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Lions Focus on Accountability, Leadership as Season Approaches

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "We walked out of the locker room as a team today and our hearts started to pound a bit knowing that the season is just around the corner," said head men's lacrosse coach Jeff Tambroni following Thursday evening's exhibition game against Lehigh.

9638158.jpegThe Nittany Lions, nine months removed from a record-breaking 2013 season, are ecstatic that a new campaign and a fresh slate are almost upon them.

Thursday's scrimmage against the Mountain Hawks was held inside Holuba Hall, safe from the bone-chilling single-digit temperatures outdoors. While scores and statistics weren't officially kept, the teams played a full 60 minutes and abided by standard NCAA/CAA rules.

"Games like this one give our guys a chance to come out and reward themselves for all the hard work they put in throughout the fall and preseason," Tambroni said. "As a coaching staff, it gives us a chance to tinker with personnel and lineups."

The potent offensive scoring attack from 2013 picked up right where they left off and blasted out of the faceoff x in the first period. The scoring tandem of sophomore TJ Sanders and senior Shane Sturgis set the tone early as they led the potent scoring attack.

Sanders led the team with 44 goals as a freshman a season ago while Sturgis was the team's leader in assists.

This fourth-year coaching staff has often preached and pushed for an emotional and energetic style of play. That level of intensity was portrayed at the end of the first frame when the offense put several goals on the board in less than 90 seconds.

"Any way we can put goals on the board works for us," said senior captain Tom LaCrosse, "but that was certainly an exciting way for us to grab the momentum."

The Nittany Lions continued a formidable offensive push throughout the remainder of the first half, but couldn't find the back of the net in the third frame. A scoreless third quarter is something that this squad isn't accustomed to, as they scored more goals (53) and attempted more shots (162) in the third period compared to any other period last season.

"Emotionally, coming out in the second half--we need to replicate the same kind of excitement and energy that we do at the start of the game," Tambroni said. "That's something we will work on and hopefully see signs of improvement when we play Hopkins."

Creating a standard of playing energetically for a full contest is something the coaching staff will look to their leadership to convey to the team. This season's squad is led by senior captains Tom LaCrosse, Gavin Ahern and Tyler Travis--among many other veteran leaders.

"Our leaders have done a very good job and we have a lot of them," Tambroni said. "They've done a good job of having a unified stance of standards and holding their teammates accountable."

Speaking of veterans--senior goalie Austin Kaut played the first half of Thursday's scrimmage and was pleased with what he saw from the younger players. Kaut was tabbed the Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Jr. nation's top goalie in 2013.

"The younger guys fought hard and it was good to be back out here and play against another color jersey," Kaut said. "You start to get used to playing against your own team and beating up on each other so these matches are good for us to see different styles of play and prepare for the season."

The 2014 regular season kicks off on Feb. 8 against Michigan at 1 p.m. in Happy Valley at Holuba Hall. Before that, the Nittany Lions will travel to Baltimore on Feb. 1 for another exhibition game against future Big Ten rival Johns Hopkins.

Decades of Talent Return for Men's Lacrosse Alumni Weekend

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20130927_201850_crop.jpgBy Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Over the weekend, the Penn State men's lacrosse team welcomed back three decades worth of dedicated alumni to the team's third annual Alumni, Family and Friends Weekend.

The passion and high energy that surrounds the growing program was visible on Friday night as the weekend kicked off with a tailgate, an alumni game and the Blue/White scrimmage between this year's team.

"It is always amazing to see so many people come together to support this great program," said 2013 graduate Jack Forster, who ranks second all-time in goals scored for the Nittany Lions with 104.

The feeling in the atmosphere during Friday evening's event was congruent with that of many Penn State athletic events--highly passionate and extremely close-knit. Occupying the stands on the beautiful autumn evening were families, friends and all sorts of contributors to the program.

"Events like this are so important to the program because of the amount of attention it generates for us," said former defensive midfielder Chris Schiller (Class of '99). Schiller, 36, has over 12 years of professional experience in the sport, competing in both the National Lacrosse League and for Major League Lacrosse.

The current midfielder for the MLL's Charlotte Hounds has built an impressive lacrosse resume over the years and is not the only Nittany Lion to have made a profession out of the sport.

