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Incredible Turnout for Match4Kim Swab Drive

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.--It only took minutes for waves of support and volunteers to begin flowing through Penn State's HUB Robeson Center on Tuesday afternoon in support of the Match4Kim swab drive.

The drive, which will be a three-day event, is in search of a bone marrow transplant for Kim Roper, the mother of Penn State lacrosse senior Drew Roper (Columbus, Ohio).

Participants interested in getting swabbed are encouraged to visit the Match4Kim information table located on the main floor of the HUB.

The swabbing process takes no more than 10 minutes, and simply involves a minimal amount of paperwork followed by four saliva swabs that interested participants administer themselves.

Tuesday's drive, scheduled from noon to 5 p.m., saw close to 100 hundred volunteers in its first hour alone.

"To see other athletes and students take time out of their day to come out here and help a fellow Penn Stater is truly warming," said head coach Jeff Tambroni of the men's lacrosse team.

"It is symbolic of everything that Penn State stands for."

The drive has received support from multiple campus and university organizations in its developmental and operational phases.

The Penn State Student-Athlete Advisory Board, field hockey team, athletic training student staff and Penn State Panhellenic Council has joined with the Roper family and the men's lacrosse team to search for not only a match for Kim Roper, but for the thousands of patients in need worldwide.

According to the National Bone Marrow Donor Program website, over 10,000 patients with diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anemia are in need of a transplant, but less than half of that number actually receive one.

"We're not only trying to help my mom out," said Drew Roper during Tuesday's drive.

"We have an opportunity to spread the word and help out so many other people that are in need."

Kim Roper was originally diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2009. The cancer went into remission after radiation and chemotherapy treatments but this past September, the cancer returned and spread. The best option for treatment is inpatient chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Mrs. Roper has yet to find a bone marrow donor match.

Drew Roper stated that the drive and the Match4Kim effort had an initial goal of adding 1,000 donors to the national donor database throughout the three-day event at Penn State, but he now expects the number to climb well-above the initial prediction.

"The amount of support so far has been surreal," said Roper. "It means so much to our family to see how people will go out of their way to try to help us and others."

Several other Penn State athletic teams were represented at the drive in its early stages. Members of the field hockey team and softball team were seen getting swabbed as well as assisting the men's lacrosse team in raising awareness for the effort.

"Today has been a true representation of what the athletic department stands for in regards to the 'One Team' campaign," said Tambroni.

"It's one thing to communicate it and articulate it, but it's another thing to actually come out and support other team's families."

Tuesday's edition of the swab drive will conclude at 5 p.m. but it is set to resume on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The drive is located in room 321 of the HUB Robeson Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men's Lacrosse Building Leadership for 2013 Season

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By Eric DeBerardinis, Special to GoPSUsports.com from The John Curley Center for Sports Journalism

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Leadership is paramount for Penn State men's lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni. The third-year coach believes his team possesses the necessary talent to succeed this upcoming season, but says developing leadership has been the Nittany Lion's biggest challenge. The program lost captains Matthew Mackrides and Ryan Link to graduation, leaving a leadership void both on and off the field.

"Urging them to take another step within their role is going to be key," said Tambroni. "I think if these guys come back and see themselves in the same role that they were in last year, we will have not moved forward."

Midway through the team's fall practices, Tambroni was unable to identify potential captains for the start of next season. He does expect Jack Forster, Gavin Ahern and Shane Sturgis to lead from the attack position. Forster, a redshirt senior attackman, understands his role as the oldest player on the team.

"We want to show them [the underclassmen] by how hard we work," said Forster.  "Hopefully they will follow."

Tambroni also referred to Austin Kaut, a junior goalie, who has already established himself on the field and accumulated various accolades including All-American honors. The head coach expects Kaut to take on increased roles in terms of his leadership and orchestrating the defense.

Nick Dolik, a senior midfielder, wants to increase his leadership skills as well.

"I've tried to grow a lot as a guy who can be reliable," said Dolik. "Someone who the younger guys can look up to."

