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Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The energy inside Holuba Hall was electric when the
Nittany Lions stormed back from a four-goal, fourth quarter deficit to send
Saturday's game against No. 12 Loyola into overtime. Despite the heartbreaking
12-11 overtime setback, the team quickly started looking to the future and how
they could grow from disappointment.
"I think you have to go through these things as a
program and a team," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "We want to get to that
next step and this is the kind of pain that we have to endure to get there."
The Blue and White couldn't quite grab the momentum
from the Greyhounds until late in the fourth quarter when the offense
systematically chipped away at the visitor's lead. Once the late surge started,
the 1,000-plus fans and the veteran-led squad set a completely new tone.
"I was really happy with how we came back and
fought hard to send it to overtime," said senior attackman Shane Sturgis.
"Everyone put everything we had into it and on offense we just fell short."
The true tone-changing play came right before Penn
State made it a one-goal contest. Junior midfielder Kyle Zittel chased down a
ground ball in the corner near the Nittany Lions' goal and flipped it to goalie
Austin Kaut--leading to a full field fast break and a score.
"It was an unbelievable play by our transition
defense and then into our attack who just buried it," Zittel said. "The energy
and electricity on the sidelines was high."
Sturgis and the rest of the attack were challenged
by the Loyola defense, but still managed to put up impressive numbers and
execute when they needed to. When the pressure began to build as time winded
down, the team looked to its veterans.
"Our guys fought hard down the stretch and showed a
lot of courage," Tambroni said. "That's a testament to the leadership of that
senior class and that's what we can take from today's game."
The look of disappointment on the faces of
student-athletes and coaches was evident upon Loyola's game-winning goal, but
quickly shifted to a gaze towards the future.
"It's like we've done in the past. We have to stay
together as a team and when we pick it back up at practice we are going to hit
the ground running," said junior Erik Meyers, who scored the game-tying goal
with a minute remaining. "We have a tough schedule coming up so it's going to
be real important to grind every day."
The Nittany Lions will be on the road for the next
three weekends for a trio of top-10 showdowns. Trips to Notre Dame, Ohio State
and Denver will pose a true test at the team's ability to bounce back and move
forward during this promising season.
"I think this team is going to be in the position
to be successful late in the season," Tambroni said. "A lot of it is going to
be determined by how we handle this type of adversity."
Penn State has been in this position before. Just
last season the squad dropped overtime battles to Notre Dame and Ohio State at
home, but still went on to win a record 12 games and earn a NCAA tournament
berth. For this team to push their success further into the postseason,
Tambroni and his staff know that they must model their approach similar to that
of past champions.
"Loyola has been in this situation before as well.
They've been in the playoffs and they've won a national championship game,"
Tambroni said. "Seniors and juniors led the way for them and we need to get our
guys to couple that and do the same."
Next up for the Blue and White is a showdown with
rival Notre Dame. Opening faceoff is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday against the
Irish in South Bend, Ind.
"We're excited to get back out there and continue
to improve," Sturgis said.
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After an explosive season-opening win over Michigan
last weekend, the No. 9 Penn State men's lacrosse team is gearing up to host
No. 12 Loyola at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Holuba Hall.
Saturday's showdown will be the 63rd battle between the former
ECAC rivals, with the Nittany Lions leading the series 29-22-1. The Greyhounds are just a year and a half
removed from their first national championship in 2012 and, like Penn State, they
got bounced out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round in 2013.
"This is another tremendous opportunity for our program to continue to grow
and compete at an even higher level," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "To
compete with a team that has had so much success in recent years is something
that gets our guys fired up."
Pursuit of Lacrosse Immortality
Since the arrival of Tambroni in Happy Valley for the 2011 season, the
Nittany Lions have taken significant leaps towards becoming a national
collegiate lacrosse power. The Blue and White have earned more wins than the
previous season in each year under Tambroni and won a program record 12 games
in 2013. After last season's success, the team has its sight set on even
"This has been a collective effort," Tambroni said. "Their aspirations for
this season defensively and as a team are as high as they've ever been."
Loyola is located in Baltimore, Md., and enjoys the benefits of being in a
state that is widely regarded as the lacrosse capital of the world. The Green
and Grey have been to 21 NCAA tournaments and have made it to four final fours
in their history. The Greyhounds lost to the eventual national champion Duke
Blue Devils in the first round of last year's NCAA tournament while the Nittany
Lions got bounced in the same round, but at the hands of Yale.
Tambroni's squad was irked by losing a tournament game at home last season,
but uses that to fuel this season's fire.
"It leaves a sour taste in your mouth," said defenseman Michael Richards.
"You lose that game--you go home and watch that game on your couch. We are
taking this season week by week and hopefully we will be one of those teams in
the national championship this year."
What to Watch: Penn State
Firing on All Cylinders: Penn State wanted a quick start to the season--and
the team did just that with last week's 22-7 domination of Michigan. The
Nittany Lions scored just six seconds into the game and the first ten goals of
the contest. Senior Shane Sturgis scored a career-high six goals and sophomore
sensation TJ Sanders was right behind him with five scores. A hat trick for
junior Kyle Baier in his first collegiate start solidified the statement that
was sent to the future Big Ten rival Wolverines.