Competing alongside Schiller in the alumni game was faceoff specialist and 2006 graduate Greg Gurenlian, who held Penn State's record for career faceoff wins up until the 2013 season. His dominance in the circle continued after his days in Happy Valley as he currently sits at fourth on the all-time list of faceoff wins in the MLL with 1,029.

Gurenlian, currently a midfielder for the Long Island Lizards, has expanded his professional involvement in the sport beyond just competing. He owns a strength and conditioning company (Brawlic Strength) and co-owns The Faceoff Academy, which hosts nationwide combines that assists young players in developing the skills to be recruited by elite programs.

Both Gurenlian and Schiller are extremely pleased with the growth of the sport of lacrosse and Penn State's program since leaving campus years ago.

"This program's growth has been magnificent," Gurenlian said. "This is now the organization and the type of program that we all knew it could be."

The former student-athletes credited the program's growth and recent successes in large part to current head coach Jeff Tambroni (entering his fourth season) and his staff.

"It's a new era in lacrosse now," Schiller said. "Tambroni has adapted to that and brought this program to the next level--which is where it needs to be."

The program has seen significant changes since Gurenlian and Schiller left campus several years ago. A new coaching regime, a state-of-the-art lacrosse-only complex and a higher level of competition highlight the program's advancements.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous," Gurenlian said.

There is no ceiling in sight for the growth of collegiate lacrosse as new Division I teams are formed seemingly almost every year and new conferences are beginning to sprout up.

Beginning in the 2014-15 season, the Nittany Lions will compete in the Big Ten's lacrosse conference after multiple years of competition and success in the Colonial Athletic Conference.

Penn State will be one of six program's competing on the men's side in the Big Ten alongside Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers and Johns Hopkins.

The program hopes that Friday evening's turnout of support will be telling of the upcoming season and that Penn State faithful will fill the hill at the lacrosse complex.

Nittany Lions Battle Hard But Fall

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After leading through most of the first half and battling hard in the second half, the Penn State Nittany Lions fell to the Yale Bulldogs, 10-7, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

8923633.jpegThe loss marks the end to a historic centennial season for the program and the end of stellar careers for nine Nittany Lions.

Penn State struggled early in the game turning the ball over, but eventually found their feet and started to play very effectively on offense. Yale, back-to-back Ivy League champions, opened up the scoring just over four minutes into the game, but Penn State responded quickly scoring two of their own to end the first period.

Goalkeeper Austin Kaut had a memorable first period saving five Bulldog shots and keeping his team alive early on. Kaut, a junior, could be heard yelling out commands and was proving why he had earned   nomination for a Tewaaraton award.

The Nittany Lions then scored three more goals in the second period, including a rocket of a shot from freshman T.J. Sanders, to take a 5-1 lead into halftime. Penn State had clear control over the Bulldogs but knew they were still in for a fight in the second half. The Nittany Lions fast pace offense had the Bulldogs on their heels and Penn State knew it.

"We felt good at halftime but we knew that there were some opportunities that we missed in the first half to almost put the game away," Sanders said. "We learned earlier this season that the game is never over at half, so we were ready for the second half, things just didn't fall our way."

The Bulldogs answered the challenge of coming from behind. As Yale head coach Andy Shay recognized, this was not the team's first time trailing at halftime. The Bulldogs scored four goals in the third period to only one from the Nittany Lions. They brought the lead down to just one and had started to frustrate the Nittany Lions offense.  

"I thought they did a great job of playing team defense. They shared responsibility very well. I don't think we moved the ball very well today, I thought we talked about it all week; I thought we did a good job this week. But to their credit, they got their sticks in the passing lanes, took away a lot of our initial options, [we] ran some plays early in possessions and they did a pretty good job of defending that," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "We probably didn't do our part of sharing the ball enough and, again, to their credit they played with seven guys. All six guys and their goalie played well."

The Nittany Lions struggled to regain their offensive synergy after halftime. The ball was not moving as well in the offensive zone for Penn State, and the Bulldog defense had stepped up their level of play tremendously. Penn State continued to battle and kept generating solid shots on goalkeeper Eric Natale, but the shots just did not find the back of the net.

