By Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The journey doesn't get any easier for Penn State men's lacrosse as they welcome third-ranked Notre Dame to Happy Valley on Sunday.
The eighth-ranked Nittany Lions will face their second top 10 opponent in two weeks following a 15-12 victory over No. 9 Denver last weekend. Like Denver, Notre Dame is coming off of a road victory against now 14th-ranked Duke. Penn State has a tall task ahead preparing for a well-rounded Fighting Irish team.
Head Coach Jeff Tambroni said that Fighting Irish deserve the high ranking based on their finish last season and win against Duke. Notre Dame's success has picked up where it left off last season, finishing 13-3 and making it to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. One of those losses was a 4-3 loss at the hands of the Nittany Lions.
Tambroni said the grinding defensive game last season wasn't one that lacrosse pundits would consider a great game. Both teams are stocked with offensive talent and the faster pace to the game this season should be a recipe for an exciting game.
"Notre Dame gets a lot of publicity because of their defensive end and they are very talented and well coached back there," Tambroni said. "But they are very capable on the offensive end as well after putting up 13 goals against Duke. It should be fun game."
Notre Dame boasts one of the top defenses in college lacrosse, allowing just 6.31 goals-per-game last season and allowing five goals to Duke in its 13-5 victory last Saturday. It is led by All-American senior goalie John Kemp. Kemp led the nation in goals-against average (6.27) and save percentage (.683).
Penn State has proven to be a high-scoring offense, scoring 8.7 goals-per-game last season, and averaging 13 goals-per-game in two games this season. The attack unit of senior Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.), junior Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) and freshman TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) have combined to score 21 of Penn State's 28 goals this season.
"They've done a great job and taken turns during the course of the game," Tambroni said of his attack. "They are starting to get comfortable with one another. Hopefully they can continue to share the ball and complement each other. They have come in to watch extra film this week and have practice very hard."
Each attackman brings something different to the table making them hard to defend. Sturgis is a great facilitator and dodger from behind the net. Forster has a great shot both on the run and when given room and Sanders is sneaky in finding space in the defense and finishing his shots. The one thing they all have in common is they can score from anywhere.
The offense will rely on the attack to generate offense against the stingy Notre Dame defense. The extra attention on the attack may open up opportunities for the midfielders to create some shots. Sophomore Kyle Zittel (Eden, N.Y) and junior Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y) each scored against Denver, and hope to continue the trend this weekend.
Scoring goals will be less of a challenge for the Nittany Lions against Notre Dame if they continue to work well in transition. Possessing the ball will be crucial in limiting Notre Dame's scorers from getting in a rhythm.
While the offense conjures up ways to solve Kemp and Notre Dame's defense, junior goaltender Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) will be busy stopping the high-octane Fighting Irish offense. Kaut finished last season sixth in the nation in save percentage (.584) and tenth in goals-against-average (7.93 gaa.).
Notre Dame returns its five leading scorers from last season, as well as adding highly touted freshman attackman Matt Kavanagh to the mix. Kaut isn't focusing on Notre Dame's offense, but rather achieving the teams' objectives.
"We just have to focus on us," Kaut said. "We just going to practice hard, play hard and get a good scouting report from our coaches. Hopefully we'll come out on our home turf and come out with a victory against Notre Dame."
The home opener gives the Penn State faithful their first real chance at seeing the No. 8 Nittany Lions. Tambroni is happy to rest his players after two weekends of travel. He said it makes preparing easier when travel is not in the equation and the team can focus on just playing lacrosse.
Kaut is used to the travel by now, but admitted that he is anxious to see how the team measures up to a very talented Notre Dame team in front of the home crowd.
"Hopefully we get a good showing at the game with a top-five team coming in," Kaut said. "We're going to come out and play hard. Traveling isn't anything different, but playing at home with the fans there is always exciting."
Tambroni has said from the start of the season that he wants to climb up the ranks and compete in the postseason. He is happy to be ranked eighth in the country, but knows there is still more to accomplish. A win over a well-established and experienced team like Notre Dame could ignite a lot of confidence for Penn State moving forward.