X Marks the Spot: The incredible offensive performance that was headed by
Sturgis, Sanders and Baier last week wouldn't have been possible without the
success in the faceoff X from redshirt freshman Drake Kreinz. Kreinz won 68
percent of his faceoffs and scored two points in his debut. His counterpart
from Loyola on Saturday will be freshman Graham Savio, who won 61 percent of
his faceoffs in the second half of Loyola's season opener vs. Virginia.
Kreinz's speed and talent in the X provides an energizing spark to the Nittany
Defense Wins Championships: The offensive charge from last week headlined
the win over Michigan, subsequently overshadowing the defensive performance.
Last year's NCAA goalie of the year Austin Kaut is the general of the Nittany
Lion defense. He registered six saves and allowed three goals against the
Wolverines before heading to the bench to give redshirt freshman Connor Darcey
some game experience in the second half.
"The challenge for us now is not to become a good defensive unit," Tambroni
said. "The challenge is to become a great defensive unit."
The Chalkboard: Don't expect to
see 20-plus goals on the board for the Blue and White again this weekend.
Loyola will most likely give net minder Jack Runkel his 34th-consecutive start,
as he is a consistent leader and goal-stopper. The Nittany Lions will look to
Sturgis and Sanders to lead the offensive push again, but that doesn't mean
there won't be production from the talented midfield and attack that surrounds
"At the end of the day we need to score goals and if that happens to be
from one or two people that's the way it's going to be this year," Tambroni
said. "When a goal is scored there is so much effort that goes into each and
The second-ranked scoring defense from last year will be a good match for
the balanced offensive attack of Loyola. Richards, senior Kessler Brown and
Kaut will look to stifle the Greyhounds offense that is eager for a win after
losing a heartbreaker in OT to UVa.
Penn State will face three-straight top-10 opponents on the road in the
coming weekends (Notre Dame, Ohio State and Denver), so the squad will
certainly be hungry for this win at home.
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "It was great to see our guys establish the tone,"
said men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni following Saturday's 22-7 win over
Michigan. "Going out there like that provided a lot of confidence and you could
see the energy on the sidelines."
A mere six seconds ticked off the clock before the No. 7/9-ranked Nittany
Lions found themselves on the scoreboard in their season opener in front of
nearly 750 fans inside Holuba Hall. Redshirt freshman Drake Kreinz won the
opening faceoff, exploded down the field and dumped the ball to senior Shane
Sturgis who rocketed one into the back of the net.
"The past couple of years we didn't really start out too well against
Michigan," Sturgis said. "Coach really emphasized coming out quick and it gave
us a big boost."
The eight-goal first period was exactly the start to the 2014 campaign that
the team has envisioned--especially with the way last season ended. This squad
has been eager to get back out and defend their home turf after dropping the
first round of the NCAA tournament to Yale at home last May.
"We certainly weren't happy with how we ended last season, so one of our
main goals was that we needed to start fast to get the season rolling," said
sophomore TJ Sanders, who tallied five goals against the Maize and Blue.
Sturgis and Sanders accounted for half of the team's goals against the
rival Wolverines, but the biggest takeaway for the team was that several
Nittany Lions got involved in the offensive flurry.
"Everybody had opportunities and we were all able to capitalize on those
opportunities," Sturgis said. "The whole team played well."
The Sanders/Sturgis scoring duo was a staple of the team's potent offense
last season, but on Saturday there were also several newcomers chipping in.
Freshmen Tyler Chambers, Nick Mazza, Brian Prestreau and Mike Sutton each put a
goal on the board during the rout.
The 22-goal effort, a number that hadn't been put up by a Nittany Lion team
since the mid 1990s, wouldn't have been possible without success in the faceoff
circle. Penn State won 20 of 32 (62.5 percent), including Kreinz's 15-22 effort
"Faceoffs were probably the deciding factor," Tambroni said. "Especially in
the first quarter--Drake did a good job at establishing possession time and
tempo for us."
Despite the large margin of victory and the 22 goals on the board,
capturing phase one of regaining the Creator's Trophy wasn't all offense. The
Blue and White defense forced six turnovers and the team tallied 29 ground
balls. When the Michigan attack was able to get behind the Penn State defense,
goaltenders Austin Kaut and Connor Darcey were there to deny the majority of their
"We have two great goalies and they both give our defense a lot of comfort
knowing that they are back there," Sanders said.
The defense had to get creative in their efforts to shut down the visitors,
especially in the second frame. Minutes before the half, the Nittany Lions
found themselves in a three man-down hole. A brilliant turnover caused by
captain Tyler Travis kept the Wolverines scoreless on the three-man advantage
that lasted just over a minute.
"That was impressive," Tambroni said. "We've never worked on that before
and we have never had a situation like that."
Although the squad was successful in killing off the penalty, the seven
extra-man opportunities that Michigan had (three were scored on) were far too
many in Tambroni's eyes.
"I know this, looking at the amount of time we played man-down, we are
going to have to focus on playing hard but playing disciplined," Tambroni said.
"We lacked some discipline today."
The victory marked the third-straight year and third time in history that
the Blue and White downed Michigan. The game had more significance than just a
season-opener, as it brought the squad one step closer to bringing the
Creator's Trophy back to Happy Valley after losing it to Ohio State last year.
