Recently in Men's Lacrosse Category

Triple Overtime Setback to Drexel Provided Some 'Bright Spots'

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By Jackson 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 contributor."

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 successful."

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 halves.

"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 p.m.

Offensive Chances Stifled in Rainy Setback to Villanova

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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 Villanova Wildcats.

"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 Achilles' heel."

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 offensive attack.

The defense displayed its ability to adjust mid-game after they turned a lackluster first half into a more promising second half.

"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 said.

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.

Offensive Miscues Leading Factor in Allowing 17 Goals to Albany

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "I think when you look at it, you look at what we were doing defensively," said head coach Jeff Tambroni following Saturday's 17-10 loss to Albany at home. "I think conversely it was what we weren't doing offensively."

The 17 goals scored by the Great Danes were the most the Nittany Lions and goalie Austin Kaut have allowed all season. Rather than attributing the uneven spread to a defensive lapse, the coaching staff pins this one on missed chances in the offensive end.

"They took advantage of some of our missed opportunities, failed clears and missed ground balls," Tambroni said. "If you give a team like them that many opportunities, you're probably not going to win a lot of games against them."

Tambroni's squad outshot the visitors 50-36 throughout the game and failed on three clears in the pivotal second and third quarters combined.

"I think we more or less beat ourselves to be honest," said freshman attacker Dan Craig.

Albany used a 9-1 scoring run in the second half to give them a cushion that was insurmountable for Penn State.

"We come back one goal at a time and that was our thought process," Craig said. "That's what we tried to do and we scratched a few in there, but just couldn't get enough to make it a game."

A big turning point in the contest was at the very end of the second quarter when the Great Danes and their high-powered offense scored with just six ticks left in the half. It gave the visitors a two-goal edge on the Blue and White, and enough momentum to run away with it in the third quarter.

"It just hurt us," Tambroni said.

The offense wasn't stagnant all day, however. The Nittany Lions' attack came to life late in the second half but at that point it was simply too late.

"We went to an offense later in the game that was probably more conducive to our personnel," Tambroni said.

Craig and junior attacker Pat Manley were the sparks in the brief comeback effort, each registering hat tricks. Manley's performance furthered his resurgence as an offensive weapon for Penn State. He was held scoreless his entire sophomore season, but has tallied five goals since the Denver game this year.

The seven-goal setback at home to Albany drops the Nittany Lions to a No. 20 ranking nationally and sets their record back to .500 at 4-4.


"We felt like we were building on things this week in practice and felt good going into the weekend, so it's just so tough coming out with a loss," Manley said.

Without a chance to compete in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament this spring, the team is approaching every game from here on out as a 'must win'.

"We don't know what's going to happen out there," Tambroni said. "We may have enough good wins on our schedule to move on so I think it is important to maintain a semblance of building...we are still building."

The Nittany Lions have five games left on their schedule, four of which are CAA contests and three of which are at home. They round out nonconference action this Saturday when they host Villanova.

A second-straight berth in the NCAA Tournament is still entirely possible and in the sights of this veteran-heavy squad.

"I think we owe it to our senior class," Tambroni said. "As much as they've done for us--we need to keep chugging away."

Saturday's showdown with the unranked Wildcats is slated for 2 p.m. at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

Second Half Surge Launches Lions Past Dartmouth

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A physical, back-and-forth game was on display at the Penn State Lacrosse Field on Tuesday evening when the Nittany Lions took down Dartmouth, 10-6. It wasn't until the third quarter when sophomore TJ Sanders and the entire offense ignited and never looked back.

"It was nice to see us go out during the second half and play with a little more energy," said head coach Jeff Tambroni, who was preaching a balanced offensive attack to his team throughout the game.

"The bottom line is I felt like our offense was just too isolated," Tambroni said. "For the most part, when things started getting going it was because more than one or two guys were involved."

Seven players registered at least one goal in the gritty contest with Sanders being the only with multiple strikes. The sophomore's four-goal game increased his season goal total to 17, which is second on the team behind fellow attackman Shan Sturgis with 23.

The Blue and White scored seven second-half goals, which ultimately pushed the 12th-ranked Lions past the visitors. In the final two frames, Tambroni's offense went on a 6-1 run which included all four of Sanders' scores.

