By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Starting his fifth season, men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni sees nothing
but opportunities for the program and his team. The first test of the season
will be the Catamounts from Vermont, who visit Happy Valley on Saturday for the
season-opener at noon.
The Catamounts have not
been to Happy Valley since March of 2008 when they lost to the Nittany Lions
7-4. The following year, Penn State traveled to the Green Mountain State and
went on to defeat Vermont, 7-5. Under Tambroni's leadership, the Nittany Lions
will look for a strong start to the regular season.
"This will be my first time
coaching against Vermont," said Tambroni. "I know we have film from some of
their games in 2014 so we'll look a little bit into some of their general
tendencies because I think it's important. I know they have a couple of really
good offensive players, their leading scorer was a freshman last year so he'll
obviously be a key to our defensive game plan."
Tambroni and the rest of
the coaching staff have been hard at working preparing the team for the season
"In a typical game week,
Monday we review the film with our team," said Tambroni. "Then we get in the
weight room just to get our guys back together exercising, sweating a little
bit to start the week off. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdays is typically the bulk
of when we get our lacrosse work in. So those three days is heavy film work,
heavy on field with a lift sprinkled in on Wednesday."
Tambroni emphasized that
days off after games are important for recovery, as well as explained that on
Fridays the team does a visual walk through to get in the game day mindset. A
walk through gives the team a final bit of confidence before game day, as well
as allows players to visualize the game day atmosphere and do any final mental
However, all the hard work
the team has put in won't become a reality until this weekend.
"When the guys walk in the
locker room on Saturday morning it'll be the first time the freshman have ever
seen our game uniforms," said Tambroni.
"Our upperclassmen will see it for the first time this year and that's
when the heartbeat starts to change a little bit."
Saturday's walk across the parking
lot to Holuba Hall will provide the final few moments of calm and introspection
before the season officially kicks off against Vermont.
"I think the level of
excitement genuinely changes with the reality that the season is finally here
and with 13 guaranteed games you don't want to take anything for granted,"
Coach Tambroni said.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Since third grade, Connor Darcey has been a
lacrosse player. As a child, he started off playing attack and midfield. Darcey
was thrown into the goalie position when his older brother's team lacked a
goaltender. He stuck with this position and has developed his skills over the
years, taking in every opportunity given to him.
The biggest opportunity so far for Darcey has been playing lacrosse for
Penn State under head coach Jeff Tambroni. A four-year starting goalie for
Wellesley High School in Massachusetts, Darcey came to Penn State for academics
and athletics. Although Darcey didn't see any action in the 2013 season and
therefore was chosen to redshirt, he played in two games during the 2014
"After his freshman year, we chose to red shirt Connor because we felt
that was going to be the next logical progression after Austin Kaut graduated,"
Austin Kaut is a household name; he started almost every game in net for
the Nittany Lions between 2011 and 2013, and started all 17 games his senior
season in 2014. The 2015 campaign will be Tambroni's first year as the Penn
State coach without Kaut in net.
Filling Kaut's big shoes is a challenge Darcey has faced head on. Darcey used
his two seasons behind Kaut as an opportunity to learn from the four-year
starter, while improving his own skills in the net.
"I think being in the position that I was in was extremely beneficial,"
said Darcey. "I got to see one of the better goalies go through the system in
Austin Kaut. I had the lucky fortune of being behind him and making the
transition from high school into college lacrosse was definitely a lot easier.
He showed me how to communicate, command your defense, and just be a part of a
collegiate team, which was huge."
When it comes to molding goaltenders, Tambroni says it is a team effort
amongst all the coaches.
"Coach Toner will talk to him about defensive schemes and communication skills
within the defense," said Tambroni. "I'll talk to him more about game
management and preparation, and Coach Doctor will talk to him about day to day
work and his technique and make sure he's in a good place mentally. We'll have
a three-headed monster going into this spring."