"We want to bring that thing back here," Sturgis said.
Penn State remains home next weekend as they host the 2012 national
champion Loyola Greyhounds. Opening faceoff is set for 1 p.m., and barring any
extreme weather concerns--the game will be played outdoors at the Penn State
Lacrosse Field. Loyola enters the game ranked No. 16 and is coming off a
one-goal loss to Virginia.
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's lacrosse team will host
Michigan in Holuba Hall at 1 p.m. on Saturday to begin its 2014 campaign. After
preseason scrimmages versus Lehigh and Johns Hopkins, the Nittany Lions are
eager to defend their home turf and begin their quest towards a second-straight
NCAA Tournament berth.
The rival squads are both set to join the
inaugural Big Ten lacrosse conference next season along with Ohio State, Johns
Hopkins, Maryland and Rutgers.
"We have been waiting to get back out there and
defend our field and we're glad it's finally here," said senior goalie Austin
Kaut, "especially the way last season ended."
In 2012, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan
established The Creator's Trophy--and award that is to be given to the team that
earns a 2-0 record against the other two teams that season. The trophy was
created to honor the intense rivalry between the three future Big Ten Lacrosse
schools that play North America's first sport. Penn State won the inaugural
trophy back in 2012 before Ohio State won it last season.
"We're excited to have a chance to bring the
Creator's Trophy back home," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "Phase one is
Penn State will play Ohio State in Columbus on
Saturday, Mar. 1 at 1 p.m. for a chance to avenge last year's overtime loss and
bring the Creator's Trophy back to Happy Valley.
History vs. the
Maize and Blue
The rivalry between the two institutions
separated by 400 miles extends far beyond the confines of Beaver Stadium and
The Big House. Although the lacrosse rivalry is young, the competitiveness
between these teams is substantial and will continue to grow when they each don
a Big Ten patch on their jerseys in 2015.
The Nittany Lions are 2-0 against the
Wolverines, each win coming under fourth-year head coach Tambroni. Penn State
won 16-9 in 2012 on their first game on the new turf of the Penn State Lacrosse
Field and defeated Michigan again last season 11-6 in Ann Arbor.
What to Watch:
Poise: Penn State has earned a No. 7/9
preseason ranking after last year's record-breaking 12-win season. The squad
has returned numerous all-CAA starters and eight total starters from 2013 to
earn this top-10 placement. For the second-straight year, the Blue and White
have been picked as favorites to win the CAA after going 6-0 in conference play
Avengers: Although this matchup
won't be played on the turf at the Penn State Lacrosse Field, the Nittany Lions
are still focused on avenging last year's home loss in the first round of the
NCAA tournament to Yale. That tournament berth was the third in program
and Veteran Talent: Goalie
Austin Kaut, midfielder Tom LaCrosse, defensemen Steven Bogert and Tyler
Travis, and attackman TJ Sanders have all been named to the preseason all-CAA
team. Sanders, a sophomore, and senior Shane Sturgis return as the team's
leading scorers with a combined 73 goals in 2013.
Chalkboard: Penn State had the 27th-ranked
scoring attack in 2013--the potent charge was led by Jack Forster, Sturgis and
Sanders. The team attempted more shots (162) and scored more goals (53) in the
third period last year compared to any other frame. Look for the team to come
out of the locker room after halftime energized and firing on all cylinders
towards the goal. Although this offense accumulated more shots than their
opponents last season (606 vs. 581), don't necessarily look for quantity.
Tambroni has put an emphasis on his team finding quality-based shots instead of
shooting at every opportunity.
The 12-win squad in 2013 was propelled by far more than an offensive attack.
The team returns all of its defensive starters, which in 2013 ranked second in
the NCAA in goals allowed per game (7.59).
Kaut, the team's last line of defense in goal, was tabbed the nations
top goaltender last season with a .610 save percentage and a 7.37 goals allowed
What to Watch:
The Wolverines are in just their third year of
NCAA Division I play and 2014 will serve as their final season in the ECAC
before joining the Big Ten. The Maize and Blue went 1-13 last season, but put
up an impressive fight against the Nittany Lions in Ann Arbor that resulted in
an 11-6 Penn State victory.
Michigan's offensive rush is headline by
midfielders Kyle Jackson, Mike Hernandez and Thomas Paras and attackmen David
McCormack and Will Meter--all of which had double-digit points last season.
Sophomore faceoff specialist Brad Lott provides a spark for the offense, who
had a 47.1 win percentage in 2013. Leading the defensive unit is fifth-year
senior JD Johnson, who forced an impressive 13 turnovers last year.
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "We walked out of the locker room as a team today
and our hearts started to pound a bit knowing that the season is just around
the corner," said head men's lacrosse coach Jeff Tambroni following Thursday
evening's exhibition game against Lehigh.
The Nittany Lions, nine months removed from a record-breaking 2013 season, are ecstatic
that a new campaign and a fresh slate are almost upon them.
Thursday's scrimmage against the Mountain Hawks was held inside Holuba Hall,
safe from the bone-chilling single-digit temperatures outdoors. While scores
and statistics weren't officially kept, the teams played a full 60 minutes and
abided by standard NCAA/CAA rules.
