By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a nail-biting fourth quarter, the Penn State men's lacrosse team (5-2) fought back in overtime to defeat No. 8 Harvard (4-2), 13-12, on Saturday in Happy Valley.
Coming off of a strong win at Furman last Tuesday, head coach Jeff Tambroni was confident in his team's ability to take on a top-10 ranked opponent.
"It's been a good spring break and I felt like we had really good energy and synergy coming off of that trip in South Carolina after our win against Furman," said Tambroni. "We had two good days of practice and a good trip back here to State College."
During Saturday's contest, Harvard got on the board early, with a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the first quarter. However, it was a battle of the defenses until the very end.
Playing a highly ranked opponent, the Nittany Lions anticipated a strong performance from the Crimson. Harvard's defense attempted to double-team Penn State's attackers, a strategy the Nittany Lions were prepared for.
"We knew that going into this game that they like to double," said junior attacker Nick Aponte. "So we tried to keep our heads up on our dodges and always run away from it and drag them out."
At the other end of the field, Penn State's defense had to constantly adjust throughout the game to be able to read Harvard's offensive plays. Thanks to defenders like senior James Chakey, the Nittany Lions were able to hold Harvard to just 23 shots in the first three quarters of play.
"Harvard came out on offense really quick, but on defense mojo just got clicking right away and we felt really strong with our base defense," said Chakey. "The majority of it was just what we've been doing all year, not too many changes but at half time we tweaked a few things but not much."
During the fourth quarter, the Crimson scored four unanswered goals to tie the game at 12, forcing overtime. Tambroni felt confident going into the extra time because of how his team had played during regulation, but did have some reservations about just how long the Nittany Lions could keep the energy up.
"I felt like our guys have really been focusing the last few days and I thought we came out and played that way early in the game. I felt we got tired, I think both teams got tired as the game went on but for 60 minutes we made some plays, gave some plays away," said Tambroni. "I'm just proud of the fact that they went into overtime the way we did when we could've easily collapsed."
In overtime, the Nittany Lions were eager for possession time, but it was Harvard that got off the first shot on net. With a save from sophomore goaltender Will Schreiner, momentum shifted in favor of Penn State, as the team took the ball into the Crimson's zone.
Off a pass from freshman attacker Grant Ament, Aponte shot the ball and found the back of the net, giving the Nittany Lions the go-ahead win, 13-12.
"I was actually going to pass the ball to TJ Sanders but two times in this game Harvard got lucky and got the pass onto their sticks, so I just took it all the way," said Aponte. "I saw an opening and buried it top right."
Aponte had three goals and three assists in Saturday's contest.
Tambroni credited his team's ability to think quickly and creatively for the win against Harvard.
"We were able to take advantage of [overtime] with an aggressive style of defense to offense," said Tambroni. "To say that I'm proud of this group would be a major understatement."
Next up for Penn State, the Nittany Lions host Massachusetts on Saturday at noon.
Recently in Men's Lacrosse Category
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA - Despite a run of goals in the fourth quarter, the No. 20 Penn State men's lacrosse team (3-2) fell to Penn (2-1) at Franklin Field on Saturday.
Kicking off their spring break trip in Philadelphia, the Nittany Lions had focused the week of practice prior on improving certain aspects of their game based on their performance against Villanova. Specifically, head coach Jeff Tambroni said the team focused on improving their performance at the faceoff 'x.'
Penn State won 15 of the 22 face offs during Saturday's contest, with faceoff man, junior Billy Lombardi, going 14-for-19 at the 'x.'
"It was good to see us win more face offs, that was good," said Tambroni. "It's a sign of moving in a positive direction."
Another player who had a good performance, despite what the final score of the game said, was sophomore goaltender Will Schreiner. Schreiner made nine saves during Saturday's contest, several saves keeping the Quakers off the board and giving the Nittany Lions a chance at a comeback.
"I thought Will played really well today, especially coming off of last week's game," said Tambroni. "I don't think he played poorly against Villanova but we weren't really giving him a whole lot of help and mentally that can be devastating especially on a sophomore goalie coming in playing his first year, but I thought he did really well. If anything he allowed us to stay in this game and gave us a chance."