Before the second half runaway, the game was extremely fast-paced and both teams would answer the other's scores almost immediately. Sanders struck net back-to-back times in the third quarter, giving Penn State a cushion that they would never relinquish.

"TJ started it off in the third and that was probably the big spark," Sturgis said. Sturgis was held scoreless for the first time all season, but that doesn't faze the senior.

"We like to score in any way we can," he said.

A second-half offense spark wasn't the only defining characteristic of this battle, as it was also an intensely physical contest. Senior Kessler Brown dished out a hit on a Dartmouth midfielder in the third quarter that shifted some momentum to the Penn State bench.

"I was excited that we were playing a more physical brand of lacrosse," Tambroni said. "Today I felt like we were being the team that was imposing the physicality. Hopefully that is going to inspire the guys but I also think it shows the passion that this team has."

The victory ends a brief two-game slide and pushes the Nittany Lions above .500 with a 4-3 record. Given the fact that the team is hosting No. 18 Albany on Saturday, the game against the Big Green was described as a "must-win" by multiple players and coaches.

"The last few games and in the first half of the game today we've been in a funk," Sanders said. "I think we had a 'nothing to lose' attitude that started to click. Hopefully it carries over to the next game because that's what we need."

Ending the game with on a roll is exactly what the team had envisioned and hoped for as they prepare for another ranked opponent.

"We are hoping that this feeling our guys have is going to provide some confidence in the latter part of the week because we are going to need that facing Albany," Tambroni said.

Albany has offensive firepower from their trio of attackmen that are all related. Brothers Lyle and Miles Thompson and their cousin, Ty, pose a serious threat to defenses and goalies across the NCAA as they all have registered over 30 points this season.

"We are excited to play Albany and we are going to need to maintain our focus," Tambroni said.

Faceoff is slated for 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

Lions Look to End Two-Game Skid Against Dartmouth

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Discipline. Leadership. Responsibility.

These three factors are what the Penn State men's lacrosse team and head coach Jeff Tambroni are focusing on to right the ship after dropping two in a row.

After a 15-11 setback in the Mile High City against Denver and an 8-6 loss at home against UMass, the team is looking to its leadership to help the Nittany Lions persevere.

"The seniors have been terrific," Tambroni said. "Like all great leaders, they have accepted responsibility along with our staff and have continued to plug away."

The losses to the Pioneers and the Minutemen were handed to the Blue and White in much different fashions. Against Denver--Penn State put up double-digit goals and shared the wealth on offense, but simply came up short. Against UMass--the squad held strong defensively, but was held to its lowest goal total on offense all year.

There were some factors in common with each loss, however.

"We feel as if we have hurt ourselves the past two games with far too many unforced turnovers and a poor shot selection," Tambroni said. "We need to be more disciplined which is ultimately a coach's responsibility."

So what can this veteran-loaded squad do to regain a sense of momentum as they push into the midway point of the season?

Stay focused on the next opponent, not the last opponent.

"It's always important for us to stay focused on what's next and not get caught up on what we did last week," said senior captain Tyler Travis.

This isn't the first time that a Tambroni-led squad has dropped consecutive games. During his staff's tenure, the teams have proven their resiliency after dropping multiple contests in a row. Just last season, the Nittany Lions lost three-in-a-row before going on to win ten-straight and earn an NCAA Tournament bid.

Tambroni doesn't expect this year's squad to be any different.

"This is a resilient group with a tremendous senior class," Tambroni said. "We are disappointed by the way that we have prepared and played but we are excited to move on and play again."

The intangibles of discipline, responsibility and leadership have been defined as factors that can help the Lions bounce back. As for the tangibles--the team is looking to tighten up some areas on offense and defense to regain its stride.

"Team offense--we need to get all six player's hands on the rope so that we can pull in the same direction," Tambroni said. "Back to the basics this week."

Against Denver, six different players contributed a goal to the scoreboard while only three players posted goals against Massachusetts.

Looking ahead to tonight, Dartmouth (1-2) is playing its first game in over two weeks in its trip to Happy Valley. The Nittany Lion offense will have the opportunity to get back on track against the Big Green defense that is allowing almost 14 goals per game. The visitors entered this season without their top-five scorers from 2013, a positive for senior goalie Austin Kaut and the entire defense.