Penn State's leadership abilities were tested by its fall schedule. During the first weekend in October, they traveled to Bethesda, Md., for the Capital Lacrosse Invitational, which included two tune-up games against perennial powerhouses Johns Hopkins and North Carolina. Tambroni viewed the weekend as a time to experiment, while getting looks at younger players on the team. Tambroni labeled the tournament as a great experience but also recognized the team must keep the games in perspective.

Tambroni says he believes his team has enough pieces to compete within the Colonial Athletic Association. The ultimate goal would be qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, a feat that Penn State has not achieved since 2005.

"There are certain issues that are going to need to go to the top," said Tambroni. "But there are certain issues that our upperclassmen can educate our young kids, academically, socially, with leadership in the community, and performance on the field."

If the desired leadership emerges, Tambroni is sure his team can take the next step.

Examining the New Men's Lacrosse Rules

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By Tom Zulewski, Special to GoPSUsports.com from The John Curley Center for Sports Journalism

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The NCAA approved several new rules in men's lacrosse that are aimed at speeding up the game. Among the new rules, the most anticipated rule change is the establishment of a 30-second shot clock after a stall warning has been issued.

Other changes include the expansion of the substitution box from 10 to 20 yards. Officials must whistle for a restart as soon as an opposing player is within five yards of the player who was awarded the ball. Under previous rules, a defender could step in front of an opposing player on the sideline, which would lengthen the time of restart.

Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said the new rules will be beneficial to the fans of college lacrosse. But he is not a fan of one aspect of the new stall warning procedure.

"I think it's going to be great for the fans," Tambroni said. "The game is much faster. There are no more horns on sideline. No stoppages of play and if there does become at least a little bit of a stall I think it's a good concept.  I just don't like the fact that the officials have too much at stake in counting down the last 10 seconds."  

Tambroni is referring to the fact that the NCAA didn't institute a visible shot clock. Officials will signal a stall warning and the start of the 20-second timer. Once the 20 seconds expire, a 10 second hand count will be administered by an official closest to the ball. That official has the duty to keep track of the count until shot is taken or time expires. According to the NCAA rule book, "a valid shot is defined as an attempt to score that is on goal, hits the goal cage, or a goal score."

The previous "get in, keep it in" rule is no longer. "Get it in" referred to when the ball was outside the attack area and an official would verbally announce "get it in." The team in possession would then advance the ball into the attack area within 10 seconds and keep the ball in attack area. The "keep it in" warning was used when the ball was inside the attack area and the team in possession must keep the ball in the attack area. 

Tambroni did mention the possibility of getting 30-second shot clocks within the Colonial Athletic Association. The problem, he said, was that some teams might not be able to afford it.

"I think we're going to try and point that out," Tambroni said. "I think it would make it a little bit easier on the officials and also create for a wonderful intended rule to be carried out in a more accessible fashion."

This new rule will certainly have an adverse effect on some teams that are notorious for winning face-offs then holding onto the ball for long periods of time.

Of the 160 minutes Penn State has played this fall only three stall warnings were called. Early indications are the new rules are popular among the players.

"I kind of like it because it makes the offense go to the ball if you're trying to stall," said junior attacker Shane Sturgis.  

Senior mid-fielder Nick Dolik is a fan of the new on the fly substitution rule.  

"I think most of guys like it because it speeds the game up," Dolik said. "That fast pace game is fun for everybody to play, however you've got to be ready to go." 

FEATURE: Nittany Lion Men's Lacrosse Looking Ahead to 2013

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By Jackson Thibodeau, Special to GoPSUsports.com from the College of Communications
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Eight seasons removed from their last NCAA Tournament bid, the Penn State men's lacrosse team looks to build on veteran leadership and a redefinition of roles to push the team to the next level.

7655610.jpeg"Urging them to take another step within their roles on the offense or the defense is going to be key," said head coach Jeff Tambroni at a recent practice. "If these guys come back and see themselves in the same role as they were in last year--we will have not moved forward."

The veteran-rich roster, consisting of nine seniors, has a far different look than last year's youthful squad.