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By Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Head Coach Jeff Tambroni has his sights set on the successful season for Penn State (2-0) come playoff time, not just a quick 2-0 start right out of the gate.
But it is hard not to get excited after a monumental 15-12 victory over ninth-ranked Denver on Sunday (Feb. 16) in Jacksonville, Fla. at the Moe's Southwest Grill Lacrosse Classic. Denver had knocked off top-five opponent, Duke, the previous week. The Nittany Lions knew they had an opportunity to upset a potential postseason team and could do it on national television. Tambroni credited his team for preparing well and coming ready to play a well-established program.
"We have a lot of respect for them and their coaching staff," Tambroni said of Denver. "After what they did to us last year, that's why our team felt as good about the effort as much as, if not more than, the result on Sunday."
Goaltender Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) was wide-eyed at the sight of EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kaut made 10 saves and the Nittany Lions rose to the occasion on the big stage and came out with a victory to be proud of.
"That was the biggest stage I've ever played on," Kaut said. "It was really cool to be in that stadium, on the grass and to have our team come out fired up and take care of business."
Tambroni stresses that preparation is a key to success. He evaluates each week the level and intensity of preparation. This week, it was Kaut that made note of the team's preparation and scouting report, especially on the defensive end, that paid off with a victory.
"Our defense played really well, both long-stick middies and short-stick middies," Kaut said. "[Denver's] three starting middies are some of the best in the nation and our guys were able to shut them down. I was really proud of them."
CAA Player of the Week Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) led the offense. The junior netted four goals in the victory over Denver, bringing his total to a team-leading eight in two games. He was joined on attack by red-shirt senior Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) and freshman TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.), who combined for seven goals between them.
Sturgis said that his teammates helped create opportunities for him to score and his shots were falling. His ability to dodge from behind the net, causing the defense to slide, opened up shots for himself and hi s teammates. Sturgis added that it was a fun experience playing on a big stage, but more fun that the team finished shots and got the win.
"We have good chemistry and everyone is feeding off each other and playing around," Sturgis said of the offense. "The more we communicate the better the offense goes."
The sunny Florida sky can be a distracting environment, especially for a young team like Penn State. Tambroni was pleased with the leadership of his upper-classmen and the response by his players.
"I give the guys credit for the way they handled the entire atmosphere," Tambroni said. "It isn't something that we're accustomed to. That's not normal for the Penn State program. For them to play with poise and play hard says a lot about our leadership and our captains."
Tambroni admitted it was a fun weekend and great victory, but the team's focus now shifts to this weekend's opponent, third-ranked Notre Dame (1-0). Penn State faced off against the Fighting Irish last season in South Bend, Ind. and grinded to a 4-3 OT victory.
Notre Dame is also coming off of a victory against Duke and poses another challenge for Penn State in the early season. Hopefully the success from the previous two victories carries into Sunday's matchup with the Irish.
Penn State will get some much-needed rest after traveling the past two weekends to Michigan and Jacksonville. An extra day of rest coupled with a week of intense practice should pay dividends for the Nittany Lions against Notre Dame on Sunday.
"I think it comes down to preparation and that helps us for games on the weekends," Kaut said. "We practice really hard and it's paying off so far this season."
By Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- It has been a long wait for the No. 15 ranked Penn State lacrosse team in anticipation for the regular season. The time has come to put on the jersey and take the field on Saturday as the Nittany Lions head to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan.
Junior attackman Gavin Ahern (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) is pleased with the preparation and mindset of the team. Although the team has played competitively in its two scrimmages and worked hard in practice, Ahern said that game days are on another level.
"We just want to get back out there and put everything we've been working on into a game," Ahern said. "Finally we get to strap it up against someone else and see what we're made of."
Head coach Jeff Tambroni has seen the anticipation and excitement levels rise within the last week. Keeping the team focused on preparing for Michigan has been the goal of the week.