"Games like this one give our guys a chance to come out and reward themselves
for all the hard work they put in throughout the fall and preseason," Tambroni
said. "As a coaching staff, it gives us a chance to tinker with personnel and
The potent offensive scoring attack from 2013 picked up right where they
left off and blasted out of the faceoff x in the first period. The scoring
tandem of sophomore TJ Sanders and senior Shane Sturgis set the tone early as
they led the potent scoring attack.
Sanders led the team with 44 goals as a freshman a season ago while Sturgis was
the team's leader in assists.
This fourth-year coaching staff has often preached and pushed for an emotional
and energetic style of play. That level of intensity was portrayed at the end
of the first frame when the offense put several goals on the board in less than
"Any way we can put goals on the board works for us," said senior captain Tom
LaCrosse, "but that was certainly an exciting way for us to grab the momentum."
The Nittany Lions continued a formidable offensive push throughout the
remainder of the first half, but couldn't find the back of the net in the third
frame. A scoreless third quarter is something that this squad isn't accustomed
to, as they scored more goals (53) and attempted more shots (162) in the third
period compared to any other period last season.
"Emotionally, coming out in the second half--we need to replicate the same kind
of excitement and energy that we do at the start of the game," Tambroni said.
"That's something we will work on and hopefully see signs of improvement when
we play Hopkins."
Creating a standard of playing energetically for a full contest is something
the coaching staff will look to their leadership to convey to the team. This
season's squad is led by senior captains Tom LaCrosse, Gavin Ahern and Tyler
Travis--among many other veteran leaders.
"Our leaders have done a very good job and we have a lot of them," Tambroni
said. "They've done a good job of having a unified stance of standards and
holding their teammates accountable."
Speaking of veterans--senior goalie Austin Kaut played the first half of
Thursday's scrimmage and was pleased with what he saw from the younger players.
Kaut was tabbed the Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Jr. nation's top goalie in 2013.
"The younger guys fought hard and it was good to be back out here and play
against another color jersey," Kaut said. "You start to get used to playing
against your own team and beating up on each other so these matches are good
for us to see different styles of play and prepare for the season."
The 2014 regular season kicks off on Feb. 8 against Michigan at 1 p.m. in Happy
Valley at Holuba Hall. Before that, the Nittany Lions will travel to Baltimore
on Feb. 1 for another exhibition game against future Big Ten rival Johns
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Over the weekend, the Penn State men's lacrosse team
welcomed back three decades worth of dedicated alumni to the team's third
annual Alumni, Family and Friends Weekend.
The passion and
high energy that surrounds the growing program was visible on Friday night as
the weekend kicked off with a tailgate, an alumni game and the Blue/White
scrimmage between this year's team.
"It is always
amazing to see so many people come together to support this great program,"
said 2013 graduate Jack Forster, who ranks second all-time in goals scored for
the Nittany Lions with 104.
The feeling in
the atmosphere during Friday evening's event was congruent with that of many
Penn State athletic events--highly passionate and extremely close-knit.
Occupying the stands on the beautiful autumn evening were families, friends and
all sorts of contributors to the program.
this are so important to the program because of the amount of attention it
generates for us," said former defensive midfielder Chris Schiller (Class of
'99). Schiller, 36, has over 12 years of professional experience in the sport,
competing in both the National Lacrosse League and for Major League Lacrosse.
midfielder for the MLL's Charlotte Hounds has built an impressive lacrosse
resume over the years and is not the only Nittany Lion to have made a
profession out of the sport.
alongside Schiller in the alumni game was faceoff specialist and 2006 graduate
Greg Gurenlian, who held Penn State's record for career faceoff wins up until the 2013 season. His
dominance in the circle continued after his days in Happy Valley as he
currently sits at fourth on the all-time list of faceoff wins in the MLL with
currently a midfielder for the Long Island Lizards, has expanded his
professional involvement in the sport beyond just competing. He owns a strength
and conditioning company (Brawlic Strength) and co-owns The Faceoff Academy,
which hosts nationwide combines that assists young players in developing the
skills to be recruited by elite programs.
and Schiller are extremely pleased with the growth of the sport of lacrosse and
Penn State's program since leaving campus years ago.
growth has been magnificent," Gurenlian said. "This is now the organization and
the type of program that we all knew it could be."
student-athletes credited the program's growth and recent successes in large
part to current head coach Jeff Tambroni (entering his fourth season) and his
"It's a new era
in lacrosse now," Schiller said. "Tambroni has adapted to that and brought this
program to the next level--which is where it needs to be."
The program has
seen significant changes since Gurenlian and Schiller left campus several years
ago. A new coaching regime, a state-of-the-art lacrosse-only complex and a
higher level of competition highlight the program's advancements.
"I'd be lying if
I said I wasn't jealous," Gurenlian said.
There is no
ceiling in sight for the growth of collegiate lacrosse as new Division I teams
are formed seemingly almost every year and new conferences are beginning to sprout
Beginning in the
2014-15 season, the Nittany Lions will compete in the Big Ten's lacrosse
conference after multiple years of competition and success in the Colonial
Penn State will
be one of six program's competing on the men's side in the Big Ten alongside
Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers and Johns Hopkins.
hopes that Friday evening's turnout of support will be telling of the upcoming
season and that Penn State faithful will fill the hill at the lacrosse complex.
Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After leading through
most of the first half and battling hard in the second half, the Penn State
Nittany Lions fell to the Yale Bulldogs, 10-7, in the opening round of the NCAA
The loss marks the end to a historic centennial
season for the program and the end of stellar careers for nine Nittany Lions.
Penn State struggled early in the game turning
the ball over, but eventually found their feet and started to play very effectively
on offense. Yale, back-to-back Ivy League champions, opened up the scoring just
over four minutes into the game, but Penn State responded quickly scoring two
of their own to end the first period.
Goalkeeper Austin Kaut had a memorable first period saving five Bulldog shots
and keeping his team alive early on. Kaut, a junior, could be heard yelling out
commands and was proving why he had earned
nomination for a Tewaaraton award.
The Nittany Lions then scored three more goals
in the second period, including a rocket of a shot from freshman T.J. Sanders,
to take a 5-1 lead into halftime. Penn State had clear control over the
Bulldogs but knew they were still in for a fight in the second half. The
Nittany Lions fast pace offense had the Bulldogs on their heels and Penn State
"We felt good at halftime but we knew that there
were some opportunities that we missed in the first half to almost put the game
away," Sanders said. "We learned earlier this season that the game is never
over at half, so we were ready for the second half, things just didn't fall our
The Bulldogs answered the challenge of coming from behind. As Yale head coach Andy
Shay recognized, this was not the team's first time trailing at halftime. The
Bulldogs scored four goals in the third period to only one from the Nittany
Lions. They brought the lead down to just one and had started to frustrate the
Nittany Lions offense.
"I thought they did a great job of playing team
defense. They shared responsibility very well. I don't think we moved the ball
very well today, I thought we talked about it all week; I thought we did a good
job this week. But to their credit, they got their sticks in the passing lanes,
took away a lot of our initial options, [we] ran some plays early in
possessions and they did a pretty good job of defending that," head coach Jeff
Tambroni said. "We probably didn't do our part of sharing the ball enough and, again,
to their credit they played with seven guys. All six guys and their goalie
The Nittany Lions struggled to regain their
offensive synergy after halftime. The ball was not moving as well in the
offensive zone for Penn State, and the Bulldog defense had stepped up their
level of play tremendously. Penn State continued to battle and kept generating
solid shots on goalkeeper Eric Natale, but the shots just did not find the back
of the net.
The game was set up for what was sure to be an
epic fourth quarter. Just a few minutes
into the quarter the Nittany Lions faced a two man down situation. The game was
tied, but the Bulldogs were moving the ball well. Penn State stood tall and
killed the penalty off, something they hoped would lead to momentum going
"That was huge for our defense," senior captain
Jack Forster said. "Tyler Travis had a nice interception there which was huge
for us. Yeah, I thought it was going to definitely turn the tides."
Despite Penn State killing the penalty, Yale
continued to move the ball effectively against the Nittany Lions. After forcing
a turnover in the defensive end, Kaut launched a pass down the left side of the
field to make a quick play for the offense. The pass, unfortunately, went long
and opened a breakaway goal for Yale's Conrad Oberbeck.
"Just undisciplined play on my part," Kaut said.
"I was trying to make a play for the team, I saw Travis Crane open and just
sailed it. Just undisciplined play on my part."
The Bulldogs used a 9-2 run after halftime to
earn their NCAA win. The Nittany Lions defense battled hard in the second half,
but the Yale offense just had the better day.
"They were really trying to work that invert
short sticks behind and they just kept doing it and doing it and they really
kept our offensive middies on the field. Our offensive middies played great
defense, we just didn't really play great team defense down there and they got
the best of us," Kaut said.
All in all the Nittany Lions were forced into nine
fourth quarter turnovers, an uncharacteristic performance for the normally sound
Along with the rest of the team, Forster battled
hard but could not find a way to put the ball past Natale. Even in the face of
defeat, the Nittany Lions never once backed down, never once quit and played
hard until the final whistle was blown.
"Yeah, it's tough when nothing is falling for
you and they're scoring on the other end," Forster said. "It seemed like things
just weren't going our way, it was tough."
The Nittany Lions will now take some time and
reflect on what a tremendous season they had. They earned their first NCAA
tournament bid since the 2005 season. They reached the CAA conference final and
Coach Tambroni was named Coach of the year. The team reached 12 wins and was
ranked in the top ten all season in the Ratings Percentage Index. Several
individual players were also recognized for their excellent efforts during the
"Then for our guys, I just feel a sense of pride
for our seniors, our captains in particular, Jack [Forster] and Travis [Crane],
they did a wonderful job this year of bringing Penn State to new heights,"
Tambroni said. "I know it hurts and I know every one of those guys in there did
everything they could to put us in a position to win today, but it just wasn't
mean to be."
The 2013 season was a huge successful for the Nittany
Lions and gives the program quite the platform to build from going forward.
"I'm hopeful we will reflect positively on the
2013 season and I'm hoping our seniors will and I'm hoping that our juniors,
sophomores and freshman, some that are sitting here to my left and my right,
will have learned from this experience and just do a better job when we get
back here next year and see if we can start the building process ahead
immediately," Tambroni said.
