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Underclassmen Adding Depth

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Early Look at the 2018 Nittany Lions

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lions Look to Build on Historic Season

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nittany Lions Ready for NCAA Tournament

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All About Details Ahead of B1G Championship

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Come Thursday, Penn State men's lacrosse (12-2, 3-2 Big Ten) is set to face Maryland once again this season, only this time in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Nittany Lions earned the No. 4 seed in the tournament, while the Terrapins come in as the top seed. 

The last time the two teams met, Maryland came out on top with a 15-11 victory over the Nittany Lions. Despite the loss, the Nittany Lions are looking at this week's game with a new perspective and renewed confidence. 

"I think we've learned a lot from that time," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "We lost a couple games to Maryland and Johns Hopkins, but then we won a couple of big games coming down the stretch. So I think this team is battle tested, not just physically but I think mentally, we're better prepared that if things don't go our way early I'm hopeful that we'll battle back." 

The tournament, which is being hosted by Ohio State, will be played at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, which is typically home to the Buckeye soccer programs. The grass field will provide a new challenge, as both Maryland and Penn State play on turf fields at home. 

"I think since both teams are field-turf teams, adjusting to grass is going to be a push," Tambroni said. "I don't think it will affect either team's advantage. It does take a little while to get used to it and having only two days, knowing we gave them [Monday] off because of exams and travel the day before, may not work in our favor but I think they'll adjust quickly."

The team will only have two days of practice on grass before Thursday's opening faceoff, but the Nittany Lions aren't too worried about an added challenge. 

"It's a little nicer on the knees," senior attackman Nick Aponte said. "It's just stuff like the ball kind of dies, it doesn't bounce that well, so it was great to practice on and I think the field [at Ohio State] is just like that. It's great to have that opportunity to play today and tomorrow before we get to Ohio State." 

Tambroni said he's looking for his team to make a few key improvements before Thursday too, specifically working on consistency in possession time. 

"There's a lot of different ways you can earn possessions, certainly the faceoff is the one that is going to highlight the majority of those possessions but ground ball plays, rides, clears, better possessions for us in the offensive end and eliminating careless turnovers," Tambroni said.

He expanded by explaining that Maryland exposed Penn State's weaknesses last time around, which allowed them to dominate possessions. Tambroni said that the team's likelihood of winning the first game in the tournament will go hand in hand with the small adjustments. With a victory on Thursday the Nittany Lions will either face No. 2 Ohio State or No. 3 Johns Hopkins in the Championship game Saturday.

"I think if we can just do a better job in each one of those areas, of just pushing the advantage towards Penn State, maybe just one in each one of those areas that makes a big difference, not just for offense but for defense," Tambroni said. "It gives them a chance to catch their breath against a really good offensive team, and it gives our offense another opportunity to be on the field."

Mentor Program Bringing Together Past and Present

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The week of the Ohio State game in early April, Penn State men's lacrosse junior midfielder Ryan Keenan checked his email. "Play with an edge this week," read the text in his most recent email. It was from Joseph Staropoli, a former Penn State men's lacrosse student-athlete and Keenan's mentor.   

"Reading that was like, 'yes - we're playing Ohio State, we have to play with conviction, you're going to get your emotions up,' and knowing he was invested in how we worked through the week and not only the games, just shows how he knows what we're going through and what we're doing," Keenan said.

This academic year marks the first year head coach Jeff Tambroni, along with a board of Nittany Lion lacrosse alumni have implemented an alumni mentor program. In its current format, former Penn State men's lacrosse student-athletes get paired with a current Nittany Lion to guide them in handling all aspects of student-athlete life including internship searches or career path exploration.

The mentors often give feedback to their mentees regarding job interviews or help with cover letter and resume building. Mentors also provide networking assistance, connecting individuals in industries of interest, also serving as another outlet for student-athletes to seek advice.

Once an idea, the program is thriving in its first year, reaching sophomores, juniors, and seniors on the team. Next year's agenda even intends to expand to all classes. 

Although each Nittany Lion is paired with one mentor, since lacrosse is a relatively small community and many of the alumni either played together at Penn State or have crossed paths, it's common for several teammates and mentors to all become familiar faces.  

Sophomore midfielder Matt Donnelly said he and his mentor, Marty Coyle, see one another at games, but if Coyle can't make it he can count on other former players to always give him encouraging words of advice.