"Across the board they are all capable but we just haven't found one or two guys yet that just have separated themselves from the crew as captains," Tambroni said in reference to replacing the strong leadership of last year's four seniors. "We've got a ways to go at least in that regard."

Among the team's veterans is redshirt senior Jack Forster, who is actively striving to help guide a very talented freshman class.

"We are trying to show them by example how hard we work and hopefully they will follow," Forster said.

Tambroni has been impressed with the level of competition and effort the freshmen have brought to the team this fall, stating that some are even pushing upperclassmen for playing time and roles as starters.

Joining Forster as an established veteran is senior Nick Dolik, who is coming off an impressive 18-goal junior year campaign.

"I've been trying to grow a lot as a guy that can be reliable and someone the younger guys can look up to," Dolik said.

With four months remaining until the season-opening faceoff against Denver, the team continues its offseason training after finishing up a fall competition schedule.

The team traveled to Bethesda, Md. the first weekend in October for the Capital Lacrosse Invitational--a fall-ball tournament featuring Penn State, Cornell, Johns Hopkins University and The University of North Carolina benefitting the Mario St. George Boiardi Foundation.

Although official statistics weren't recorded, Tambroni and the squad expressed a number of benefits that came from competing in the tournament.

"On the field it gives us a chance to measure up against two of the most talented teams in the country," Tambroni said. "It gives this team a wonderful perspective going down to play for the Mario St. George Boiardi Foundation--a foundation near and dear to my heart."

The Boiardi Foundation supports cultivating and nurturing underprivileged youth through athletics and academics and it donates proceeds to numerous charities.

The Nittany Lions competed against Johns Hopkins and North Carolina at the tournament--two of the nation's perennial lacrosse powerhouses.

Tambroni was unable to cite any gameplay-oriented aspects of the game that could be improved upon because of the considerable amount of time before the season starts, but he did stress the importance of veteran leadership.

"Finally we've got upperclassmen at the attack," he said. "That's going to help us create a little bit more of a veteran movement."

Although fall competition is all wrapped up, the team will continue offseason practices and workouts leading up to its first exhibition game of the 2012-13 season against Army in late January.

Nittany Lion Men's Lacrosse Awaits NCAA Fate

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On the day of the 2012 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament selection show, let's take a look at what the Nittany Lions need to fall in place to receive one of nine at-large bids.

Tournament Information:
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61 teams compete in NCAA Division I men's lacrosse. By season's end, the field is narrowed to just 16 teams that compete in the NCAA tournament.
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Seven conferences receive automatic bids if they win their conference tournaments (America East, BIG EAST, Colonial Athletic Association, ECAC, Ivy League, Metro Atlantic, Patriot League).
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The remaining nine spots in the tournament belong to at-large bids.
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2012 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships will take place at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Conference Championships:

NOTE: All rankings are Men's Lacrosse RPI.

ECAC Championship (May 4, 2012)

- No. 3 Loyola Md. def. No. 15 Fairfield, 14-7
- Loyola earns automatic bid for winning ECAC.
- What Penn State needed: A Loyola win was a plus for the Nittany Lions, as Penn State needs as many favored teams to win their conference championships as possible.

Patriot League Championship (May 4, 2012)
- No. 6 Lehigh def. No. 9 Colgate, 16-14
- Lehigh earns automatic bid for winning Patriot League.
- What Penn State needed: A Lehigh win was a positive for Penn State, although Colgate may still earn an at-large bid.

America East Championship (May 5, 2012)
- No. 39 Stony Brook def. No. 40 Albany, 14-8
- Stony Brook earns the automatic bid for winning the America East.
- What Penn State needed: The loser of this contest will not receive an at-large bid in the tournament, meaning that the outcome did not affect the Nittany Lions.

BIG EAST Championship (May 5, 2012)
- No. 19 Syracuse def. No. 29 St. Johns, 12-4
- Syracuse earned the automatic bid for winning the BIG EAST.
- What Penn State needed: The way things unfolded in the BIG EAST was a blow to the Nittany Lions after St. Johns defeated Notre Dame.  The fact that Notre Dame will likely an at-large bids could hurt the Lions' chances.