Tambroni will be the first person to say that being a goalie is tough,
both mentally and physically. Having coached goalies for over 15 years,
Tambroni knows what is going on inside their heads. The mental capability one
must have to stand in the crease and withstand the opposing teams attackers is
comparable to very little outside the realm of lacrosse. Tambroni measures a
successful goalie, not just by wins, but also by his overall leadership and
presence on the field. It's not only important for the goalie to take control
of the defense, but also give them feedback and motivation after a goal is
scored against them.
"After every goal our defense brings it together," said Tambroni. "Our
defense has a huddle and Connor's in there and we would like him to be part of
that discussion. He can see it as the back line of defense in terms of what
went wrong. You only have about 20 to 30 seconds to evaluate and communicate
effectively to a group of six guys who are emotionally just not in the right
place to hear anything from anyone else, especially if they feel they made the
mistake. So leadership, and his ability to communicate to our team, especially
our defense, is keys to a successful goalie."
The rest of the Nittany Lions defense, including senior defenseman JP
Burnside, has noticed the hard work Darcey has put in before the start of the
"Connor has stepped up and he's doing a really good job," said Burnside.
"He was in the film room every day so he's really just stepped into the roll
and he's doing great."
From early morning workouts to late nights watching film, Darcey has
prepared himself as best as possible for the difficult 2015 campaign. His
confidence in net has developed, and with one more scrimmage against Lehigh on
the schedule, Darcey looks to end the pre-season strong. He hopes to get the
team in a good mental state before the regular season opener against Vermont on
"With each day you get more confident," said Darcey. "And you build the
momentum going into the first game which will be huge for us."
The Nittany Lions host Lehigh in an exhibition game Saturday in Holuba
Hall at 3pm.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - Since his freshman season in 2012, senior captain
and midfielder Kyle Zittel has evolved in many ways within the Penn State men's
lacrosse program. He is the sole captain of a team expected to not only
compete, but also thrive during the inaugural season of Big Ten lacrosse.
As a freshman, Zittel made seven appearances, recording one goal and two
assists. Zittel channeled his limited playing time, using it as motivation to
improve his playing skills. In the 2013 and 2014 campaigns, Zittel appeared in
every game, setting personal records with 11 ground balls and four caused
turnovers last season. His performance and work ethic both on and off the field
made him a prime candidate for captain his senior season.
"We believe this is an extremely important position," said head coach Jeff
Tambroni. "This is ownership of your locker room. You either point your team in
the right direction or in a direction that's not going to be conducive to
success, however you define that."
The selection process of captain involves both coaches and players.
Coach Tambroni explained that the coaches take into consideration the team's
opinion of fellow players and look heavily to players who have displayed
leadership skills during their time on the team. Notable key qualities of previous Penn State
men's lacrosse captains have been outstanding work ethic, the ability to
motivate teammates, having the respect of teammates, including taking charge
and listening to others' ideas.
"The one thing about Kyle is it's not a matter of him having to change
into a role," said Coach Tambroni. "He just needs to be himself and impose his
will on this team because he understands what we need to be successful. He has
proven that in his first three years, that's why he has had the blessing of his
own teammates and the coaching staff to become a captain.
In 2014, the Nittany Lions had three captains - Gavin Ahern, Tom
LaCrosse, and Tyler Travis. All three have graduated. In contrast, Zittel
stands alone in charge of a team comprised of 36 young men all striving for
success on and off the field in 2015. Encouraged by this title of authority,
Zittel hopes to set a high bar for what is expected from the younger players.
"I try to lead by example," Zittel said. "I'm not the best player on our
team and I don't score the most goals and I never not make mistakes, so there's
things they can learn from me. Just as far as I carry myself into practice and
out of practice afterwards and what I can do to set the way for how they should
carry themselves as well."