During the fourth quarter, the Nittany Lions seemed to find some energy and put five goals on the board. Three of the five goals came from senior attacker TJ Sanders.
However, the stellar performance from Sanders followed by two goals from freshman attacker Grant Ament and junior attacker Nick Aponte wasn't enough for the Nittany Lions to overtake the early deficit created by the Quakers.
"I thought Penn, every time we tried to fix something they came right back," said Tambroni. "Momentum and possession time seems to not have favored us all that well but that's on us, not on a particular unit."
The Penn State faithful came out to support the Nittany Lions on Saturday, and had a large presence in the crowd, which cheered on the Lions at every goal in the fourth quarter. Despite the overwhelming crowd support, the Nittany Lions fell to the Quakers 11-7.
Next up for the Nittany Lions they continue their spring break trip as they head to South Carolina to take on Furman (0-4) on Tuesday.
After an off day for the team on Sunday, Tambroni will get the team rolling with practice on Monday in preparations for their showdown with the Paladins, focusing on some of the errors the team made against Penn.
"Hopefully these guys will all get some sleep," said Tambroni. "It seemed like we practiced tired this week and I'm not sure if that had anything to do with today. You've got to move on quickly and if we can pick one or two areas, clearing being absolutely one of them, offensively I think we have to shoot the ball better, so maybe those two areas. We'll do a little bit better job at cleaning up that on Monday."
Penn State plays at Furman on Tuesday at noon.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's lacrosse team (3-1) is spending its spring break traveling to Penn (1-1) on Saturday and Furman (0-3) on Tuesday. The preparations for such a trip begins several months prior, and is almost entirely coordinated by one man, David Shriver, the team's director of operations.
Having been raised in Maryland, Shriver was born into a lacrosse family and attended Boys' Latin School, where is father Bob was the head coach of the men's lacrosse team. Boys' Latin is one of the most well known preparatory programs in the country, and during Shriver's time on the team the Lakers went 21-0 on their way to a national championship in the 2006 season.
After playing his college career at Georgetown, serving as a captain in his senior year, Shriver found his way to Penn State as a volunteer assistant coach in the summer of 2011.
While in his position as a volunteer assistant coach, Shriver performed both coaching and administrative duties. Shriver spent much of his time with the team on the field helping with shooting drills and instructing during games.
"I knew I wanted to stay involved with the team, with the sport," said Shriver. "And my time as a volunteer coach evolved into this role that I have now."
On Aug. 29, 2013, head coach Jeff Tambroni hired Shriver as the program's first-ever director of operations, a position Tambroni had been hoping to create for several years.
Tambroni noted that what sets Shriver apart is his ability to connect with players and build individual relationships with them while also maintaining a sense of mentorship. Shriver's proficiency in organization, selflessness, and dedication reiterated Tambroni's reasons for choosing Shriver for the job.
"It's tough to find a former athlete who's willing to check his ego and just do the things that he does for this particular program behind the scenes without any fanfare or real recognition outside of our staff," said Tambroni.
On any given day of the week Shriver can be found watching film, typing up practice plans, preparing budgets, or in his office organizing the week ahead.
For the team's upcoming road trip to Philadelphia and South Carolina, Shriver had to start formulating plans months ahead of the team's departure on Friday. Calculating logistics for a party of almost 50 traveling by bus down the eastern seaboard is no easy task.
"I started preparing for this trip about two months out," said Shriver. "We had to put the pieces together, working with obviously getting a hotel, and then once you get there it's about working out practice times with Furman, working out mealtimes, finalizing those plans."
Shriver explained that even the little details couldn't go unnoticed. For the Nittany Lions, who will be wearing their blue jerseys in both games over spring break, Shriver even needed to think ahead about laundry facilities the team can use between contests to wash equipment.
No detail is too small, Shriver explained, and noted how organization is key to keeping a program with as many team members and coaches as they have running smoothly on the road.
As for the team, their duties fall a little bit differently during these next two road contests.
Coming back to Happy Valley with two wins under their belt would be ideal, but long road trips such as these aren't all about wins and losses. Road trips are an opportunity for teams to build strong relationships across classes.
"It gets to that point here in State College with the weather and school starts to wear on our guys a little bit in conjunction with the preseason that we just went through," said Tambroni. "I think it's important to get them away mentally to help them build energy and team chemistry."