"When I first called my mentor it was just a typical introduction," Donnelly said. "He explained his experiences here, and basically he offered if I needed anything, roommates, something for school, something for lacrosse, he was all ears. He made it clear that he was someone who is here for me." 

Donnelly said it was very easy to connect with his mentor, noting that being from similar areas outside of Philadelphia, Coyle from Pennsylvania and Donnelly from southern New Jersey, gave both of them something instantly in common. 

"It was very easy to connect with him on breaks, Donnelly said. "I think that had a huge impact on why the coaching staff decided to pair me with him."

The coaching staff tries to pair the team with individuals who are located in similar areas, with similar career paths, or simply complimenting personalities.

Keenan and his mentor are both from Long Island, New York, but for Keenan, since they are both easygoing, it made the pairing a no-brainer. 

"He's just a great guy, it's awesome to have someone who really cares about how you're doing," Keenan said. "Someone just sending you a text or email saying good luck, or me calling him to talk, and sometimes seeing him after games, it's nice to have."

Donnelly and Keenan both said they speak to their mentors several times a week, especially during the season. Keenan said that Staropoli is very supportive, talking to him before and after games, always making the effort to provide uplifting words. 

"We also talk about everything outside of lacrosse as well," Keenan added. "He comes up a lot, he always comes to games. He's gotten to know my parents and sits with them during some of the games. It's pretty cool he's gotten to know not only me, but also my family." 

Penn State's mentor program isn't just a one-way street though. Several of the mentors themselves have said they've gained a lot from the experience. 

At the end of March, former Nittany Lions Rich Makover and Gary Martin, who both played for Penn State in the mid-80s and now serve as mentor program board members, came to Happy Valley to visit with the team. Together, they spoke with the team about how they have benefitted from the experience and where improvements can be made.

"The students have given us good feedback on what they want this program to provide for them," Martin said. "That's what we want as mentors."

Both Makover and Martin agreed that although the project was a little slow to get off the ground, they've seen the team excel both on and off the field because of the program in just the first year. 

"Really the stars of the show are the players, when you see them growing it's unbelievable," Makover said. "It's unbelievable to see the growth in their confidence and in their communication." 

Makover said that mentors often send emails or letters to one another bragging about their mentee and how they've done academically or on the field, noting that mentors keep up with not only the team's success, but individual athlete's successes too. 

Despite an age gap between mentors and mentees, the common bond of Penn State lacrosse bridges that gap and helps bring together decades of alumni with current student-athletes.

For Makover, he's thankful he has been a part of Penn State lacrosse not only as a student-athlete, but now an involved alumnus.

"I put a lot of time into this program, but I've gotten way more out of this than I put in, way more," Makover said. "This is highly rewarding for me personally. We all have busy jobs and busy lives but to really feel that you're giving back to something that, I believe I am who I am in large part because of playing lacrosse at Penn State, so to give back to that legacy is incredibly rewarding."

Arceri Guides Lions Back on Track

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a pair of difficult losses on the road, Penn State men's lacrosse (11-2, 2-2 Big Ten) bounced back to defeat Rutgers (9-4, 1-3 Big Ten) on senior day Sunday.

For head coach Jeff Tambroni, the 13-7 victory was the result of a hard week of practice and a focus on ground ball play.

"I thought the biggest thing was just effort," Tambroni said. "I thought our guys played with a lot of conviction today and it was just fun to watch. The last couple of weekends we just didn't give ourselves a chance in the middle of the field and we lost possessions, and it wasn't necessarily because of the faceoff 'x' it was just because of the way we were battling for ground balls."

In previous weeks, Tambroni has noted the Nittany Lions have needed to step up ground ball production but haven't been able to get the numbers he'd like. Against Rutgers, the Nittany Lions were able to turn that around, picking up 31 of 55 ground balls on the night. 

Senior attackman and captain Nick Aponte said this week's practices were heavy on ground ball drills and that the team relentlessly practiced them day in and day out, knowing they needed to step up their competitiveness against the Scarlet Knights.

"We've just got to practice like we're going to play on game day every single day, and it'll show on game day like it did today," Aponte said.

Aside from ground ball improvements, Tambroni admired freshman faceoff specialist Gerard Arceri for bringing his 'a' game to Sunday's matchup, bouncing back from a tough conference battle last week at Johns Hopkins.