"I'd like to congratulate Yale. I think that
they did a great job. They're coaching staff and team certainly believes in
what they do and you can see that certainly by the way they played through the Ivy
League championship games," Tambroni said. "They got great leadership, they
believe in themselves, they believe in their system and I'm sure they're going
to do very well in this tournament."
As for seniors like Jack Forster, they will look
back on their careers here at Penn State and be pleased. As a group, they
worked hard and they worked together, leaving everything on the field.
"It's been a long road. Six years," Forster
said. "This season definitely capped it off with making the NCAA tournament.
It's been a great year, just sad to leave and it definitely hurts going out
"We wanted so much more than just a step up,"
Kaut said. "We worked hard to get where we were at today and we wanted to make
it even more special than it already is and we just didn't come up with it
By Pat White, GoPSUsport.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The third time proved to be the charm for Penn State
men's lacrosse (12-3, 7-0 CAA) as it defeated UMass (7-8, 2-5 CAA) 10-7 in the
semifinal of the CAA Championship on Wednesday.
Head coach Jeff Tambroni knew going into the game that UMass would not be
an easy first round matchup. They played a grind-it-out style that slowed Penn
State's tempo in the first half. He was pleased with the way his team fought
through despite not having a strong first half.
"I am very proud of our team's effort today. We knew we would have our
hands full and I am proud of the way our team responded after halftime,"
Tambroni said. "These guys have fought through a ton of adversity all year and
we are very fortunate to be playing in the CAA Championship."
Junior Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.) and senior Jack Forster
(Jenkintown, Pa.) got the Nittany Lions a quick 2-0 lead just under three
minutes into the game. After that, the Penn State offense went stagnant and
couldn't possess the ball for long stretches like UMass did.
UMass' Joe Calvello owned the faceoff X, winning seven of nine first half
draws. Tambroni said the lone bright spot for Penn State in the first half was
the play of junior defender Steven Bogert (Carlsbad, Calif.). Bogert played one
of his best games of the year and stepped up in the first half with four
groundballs while played stellar defense.
"I thought Steven Bogert was the player of the game for 60 minutes,"
Tambroni said. "I thought we struggled in the first half outside of Steven
Bogert. He was a monster in between the 30s and outside the wing on faceoffs."
Senior faceoff man Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) rebounded to win
six of 12 faceoffs in the second half. It was a big turnaround for Penn State,
and Bogert played a major role in creating possessions. He finished with seven
groundballs while adding pestering defense.
"We work on it every day and it was a big part of this week," Bogert said.
"Me and Danny have been on a great page. It wasn't just off of faceoffs. I knew
coming into this game that groundballs were going to be a big part of this
game. I just kind of got in a rhythm and got focused."
Tambroni thought there was a little bit of added pressure to finally move
past the first round that may have caused the poor start to the game. Tambroni
said that last year's captains-Matt Mackrides, Ryan McGarvey and Ryan
Link-wrote the team a note that motivated them coming into the game.
"I thought we played a little tight and lacked mobility," Tambroni said. "I
thought in the second half our guys relaxed, played hard, put themselves at
ease a little bit, and got over the hump."
Junior Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) looked relaxed coming out of the
break. Sturgis recorded a third quarter hat-trick for the Nittany Lions and was
a major spark plug for the offense. The junior attacked the goal from all areas
of the field and got his scoring touch back after being held scoreless in the
last four contests.
Sturgis said he was the benefactor of the offense beginning to click with
good ball movement.
"I think our offense just moved the ball better in the second half," Sturgis
said. "We got some good opportunities and we were able to capitalize on some of
Penn State has been led offensively all season by a potent attack. In the
fourth quarter, Forster, Sturgis and freshman TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) put
the team on their back and cruised to victory. After being held in check the
first half, Sander chipped in with two goals to match Forster's output, while
Sturgis finished with four goals and a helper.
Penn State now looks to claim its first CAA Championship on Friday at 3 p.m.
against Towson. The Tigers defeated Drexel 11-8 in Wednesday's night cap.
Nittany Lions took down Towson 10-8 at home on April 13. Bogert said the
captains said that the regular season means nothing now and that every team has
a clean slate.
"Our captains said it best: that we are zero and zero," Bogert said. "It's
the CAA playoffs and granted we got a good win today but it doesn't matter now.
We are going to our first ever CAA Championship and that's enough of a
motivating factor. We are excited about that."
Tambroni said that both teams will look to play to their strengths while
taking away the opposition's. Forster and Tambroni both said that the ultimate
goal is to prepare and win the next game.
"I think it starts right now," Tambroni said after the game. "I hope they
enjoy it for a half an hour to an hour. It is more about rest. We are going to
need legs on Friday, so X's and O's are irrelevant to a certain degree."
Towson head coach Sean Nadelen also said that rest will be the key. His
team was dominated 19-3 by Drexel in faceoff wins, and he want to see that
improve in what will be a possession dominated game.