There will be no lack of team building during their spring break trip as the Nittany Lions have a nigh out at Dave and Busters in South Carolina planned, along with a tour of the BMW manufacturing plant.
"We're going to get some competitions going," said Shriver of the team's night out. "It'll help build some team chemistry in a fun way."
Shriver joked how the competition will be particular tough once the coaches create their own team for competition.
With the logistics planned down to the smallest detail, the Nittany Lions are prepared for their first back-to-back contests of the year. Thanks to the constant effort and hours of planning by Shriver, the team can focus on their games and the coaches can focus on their leadership duties.
"He is a true friend to the program," said Tambroni. "He just has a personality that just connects with every coach, every player, every parent. To find someone that's as compassionate as David, who genuinely and authentically cares about the people he works with and the players he works for, that could just never be replicated."
Penn State will faceoff at Penn on Saturday at noon, and at Furman on Tuesday at noon.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite the momentum from a win at Cornell last week, the No. 15/12 Penn State men's lacrosse team (3-1) was unable to defeat Villanova (1-1) during the Nittany Lions' first outdoor home game of the season on Saturday. The Wildcats defeated the Nittany Lions 19-9.
Penn State's 3-0 start to the season was its best since 2002, but was cut short of reaching 4-0 for the first time since 1992.
At the starting whistle, both teams were eager for possession time. The Nittany Lions took several shots on net, but Villanova scored first. Junior midfielder Mike Sutton answered for the Nittany Lions, tying the score 1-1.
At the half, the Lions trailed the Wildcats 8-3.
At the start of the fourth quarter Penn State was down 16-7. Freshman attack man Grant Ament kicked off the fourth quarter for the Lions, finding the back of the net with 12:11 left to go. However, a relentless defensive performance from the Wildcats held back the Lions on attack.
Two more Nittany Lions scored in the fourth, to inch Penn State closer on the scoreboard. Jimmy Nowoswiat and Robby Black, both freshmen, scored with less than a minute and a half left in the fourth, but it wasn't enough to bring the Lions back.
"We seemed to not have a lot of rhythm today," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "I don't know if that was due to possession time, our mindset, or maybe our opponent, but the momentum never seemed to shift in our favor."
Several Nittany Lions had multi-point games, including junior Nick Aponte, senior TJ Sanders, and freshman Grant Ament, who had one goal and one assist each. Freshman Kevin Hill scored his first collegiate goal, notching two in Saturday's contest.
Tambroni noted earlier in the week how important communication is for the team, and saw a positive performance from his players on the field Saturday with their ability to make connections and vocalize on the field.
"I don't think [communication] was one of our weaknesses today," said Tambroni. "The little things really just seemed to hurt us."
Looking ahead, the Nittany Lions are on the road at Penn this Saturday and are eager to bounce back and get another win on the road.
For the Lions, there are several things they would like to improve on before their next contest.
"We're going to work on face offs," said junior attack man Nick Aponte. "We're going to really focus on Penn, on their personnel, really just what we can do to get a fire back under us and try to keep on rolling with the rest of the season."
Tambroni explained it's vitals for the Nittany Lions to have a refreshed mindset this week during practice. The team's ability to move on quickly from a loss and restart the momentum for another matchup is critical to success week-to-week.
"I just said to our guys that no matter what you do, when you leave the turf you're either 1-0 or 0-1," said Tambroni. "It's not like you lose the season in one game, it's not like you win a championship in one game during the regular season, and I talked about the same thing after Cornell. It's important for us to just learn from our mistakes and create confidence from the things that we did well."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Since his freshman season in 2013, TJ Sanders has become a constant and dominating force at attack for the No. 12 Penn State men's lacrosse team (3-0). While Sanders knows how to put points on the board, he also has the ability to connect with teammates and make his worth far more than the numbers show.
"TJ certainly started his career as a finisher, he was extremely productive and extremely successful but I think he's had to adapt a little bit," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "He's adapted more as a ball carrier, and has developed a game as a connector as well, getting the ball to other guys who can finish as well."
As a freshman, Sanders earned CAA Rookie of the Year, All-CAA Second Team and All-CAA Rookie Team honors. He ended his first season with the Nittany Lions with 44 goals and five-assists.