The game was set up for what was sure to be an epic fourth quarter.  Just a few minutes into the quarter the Nittany Lions faced a two man down situation. The game was tied, but the Bulldogs were moving the ball well. Penn State stood tall and killed the penalty off, something they hoped would lead to momentum going forward.

"That was huge for our defense," senior captain Jack Forster said. "Tyler Travis had a nice interception there which was huge for us. Yeah, I thought it was going to definitely turn the tides."

Despite Penn State killing the penalty, Yale continued to move the ball effectively against the Nittany Lions. After forcing a turnover in the defensive end, Kaut launched a pass down the left side of the field to make a quick play for the offense. The pass, unfortunately, went long and opened a breakaway goal for Yale's Conrad Oberbeck.

"Just undisciplined play on my part," Kaut said. "I was trying to make a play for the team, I saw Travis Crane open and just sailed it. Just undisciplined play on my part."

The Bulldogs used a 9-2 run after halftime to earn their NCAA win. The Nittany Lions defense battled hard in the second half, but the Yale offense just had the better day.

"They were really trying to work that invert short sticks behind and they just kept doing it and doing it and they really kept our offensive middies on the field. Our offensive middies played great defense, we just didn't really play great team defense down there and they got the best of us," Kaut said.

All in all the Nittany Lions were forced into nine fourth quarter turnovers, an uncharacteristic performance for the normally sound group.

Along with the rest of the team, Forster battled hard but could not find a way to put the ball past Natale. Even in the face of defeat, the Nittany Lions never once backed down, never once quit and played hard until the final whistle was blown.

"Yeah, it's tough when nothing is falling for you and they're scoring on the other end," Forster said. "It seemed like things just weren't going our way, it was tough."

The Nittany Lions will now take some time and reflect on what a tremendous season they had. They earned their first NCAA tournament bid since the 2005 season. They reached the CAA conference final and Coach Tambroni was named Coach of the year. The team reached 12 wins and was ranked in the top ten all season in the Ratings Percentage Index. Several individual players were also recognized for their excellent efforts during the season.

"Then for our guys, I just feel a sense of pride for our seniors, our captains in particular, Jack [Forster] and Travis [Crane], they did a wonderful job this year of bringing Penn State to new heights," Tambroni said. "I know it hurts and I know every one of those guys in there did everything they could to put us in a position to win today, but it just wasn't mean to be."

The 2013 season was a huge successful for the Nittany Lions and gives the program quite the platform to build from going forward.

"I'm hopeful we will reflect positively on the 2013 season and I'm hoping our seniors will and I'm hoping that our juniors, sophomores and freshman, some that are sitting here to my left and my right, will have learned from this experience and just do a better job when we get back here next year and see if we can start the building process ahead immediately," Tambroni said.

"I'd like to congratulate Yale. I think that they did a great job. They're coaching staff and team certainly believes in what they do and you can see that certainly by the way they played through the Ivy League championship games," Tambroni said. "They got great leadership, they believe in themselves, they believe in their system and I'm sure they're going to do very well in this tournament."

As for seniors like Jack Forster, they will look back on their careers here at Penn State and be pleased. As a group, they worked hard and they worked together, leaving everything on the field.

"It's been a long road. Six years," Forster said. "This season definitely capped it off with making the NCAA tournament. It's been a great year, just sad to leave and it definitely hurts going out from this."

"We wanted so much more than just a step up," Kaut said. "We worked hard to get where we were at today and we wanted to make it even more special than it already is and we just didn't come up with it today." 

Nittany Lions, Towson Battle for CAA Title

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By Pat White, GoPSUsport.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The third time proved to be the charm for Penn State men's lacrosse (12-3, 7-0 CAA) as it defeated UMass (7-8, 2-5 CAA) 10-7 in the semifinal of the CAA Championship on Wednesday.

8896471.jpegHead coach Jeff Tambroni knew going into the game that UMass would not be an easy first round matchup. They played a grind-it-out style that slowed Penn State's tempo in the first half. He was pleased with the way his team fought through despite not having a strong first half.

"I am very proud of our team's effort today. We knew we would have our hands full and I am proud of the way our team responded after halftime," Tambroni said. "These guys have fought through a ton of adversity all year and we are very fortunate to be playing in the CAA Championship."