CAA Championship (May 5, 2012)
- No. 2 UMass def. No. 20 Drexel, 18-12
- UMass earns the automatic bid for winning the CAA.
- What Penn State needed: The Nittany Lions needed UMass to win to avoid the Minutemen taking up another at-large bid if they were to lose.

Ivy League Championship (May 6, 2012)
- No. 22 Yale vs. No. 12 Princeton
- What Penn State needs: The Nittany Lions need Princeton to win this game, because Yale is not likely to receive an at-large bid if they are defeated.

MAAC Championship (May 6, 2012)
- No. 48 Canisius vs. No. 32 Siena
- What Penn State needs: Due to the low RPI rankings of these two teams, the team that falls in this contest most likely will not receive an at-large bid.

Where the Nittany Lions stand:
- 9-6, 5-1 CAA
- RPI: 11
- Top 5 RPI wins: Notre Dame
- Top 25 RPI wins: Drexel, Ohio State, Villanova, Hofstra
- Penn State can be considered a "bubble team" as of right now because the Nittany Lions are riding on several outcomes to boost their chances of earning an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.

Lions Pull Off Dramatic Comeback on Senior Day

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It is unusual for a 14-game regular season to be summarized in just a single game, but with the way the Penn State men's lacrosse team battled back against Hofstra on Saturday, that is exactly what was done.

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The Nittany Lions erased a four-goal deficit heading into the fourth quarter to score a dramatic 9-8 double overtime victory over Hofstra on Senior Day.

"Our play today was an example of what we have been like all year," said head coach Jeff Tambroni following the victory.

"We battled through some adversity this year but we fought back and continued to believe in ourselves and our system and we found wins at the end of the year," Tambroni said. "That is the same way we battled today."

The Nittany Lions were quickly put in check after Hofstra scored four-straight first quarter goals.

"We started off really slow but we kept the faith and we continued to believe," said senior attackman Matt Mackrides (Newtown Square, Pa.), who registered his 97th, 98th and 99th career goals against the Pride.

"We said we needed possessions and we needed to execute small details like getting ground balls--we knew if we did that, then we had a chance."

Entering the fourth quarter, the Nittany Lions found themselves down by four goals with NCAA Tournament hopes in their minds.

Execution of details and possession time translated into an emphatic comeback that was sparked by a Mackrides' goal just a minute into the final quarter.

Following Mackrides' score, Penn State piled on five of the next six goals that would be scored in the game, including a dramatic score with just 18 seconds remaining from sophomore Gavin Ahern (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) that sent the contest into overtime.

In the sudden death overtime period, the Nittany Lions had trouble gaining possession, but lockdown defense held Hofstra from scoring, and sent the game into a second overtime frame.

"There was no magic formula for our defense," said assistant coach Peter Toner. "We just figured out what Hofstra was doing and we were able to make adjustments on defense that kept the ball out of the net."

The Pride secured possession yet again in the second overtime period, but a fantastic between-the-legs-save by goaltender Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) gave the ball back to the Nittany Lions, and led to the game-winning score.

"I knew that [one of Hofstra's attackman] was a righty from our scouting report," said Kaut. "I knew he would try to go to the right side of the net and I noticed that they liked to shoot in the five-hole, so I guessed correctly and ended up making the save."

The save gave the Nittany Lions possession with just under two minutes remaining in the period. After a Penn State timeout, sophomore Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) and Matt Mackrides executed a play that led to Sturgis flinging the ball into the back of the net and securing the sudden-death victory.

"The game-winner was all about putting two of our best scorers out there in Shane and Matt and letting them work together," said Tambroni.

Once the comeback was complete, the team rushed the field and celebrated around Sturgis, whose goal secured the team's fifth win in a row.

"To cap off the season with an overtime win for our seniors and our entire team was something special," said Tambroni.

The comeback wouldn't have been possible without a key chain of events that turned the momentum in favor of the Nittany Lions.