As a sophomore, Sanders scored a point in all but one game during the 2014 campaign, and recorded seven multi-point games on his way to being named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and Academic All-Big Ten.
Last season, the Ontario, Canada, native was named a USILA All-America honorable mention and All-Big Ten honorable mention after scoring 29 goals and notching 13 assists in just 14 games.
Now as a senior, the attackman has already scored nine goals in the first three games. Sanders has certainly made an impact on Penn State Lacrosse during the last three years, and doesn't look to let up his momentum any time soon, noting every game is an opportunity to improve from his last performance.
Tambroni noted that Sanders' instinctual abilities to read players, move the ball within the offensive zone, and his ability to adapt on a moments notice has become an essential part of the Nittany Lions' on-field success.
"I think IQ is underrated as an attack man because you're just involved with so many plays, not just in the offensive end but also the transition to offense, understanding the pace of play, and game management," said Tambroni.
During his career, the numbers Sanders has put on the score sheet tell the story of a determined young man who knows how to play the game of lacrosse at a challenging level. However, what the numbers don't show is how Sanders has progressed as both a leader and contributor to the team when not putting up points.
"TJ, to his credit, this year more so than any other years for obvious reasons as a senior has just done a wonderful job of not just being a productive player, but has become a much better game manager, a much better leader, and a wonderful role model," said Tambroni.
Off the field, Sanders may not be as outgoing as some of his teammates, but rather focuses on building relationships with his fellow Nittany Lions that contribute to their team's on-field successes. Sanders noted that they best way he can get other teammates to perform their best, is for him to set that example and to do the best he can, whether at practice or during a game.
"I think of myself as a pretty quiet guy so I may not be the kind of ray-rah leader that a lot of people are," said Sanders. "I like to connect with my teammates on a personal level, kind of talk to them more than yell at them, that kind of style. There's other guys in the room that will get everyone energized and excited so we have a pretty good mix in the locker room."
Sanders explained that although his authority style may deviate from the normal, he has been able to set an example for his fellow teammates just as effectively as the most vocal guys on the team. He explained that sometimes the most important part of being an exemplary leader is just being a good teammate.
"It's really the intangible things," said Sanders. "Being able to work well with your teammates, that makes the biggest difference."
Penn State hosts Villanova on Saturday at 1 p.m.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
ITHACA, NY. - For the third time in as many weeks, the No. 20 Penn State men's lacrosse team (3-0) came out with a big win over the weekend. The Nittany Lions took down No. 18 Cornell (0-1) in an 8-7 nail-biting victory at Schoellkopf Field.
Cornell got on the board within the first few seconds of the first quarter, and quickly scored a second goal minutes later. However, the Nittany Lions answered with two goals of their own, from junior midfielder Mike Sutton and redshirt junior midfielder Matt Florence.
It was a constant game of cat-and-mouse as the Nittany Lions and Big Red kept pace with each other for the first half of the game, ending the first half with Cornell leading 3-2.
"I believed in our guys coming out at halftime," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "I knew that if we just settled down, played with a little bit more motion and been more selective in our shots we were going to have success. It was just a matter of could we get there."
Determined to return to Happy Valley victorious, the Nittany Lions came out in the third quarter relentlessly taking shots on net, and scoring five unanswered goals, including back-to-back goals from senior attack man TJ Sanders. At the other end of the field, the Nittany Lions defense held off the Big Red and kept them to just three shots in the third.
Starting off the fourth quarter leading 7-3, the Nittany Lions still were not in the clear. Cornell, determined to not give up a home loss, came back to score four goals, tying the game at 7 apiece.
Tensions were high as both teams fought for possession and just one more goal to edge the opposing team.
With less than four minutes left in the fourth, Florence found the back of the net to give the Nittany Lions the go-ahead. Unassisted, it was Florence's second goal of the game and seventh of the season.
"Thankfully through some transitional opportunities we started to open the door up a little bit and I think we just did enough in the second half to come away with a victory," said Tambroni.
Returning to Cornell for Tambroni, who was the head coach of the Big Red from 2001-10 was an emotional experience, but knowing this was a business trip for his Lions made his return very focused on the task at hand.
