the shorter week to reset and prepare.

"We needed that win after three straight losses," said Ament. "We do the simple things very well. We're obviously not the flashiest team, we're a hardworking team and that's what's got us in position for some good wins and I think if we got back to those simple things and just play hard and play smart the rest will kind of take care of itself."



Senior Day Honors Seven

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11906684.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before faceoff on Saturday against Michigan (3-9, 0-4 Big Ten), the Penn State men's lacrosse team (7-6, 1-3 Big Ten) will recognize seven graduating seniors for their dedication to the program. 

Tommy O'Neill, Ryan Guittare, James Chakey, James Burke, TJ Sanders, John Von Nessen and Connor Darcey will all be honored. Matt Sexton will be returning next campaign after spending this season, his academic senior year, as a medical redshirt. 

The class of 2016 entered Penn State with hopes and expectations for the future, as individuals and as members of the lacrosse program. None of them knew starting their journey that their class would have such an impact. 

Overcoming adversity during every campaign, the seniors have learned to be humble through the good and determined through the bad, and have set the tone this season for the underclassmen. A class that leads by example, each one of the graduating seniors used their individual personalities to bring something unique to their leadership. 

"I feel like coaching is one of the most rewarding professions," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "You have an opportunity as a pivotal age to be around young men and you grow from them and hopefully they grow from you. This particular group of young men, since they got to campus back in the fall of 2012, we have seen them grow up, but with this group I think it's been a little bit different based on the experiences they've gone through."

O'Neill, one of the captains this year, is a natural born leader who emulates maturity, head coach Jeff Tambroni explained. Alongside O'Neill, fellow captain Burke defined his role as a fierce competitor, unafraid of holding players accountable.  

Guittare has become the face of persistence on the team. Securing a starting spot his sophomore year, then having to overcome the challenges to obtain that spot once again, has displayed Guittare's dedication to the team and determination within himself.

"When things aren't going well and you aren't playing it's more challenging to be selfless in your contributions," said Tambroni. "All of these guys are great teammates but [Guittare] has been selfless and mature through the latter part of his career and it's put him in a position where I would imagine he'd want to be, back on the field contributing at a very high level."  

Von Nessen, who also had to overcome challenges of his own, has displayed his true love for the game of lacrosse since day one. Starting as a offensive midfielder, and moving to long-stick midfielder before settling in as a face off midfielder, Von Nessen has showed his versatility on the field, and willingness to step in where needed, two qualities of a player Tambroni greatly appreciates. 

Chakey is the epitome of persistence, Tambroni explained. As Chakey navigated the difficult task of being a student-athlete over the past four years, he's also had to deal with regulating his Crohn's disease. 

"I can't imagine he's ever had a day where he's felt 100 percent healthy, and you would never know it," said Tambroni. "What was going on underneath the skin was never what you saw outside and he always portrayed himself as a young man with great poise." 

Sanders, who has made a name for himself on the field, isn't someone who should be judge solely on statistics. Sanders is a quiet leader that is tremendously talented, whose compassion for others fuels his love for the game of lacrosse and his teammates. 

When asked what they'll miss most about their time with Penn State lacrosse, one moment came to mind for three seniors. Burke, O'Neill, and Chakey all agreed that what they'd miss most would be the time spent in the locker room after the team's 6 a.m. Friday morning workouts.

"Those workouts were brutal," said Burke. "That's definitely up there when it comes to memories."

Other players noted how on the field their favorite memories are between hosting the first round of the NCAA tournament their freshman year in 2013 and beating then-No. 1 Denver this past March. 

The senior class knows their time at Penn State is almost up, but their season isn't over yet and the focus must remain on their final home matchup.  

With no other games after the regular season guaranteed, the senior class knows Senior Day will be filled with emotions, but hope they can continue to set the tone for their teammates and focus on the bigger task at hand.

"It's tough knowing it's the last guaranteed game with these guys," said Chakey. "But it's awesome that it's Michigan because our first college game was against Michigan before the Big Ten even started. As a class we don't want to keep the focus on us we want to play as a team and we're really looking forward to it." 

Penn State hosts Michigan on Saturday at noon. The game will air on the Big Ten Network. 

Lacrosse Programs Eye Stadium Expansion

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11904386.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State lacrosse programs are looking ahead to the potential expansion of the current lacrosse field into a state-of-the-art facility for both the men's and women's teams.

The current field, which has bleacher seating on one side and a grass hill on the other, provides few amenities beyond the basics. However, Penn State is looking to enhance both player and fans' game day experiences by adding a new structure to the complex.

The expansion will include stadium style seating where the hill currently is, while keeping the integrity of the hill fans have grown to love.

Men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni knows the important role facilities play for student-athletes of all programs, and he hopes fans recognize that the design of the new facility pays homage to the tradition of Penn State lacrosse, while also allowing for future program growth.