Zittel had high praise for the previous captains and graduating seniors
who helped set the tone and foundation for him during his time as a younger member
of the team. Following in their footsteps, Zittel explained how previous
captains have impacted the way he leads the team every day, both on the field
"The previous captains, the way they carried themselves and came to
practice with an upbeat energy, confidence and focus every single day was huge
for me," Zittel said. "I tried to learn from that and carry myself in the same
With the support of seven fellow seniors, Zittel will look to his
experienced counterparts to assist in leading the Nittany Lions through their
hardest schedule to date. Names such as JP Burnside and Jack Donnelley will
help not only make an impact during games, but be constant role models off the
"Our coaching staff has flanked Kyle with two extremely capable leaders
in the senior class in JP Burnside and Jack Donnelly, and their leadership
certainly cannot be minimized," said Coach Tambroni. "Those two guys have been
there for him since day one and will continue to be there."
With the start of the season just days away, Zittel is anticipating a
competitive and challenging final season. Set to play five teams ranked in the
top 20 of the USILA Preseason Poll, the Nittany Lions will face their fair
share of challenges in 2015. Additionally, the first season of Big Ten play is
something the captain is looking forward to.
"Seeing our football program and every other athletic program excel in
the Big Ten and what it's about, it's great to finally be a apart of it for
lacrosse. I think it's a huge stepping stone for our program and then also the
Big Ten and the whole lacrosse community."
The Nittany Lions are set to host Army in an exhibition game Saturday in
Holuba Hall at 12 p.m.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The 18th of August cannot come soon enough for Sandy Barbour.
Introduced as Penn State Director of Athletics on Saturday afternoon, Barbour
is thrilled to begin her tenure as the leader of an athletic program that
aspires to continue its long history of excellence on and off the field of
"When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and most
importantly students, you dream about coming to a place like Penn State,"
Barbour said. "You dream about the opportunity to lead a program like Penn
State athletics. Why? Because it represents the opportunity to have it all: Athletic
excellence, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal
responsibility. So thank you, Eric [Barron]. I am absolutely thrilled, over the
top excited about this opportunity and about being the athletic director at
A graduate of Wake Forest where she was field hockey team captain, Barbour grew
up on the East Coast and has always had a deep passion for Penn State
University and its athletic department. That's what drew her to the position
when she originally spoke with President Barron about the opportunity.
Immediately, Barbour felt a connection with the people, pride and remarkable
accomplishments of Penn State University and its athletic department.
"I love the 'We Are Penn State.' I particularly love what it stands for. It
stands for family," Barbour said.
Barbour desires to see national titles in all 31 sports on campus. But first
and foremost, she will strive to lead a department with student-athletes who
are elite performers in the classroom.
"We are athletic programs again that are all part of a university," Barbour
said. "Our student-athletes will be students first, Penn State is incredibly
proud of the academic performance of their students and we will continue to
Eager to hit the ground running when she begins her duties as athletic director
in 23 days, Barbour wants to learn from everyone in the department, especially
the head coaches leading Penn State's 31 athletic teams.
"Unity doesn't mean one opinion, and I actually embrace that, embrace the
diversity of opinion, diversity in a variety of different ways, and I actually
think that will make us stronger in our ability to move forward," Barbour said.
"As I said before, I have something to learn from everybody, and I'll be doing
a lot of listening."
Numerous head coaches were in attendance at Saturday's introductory press
conference. The coaches and athletic department staff then had a chance to
mingle with Barbour at a private reception before she boarded a flight to
Chicago for Big Ten meetings. The head coaches in attendance exuded great
confidence in the future direction of the athletic department.
"There is a culture, history and tradition of
tremendous academic achievement at Penn State and that will continue," said
head football coach James Franklin. "I know it's important to our president,
athletic director and all of our coaches. That will continue. I know we'll
spend as much time as we need to so we can start building."
"I am truly thrilled that Sandy Barbour will serve as
the next athletic director for Penn State," Lady Lions head coach Coquese
Washington said. "Sandy is a strong, dynamic and passionate leader. She is also
an incredibly smart visionary and strategic thinker. It is exciting to imagine
all the ways Penn State University, and Penn State athletics in particular,
will be positively impacted by her leadership."