Although it was good to see past friends, fellow coaches and players of his, Tambroni was proud Penn State came away with a victory over one of the "blue bloods" of the lacrosse world.
"It was great to be here, I was thankful we were able to schedule a game not just in Ithaca, but against a premier program like Cornell," said Tambroni. "I think it's great for our program, I think it's great for our guys to see this kind of competition, so we were thankful and grateful that we were able to have this opportunity."
This Nittany Lions return home this Saturday as they face Villanova at 1 p.m.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 19 Penn State men's lacrosse team (2-0) travels to No. 15 Cornell (0-0) this Saturday to take on the Big Red, in what is the Nittany Lions' first ranked matchup this season.
The Nittany Lions started off their season with a 20-7 takedown of RMU followed by 17-12 win over Hobart. However, this time around the team is looking for to focus on consistency across the field.
"The first game we started out hot with offense but the second game we didn't start out quite like that," said senior midfielder Tommy O'Neill. "So this third game we want to come out strong and play hard for four quarters."
With several veterans this season on defense, including senior Ryan Guittare and senior James Chakey, the Nittany Lions have worked on developing their defensive strategy, focusing on having every defensive player remain an equal part of the defensive game, rather than favoring a few select players.
Head coach Jeff Tambroni said it's more of a team image, rather than spotlight defense.
"The unit back there is so just predicated on playing with all seven guys, goalie and six included," said Tambroni.
To add to this plan of action, Tambroni looks toward defensive midfielders to become the playmakers, by winning face-offs, controlling possession time, and looking for opportunities at both ends of the field.
"They're probably playing the most challenging position on the field outside of the goalie," said Tambroni of defensive midfielders. "They're trying to defend people with a stick that's three feet shorter than a defensive stick and they've also adapted a new rule this year of creating more transition, being a little bit more confident transitioning the ball from defense to offense."
Being able to effectively play at both ends of the field is key to the Nittany Lions' game strategy.
However, when it comes down to it, there's one thing that everyone on the team would agree is needed for every position - communication.
Communication is needed on the field, for players to know which play is happening, where they need to be, who is covering whom, and what is coming next.
Off the field, communication is remains important for players entering or exiting the action. Teammates on the sideline also communicate to players on the field to help them know where the opposing team is setting up, or where a ball might have gone out of bounds.
All this communication breaks down into choreographed madness, which includes lots of systematic yelling that might otherwise seem unusual. But it all has a purpose.
"If there's one thing that needs to get better as a team, not just defensively, as a team as it relates to our defensive end, it is communication," said Tambroni. "That is the key to starting to build a foundation for defense because for us it connects their understanding, knowing your job, knowing your defense, and communicating to your teammates."
Tambroni explained that if you lack communication, the team would play less as a unit and more as individuals, which would make for a scrambled style of play.
The Nittany Lions have embraced this communication-focused practice strategy this week and has credited this for helping them effectively prepare for Cornell.
"I definitely think coach challenged the older guys this week, they've really stepped up communication, they've been kind of yelling at us but we honestly need it," said sophomore goaltender Will Schreiner. "They've set the tone and hustle that we look up to."
Although not a focus of this weekend, but definitely a notable point, this matchup between Penn State and Cornell marks Tambroni's first game against his old team. Tambroni coached Cornell from 2001-10 and coached them to three NCAA Final Four appearances, including the 2009 national championship game.
Returning to Ithaca on Saturday, Tambroni looks forward to seeing some familiar faces, but knows this is a business trip for his team and doesn't think that his history of coaching at Cornell will provide any leg-up for the Nittany Lions.
"When you have a program like that, like Cornell, they tend to replace not rebuild, so I'm sure there's a lot of guys that are juniors or sophomores that just have not played because of the talent, that will step into those shoes and play playoff level of lacrosse," said Tambroni. "Our job is to respect their tradition and respect their team and understand we're going to see a few new faces, but focus more so on us than them and just play Penn State Lacrosse."
Penn State will faceoff at Cornell on Saturday at 3 p.m.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite constant lead changes, the Penn State men's lacrosse team (2-0) was able to spark a scoring streak during the fourth quarter of Saturday's contest to defeat Hobart (0-1), 17-12.
