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Looking Closer at the Penn State Road Stretch

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While getting settled back into their normal routine following three of four weeks on the road, Penn State men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni has had some time to reflect. As Penn State moves in its preparation for the second half of the season, the Nittany Lions are also starting to solidify team identity. 

While Penn State has faced collective struggles on both ends of the field throughout the season, Tambroni and his staff feel the pieces are finally starting to fall into place. 

"We're honing in on the identity of our team," Tambroni said. "Our defense is gaining a lot of confidence and I think they're getting better in each and every game. I think our offense understands, a little bit more so now after going through this stretch, what we need to do. I think we're still a click or two away offensively [but] we understand that everyone needs to contribute in that end of the field in order for us to be successful."

The Nittany Lions traveled to Philadelphia to take on Penn just as students were traveling home from campus for spring break. The Quakers were riding momentum at the time the two teams met, with Penn having recently upset the top-ranked team in the country. Penn State put an end to the momentum, with the Nittany Lions emerging victorious to start their road stretch on a high note. 

"At the end of the year I do think that's going to be a really good win because I do think Penn is going to continue to win games within their league," Tambroni said. "I feel they are going to be a quality win for us."

The strong win put the Nittany Lions in great position to excel against Furman. The team put on an offensive showcase, scoring 16 goals and allowing just three.

The game also provided the bench with opportunities to contribute on the field. Freshman Jake Glatz had the opportunity to take faceoffs toward the end of the game, as well as rookies Cole Willard and John Nostrant each netting a goal. 

With only two games separating Penn State from Big Ten play, the outing was helpful for the coaching staff not only to get a look at some new jerseys on the field, but to also boost enthusiasm. 

"When [players] have the chance to come off the bench, morale more than depth is really just lifted," Tambroni said. "Getting off the bench gives everyone a little bit of a lift. Our starters get an opportunity to see what it's like on the sidelines and appreciate what those guys do for them, and then those guys that have been in a reserve role get a chance to go out there and compete on game day. When you have a chance to play in a game and everyone feels like they've contributed, that really uplifts their confidence and the moral of the overall group."

Although the Nittany Lions did not get the result they were looking in their next stop on the road at Cornell, there were still many positives to come out of the trip. 

One of the most important takeaways was midfielder Kevin Hill's performance. Continuing his a highly productive season, he opened up the first quarter with back-to-back goals, adding another goal and assist in the second and third quarters.

Hill has been clutch in much needed scoring situations throughout the season, and has become an essential part of the offense.

"In a pinch, in a tough situation or in a end of quarter, end of a half, end of a game situation, he has been as reliable as anyone in our offensive end," Tambroni said. "He is quickly becoming one of, or if not, our go-to guy." 

After coming off a successful freshman year, Hill's impact didn't fill the stat sheet in his sophomore year. Instead, he was able to learn from veteran middies on his line. Since the beginning of his junior campaign, Hill has not only showed his skill on the field, but has also become a leader in the offense zone.

Tambroni traced Hill's success this season back to his stellar performances during fall scrimmages, helping to give him a boost in confidence heading into the regular season. Tambroni also attributed his success to his work ethic off the field, during preseason preparations. 

"I think I just grew a lot the last two years, developed a little more confidence in my game and going out there and believing in myself and my teammates," Hill said. "It's also doing extra work off the field whether it's in the weight room or extra shooting." 

Hill and the rest of the Nittany Lions will travel to Fairfield for their last road game before coming back home to host their final nonconference opponent of the regular season.

The Nittany Lions want to utilize these games to work out some final kinks in their game plan to put themselves in prime position to succeed in conference play. 

"I think we're just excited for another opportunity coming off a disappointing loss to Cornell," Hill said. "In the offensive end, we lost our way as the game went on. We're just excited to get out there and show that we can play a full game and not tail-off in the fourth quarter like we have in the past couple games."