A dramatic game-tying shot, lock-down defense, a crucial save, and a well executed play led to the emotional victory.

As for the play of the seniors, Mackrides wasn't the only veteran making an impact.

Senior attack Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) registered three points, midfielder Ryan Link (Englewood, Colo.) caused a turnover and picked up five ground balls, and defenseman Ryan McGarvey (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.) picked up one ground ball before leaving the contest after an apparent head injury.

The win caps off the regular season and gives Penn State a 5-1 record in the CAA, translating into the second seed in the CAA Tournament.

The Nittany Lions will host Drexel on Wednesday in the semifinal round of the CAA playoffs, and barring a win and a Massachusetts loss, the team could host yet another CAA Tournament game on Saturday, May 5.

Wednesday's faceoff against the Dragons is set for 7 p.m.

Men's Lacrosse Seniors Reflect on Career

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While Saturday's game against Hofstra won't be the final home game for the Penn State men's lacrosse team, it is sure to be an emotional night for the seniors.

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The CAA matchup and final regular season game will serve as "Senior Night" for Penn State's five graduating players.

All five seniors have played influential roles for the Nittany Lions at one point or another, each with at least a season's worth of starts under their belts.

"It is going to be a weird feeling putting that jersey on for the last time," said attackman Matt Mackrides (Newtown Square, Pa.). "Being with these seniors for the past four years has been a great journey and it means everything to me."

Mackrides is entering Saturday's contest with 96 career goals, which is tied for sixth all-time in program history.

As for his plans after graduating from Penn State, the consistent scorer plans on pursuing a career with Major League Lacrosse. He was drafted 26th overall in the 2012 MLL Draft by the Chesapeake Bayhawks.

"I am excited for the opportunity and the experience to play for the Chesapeake Bayhawks but for now my focus is on Penn State lacrosse," Mackrides said.

Mackrides has not been alone on the attack for Penn State throughout his four prolific seasons--he is joined by fellow senior Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.), who is in the midst of a career-high season in multiple statistical categories.

"It has been the best part of my day everyday to come in here and compete with these guys," said Forster.

The redshirt senior has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, losing the 2008 and 2010 season to knee injuries. This season has been injury-free for Forster and he is leading the team in all offensive categories.

"It has been a relief [to be injury-free], knock on wood, and I feel a hundred times better than last season," he said.

On the other side of the ball, seniors Dave Baker (Havertown, Pa.), Ryan McGarvey (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.), and Ryan Link (Englewood, Colo.) are also starting to feel the emotions arise as their collegiate careers wind down.

"I feel like we are never really done with Penn State lacrosse," said Baker. "We may be graduating but we will always feel like a part of this team."

Baker started 13 games in 2010 in the goal for the Nittany Lions and remains an integral part of the team as he provides leadership and motivation on the sidelines.

Following graduation, Baker plans to pursue a master's degree in education.

Helping Baker out on the defensive side of the ball is defenseman Ryan McGarvey, who scored his first-career goal this season from nearly the length of the field in a loss to Bucknell.

The preseason All-CAA defenseman has appeared in 40 games for the Nittany Lions over the course of his career and has been the foundation of the tenth-best scoring defense in the country during 2012.

Joining McGarvey in a consistent career of appearances is midfielder Ryan Link, who has appeared in 43 games in his career and leads the team in caused turnovers.

Link is a diverse player, whose abilities include playing on both sides of the field and switching from short-pole to long-pole at points during games.

The relatively small senior class, making up only five of a 38-man roster has been influential in the team's late season push towards the playoffs.

"From start to finish they have done an unbelievable job," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "They set the culture for this team on and off the field."

Coach Tambroni, in his second year as head coach, joined the program after this group of seniors already had two seasons under their belts.

"They are leaving this place better than they found it," he said.  "
Their legacy is embedded in a very strong foundation and I hope when they look back they will see their footprint on Penn State lacrosse for years to come."