Penn State struck first as senior attack man TJ Sanders found the back of the net for the Nittany Lions. Sanders has seven goals in just two games.
During the first half of the game there were five ties and two lead changes as the Nittany Lions faced off against the Statesmen. At the start of the third, the Nittany Lions led, 7-5. Hobart led, 10-8, after three.
However, the momentum shifted in favor of Penn State as the clock started for the fourth quarter. Despite trailing by as much as three goals, the Nittany Lions were quick to pounce at the opportunity to rally for a win. The Lions outshot Hobart, 16-4, in the final frame en route to a nine-goal period.
"We came out and we knew it was going to be a tough game, but we started off a little slow in the offensive and defensive zones," said sophomore defenseman Mike Aronow. "We kind of figured it out after the second half and in the fourth quarter we really started putting up goals and we really worked together, that's what it came down to."
Aronow explained that the selflessness fellow teammates displayed during the fourth quarter was what allowed the Nittany Lions to score nine goals in the last 15 minutes of the game. The ability of the team to work together, communicate, and set up efficient plays is what Aronow credits to the team's late run of success.
During the fourth quarter, freshman Grant Ament got the Nittany Lions rolling as he scored less than 30 second in. Ament, in just two games, has scored five goals and has had seven assists.
To continue the momentum, Sanders followed suit just 10 seconds later, netting his second of three goals.
The Nittany Lions relentlessly dominated the rest of the fourth quarter. Sophomore Ryan Keenan scored twice, as freshman Kevin Fox, redshirt junior Matt Florence, and junior Dan Craig all found the back of the net once.
Head coach Jeff Tambroni noted how important the faceoff unit was at giving the Nittany Lions' attack men the opportunity to set up plays by winning vital face offs at the end of the game.
"Between the wings, Tommy Wright, Kevin Fox, and our faceoff guys in particular, I thought they just did a really good job of getting the ball up off the ground, getting us possession, and we turned them into goals," said Tambroni.
Junior Billy Lombardi went 11-for-22 at the faceoff "x", while sophomore Josh Wellman went 5-for-11.
Despite an early back-and-fourth between the Nittany Lions and the Statesmen, Penn State was able to light a spark in the fourth quarter to rally and defeat Hobart. Tambroni noted how important finding motivation toward the end of a game is to net necessary goals and get points up on the board.
"That's our goal every time we could out here to play, to make sure that we're playing for a greater purpose which is your teammates," said Tambroni. "It didn't seem like we had a lot of great focus or energy coming in and it was just nice to know that when things weren't going our way and we we're battling some adversity, that these guys could find a way, especially with two captains sitting on the bench here, find a way to collect themselves and find a way to win."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a 20-7 win to open the season, the Penn State men's lacrosse team (1-0) looks to continue its success on Saturday against Hobart.
With 16 freshmen on the team, head coach Jeff Tambroni as well as returning veterans have embraced the large class and look forward to their continuing impact on and off the field.
The 16 young men who have joined the ranks this season hail from as far as California or as close at within the state of Pennsylvania. Many of them played at the same high school or on the same club team as fellow teammates, both within their class and above them.
Since their transition into college life last fall, the freshmen have taken advantage of playing a spring sport and have been able to take the time adjusting to academics before taking on a full season of lacrosse.
"They've been an extremely hardworking group and we've been very pleased, very impressed with this particular group," said Tambroni. "At this point in the year typically these guys have gone through the fall and in a lot of ways there's so much on their plate that they tend to kind of cap off whereas the veterans understand the scope of the entire year, but this particular group has a ton of energy."
Tambroni continued to explain how this freshman class put in extra work during their free time during the fall semester, including working in the weight room and spending time on the field improving their skills. He also noted how this freshman group has been able to fall in behind a dynamic senior class and contribute in any way they can.
"I think it was tough," said freshman defender Chris Sabia of the transition from high school to college lacrosse. "The seniors did a good job of bringing us into the Penn State family right away and that really helped a lot."
Prior to the start of the fall semester, the senior class reached out to the freshmen and took them under their wing. Senior defenseman James Chakey explained that since there are eight seniors, they each took two freshmen to reach out to and make sure they felt comfortable coming onto campus and into the college lacrosse lifestyle.