"I loved everything I heard today," head women's hockey coach Josh Brandwene
said. "She has passion, vision and just a great understanding of the Penn State
community. Both as a head coach and as an alumnus, I am really excited to start
working with her."
Barbour will return to California in the coming days to prepare for her
full-time return to Happy Valley on Aug. 18, and the new leader of Penn State Athletics
is fired up to get started.
"We are Penn State. I'm
all in. I'm ready to get going," said Barbour.
Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- "It would be tough to articulate and put into words
what this senior class means to this team," said head coach Jeff Tambroni
following Saturday's 8-7 win over Hofstra. "They are such a quality group of
young men and they finished their careers in an outstanding fashion."
The showdown with The Pride last weekend served
as Penn State's final regular season game as a member of the Colonial Athletic
Association. The hard-fought battle exemplified the passion, pride and
resiliency that the Nittany Lions have played with all season.
"It was awesome we got to end on a win,"
said senior attackman Shane Sturgis. "They were highly-ranked, everyone doubted
us and we finished the year strong."
While the victory was the highlight of
the weekend, the senior banquet on Sunday morning also proved to be a way for
the Penn State lacrosse family to come together. The 14-member senior class was
honored with speeches from Tambroni, numerous student-athletes and Assistant
Athletic Director Jan Bortner.
Senior captain Tyler Travis spoke to his
teammates and the guests in attendance, emphasizing the team's resiliency
throughout the season and the belief that he always had in his squad.
"By no means was this season a
disappointment to us," Travis said.
The Blue and White finished the regular
season with a 7-6 overall record and a 3-2 mark in CAA play. Most impressively,
the team finished off its slate with a three-game win streak after losing five
out of six. Leading the Lions to the turnaround was the impressive grittiness
and perseverance of the 2014 seniors.
"They've been through a lot and it was a
pretty emotional pregame speech for me," Tambroni said of the soon-to-be
graduates who were freshmen or redshirt freshmen just four short seasons ago
during the coach's first year.
"We owe a great debt of gratitude to this
group," he said. "To their credit they just stayed the course and came out on
Without the chance to compete in the CAA
tournament and earn and automatic berth in this year's NCAA tournament, the
Nittany Lions now must hope to hear their name called on Selection Sunday and
continue to prepare.
The team can certainly make a case for an
at-large bid with its impressive resume. With the eight-ranked strength of schedule
in the country, a No. 19 RPI rating, and key wins over Hofstra and Notre
Dame--this squad has put itself in a position with a hope to play in May.
NCAA tournament berth or not, the way
this team finished this season makes for a successful--not
"Now they walk off the field with a
winning record and something to hold on to and that's adversity faced and
adversity fought," Tambroni said.
The NCAA Men's Lacrosse Selection Show
will air on Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPNU. Eighteen teams will make the tournament,
10 of which are automatic bids and eight are at-large bids. Two teams will play
in a play-in game.
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- During a sunny Easter weekend in Happy Valley, the
Penn State men's lacrosse team took down Delaware behind a disciplined
defensive game plan and a potent offensive attack.
"We harped on discipline and hustle all week,"
said senior defender Tyler Travis.
The Nittany Lions put on a fundamentally sound
performance in front of their home crowd en route to a 10-6 victory over the
Blue Hens. A display of patience on offense and composure on defense earned the
win for the Blue and White, moving their record to .500.
"I thought that collectively they made a lot of
big plays," head coach Jeff Tambroni said of the defense after last Saturday's
win. "We just asked each one of those guys to do their part and Coach Toner did
a great job of putting a game plan together."
On the attack, senior Shane Sturgis's stick
came to life in front of nearly 1,500 fans in attendance. A six-point
performance (4g, 2a) was exactly the spark that the offense needed to rally
"He took charge of the offense," Tambroni said.