Faceoff against Hofstra is set for noon on Saturday. Win or lose, the team will host a first round game of the CAA Tournament on May 2 at 7 p.m.


Lions Push Towards the Playoffs With Emphatic Win

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The pouring rain and physical Delaware attack couldn't slow down a dominant team performance by the Penn State men's lacrosse squad on Saturday night.

The conference foes didn't waste any time, each scoring a goal within the first four minutes of the opening period.

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With four first-half lead changes, the contest started as an evenly matched battle, but the Nittany Lion took control after the break.  The team exploded out of the locker room after halftime and scored four-third quarter goals on their way to a 13-9 win.

"We made a few adjustments at halftime but overall we stuck to our game plan," said senior captain Matthew Mackrides (Newtown Square, Pa.). "This win is exactly what we needed as a team and we came out and did it tonight."

Mackrides registered his 23rd, 24th,and 25th goals of the season on Saturday night, making it the ninth multi-goal game of the season for the senior.

The captain was one of five Nittany Lions finding the back of the net against the Blue Hens, and four of those five put up multi-goal performances.

"We knew we needed to come out hot in the second half," said sophomore attack Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.). "It didn't matter who or what it was, but we needed a spark."

LaCrosse may have been that spark for the Nittany Lions himself, scoring three second-half goals--including a score just 55 seconds into the third quarter.

"It really was a team effort tonight," said LaCrosse. "If Danny Henneghan didn't get hot we never would have had the possession time that we did."

Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) was instrumental in Penn State's third quarter push. The junior won five of seven faceoffs in the period, contributing to the Nittany Lions dominant second half possession time.  

Another spark for the Lions was sophomore attack Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) who tallied four goals and two assists during the rainy contest.

Sturgis attributed his dominant offensive performance to his teammates and their ability to move without the ball.

As Penn State started to pull away in the second half, the game took a physical turn. Delaware was called for two unnecessary roughness penalties in the final minutes, but the Nittany Lions kept cool heads.

"Credit our seniors--they have done a great job of setting the tone of our team," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "We remain who we are here at Penn State. We preach to our players to play with emotion but not to let their emotions get the best of them."

The sound of the horn at the end of the fourth quarter meant more than just a win to the Nittany Lions. In their first year playing at the new Penn State Lacrosse Field, the team clinched a No. 2 seed in the CAA Tournament, earning the right to host a playoff game.

"Clinching the No. 2 seed is huge," said sophomore goaltender Austin Kaut. "The CAA is such a competitive league and having our first playoff game be at home is a big deal for us."

The team hosted a CAA Tournament game last season, but lost in overtime to Massachusetts.

"It takes a lot of stress of our backs just to have two more home games," said LaCrosse. "It will be a good way to get settled in to the playoff mindset having a home tournament game."

Before the team can gear its mindset towards hosting a CAA Tournament game, they must get through Hofstra first.

"We need to win as many games as we can and start thinking about the big picture...and that starts with Hofstra," said Tambroni. "In no way shape or form are we looking too far ahead but it is important for us to keep up the momentum and get another win."

Penn State will host Hofstra next Saturday for the final game of their regular season. Faceoff is set for noon at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

Relationship Between Goalies Helps Kaut Flourish

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the second season in a row, sophomore Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) is among the top goalies in the nation, serving as a security blanket for his team's defense.


"Goalies are like the quarterback of the defense in lacrosse," said Kaut. "As a goalie it's my responsibility to communicate with the defense and make sure everyone is in their spot."

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Starting in the net for the second-straight year, Kaut is continuing to exhibit spectacular play that earned him CAA Rookie of the Year honors as a freshman.

In his impressive rookie campaign, the net minder topped several NCAA statistical lists, including save percentage (.635) and saves per game (13.64).

"Austin is one of the best goalies in the country, and it's great to work with him," said teammate and fellow goalie Conor Baucum (Chevy Chase, Md.).

Baucum, a junior, has seen limited in-game action in the net, and has found other ways to help out his team.

"I've become kind of a 'rah-rah' guy on the sidelines," said Baucum. "This is what I can do to help the team and if it keeps up the enthusiasm, then we can play better as a result."