"I think what we saw was an opportunity to match some things in the landscape here at Penn State and make it very classy, putting a first-class facility up there," said Tambroni. "But at the same time keeping the integrity of the hill and allowing some of that seating to still run out into that grassy hill and overlook some of the greatest facilities in the country with the Bryce Jordan Center to the left and Beaver Stadium as well."

In addition to new seats for fans, the expansion will also boast permanent concessions, more bathrooms, and a ticket office, amenities unavailable with the current stadium set up.

"I think if you just look at everything that fits under the umbrella of the fan experience," said Tambroni. "Coming to the game and being able to grab something to eat in a reasonable location, being able to sit comfortably perched up on the hill, being able to go to the bathroom in a convenient location, those are things you maybe take for granted that are in all stadiums that we just don't have."

Lastly, a press box will be built above the new seating, with full broadcasting capabilities for radio and television.

As both Penn State lacrosse programs continue to excel in the Big Ten, it is only fitting the teams have a top-notch stadium to match. The enhancement to the lacrosse facility, budgeted at $8.4 million, and with a fundraising goal of $5.5 million, would bring the current field into the modern age and allow student-athletes to further their successes at the University.

Both the men's and women's programs will benefit from the expansion, as the two teams will remain the sole users of the future facility. It's rare for a collegiate lacrosse team to have it's own facility that isn't shared with sports such as soccer or field hockey, but Penn State continues to stand out.

By providing all the above enhancements to a facility for two already stellar programs, Tambroni explained it would add further incentive for potential recruits to join Penn State lacrosse down the road.

"There's an enormous difference between a vision conjured up in your own mind and progress you can actually see," said Tambroni. "It's symbolic of our own program, you can communicate your vision of where you want this program, the program's culture to be, today, tomorrow, next year, but until someone actually sees it growing and developing it's just human nature for it to be tough to believe."

Tambroni explained how when talking with recruits he is realistic, knowing that they haven't broken ground just yet on the expansion.

"You can talk all you want about the expansion of phase one to phase two, but until someone actually sees the shovel going to the ground it's tough for people to believe it."

Tambroni and the rest of the coaching staff don't make any promises to recruits when talking about the stadium project because details of the groundbreaking aren't set in stone.

More information about the project can be found under the "Facilities" tab of both the men's and women's lacrosse pages on GoPSUsports.com or by clicking here - Lacrosse Stadium Project.

Canadian Lacrosse Players Contribute Unique Skillset

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Most people know Canada as the home to ice hockey. However, Canada is also home to the arguably equally as intense sport of box lacrosse. With four Penn State men's lacrosse (7-5, 1-2 Big Ten) players hailing from Canada, their experience with box lacrosse has helped them build a different skillset than their American teammates.

Senior attacker TJ Sanders, junior midfielder Dan Craig, sophomore midfielder Chris Young, and freshman midfielder Dylan Foulds all have experience playing the physical sport of box lacrosse.

"I started playing field lacrosse when I was 14 but have played box since I was about five," said Foulds. "But really growing up I only played field lacrosse about once or twice a week."

Box lacrosse varies greatly from field lacrosse, as players in box must all use the same length stick, there are only six players from each team on the field at a time (including the goalie), and the more prevalent use of a shot clock.

Equipment is a big differentiator between the styles also, because in box instead of elbow pads players have slash guards to protect the forearm to mid-bicep. Players in box also have bicep and rib protection, which players in field don't have. In box lacrosse there is also off-ball contact, which means players without the ball can be hit, which is against the rules in field lacrosse.

The smaller playing surface of box lacrosse also requires players to be more physical, but also forces them to develop high-quality stick skills. While field lacrosse requires a combination of skill and speed, box lacrosse players can sometimes separate themselves from average players with superior stick skills alone.

"Box is a lot more physical and up-close," said Young. "You've got to be able to handle pressure and it's a lot more compact so you've got to adapt to the game better. On the field you have more open space so you have to adjust your speed and use your size differently."

The need for such skills in box lacrosse, Craig explained, is the reason behind why he believes Canadian players have the innate ability to be more creative on the field. Craig credits his background with box lacrosse for some of the more intricate shots he's taken on net this season, such as those behind the head.    

Having played box lacrosse most of his life, Craig's transition to college lacrosse was unique. He had little experience with field lacrosse, the least of all the current Canadian players on the team. Increasing Craig's confidence was key head coach Jeff Tambroni explained, and noted how the midfielder seems to get more confident the more years he's played on the field.

"I've been playing box lacrosse for over 10 years, close to 13 years," said Craig. "I didn't even know general rules of field, I had to work on spacing, and learning how to shoot on American goalies was something I had to work on also. American goalies play like a player with their stick up in the air whereas they have their stick on the ground in box."

In his earlier years on the team Craig was more hesitant on the field in his movements, but throughout his sophomore and junior years he has developed more fluidity. The hard work Craig has put in has paid off, and today he is an effective and dominant presence at midfield.