Nittany Lions Shifting Focus Inward

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Regrouping after a tough weekend, Penn State men's lacrosse is staying positive and preparing for its next four games on the road.

After watching film and taking time to process the outcome of the weekend, there's no reason to hit the panic button just yet. With plenty of lacrosse left to play, the Nittany Lions are using the early loss as motivation headed into another week of the season.

"One loss does not define us," junior defenseman Chris Sabia said. "It was just a bump in the road and that's how we're looking at it. We're definitely going to get way better from this and in the long run, I think this will help us." 

Every Monday the coaching staff meets with the team to reflect on their individual performances from the weekend. During this week's session, the Nittany Lions were eager to add to the conversation and bring focus to the areas they feel they need to improve upon.

"There were several decent plays that were made throughout the course of the game, we just didn't connect enough of them," Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "It was tough. When we talked to our guys about things that needed to be worked on, plenty of hands went up, so it was nice to see our guys have a decent understanding about what needs to be done this week." 

Although the team fell short executing plays successfully throughout the game, one positive to emerge was their consistent level of hard work. Throughout several momentum shifts, the Nittany Lions refused to give up or deviate from their style of blue collar lacrosse.

Outside of an unfavorable result, Penn State also expects a higher standard of play. The Nittany Lions recognize the need to do more on the field if they want to achieve success.

"I really like this group of young men," Tambroni said. "I do believe they care and give an effort every game, but we have to execute. Collectively, we have to do better."

In this week's preparation, Penn State is focusing its attention inward, solving internal problems before looking at their opponent's game. However, Tambroni noted these complications are not only individually based.

"We're in this together and I think that needs to be more the direction that our program travels moving forward," Tambroni said. "I felt like there wasn't a lot of passion and the jersey deserves better than that. The jersey is ours for now, so we need to collaborate better and compete and play with a little more purpose."

With last week in the past, Penn State will hit the road to take on a team that's fresh off a bigtime upset win.

The Nittany Lions travel to Philadelphia to meet Penn Saturday. Penn State will meet the Quakers fresh off their 10-9 win against top-ranked Duke last weekend. To match a team with all kinds of momentum, the Nittany Lions will need to key in on their mental toughness and confidence.

"Mindset is important," Tambroni said. "We have to start with ourselves, we have to start with our own psyche and we have to start with our own mentality." 

For the Nittany Lions, Penn presents a new opportunity to rise to the occasion and reassert what they've worked hard for during the offseason.

"I think it makes it even better for us because now we can show people that what they saw last weekend wasn't us and makeup for all the mistakes we made," Sabia said. "So, we're very excited."

Penn State Ready to Regroup

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse dropped a tough 12-9 loss to Robert Morris on a chilly day at Panzer Stadium. Despite the loss, the Nittany Lions will have plenty to think about heading into a four-game road stretch.

"From start to finish we just didn't look very sharp," Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "We just have to straighten a lot of stuff out about ourselves and not worry about anything other than just how we can get better tomorrow than we were today." 

Although the Nittany Lions showed glimpses of triumph with some strong individual performances, the offense still struggled to find answers to the tough Colonials defensive unit. 

The Blue and White managed 20 shots on goal, but Robert Morris goalie Alex Heger made 11 saves. Heger also came up with a number of clutch saves in the second half that helped give his team momentum heading into the end of the game.

"I thought we lacked confidence a lot offensively today," Tambroni said. "We just have to do a better job of collaborating offensively." 

Tambroni noted postgame he wants to work on sharing the ball amongst the team. It was evident in Saturday's game that when the Nittany Lions held onto the ball for too long it resulted in missed scoring opportunities.

Although six different Nittany Lions netted goals, sophomore attackman Mac O'Keefe was held without a goal. Last season when the two teams met, O'Keefe scored seven goals.

While the coaching staff anticipates defenses paying more attention to O'Keefe after his record-breaking season, the difference in his productivity has changed. Tambroni was quick to mention though, that it's up to the whole offense to step up and create goal scoring opportunities, not just O'Keefe. 