During the preseason the team somewhat separated the freshmen from the rest of the team, to let them make their mistakes and learn from them. Now that the spring semester is in full swing, and the season just started, team members see the freshmen less as a class and more as playmakers.
Their ability to transition into their freshman season and listen to upperclassmen from the start has made the class of 2019 an impactful team on the field quickly.
During last Saturday's game against Robert Morris, six freshmen scored their first collegiate goal to help the Nittany Lions take down the Colonials, 20-7.
Several freshmen have already stood out even with just one game under their belt, including attack man Grant Ament. Ament was named the program's first Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Feb. 10. Ament had two goals and five assists against Robert Morris.
"Coming in and playing strong, a lot of us getting playing time and being able to make a difference, that was definitely something really special to be a part of," said Ament.
As Penn State looks ahead to Hobart on Saturday, the freshmen class is eager to contribute wherever needed. Despite being able to separate by grade, the team prefers to treat the team as one unit. This unit, Chakey explained, if they work together and focus, can make a serious impact this season.
"At this point in the year, in fall you're a freshman, but come springtime you should know your role, know your role in the depth chart, and it's more of a whole team rather than classes," said Chakey. "These guys have really pushed us beyond our expectations and they've pushed us to not only play better, but to make the team better."
Penn State hosts Hobart on Saturday in Holuba Hall at 3 p.m.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In front of a large hometown crowd in Holuba Hall, the Penn State men's lacrosse team (1-0) took down Robert Morris (0-1), 20-7, on Saturday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions' unrelenting offense notched six goals in the first quarter, alone. Redshirt junior attack man Matt Florence scored two of the six goals, notching his third goal later in the second period.
Penn State's second scoring streak of the day came during the second and third periods, with the Nittany Lions finding the back of the net 11 times before the Colonials were able to answer.
"I thought our guys came out of the lock room and onto the field today at that first whistle and just played a very inspired game of lacrosse, gained a ton of momentum in that second and third quarter and I'm just happy that those guys were able to kind of get that first win and start to move ahead," said head coach Jeff Tambroni.
Penn State had several standout players on the field at attack, including senior TJ Sanders who tallied four goals for the Nittany Lions, as well as three assists.
In addition to their veteran offensive prowess, the Nittany Lions had six different freshmen score during Saturday's contest.
Freshman Grant Ament notched two goals and five assists, with Tambroni noting how much Ament reminds him of a young Sanders when he was a freshman.
"It was a pretty incredible feeling," said Ament of his first collegiate goal with the Nittany Lions. "I got the assist from James Chakey who went to my high school, Haverford. It was really cool to share that moment with him because he was always looking out for me and always kind of has my back and that was kind of just a special way to start the season off."
Tambroni was quick to praise how immediate of an impact the freshman class has made even with just one game under its belt. Tambroni looks forward to seeing just how much this class can do with the rest of the season still upon them.
Another standout performance from Saturday's contest was that of sophomore Will Schreiner in net for the Nittany Lions.
Schreiner played more than 40 minutes between the pipes and made six saves.
"I think we communicated really well, we played as a team extremely well and I think we also kind of brought the power as well as the up-tempo of play," said Schreiner of the team's defensive play.
Tambroni noted earlier how one of his goals for the season is to have his players work hard for all 60 minutes of play and to not lose momentum. With almost the entire active roster having seen playing time on Saturday, the team was able to stay fresh and keep a disciplined eye on the bigger picture of Saturday's game.
"I thought they did a great job, the tendency when you're up by that much in the third or fourth quarter is to start thinking about yourself, how can you pad your stats, how can you do something that's in your best interest versus the team's best interest, and we said to these guys at halftime one of the things we wanted them to do us," said Tambroni. "Just stay disciplined, stay focused and this was going to be a true sense of their character to see if we can at this moment stay true to what we tried to do in the first half."
With the first game and win in the books the Nittany Lions look ahead to their next opponent, Hobart, on Saturday.
"I think we've got to evaluate the film and go back to work," said Tambroni. "I know that our team in the true sense of the cliché of taking it one day at a time believes in that, and I think it'll be important for us to step back from this, keep things in perspective and go back to work and tack it out Monday."
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