Faceoff against Dartmouth is set for 5 p.m. at the Penn State Lacrosse Field on Tuesday night. 

Road Warriors Focus on Professionalism, Detail

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "We always have the same motto of 'travel like a pro'," said redshirt senior Kyle VanThof. "Every single week and every opponent is different, but we always travel with a purpose as a team."

VanThof earned Colonial Athletic Association Co-Player of the Week honors last week after he and the veteran-charged Nittany Lions downed Ohio State. The win in Columbus marked the program's 14th-straight true road victory, an impressive feat even in the student-athlete's eyes.

"Any time you win 14-straight on the road, you know you are doing something right when you travel," VanThof said. "The experience on this team is really paying off--we know what it takes to be successful on the road."

VanThof put up impressive numbers against the Buckeyes, registering five points on three goals and two assists. He scored two of his three goals in a pivotal fourth quarter, propelling the team to an 11-8 win.

"Obviously it's a great honor, but it's not just about how I performed--it was the whole offense," VanThof said. "Whenever someone gets a weekly honor, you really have to look at everyone else around him. It all starts right from practice and how well the scout team prepares the starters for the game."

The road win streak spans over three seasons and extends back to the 2012 campaign--head coach Jeff Tambroni's second year at the helm. It has helped Penn State ascend to its highest-ever ranking in the USILA Coaches' Poll, in which the team sits at No. 7, four games into the season with a 3-1 record.

This season the Blue and White have downed two ranked opponents on the road. With trips to Ohio State and Notre Dame out of the way, a matchup in Colorado against No. 12 Denver still remains.

"We have had a tough span over these four games including Denver," said senior defender Tyler Travis. "We've gone up against very good offenses and they've been a good test against our defense as a unit.

After a heartbreaking overtime loss to Loyola at home in February, the defense knew they needed to step up and bring their highest level of competition for the road stand. After earning two wins against electric offenses and allowing just fifteen goals in those games, they've proven their ability to rise to the occasion.

"There's always a need to make improvements on all areas of the field, but these guys have put together a disciplined collective effort," Tambroni said about the defense.

But with a trip to face the No. 12 Pioneers up next, the Nittany Lions know that they aren't done yet.

"A big part of our success is the mindset we take on the road with us because it helps us stay focused," Travis said. "We are going to have to take that same mentality into Denver."

Travis said that he is pleased with the defense's attention to detail since the Loyola game and that he has seen steady improvements the past few weeks.

With the chance to extend the road streak to 15-straight wins, team leaders are preaching to the younger student-athletes to stay focused on their role.

"We've been making sure the younger guys know how much we need them to contribute, especially on the road," VanThof said. "With the streak, our focus hasn't been looking to the games further ahead--but just what is next for us."

Faceoff in the Mile High City is set for 9 p.m. ET, but the team traveled out west on Saturday morning to acclimate to the altitude and rest up before the battle.

Timely Playmaking, Leadership Recapture Creator's Trophy

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "Making plays at crucial points--if there was a statistic for that, it would've been the key factor in our win over Ohio State," said Penn State men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni.

One year after surrendering the Creator's Trophy to their foes in scarlet and gray, the Nittany Lions brought their prized possession back to Happy Valley after an 11-8 victory in Columbus over the weekend.

The team's second-straight road victory against a ranked opponent this season was earned via discipline and clutch playmaking.

"Ohio State plays at a very frantic pace and they do it very well," Tambroni said. "We play at a bit more organized of a pace. When we played at our pace things went our way and when we played at their pace things didn't go so well."

This season's matchup with the Buckeyes and 2013's contest were very similar in that both games were dictated by a team going on a scoring streak. Last season, a seven-goal spree spanned over the third and fourth quarters gave Ohio State the 10-9 OT victory. Last Saturday in Columbus, Penn State used a six-goal run to earn their third win of the season.

"Our guys did enough coming down the stretch to earn a victory," Tambroni said. "We talked a lot before the game about senior leadership getting us through these kind of situations and I credit that more than any statistical factor."