"It will come down to a possession game, especially with a quick
turnaround," Nadelen said. "Teams are going to be a little beaten down in terms
of physical status. It comes down to valuing possession time, capitalizing
possessions and making sure that the defenses aren't playing a ton of defensive
A Look at Towson
Towson looked dominating against Drexel in its victory. Midfielder Ben McCarty
led the way for Towson with six goals, matching his season total. McCarty
stepped into a rhythm as Drexel contained leading scorer Thomas DeNapoli (39
goals, 16 assists) to just one score. Andrew Hodgson added a pair of tallies to
up his total to 22 for the season.
DeNapoli and Hodgson are most dangerous with the ball. DeNapoli is at his
best when he can initiate the offense from behind the goal and get his hands
free in space. Hodgson primarily dodges down the wing where he either takes the
open shot, or uses his vision to find open teammates. Against Drexel, they
proved they can be used as decoys, and guys like McCarty can get hot as well.
Towson played a slow and methodical game on the offensive end, working the
ball around and slowing the tempo. The Tigers average 8.94 goals per game while
allowing 8.81. Senior goalkeeper Andrew Wascavage played spectacular against
Drexel and posted a .612 save percentage for the season. Wascavage and Penn
State keeper Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) will make for a goaltending battle on
Penn State has won three straight games against Towson dating back to 2011.
By Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Senior Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) put it
short and sweet. "Right now we are focused on winning a championship."
Forster and the No. 9 Nittany Lions (11-3, 6-0 CAA) prepare for their
first-round, home matchup in the CAA Championship against fourth-seeded UMass
(7-7, 2-4 CAA) at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.
Penn State closed out a perfect 6-0 CAA regular season last Saturday in
a 16-7 win at Hofstra. Forster was named Co-CAA Player of the Week after
notching five goals and an assist to up his point total to 52 on the season.
His 99 career goals are fourth all time and his 143 points rank seventh on Penn
State's all-time list.
Head coach Jeff Tambroni said that Forster has come up big in the last
few games coming down the stretch. He called his performance "signature Jack
"He has played terrific for us all year long," Tambroni said. "When
we've needed a goal, or some energy, or something coming out of halftime or
needed a play on the field...he has been there, as you would expect from a senior
leader and captain. He has provided everything and then some on and off the
However, Forster isn't ready to celebrate his statistical accolades just
yet. He wants to save that for after his career is over. Right now, his sights
are set advancing past the first round of the CAA Championship for the first
time in program history.
"That is all great and it's going to be a great thing to look back on
when I'm done here," Forster said about climbing in the record books. "But
right now we are just focused on winning a Championship, a CAA Championship
here and focusing on UMass tomorrow."
The Nittany Lions were losers of three straight games before knocking
off the reigning CAA Champion UMass 7-5 on March 16. It was the start of the
current nine game winning streak that Penn State is riding heading into the CAA
Championship. Senior Nick Dolik (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) scored his first goal
of the season in the win, and now ranks fifth on the team with nine goals and
The victory was a turning point in Dolik and the Nittany Lions' season.
Dolik said the team learned a lot down the stretch to get to the point they are
"As the year goes on, it's good to have a steady incline of how you're
improving," Dolik said. "Just learning from earlier in the season from what
good and bad things could have happened."
Dolik said that both teams know each other well and that the game will
feature the same intensity as any other CAA contest.
"We know it's going to be a battle in the CAA, especially us and UMass,"
Dolik said. "Every little play counts and it's going to be a fight out there."
Tambroni said that preparation will be more challenging with the short
week of practice leading up to the game.
Tambroni said the familiarity for both teams is helpful in game
planning, but that Penn State still has to compete on the field. He is
preparing for an offense that is effectively simple, but still averages 9.36
goals per game with a man-up unit working at 37.5 percent.
"They do what they do, and they do it very well," Tambroni said. "They play so
hard and compete up and down the field and believe in themselves. You have to
prepare for the intangibles and get the guys to compete as hard, if not
UMass' senior attacker Will Manny is the facilitator of the offense with
31 points in just nine games. Kyle Smith leads the team with 29 goals and 47
points. Grant Whiteway and Connor Mooney added 23 and 20 goals respectively.
In order to keep the Minutemen offense in check, Penn State will lean on
junior goalie and Tewaaraton Award nominee for the best player in college
lacrosse, Austin Kaut (Morton Pa.). The Penn State defense has been a major
component in the nine game winning streak the team is riding. The unit has
allowed just 5.66 goals per game over the streak, helping Kaut lower his goals
against average to 6.95. He has been the backbone of the team and will play a
major factor if Penn State is to advance.
Tamboni said the team is motivated to get out of the first round of the
CAA Championship for the first time during his tenor. Being ousted on their
home field is something that Tambroni doesn't want to happen again.
"We've been the host last three years," Tambroni said. "We've lost two
of these games, one at the hands of UMass. We want to keep this momentum going
and understand the opportunity we have here at home and take advantage of
In the beginning of the season Tambroni said that he wanted his team to
build confidence over a long period of time. The confidence level is high
within the locker room, but Tambroni knows that being overconfident against a
talented UMass team can be costly.
"As long as you utilize that confidence appropriately, place it on the
field and help you play at your potential than it can be a good thing,"
Tambroni said. "If we become complacent and don't prepare the same way...it can
be a very dangerous thing."
Forster said the team will come out with swagger and focus leading up to
the matchup with the Minutemen. He has been here through good and bad times
with the program, and is excited to hopefully share more success with the home
"It's great for our fans here at Penn State and it's what we set out for
in the beginning of the year," Forster said. "We have achieved that goal and
now have to actually win the next game against UMass."