"They've done a great job of remaining focused and we've been impressed with how they handled the first two scrimmages," Tambroni said. "They still understand that our record is 0-0 coming out of the preseason. Nothing really matters except what happens against Michigan in game one."
Tambroni expects to see a new-look offense this year. He admitted that last season's offensive attack was conservative and predictable. This year's group looks to be more explosive and better in transition.
"They are more mature and they believe in each other a lot more," Tambroni said. "Those factors have helped us with the addition of the freshman and the young talent added to the mix."
The NCAA implemented a shot clock this season when teams are called for a stall warning and must keep the ball in the offensive box. Playing a slow, possession-based style of attack may be a dying breed, but Tambroni still preaches being judicial and deliberate with the ball in the offensive end.
"The game when it's played at its best is when it's played at a high speed," Tambroni said. "We try to teach our guys how to read a defense and read a particular play when they are faced with certain obstacles. Teaching them how to be better lacrosse players versus being solid in a system of lacrosse is important."
Depth will play an even bigger role now with the faster tempo. Redshirt Senior Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.), junior Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) and Ahern will be joined by freshmen TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) and Matt Sexton (Niskayuna, N.Y.) to jumpstart the Nittany Lion attack.
The midfield is paced by senior Nick Dolik (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), junior Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.) and senior captain Travis Crane (Parkhill, Md.). Sophomore Erik Myers (Del Mar, Calif.) and freshmen Tom O'Neil (Shamong, N.J.) and Sammy Davis (Pittsfield, Mass.), among others, are expected to provide offensive depth. Getting contributions from multiple players and staying fresh will be key to competing for a playoff spot.
"It's allowed us to practice a little more efficiently," Tambroni said. "Our guys are fresher and making plays. These guys have all contributed at a level where we feel we can play a lot more people this year than we did last year. With the rule change, transition it's a necessity."
Learning an offensive system can be a difficult task. The freshmen have stepped right into their roles, and look comfortable among the veterans.
"The freshman have fit right in and bought into the system," Ahern said. "I've learned a lot from them and hopefully I've taught them a little something. They are meshing in great."
Although the Nittany Lions compete in the CAA, the matchup against Michigan has the same rivalry feel as any other sport on campus. Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan compete for the Creators Trophy that goes to the team who wins both matchups against the other two teams. Penn State currently holds the trophy and looks to keep it in Happy Valley.
"We won it last year and we want to keep here at Penn State forever," Ahern said. "Knowing what's on the line, the first step is Michigan and they are on our way. We have to get through them and keep the Creators trophy where it should be."
Tambroni said his players know what the matchup against the Wolverines means across the University. They are treating this game just as they would a CAA matchup.
"It goes beyond our league and more into the fabric of Penn State," Tambroni said. "Our guys are cognizant of that and hope to represent not just our program, but our school within the Big Ten."
Penn State and Michigan will faceoff at 1 p.m. at Oosterbaan Fieldhouse on Saturday.
By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In just a few weeks from now, Katie Guy will pick up her stick and lead the women's lacrosse team onto the field for her final season as a Nittany Lion.
Guy has spent her first three seasons at the midfield position; in 2013 she will switch to the defensive end of the field to help her young team.
"We have a lot of young people, a lot of young defenders right now and our team is pretty young actually this year so I'm kind of just trying to bring them up to speed on the system Missy (Doherty) implemented and make sure everyone is on the right page," said Guy.
Lacrosse Magazine recently named Guy the x-factor of the Nittany Lions. She will fill the vocal void left by former goalie Dana Cahill.
"It's hard because this year is a whole new team. We lost Dana, our goalie last year, who was a huge part of our defense for me, talking and stuff she was a huge leader down there. I'm kind of trying to fill up her role a little bit. We're focusing on this team this year so it's not the same as last year, we have a lot of good players," said Guy.
Since Guy joined the program in 2010, she has steadily improved her game and become a leader of the team. The senior now looks to build on her recent success. As a freshman, she appeared in eight games, grabbed eight groundballs, five draw controls and forced a turnover.