Seniors Austin Kaut, Shane Sturgis and Kyle VanThof had impressive showings and were crucial in dictating a composed tone throughout the game. Sturgis, the NCAA leader in goals per game (4.50), added five points (4g, 1a) to his already impressive season. VanThof contributed three goals to the Lions' attack to earn himself CAA Player of the Week honors.

"We kept attacking, playing our offense and executing our game plan," VanThof said.

Defending the crease, Kaut was pleased to see the defense step up and slow down the speedy Buckeye attack.

"I think the defense played really well," Kaut said. "We said earlier in the week that we needed to make some plays out in the field and we did."

Statistically, the Blue and White dominated their opponents at the faceoff X (16-22) and in securing groundballs (31-20).

Also largely contributing to the winning effort was the team's display of discipline. For the first time this season, Penn State didn't send a man to the penalty box all game.

"Knowing that it was a physical game and that our guys played their hearts out, it was nice to see us stay out of the box," Tambroni said. " It's a fine line. You want to play with physicality--especially on your defensive end--if you want to impose a willingness to set a tone in and around the crease."

Tambroni said that maintaining a disciplined yet physical style of play will be crucial to the team's success in the coming games at Denver and against Massachusetts.

Since Tambroni's staff arrived in Happy Valley four years ago, the team has taken on a "road warrior" identity. Last weekend's win marked the 14th-straight true road victory, a streak that spans over three seasons.

"In order to be successful on the road you have to have great leadership and the team needs to understand the mentality it takes of getting on the bus or the plane," Tambroni said. "We approach those things in a more business-type fashion."

The Nittany Lions impressive road wins this season (at Notre Dame and at Ohio State) have catapulted the team to its highest national ranking ever of seventh.

The road tests aren't over, however. This week the team will prepare for a Monday night, mile-high showdown next week at No. 12 Denver.

"Our primary focus is rest," Tambroni said about this week of practice. "We've been going pretty good since January and it gives the guys the chance to hit the reset button academically and catch up on sleep."

With a few extra days to prepare, the team has a unique opportunity to get some rest and still have a full week of practice.

"This will give us a chance to work more on Penn State and not just on our opponent and game planning," Tambroni said.

Monday night's clash is set for 9 p.m. ET.

Goaltending, Defense Clutch in South Bend

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A cohesive defensive effort composed of lights-out goaltending and clutch stands propelled the Penn State men's lacrosse team to an impressive 8-7 win at Notre Dame last weekend.

"We moved in the direction of playing the defense that we know we are capable of playing," said assistant coach and defensive guru Peter Toner. "A number of guys stepped in at different points of the game, which gave us the chance to win. We played as more of a unit."

The first two games of the season for the Nittany Lions (against Michigan and Loyola) were high scoring, double-digit goal affairs. The high-flying offense provided more than enough to down Michigan, but the defense wasn't able to stop Loyola's attack in a loss at home. Saturday's trip to South Bend, Ind., was a much different story, a defensively-oriented story.

"Loyola exposed a few of our weaknesses defensively and we addressed those things in last week's practices," Toner said. "At Notre Dame we were more consistent across the board."

The game started on a high note for Toner's defense, as the Blue and White didn't allow a single shot on goal for the first 11 minutes of the contest. The first Irish goal came with just under four minutes left in the opening quarter.

Jumping ahead, Penn State held a four-goal lead early in the third frame before Notre Dame began to chip away at it. As the advantage dwindled, the defense stepped up to exhibit their most clutch performance of the season to this point.

Senior goalie Austin Kaut and his frontline kept it a one-goal game and held the Irish attack from equalizing for the final seven minutes. Kaut came up huge, making save after save to deny the chance of overtime.

"Austin played extremely well so when we did make mistakes defensively--he was there to bail us out," Toner said. "He came through in the fourth and made multiple game-saving saves. That's why he's the backbone of our defense."

The reigning NCAA goaltender of the year denied 13 shots in a game that was evenly matched in nearly all facets of the sport. Penn State won nine faceoffs compared to Notre Dame's ten, both teams were 1-for-2 on the man-up, and the Nittany Lions scooped 26 groundballs to the Irish's 25.

This nail-biter went right down to the wire as the hosts had possession in the final minute with a chance to tie it. After a penalty sent junior defenseman JP Burnside to the box with 38 seconds left, the Irish got one more crack at it. A calculated, strategic zone defense forced Notre Dame to throw the ball away--giving Penn State possession and the win.