"Gerard was spectacular tonight," Tambroni said. "He certainly set the tone and then he was complimented by the wing play. I thought Tommy Wright really stood out tonight, he was one guy I thought stood out in terms of making simple plays throughout the course of the evening and making a lot of tough plays."

Arceri said he felt the strong effort from his teammates, especially Wright, in addition to other wing players, freshman Nick McEvoy, junior Tripp Traynor, and sophomore Kevin Fox. For Arceri, his own strong performance against Rutgers only help his confidence headed toward the next few games including the Big Ten Tournament, since faceoffs are such a mental aspect of the game.

"These past two weeks have been a learning experience for me, just having those rough days in the faceoff 'x' but I think it's all just really going to come to a point now so I'm really glad it all worked out," Arceri said. 

As for senior day, Aponte was happy he could help his fellow seniors to victory, but since there are more games guaranteed in the postseason, there's still much to look forward to.

"It's awesome, it's a great feeling just doing it on senior day too and seeing the whole team come together and play for the seniors was great," Aponte said. "We've just got to keep this going and we have to remember what we did to prepare for this game because we need to play like this for every single game for the rest on, and hopefully we can get back and play another home game in the first round of playoffs."

Lions To Honor 10 On Senior Day

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sunday marks the last guaranteed regular season home game for Penn State men's lacrosse's senior class. Despite the emotions that come with senior day festivities, the class of 2017 believes there are still many opportunities to make a lasting mark in the Blue and White.

Prior to the first faceoff, Nick Aponte, Tyler Chambers, Dan Craig, Matt Florence, Drake Kreinz, Billy Lombardi, Brian Prestreau, Matt Sexton, Mike Sutton, and Peter Triolo, will all be recognized for their contributions to the Nittany Lion lacrosse program. 

"This group has worked really hard," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "I'm optimistic that their best is yet to come. I think if we look back at the past three and a half years, they've done some really nice things and helped change the culture of our program."

During their time as Nittany Lions, this senior class has made big strides in putting Penn State lacrosse on the map. Just last season, Penn State upset then-No. 1 Denver during a showdown in Dallas, Texas, showing the nation that the Nittany Lions are capable of playing alongside some of the most storied programs in collegiate lacrosse. That win is something senior midfielder Dan Craig said he'd never forget.

"That was a pretty cool feat that we got to accomplish," Craig said. "It was an amazing day, it was super sunny out and in a great location. It was a pretty fantastic win and I think that was our most complete game that we've played as a senior class."

This senior class also helped make history this season, helping the Nittany Lions earn their first ever No. 1 ranking earlier this month, storming out to an undefeated record in their non-conference slate. Despite these accomplishments and more, Tambroni said he feels there's so much the younger Nittany Lions can take away from this senior class that doesn't involve their winning record.

Tambroni emphasized that the underclassmen can model their compassion and drive after the 10 upperclassmen leaving the program in May, and says he's hopeful that through it all, the legacy of this class remains more than just wins and losses. 

"These guys came in and a lot of these guys played in their freshman year, but they've stuck together as a class," Tambroni said. "They lost a couple of their teammates in the sophomore and junior years but they've stuck together." 

Tambroni was reflective of the hardships this class has gone through also. 

"They were able to adopt a class that's gone through some tough times, both in their sophomore year when we had a losing record, that was a tough season to endure, and then the following year losing a teammate," Tambroni said. "They have fought back from great adversity." 

Senior midfielder Mike Sutton said he hopes that all the returners next year can take something from this senior class, including their leadership on and off the field. 

"Just looking back on it, we have a lot of guys who play," Sutton said. "If they can take a little bit of it, a little piece of what we do and add it to what they do next year I think that's one of the biggest things. Just using our leadership and building off of that, I think that would be huge for them."

Lions Look Toward Improvements

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite a strong fourth-quarter effort, including five goals from the Nittany Lions in the final 15 minutes, Penn State men's lacrosse (10-2, 1-2 Big Ten) fell short against Johns Hopkins (7-4, 2-1 Big Ten), 13-11.

The Nittany Lions were down 10-5 at halftime and looking to spark a comeback. Freshman attackman Grant Ament started the Nittany Lion scoring streak in the fourth quarter, securing a goal only nine seconds in.

Ament, who earned his 100th career point during the Johns Hopkins game, is one of only two active Penn State lacrosse players to reach or be above the milestone. Fellow starter, senior attackman Nick Aponte has 124 points in his career.