As a sophomore, Guy played in 17 games, scored four goals and had 19 draw controls. It set up her best season yet as a junior. She helped lead the Lions to a 12-7 record, started every game and was a huge part of the team's on the field communication.
At the end of 2012, she had recorded 30 draw controls, created 13 turnovers and scored five goals, all career highs.
It was during Guy's sophomore campaign when head coach Missy Doherty arrived on campus. She implemented a system that transformed the team into an instant contender, and helped Guy take her game to the next level.
"[Coach Doherty] is definitely inspiring. She is hard on us sometimes, which I think we need. Other times she is great to us," said Guy. "We practice hard, she gives us the weekend off and she is not like a drill sergeant all the time but she's definitely hard when she needs to be which I think we need sometimes too."
Guy, a senior captain, has been in the program long enough now to know the expectations. The Nittany Lions advanced to the elite eight at last year's NCAA Tournament, and are excited about the season ahead.
"It's exciting. It's like alright, we have these expectations, let's build from them. We made it to the eight last year, we can make it to the final four this year I have no doubt in my mind. It's not like scary pressure it's sort of a little fire under our behinds to work even harder this year."
The Nittany Lions face a challenge in net this year with a new goaltender. Senior Ayla Harus and freshman Emi Smith are competing for time in 2013, and Guy has helped both develop.
"Both of them are doing an excellent job, they're challenging each other and stepping up everyday. I can truly say everyday they're getting better," said Guy. "It's just exciting to see and as a defense we're just trying to focus our defense on keeping the shots to the outside, I guess those are better angles for goalies and that kind of stuff, so we're really focusing our defense more on how to help them in the cage and help them get better."
Penn State plays in one of the most elite conferences in women's lacrosse. The team will play NCAA contenders in Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Florida and Maryland. Guy said the team has embraced playing these tough opponents and actually looks forward to the challenge.
"I figure if we're in our conference playing these teams in big games then when we get to NCAAs we won the first round, we were winning the first round because we were used to playing such hard teams. Northwestern, Florida even Johns Hopkins all made it to NCAA"s last year and they were all in our conference so we had seen them once or twice. Once in the season and then again in our conference final so we weren't really intimidated when we got to the NCAAs because we were playing teams that hard all year. It's awesome."
Guy also said the young team is doing very well preparing for the 2013 campaign. The freshmen and sophomores have stepped up on the practice field and thoroughly impressed their vocal leader.
"They're doing a pretty good job, a really good job, on their own stepping up. They're stepping into the shoes of people that left last year I don't even really have to say too much last year," said Guy. "Honestly, they're doing a great job, even just little things though on defense we're trying to get our defense together to slide sooner and communication is a huge part of defense, which we were lacking a little bit, but the girls are doing a good job of stepping up, I'm very impressed."
The 2013 season will mark the end of Katie Guy's Penn State career. She will be leaving a program she has become the leader of. The senior is ready to hit the field in a few weeks to start what should be an amazing run.
"I love this team this year so I'm just excited to sort of take it as far as we can and sort of leave it all out on the field I guess. I'm excited to just enjoy every moment along the way," Guy said.
Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's lacrosse coach Jeff Tambroni doesn't want to sound cliche when he says he wants the program to build one step at a time, but that is exactly what they are doing.
"We look to prepare for the postseason, something that is not part of Penn State's tradition," Tambroni said. "This is the 100th season of the Penn State lacrosse and we have only been part of the playoff structure twice. [This season] is more of a day-to-day grind to give our guys the opportunity to focus on the details and the importance of preparation."
Penn State will play one more exhibition game against Johns Hopkins next weekend before opening the regular season. The Nittany Lions have a tough opening schedule, facing two Big Ten schools - Michigan and Ohio State. They also play three teams ranked above them in the International Lacrosse poll in No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 8 Lehigh and No. 12 Massachusetts. Those games will help the coaching staff evaluate the team heading into CAA play.