"He's by far our biggest and most dynamic leader in the offensive end and typically
when he's playing well, everybody feeds off his energy and confidence."
Sturgis' big game increased his goal total to
30 on the season, which is already three more than what he scored in 2013. The
senior has been a staple in Tambroni's offense since his freshman season, and
the coaching staff is pleased to see him finish his career strong.
"Earlier in the year he was playing hard and
productive; in the middle of the season he was playing hard but shots weren't
falling, but today he was the one guy that was shooting consistently," Tambroni
The offense went on a 6-1 run that spanned
three quarters against Delaware, fueling the Nittany Lions with all of the
momentum. The scoring run was sparked by the timely decision-making and poise
displayed by Sturgis.
"He did a wonderful job of reading Delaware's
offense and getting our guys organized on the fly," Tambroni said.
Sturgis and fellow senior Tom LaCrosse have
been tremendous leaders to the younger players this season, enabling them for
success in seasons to come.
"Between TJ Sanders and our freshman crew, it's
taking a little while for those guys to season and develop," said the
fourth-year coach. "It was nice to see those guys (the seniors) come out and
play the way they did because they complemented that group of freshmen very
Seniors on the defensive side of the ball were
extremely impactful as well. Travis and Steven Bogert combined for 11 ground
balls while goaltender Austin Kaut was locked in to the Delaware shooters and
made 14 saves.
"I thought what stood out is some of the
seniors made some consistent efforts and consistent plays that made us
comfortable in the offensive end," Tambroni said. "Travis, Kaut and Bogert were
so reliable and they just made such a difference to holding Delaware to
The Nittany Lions are down to just one game
left on their 2014 slate as they prepare to host CAA rival Hofstra next
Saturday. Faceoff against the Pride is set for 12 p.m. on senior day.
Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student
Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Senior goalie Austin Kaut's monster game Saturday
night at Towson has given the Penn State defense just what they need to finish
the season strong - a boost in poise and tenacity.
"It really gives our guys a lot of confidence
defensively to know that Austin is going to make those saves," said assistant
coach Peter Toner. "That was a great boost for the defense and certainly a
great thing for him to find a groove.
Kaut rejected all 11 Tiger shots that came his way
en route to a dominant 8-1 Nittany Lion victory, which moved the team's record
to within one game of .500.
"It seemed like everywhere they shot the ball he
was a step or two ahead of them," Toner said.
The only Towson goal came with just over a minute
remaining after Kaut was pulled and replaced by freshman netminder Connor
Darcey. Although the defense was just a minute away from the program's first
shutout in almost 50 years, giving up that lone goal doesn't take away from
their dominant showing.
"It just seemed like we were always the aggressor
defensively whether it was defending the ball, sliding into a double team or
picking up ground balls," Toner said.
Kaut, 2013's NCAA goalie of the year, was
determined and focused last week in practice on finishing his senior season
"We come out and work as hard as we can and never
give up--that's our motto as a senior class," Kaut said.
The senior's showing on Saturday demonstrated that
playoffs or not--this team is still motivated and always hungry for a win.
"I think he just made a decision during the week
that he was going to take a step in the right direction and that's why he was
dominant Saturday night," Toner said.
Towson's offense, led by senior Thomas DeNapoli,
was denied three times in each of the first three quarters. The few times that
the Tiger attack broke through the Nittany Lion defense, Kaut was there to deny
"[DeNapoli] is definitely a catalyst to their
offense and Towson does a lot to move him around and get him shots," Toner
Senior defender Tyler Travis was matched up against
DeNapoli, which is a paring he has become familiar with. Travis has defended
the prolific Tiger attackman in multiple games over the last few seasons,
including last year's CAA championship loss.
"Tyler did a really good job on DeNapoli," Toner
said. "That's a matchup he's had the last couple of years and it was a big part
of our defensive game plan to stop DeNapoli. Tyler got a lot of help from the
guys around him."