Sparking intensity and motivation is not the only method of contribution for Baucum. He and fellow goalie Dave Baker (Havertown, Pa.) help on the offensive side of the ball when they stay back at practice and tend the net while the offense practices their shooting and accuracy.

"We have a really tight-knit pack of goalies on this team, and that's how it should be," said Baucum. He explained how the three goalies share tips and strategies to help each other improve.

As for Kaut, the presence of the other goalies on the roster helps him stay sharp.

"Having them nipping at my toes at practice to get my spot keeps me going," said Kaut. "It prompts me to work hard on and off the field to become the best goalie I can be."

Kaut has seen the majority of the action in the goal this season, and his put up impressive numbers against challenging opponents and skilled offenses.

The goalie ranks in the top 10 in the nation in goals against average and save percentage, which is an impressive feat considering the competition he has faced.

The Nittany Lions have faced eight ranked opponents this season, and of those teams, Kaut has tended the net against four teams in the top-ten in scoring offense.

In a loss to No. 16 Bucknell, Kaut allowed nine goals, which is significantly less than the astounding 13.33 goals per game average scored by the Bison.

The sophomore still has a difficult test ahead, as the team will face four-straight conference opponents to round out the season.

"We are ready for our upcoming games," said Kaut. "We have our work cut out for us because we need to get some wins and get a nice spot in the CAA tournament."

The Penn State men's lacrosse team will face Drexel in Philadelphia on Saturday. Faceoff is slated for 2 p.m.


Third Quarter Surge Lifts Lions Over Villanova

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a back-and-forth first half, a goal scored just seven seconds into the third quarter sparked an offensive streak that led the Penn State men's lacrosse team to a win over Villanova on Saturday.

Junior midfielder Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) secured the opening faceoff in the third quarter, charged down the field and dished a pass to sophomore Gavin Ahern (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) who dumped the ball into the net.

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"We haven't been a real second half team all season," said goalkeeper Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.). "We really needed to come out with energy and click on all cylinders and that's what we did."

Kaut had a superb outing, tallying 17 saves. The sophomore entered Saturday's contest with an impressive .600 save percentage, which is ranked sixth in the nation.

"Austin was awesome today," said sophomore attack Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.), who scored two goals and tallied an assist against the Wildcats. "If you shoot from the outside, not many goals are going to go in against him."

Forcing shots from the outside was exactly what Coach Tambroni and the Nittany Lions planned to do heading into the game.

Tambroni stressed to his team that they would be in good shape if they didn't allow inside looks, which is something they allowed a lot of in last week's loss to Bucknell.

Kaut wasn't alone in his efforts to quiet Villanova's high-powered offense. Physical play from the defense contributed to 13 clears, seven forced turnovers, and 28 ground balls secured - all of which aided the goalie in his impressive outing.

The tough defensive play was reflected on the other side of the field, as clears and turnovers provided the offense with transition opportunities.

"Any time we can get transition goals is a plus for us," said senior midfielder Ryan Link (Englewood, Colo.). "It gives our defense some time to rest and gives our offense a good opportunity to put goals on the board."

Link gets a taste of both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The midfielder switches between a long pole and a short pole several times throughout games.

The senior forced two turnovers and secured three ground balls in the contest against Villanova.

Penn State's offensive firepower was distributed evenly against the Wildcats, as nine different Nittany Lions were credited with a point in the game.

Seniors Matthew Mackrides (Newtown Square, Pa.) and Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) were atop the scoring list for the Nittany Lions, each registering five points.

"I think the offense shared possession and responsibility today," said Tambroni. "We never got away from the game plan and that allowed us to meticulously go through the game and secure a win."

Saturday's game served as the final non-conference game of the season for Penn State. The team will now enter the heart of their conference schedule, facing four-straight CAA opponents to close out the regular season.

"We needed a win like this heading into conference play to get our momentum back," said Forster.

Penn State will travel to Philadelphia next Saturday to take on Drexel. Faceoff is set for 2 p.m.