"We have to focus on one game at a time while also maintaining the scope of the season," Tambroni said. "We have to play well going into the CAA and hopefully we compete and play to our potential. We have to be more consistent and that we give ourselves a chance that we can play in the playoffs."
Two key words Tambroni emphasized were culture and tradition. Penn State has not made the postseason in 10 years, but has taken strides over the last two seasons to come closer to the NCAA Tournament. The Nittany Lions have improved each season that Tambroni has been at the helm for Penn State and finds itself at No. 15 going into the season, the highest ranking since Tambroni arrived.
In some cases, a high preseason ranking can cause teams to take its foot off the gas and complacency can set it. Tambroni embraces the respect his team is garnering and expects it to inject confidence throughout the program. However, they are still on the outside looking in at No. 15, and need to continue to move up in the standings if they hope to compete in the postseason come spring.
"In the first six games we'll look up at our opponents and will be considered underdogs in the rankings," Tambroni said. "We're in the progression stage right now...I want them to feel confident and good about getting to that point that they weren't at in year one and climbing up to the top rankings. I want them to feel encouragement that we are moving in the right direction, but nowhere near complacency or satisfaction. We have to move into the top 10 or win our league."
Tambroni previously coached at Cornell, a program with a rich lacrosse legacy. He brought with him to Penn State postseason and National Championship experience, as well as knowledge of a winning culture that can propel a team to the next level. His track record is a good starting point, but his players are the key to success.
The team leadership falls upon the shoulders of the seniors and team captains. The process of selecting captains took longer than in years past to evaluate where the team was. Redshirt seniors Jack Forster and Travis Crane have assumed the leadership roles, and will be vital to the development of the younger players.
"Since those captains have been announced, they have done an unbelievable job of taking the ball and running with it," Tambroni said. "They have hit the ground with such great stride that our leadership right now is ahead of where we imagined it to be knowing where we were back in September. We're at a point now where a majority of our guys have played for our coaching staff and know what our expectations are. We don't have to teach as much, they are now teaching our younger guys."
There is a foundation set for how the coaching staff wants the team to play both offensively and defensively. The leadership of the experienced players makes the teaching process for the younger players easier for Tambroni. He can add nuances to his game plan because of the way the captains have taken the new comers under their wing.
Tambroni's teams are known for running a grind-it-out type of offense dependent on ball control and holding for smart possessions. Due to new rule changes that have implemented a 30-second shot clock when a stall warning is called, Penn State may have to adjust to a faster pace to the game.
The transition in style will be easier because of goaltender Austin Kaut who was First Team All-CAA the past two seasons. His ability to stop shots and control rebounds makes clearing the ball and getting into transition much easier. The added depth at midfield and attack will help Penn State play a faster style without tiring out.
"We need to play more guys this year because the pace is going to be a lot quicker," Tambroni said. "We're being forced a little bit to play a pace that may not have been so comfortable in the first two years. Through recruiting and squad size we are in a better position this year to be able to adapt to this rule change and not fall behind too much."
Tambroni doesn't want his team to think of success in terms of what the scoreboard reads or by wins and losses. Building a program is a process, and Tambroni wants his team to continue to make strides toward the ultimate goal.
"I want them to ask themselves what they want to look like at the end of a game, end of a week, and the end of a season," said Tambroni. "If that means you want people to respect your effort, and you want people to utter words of respect and being role models, than I think we will have done a great job when the year is over. Winning will be the byproduct of that kind of effort, chemistry and a genuine investment in your teammates and that you will do everything on a daily basis to be successful."
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.
By Eric DeBerardinis, Special to GoPSUsports.com from The John Curley Center for Sports Journalism
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
"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.
By Tom Zulewski, Special to GoPSUsports.com from The John Curley Center for Sports Journalism
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
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."
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.
"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.
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.
- 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.
- 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).
- The remaining nine spots in the tournament belong to at-large bids.
- 2012 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships will take place at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
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.