The Blue and White are down to just two games left
on their 2014 slate--both of which will be CAA battles at home. When Delaware
and Towson come to Happy Valley the next two weekends, fans can expect to see a
focused, gameplan-oriented defense.
"As the year goes on it's good for these guys to
get some confidence and have a sound game plan going in," Toner said. "They've
done a very nice job of buying into finishing this season on a good note."
Faceoff against Delaware is set for 1 p.m. on
Saturday. The Blue Hens come into Happy Valley with a 6-7 overall record and a
0-3 mark in conference play. This will be the second-to-last CAA matchup for
the Nittany Lions before they join the Big Ten in 2015.
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- With a 4-6 overall record and just three games left to
play, the Penn State men's lacrosse team is focused on finishing the 2014
campaign with a winning record.
"In these last few games, it is important for us to be flexible but still
very confident," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "Our goals may need to change a
The Nittany Lions entered this season with high hopes and aspirations of
earning a second-straight NCAA Tournament berth. However, without the chance to
compete in the CAA Tournament and secure an automatic bid--there wasn't much
room for regular season losses.
Last weekend, the Blue and White were outmatched in a triple overtime thriller
to Drexel. Despite dropping four of its last five, this resilient group is
determined to send the seniors off valiantly while building for the future.
"We are dead set on finishing this season on a high note," Tambroni said.
Finishing on a high note can be defined a number of ways by this coaching
staff. Winning out, seeing more production from a number of players and
witnessing growth from the talented freshman class are all examples of goals
for finishing strong.
"You have to believe in what you are doing but also understand that you may
have to make some adjustments under these circumstances," the fourth-year coach
said. "First and foremost we have to believe in ourselves as coaches and
Regardless of any adjustments made in these last few weeks, the coaches
were adamant about one thing - continuing to play 'the Penn State way'.
"Our standards have to stay the same," Tambroni said. "The standard of this
program, the standard of our work ethic and the standard of the expectations of
each and every day will stay the same."
Penn State's remaining slate consists of all CAA matchups. A final road
test at Towson this Saturday will be followed by two home battles against
Delaware and Hofstra. Opening faceoff against the Tigers is slated for 7 p.m.
Seniors Austin Kaut and Tyler Travis were joined by freshman Mike Sutton in
giving their thoughts and interpretations on finishing the season strong.
Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student
Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- For the Penn State men's lacrosse team, dropping a
triple overtime thriller to Drexel last Saturday provided far more than just
heartbreak. The team exhibited grittiness, determination and persistence from
all depths of the roster.
"Look no further than guys like Michael Sutton and
Danny Craig," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "Those guys have just stayed the
course and have been persistent all year. They deserve all the playing time
they get because of their resilient efforts."
The freshman duo of Craig and Sutton combined for
nine points against the Dragons, displaying their will and deservedness to earn
more minutes and starts.
"They were both tremendous bright spots," Tambroni
said. "Our freshmen are starting to play with confidence and playing to what we
thought their potential could be."
Sutton, a midfielder, netted five goals in the
13-12 setback on Saturday. His numbers weren't the only thing that impressed
his coaches in his first start--but his demonstration of persistence and effort
that has culminated all season long.
"Mike Sutton has never waivered in his own
ability," Tambroni said. "He's continued to embrace his role whether it was on
the scout team, deep within the second unit or now as a starter and very high
Sutton isn't alone in this display, as Craig and
fellow freshman Nick Aponte also had big games against Drexel.
"Credit the guys that have been sitting on the
bench all year, keep working hard and continue to believe in themselves," the
fourth-year coach said.
The roller coaster game against Drexel marked the
fourth loss in the last five for the Nittany Lions.
"It is not from a lack of trying," Tambroni said. "Our guys are continuing to
give a great effort and keep moving forward with the belief of being
A major theme in the last four losses has been that
the team hasn't gotten off to the early start in each half that the coaches
would like to see. Despite scoring three goals in the first quarter last
Saturday, Tambroni would like to see a faster pace in the opening quarter.