With less than two minutes left, the Nittany Lions came within one goal of the lead, 12-11, but Johns Hopkins secured one final goal for the victory. Head coach Jeff Tambroni said he felt his team played with more heart in the fourth quarter than in the rest of the game, noting Johns Hopkins came out fighting for a win despite his team's best efforts. 

"We certainly knew both teams were going to come in here and put a great deal of emphasis on possession and possession time," Tambroni said. I think both [Penn State and Johns Hopkins] struggled against our previous opponents in the Big Ten and for whatever reason Johns Hopkins just imposed their will a little bit more so." 

Tambroni is now looking toward next week's outing against Rutgers, already knowing there needs to be a few changes if his team is going to come out on top. He's looking toward focusing more on the basics, making sure each possession is calculated and purposeful, as well as making sure transitional play remains consistent.   

For Tambroni, despite Penn State's late surge in the game, the Nittany Lions will also need to address a few problem areas that have been inhibiting the team's success lately. Tambroni said one of those areas is ground ball performance. The Nittany lions picked up 24 ground balls at Johns Hopkins, but Tambroni said there's always room for improvement. 

"Ground ball play just includes so many different things, picking the ball up off the ground takes courage especially in a crowd," Tambroni said. "But moving the ball from the point of the pick up and creating opportunity defensively, trying to create clears offensively, trying to create transition and I felt that's where we really struggled today."

Tambroni said he felt his team's efforts were respectable, but that Johns Hopkins just had the edge on Saturday afternoon. 

"We need to address it, we need to fix it, and the coaching staff needs to do a better job of preparing our team to just be a little bit more passionate, be a little bit more focused on that kind of stuff," Tambroni said. "So it'll definitely be a point of emphasis this week as we prepare for Rutgers."

Lions Getting Back on Track

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse (10-1, 1-1 Big Ten) is keen to get back to its winning ways this weekend at Johns Hopkins (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten). Despite falling to Maryland (7-2, 2-0 Big Ten) last Saturday, the Nittany Lions have learned a lot from their first, and only, loss of the season. 

"I'm not sure we reserved enough preparation and confidence during the week of practice leading up to the Maryland game to get us over the hump," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "Maryland is a good team, we certainly learned that over the course of the day, and it always felt like we were coming from behind, which is a challenging venture."

Tambroni noted the Nittany Lions could have done better in a few areas, namely ground balls. The Nittany Lions picked up only 16 ground balls against the Terrapins, compared to Maryland's 34. The previous week, Penn State picked up 34 in its first Big Ten win of the season against Ohio State.

Tambroni said he felt his team had also been extremely focused before facing the Buckeyes two weeks ago, but felt the Nittany Lions had been a little less intensive in practice for the Terrapins. For Tambroni, the key to success this weekend will be Penn State's ability to once again battle it out during the week and give 100 percent in the days leading up to Saturday 

"I think our guys have done a pretty good job at bouncing back and getting right back into a good mindset and having a focus for Johns Hopkins this week," Tambroni said." 

As for the Nittany Lions, senior and captain Nick Aponte said the attack needs to get back to the basics this weekend, focusing on quality of shots on net and communication on the field.

"We met with our leadership cabinet before [Monday's] practice and we kind of just said we need to do the simple things, but we've just got to do it harder," Aponte said. "That's our motto this week and just getting back to little stuff like ground balls and little details on every single play we make."

Aponte said that he and his fellow teammates can't simply save their energy for Saturday. Rather, they need to commit to every practice, even if it's tiring. He's looking toward every single member of the team, from starters to reserves, to be dedicated this week in practice before leaving for Baltimore. Aponte emphasized that this weekend's game will be a team effort. 

"Johns Hopkins just lost to Ohio State, so they're going to have a chip on their shoulder this weekend, we know that," Aponte said. "So we have to answer their attitude this week and we have to work a little bit harder. It's always great playing in Homewood, we always have great games when playing Johns Hopkins the last two years we went to overtime and double overtime, so we know it's going to be a good game."

Despite knowing the Blue Jays will come into the game determined to win, for Aponte, the Nittany Lions first and foremost need to focus on themselves and their game.

"Last week we focused a little too much on the weekend and weren't focused on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday," Aponte said. "So we have to focus on Penn State right now, and just preparing ourselves for Johns Hopkins and bringing everything we've got."

@GOPSUSPORTS

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