"After the penalty, we got our group in there and Mike Richards made a really nice play on mad down crashing in on the crease," Toner said. "He instinctively stepped in."

Complacency isn't an option for the squad, as last weekend's road test was just the first of three-straight against top-15 ranked opponents on the road. Trips to Ohio State on Sat., Mar. 1 and Denver on Mon., Mar. 10 remain on the slate for this away stand.

"It was good to see some of those older guys--like Steven Bogert, Tyler Travis and Mike Richards--take a challenge and run with it," Toner said. "There's no doubt we still have tough places to play, but it is good for our guy's confidence to work on things in practice and see it carry into the game and work."

Toner is pleased with the strides the unit made last week, but he knows even more must be done to get a win in Columbus, Ohio.

"Looking ahead to Ohio State, it's another great challenge on the road," he said. "We have to do all the things we did well against Notre Dame but do them even more consistently and do them for 60 minutes or however long the game lasts."

Lions Look to Show Resiliency in Next Three Road Games

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the next two and a half weeks, the Penn State men's lacrosse team will take on three top-20 opponents--all of which will be on the road. This daunting road trip comes at the heels of the Nittany Lions dropping an overtime thriller to Loyola last weekend.

Battles against No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 17 Ohio State and No. 6 Denver (in that order) will challenge head coach Jeff Tambroni's team to push their own limits and prove their deservedness of a top-15 ranking.

"We set out to create the most challenging schedule that we could this year knowing that the automatic qualifier through our conference was not an option," Tambroni said. "At the end of the day, the NCAA selection committee cares more about your wins than it does your losses."

Due to Colonial Athletic Association bylaws, the Blue and White will not be able to compete in this year's CAA Tournament because they are leaving the conference to compete in the Big Ten in 2015. Without the chance to play for an automatic bid via a conference tournament title, the squad knows they must accrue as many wins as possible before selection Sunday in May.

But for Tambroni and his No. 12 Nittany Lions, getting caught up in thinking that far ahead could potentially hurt Penn State's chances.

"The key for us is to not be overwhelmed by the moment, not overwhelmed by winning or losing--but doing the best we can at competing to the best of our ability," the fourth-year coach said.

This veteran-laden group will have to bring its highest level of competitiveness to its next test: a march into South Bend, Ind., to take on Notre Dame on Sat., Feb. 22. The 1-0 Irish are fresh off a dominant 19-7 win over Jacksonville in the Moe's Lacrosse Classic last week.

"We have to have more than a wanting to win, but a willingness to win," Tambroni said. "That's the resiliency that I'm hopeful and optimistic our team will have heading to South Bend."

Last year, the Nittany Lions dropped a 10-9 overtime heartbreaker to the Irish in Happy Valley early in the season. Although it hurt to lose in sudden death on home turf, this team is adamant about that loss being in the past.

"Our focus has to be laser sharp and it has to be 110 percent on the 2014 version of Notre Dame...not last year's Notre Dame," Tambroni said.

Saturday's contest will be the first chance this year's squad has at demonstrating its ability to bounce back from a loss. Given how well they performed against Loyola, this showdown with Notre Dame should be a tight back-and-forth contest as it was last year.

"Based on this year's fall and preseason, I would expect these guys to bounce back rather quickly in a resounding fashion," Tambroni said, "and that's a testament to the leadership of this senior class."

After reviewing the game film from the loss to the Greyhounds, the coaching staff expressed that they were pleased with how the team played despite the result.

"We didn't play poorly against Loyola--we just didn't win," Tambroni said. "We have to find a way to continue our momentum and we are going to have to find a way to add an element of success."

The Nittany Lions' potent offense has put up 33 goals in just two games so far this season. Last weekend, it took until the fourth period for the offense to really start to click--so expect to see a faster start and an attempt to gain control of the momentum early against the Irish.

"We have to show how much fight we have in us and we need to put more goals on the board in any way we can," said senior Shane Sturgis.

Opening faceoff is set for 3 p.m. ET in South Bend on Saturday as the Blue and White will try to bring their record back above .500.

Early-Season OT Loss Can Help Lions Down the Road

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
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.

9716371.jpeg"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.