Penn State and UMass are set to face off at 3 p.m. today at the Penn
State Lacrosse Field for the semifinal of the CAA Championship.
By Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State men's lacrosse team (10-3, 5-0 CAA)
looks to close out a perfect record in CAA play on Saturday when it faces a dangerous
Hofstra team (7-6, 2-3 CAA) on the road.
It is easy to point at the usual suspects on the Nittany Lions roster that
have led to the current eight-game winning streak. Freshman TJ Sanders
(Orillia, Ont.) and senior Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) have been stellar
leading a Penn State offense that is averaging 10.38 goals per game. Junior
goalie Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) has shown why he is regarded as one of the top
net-minders in college lacrosse, leading a defense that surrenders 7.23 goals
Aside from the stars on the team, it has been the roles of the emerging
midfielders and defense that have pushed Penn State to a level they weren't at
in the beginning of the season.
In the 13-7 win against Delaware last Saturday, head coach Jeff Tambroni
said that the second midfield line of juniors Kyle VanThof (Penfield, N.Y.) and
Kyle Zittel (Eden, N.Y.) and senior Drew Roper (Columbus, Ohio) stepped up and
asserted themselves in a big way. The trio combined for three goals and three
assists in the victory.
"We were extremely pleased with the second midfield of Kyle VanThof, Drew
Roper and Kyle Zittel," Tambroni said. "I thought they provided a much needed
spark in our offensive end. They also provided balance and a lot of punch."
Offensive production from the midfield was a concern for the Nittany Lions
through the first six games of the season. The attack carried a heavy load of
the scoring, and Tambroni wanted to see more balance.
Penn State looks as dangerous as ever after capturing the No. 1 seed in next
week's CAA Championship being held in Happy Valley, due in large part to the
emergence of the midfield.
"I think guys are just working harder on the field," Roper said. "Certain
midfielders are getting better and playing off of each other. Finally all the
hard work is paying off on the field."
Roper's work, especially, has been a bright spot for the Nittany Lions. He
struggled to see playing time in the beginning of the season. Tambroni said
that the senior approached the coaching staff and asked what he needed to do to
get on the field.
Tambroni said that it takes longer than a week to earn playing time. The
tryout begins during fall practice and continues on through the season. His
challenge to Roper was to change little things and work hard for a month.
"To Drew's credit he went to work every day for about a month," Tambroni said.
"His true colors really shined during that time being a senior, being a leader.
Drew has continued to be consistent in his efforts. This is his doing and
deserves the playing minutes that he gets."
Roper said he took the challenge and ran with it. He worked hard to get on
the field and his confidence playing with Zittel and VanThof has provided
another weapon at Tambroni's disposal.
"The opportunity finally arose," Roper said. "I have great chemistry with
Kyle VanThof and Kyle Zittel and we are working well together."
The efforts of the midfield are not unnoticed by the team. Sophomore
defensive midfielder Michael Richards (Skaneateles, N.Y.) said that he has seen
the growth of the midfield unit as the season has progressed.
"You can definitely see the chemistry is starting to build with our
midfield," Richards said. "They know where passes are going to go and what the
next guy is going to do so the ball is moving."
Despite the success coming down the home stretch of the season, the Nittany
Lions know that there is still work to be done and cannot get complacent.
Penn State faces a dangerous Hofstra team that is much better than its 7-6
record would indicate. They have wins against No. 2 Notre Dame and then-No. 13
Fairfield, both on the road.
It is also a must-win game for Hofstra in order to make the CAA
Championship next week and possibly face Penn State in the opening round.
Saturday's game is Hofstra's senior night, providing an extra spark for the
"The situation that presents itself to Hofstra makes them a dangerous
team," Tambroni said. "Knowing that either their season or career could end or
to move on and secure their place in the CAA makes them an extremely urgent
Hofstra's offense is led by junior attacker Torin Varn, who has upped his
point production from nine points in 2012 to 34 this season, tallying 32 goals.
Sophomore goalie Chris Selva has been stellar between the pipes, yielding 7.10
goals per game.
Tambroni said that his team must bring the same intensity into the game
that they have had all season. He said that both teams are treating it like a
must-win simply because it is the next game.
"We talked to our guys about playing at their best level every game,"
Tambroni said. "The key is to control what you can control, which is how hard
we play and how well we know our opponent. I do think at this level you need to
study the tendencies of the [other] team...to give yourself the best chance to win."
Although Penn State has already clinched a share of the top seed in the CAA
Championship, Richards said there is no looking forward to next week and the
focus is on beating Hofstra.
"The No. 1 seed means nothing with one more road game to play," Richards
said. "If they win, they turn around and play us again [in the CAA
Championship]. Being 6-0 is a lot better than being 5-1."
Tambroni praised the way his team looks forward to the next game and not at
the success of the current winning streak.
"They're on each other on a daily basis in terms of what's next," Tambroni
said. "Any time you can have a chance to gain momentum, you gain confidence... I
hope that is the way we prepare all week and I hope that is how we play on the
Penn State and Hofstra will face off at 7 p.m. on Saturday at James A.