Tambroni noted how important the Canadian players are to his program. Having seen a good amount of Canadian players come through Penn State, Tambroni highlighted a few areas that Canadian players excel in.

"There's two distinct skillsets that they bring down," said Tambroni of Canadian players. "One is just their stick stills in general they just seem to be a little bit further ahead than most of our American players because of the confines of the arena that they play in. The other one would just be toughness. The rules are much looses in the indoor game, certainly in the box game, it's an extremely physical game and there's not much complaining up there. Those guys expect that when they put that equipment on and they have the ball on their stick that they're going to take a pounding. That's the mentality they carry and more often than not they carry that down to the States. I admire it."

As the game of lacrosse grows in the United States, the Canadian members of Penn State men's lacrosse hope to see more Canadian players come to American colleges to play.

"I think in the past ten years there's been a lot more Canadian players," said Craig. "I think that's just going to keep increasing."

Penn State plays at Rutgers on Friday at 8 p.m. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.



Aponte a Standout Against Johns Hopkins

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11879797.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 14 Penn State men's lacrosse team (7-5, 1-2 Big Ten) may have lost an overtime game to No. 17 Johns Hopkins (7-4, 2-1 Big Ten) on Sunday evening, but the game was anything but dull. The Nittany Lions were able to keep the Blue Jays to less than a two-goal lead after the first quarter of play.

Johns Hopkins got on the board first in what seemed like a barrage of goals early on in the first quarter. Hopkins dominated possession time in the first half of the quarter, putting the Nittany Lions on defense early.

Despite allowing four early goals, the Nittany Lions were just getting warmed up. Quickly, the intensity of the game picked up and Penn State notched two goals to end the first quarter down by two.

Both goals, scored by junior attacker Nick Aponte, made the crowd of more than 2,700 go wild.

On Aponte's first goal, the attacker forced a turnover, gained possession of the ball, and scored unassisted. His second goal, with one second left on the clock in the first quarter, was a wrap around shot from the right side of the net.

Aponte, a seasoned dodger, used his speed to his advantage when it came to beating defenders around the net. Aponte has developed his skills over the last two years and has become one of the more stable players on attack.  

As the sun set over the field, the game of cat and mouse started.

To kick off the second quarter, Penn State notched a third goal as senior TJ Sanders netted his 22nd goal of the season. By the end of the second quarter the Blue Jays were still leading 6-5, but the Nittany Lions were far from giving up.

The crowd went wild once again as freshman attacker Nick Spillane gave the Nittany Lions their first tying goal of the night with 10 seconds to go in the third quarter. The score was even at seven apiece as Penn State's come-from-behind spirit propelled them into the fourth quarter.

The constant back-and-forth was exhausting for both teams who were determined to crank out a conference win. The Nittany Lions, fresh off an overtime loss to Maryland the Sunday prior, wanted to keep the Blue Jays guessing by changing up their defensive game between zone and man-to-man defense. Penn State's defense contributed to keeping Johns Hopkins' offense to no more than a two-point lead throughout three quarters of play.

Aponte again found the back of the net halfway through the fourth quarter, to bring the Nittany Lions within one goal of the 9-8 lead the Blue Jays had created. Junior midfielder Dan Craig made his way through traffic in front of the net to give the Nittany Lions their second tie of the night.

Aponte's fourth and final goal of the night, with 3:47 left in the fourth quarter, would once again bring the Nittany Lions within one point of the lead, this time with the Blue Jays leading 11-10.

Down by one late in the fourth quarter, the Nittany Lions had time for one last play. The crowd rose to its feet and fans clapped as the Nittany Lions set up in the offensive zone. Redshirt junior attacker Matt Florence got the ball and cradled it on his left side. Switching to the right side, Florence worked his way around the defender and threw the ball to the goalie's left side.

With 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Florence gave Penn State the momentum it had been looking for, and tied the game. Under the bright lights of the Penn State lacrosse field, the Nittany Lions had come from behind and forced overtime.

"When we went into overtime, I just thought having been there before is important," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "Whether you win or lose there is a sense of calming that goes into that. I felt like these guys were prepared to win and Hopkins made a nice play defensively and then made the play they needed to offensively. So, sometimes it just comes down to that."

Penn State fell to Johns Hopkins, 12-11.

Despite last week's overtime loss to Maryland, Aponte explained that this game against Johns Hopkins was completely different.

"This one we had to fight back to get back in it," said Aponte.

Aponte noted how the team's determination allowed Penn State to stay close to Johns Hopkins on the scoreboard, but ultimately wasn't able to make the necessary play on offense in overtime.

"They're hurting for sure," said Tambroni. "We're going to have to get back after this immediately and make sure that our focus is where it needs to be headed into Rutgers."

Penn State plays at Rutgers on Friday at 8 p.m. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network. 

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