"For whatever reason--the start of the game and the
start of the third quarter have not been very kind to us in the majority of our
games," Tambroni said. "If you take the first ten minutes of every game and the
first five minutes of every third quarter--it's a lopsided affair."
With three games remaining on the schedule, the
team is looking to tighten up this disconnect in the opening quarters of both
"We have to do a better job as coaches and our guys
have to do a better job as players of providing a little more focus to when
that first whistle is blown."
The Blue and White are committed to finishing this
season strong, which means a variety of things to players and coaches. Winning
out, seeing more production from numerous players on the field and seeing
growth from the freshmen class are among the team's goals.
"I believe this group is committed and we need to
find a way to play up to our potential," Tambroni said. "We are dead set on
finishing this season on a high note."
The Nittany Lions will travel to Maryland next
Saturday to take on Towson. Opening faceoff against the Tigers is set for 7
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The typically high-powered offense of the Penn State
men's lacrosse team was subdued on Saturday in a 9-7 loss to the visiting
"We just didn't seem to have enough
opportunities offensively to get it going," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "For
whatever reason I just thought we played a little bit timid."
The offense was held to its second-lowest
goal total of the season as the visitors stifled their late comeback effort in
the fourth quarter. In each of the Nittany Lions' five losses, the team is
winless when they are down or tied at halftime.
"In the second half we were trying to
fight uphill and I'm not sure we are built to be that kind of a team to fight
uphill and to come from behind," Tambroni said. "We are going to have to find a
way to do that because it seems like we are there in a lot of these games."
Where was the offense that has put up
double-digit scores in six of nine games on Saturday?
It was simply shut down by the Wildcats'
control of possession and halted by turnovers.
"Between our shooting and our decision
making offensively, I thought we gave the ball away far too many times in the
first half to provide any rhythm," Tambroni said. "That ultimately became our
The weather certainly wasn't ideal for a
game in late March, as the chilly temperatures and misting rain persisted
throughout the contest. Penn State's 21 turnovers could have been a result of
the miserable weather, but coaches and student-athletes didn't want to use that
as an excuse.
"It seemed like it (the weather) affected
us more in the first half more so with our overall stick work," Tambroni said.
"I'd say more credit to the Villanova shooters and credit to their defense than
the impact of the rain."
Despite the offensive miscues and the
result, the team displayed several impressive aspects of its game. Faceoff man
Drake Kreinz proved that his talents in the X could keep the team in a game
regardless of a deficit while the defense played admirably against a formidable
The defense displayed its ability to
adjust mid-game after they turned a lackluster first half into a more promising
"At halftime we talked and just said that
we needed to calm down and play the way we are capable of," said senior goalie
Austin Kaut, who tallied a season-high of 13 saves.
Halftime adjustments held the Wildcats to
three goals in the second half compared to six in the first half. Kaut
registered eight saves in the second half alone and the defense was nearly
perfect in it's clears.
"Our defense played really well,"
Tambroni said. "I thought mixing some man and some zone put us in a position to
keep them off guard and keep them on their heels."
"But we just didn't get it done," Kaut
This setback drops the Blue and White's
record to 4-5. Without the ability to compete in the CAA tournament, the team
doesn't control it's own destiny to be called on Selection Sunday.
"At this point we are looking to do a
little of everything to give ourselves a chance to break out of where we are
right now," Tambroni said. "It seems like we are in a little bit of a slide, or
a lot a bit of a slide."
With four regular season games remaining--two
of which will be at home--the coaching staff is looking for ways to end the season
on a high note.
"I don't think it is one person that is
going to make the difference," the fourth-year coach said. "It's more of the
collective mentality of our team."
The Nittany Lions will be on the road the
next two weekends with trips to Drexel and Towson before returning home to
round out the season. Next Saturday's faceoff with the Dragons is slated for 2
p.m. in Philadelphia.
"We just need to play with more
confidence and composure these next games," senior Shane Sturgis said.