"If everyone just does a little bit of their part, they'll force the defense to think a little bit more about everyone out there," Tambroni said. "Right now, we are very limited because we are limiting ourselves. I think once the ball starts moving around and flowing more so than it was today, then you can get a defense sliding around. If they want to stay and face-guard Mac [O'Keefe] or not slide from him then other people are going to have opportunities."

As a main point of emphasis in the season so far has been trying to find depth in the roster, the coaching staff still has a lot of question marks after Saturday's loss. However, the game has also given them some new things to think about.

Nittany Lions Work Toward Building Depth

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a dominant win against Stony Brook last week, Penn State men's lacrosse is focusing on learning from both its success and mistakes heading toward Robert Morris.

Faceoff man Gerard Arceri played a key role in the win, going 20-for-27 on the draw, picking up 16 ground balls. The New York native was named Big Ten Specialist of the week and selected to the USILA Team of the Week.

"We're really fortunate and lucky enough to have a skilled player in Gerard Arceri," senior captain and midfielder Tripp Traynor said. "He's a hard worker too and it makes our other wing players' jobs a lot easier."

Before the season, Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni noted that during his first year on the team, Arceri struggled with finding and maintaining his confidence on the field. With a year complete, he took the summer to train and work on his skill at the faceoff x. In year two, Arceri is seeing his work pay off, with the Nittany Lions able to capitalize on the increase in possessions.

While the staff is pleased with Arceri's confidence, they are quick to remind him and the team, there is still a lot of lacrosse left in the season.

"Whereas we are excited about the confidence that [Arceri] should have accumulated based on last game, I think we're quick to remind our entire group including [Arceri] that none of those statistics on Monday carry over and we have to go back to work," Tambroni said.

Moving forward, Tambroni wants to make sure the offense and defense are creating balance, both doing their part to generate opportunities for success in their own respective zones.

"We just can't live and die at that point for the rest of the season," Tambroni said. "I think last year that was one of the problems. I think we were so dependent upon [Arceri] through the course of the first 10 games that once we started going fifty-fifty or losing some of those faceoffs, we struggled." 

While Tambroni was happy the positives from last weekend, he also mentioned a few areas of improvement. One point of emphasis in particular, is finding depth on the roster.

The Nittany Lions present a menacing starting lineup on both attack and defense that can cause problems for many teams. Beyond their starters though, there are a lot of question marks on both sides of the ball at an early point in the season.

The challenge for Tambroni and his staff is motivating the rest of the team to step up and make meaningful contributions. 

"Inevitably, every student-athlete wants to play, everybody wants to contribute on game day because they work so hard," Tambroni said. "The onus falls on Jeff Tambroni. It's my job to make sure there's a grander purpose than coming in here and playing. There's got to be a reason why these guys come here."

Although the message starts with the coaching staff, it is then on the team to uphold it in the locker room and on the field.

Headed into its fourth matchup of the year, Tambroni hopes this is a point of significance that Penn State can buy into.

"We have to provide that purpose and perspective that it's more about being a part of something bigger than yourself, about the preparation over four years and about being great teammates." Tambroni said. "If these guys can encapsulate that perspective, it makes it a little bit easier." 

This Saturday's home game against Robert Morris will mark the end of a four-game home stretch for the Nittany Lions before they play the next four games on the road.

"I think every game we have just tried to learn something about us," Tambroni said. "If we can continue to strengthen the depth pace, continue to stay realistic at both ends of the field and know what's going on at the faceoff x, then I think we'll have a pretty good handle on where we are at least in this first four game stretch."

Nittany Lions Confident in Stony Brook Win

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By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

VIDEO: 2018 THON Pep Rally Dance

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

Arceri Key in Hobart Victory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Tambroni, it made all the difference.

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

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

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

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

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

Spillane Adds Skill and Experience to Attack

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keenan Shines in Season Opener

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aronow's Journey Back To the Field

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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