Junior Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.) and senior Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) got the Nittany Lions a quick 2-0 lead just under three minutes into the game. After that, the Penn State offense went stagnant and couldn't possess the ball for long stretches like UMass did.

UMass' Joe Calvello owned the faceoff X, winning seven of nine first half draws. Tambroni said the lone bright spot for Penn State in the first half was the play of junior defender Steven Bogert (Carlsbad, Calif.). Bogert played one of his best games of the year and stepped up in the first half with four groundballs while played stellar defense.

"I thought Steven Bogert was the player of the game for 60 minutes," Tambroni said. "I thought we struggled in the first half outside of Steven Bogert. He was a monster in between the 30s and outside the wing on faceoffs."

Senior faceoff man Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) rebounded to win six of 12 faceoffs in the second half. It was a big turnaround for Penn State, and Bogert played a major role in creating possessions. He finished with seven groundballs while adding pestering defense.

"We work on it every day and it was a big part of this week," Bogert said. "Me and Danny have been on a great page. It wasn't just off of faceoffs. I knew coming into this game that groundballs were going to be a big part of this game. I just kind of got in a rhythm and got focused."

Tambroni thought there was a little bit of added pressure to finally move past the first round that may have caused the poor start to the game. Tambroni said that last year's captains-Matt Mackrides, Ryan McGarvey and Ryan Link-wrote the team a note that motivated them coming into the game.

"I thought we played a little tight and lacked mobility," Tambroni said. "I thought in the second half our guys relaxed, played hard, put themselves at ease a little bit, and got over the hump."

Junior Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) looked relaxed coming out of the break. Sturgis recorded a third quarter hat-trick for the Nittany Lions and was a major spark plug for the offense. The junior attacked the goal from all areas of the field and got his scoring touch back after being held scoreless in the last four contests.

Sturgis said he was the benefactor of the offense beginning to click with good ball movement.

"I think our offense just moved the ball better in the second half," Sturgis said. "We got some good opportunities and we were able to capitalize on some of them."

Penn State has been led offensively all season by a potent attack. In the fourth quarter, Forster, Sturgis and freshman TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) put the team on their back and cruised to victory. After being held in check the first half, Sander chipped in with two goals to match Forster's output, while Sturgis finished with four goals and a helper.

Penn State now looks to claim its first CAA Championship on Friday at 3 p.m. against Towson. The Tigers defeated Drexel 11-8 in Wednesday's night cap. Nittany Lions took down Towson 10-8 at home on April 13. Bogert said the captains said that the regular season means nothing now and that every team has a clean slate.

"Our captains said it best: that we are zero and zero," Bogert said. "It's the CAA playoffs and granted we got a good win today but it doesn't matter now. We are going to our first ever CAA Championship and that's enough of a motivating factor. We are excited about that."

Tambroni said that both teams will look to play to their strengths while taking away the opposition's. Forster and Tambroni both said that the ultimate goal is to prepare and win the next game.

"I think it starts right now," Tambroni said after the game. "I hope they enjoy it for a half an hour to an hour. It is more about rest. We are going to need legs on Friday, so X's and O's are irrelevant to a certain degree."

Towson head coach Sean Nadelen also said that rest will be the key. His team was dominated 19-3 by Drexel in faceoff wins, and he want to see that improve in what will be a possession dominated game.

"It will come down to a possession game, especially with a quick turnaround," Nadelen said. "Teams are going to be a little beaten down in terms of physical status. It comes down to valuing possession time, capitalizing possessions and making sure that the defenses aren't playing a ton of defensive possessions."

A Look at Towson

Towson looked dominating against Drexel in its victory. Midfielder Ben McCarty led the way for Towson with six goals, matching his season total. McCarty stepped into a rhythm as Drexel contained leading scorer Thomas DeNapoli (39 goals, 16 assists) to just one score. Andrew Hodgson added a pair of tallies to up his total to 22 for the season.

DeNapoli and Hodgson are most dangerous with the ball. DeNapoli is at his best when he can initiate the offense from behind the goal and get his hands free in space. Hodgson primarily dodges down the wing where he either takes the open shot, or uses his vision to find open teammates. Against Drexel, they proved they can be used as decoys, and guys like McCarty can get hot as well.

Towson played a slow and methodical game on the offensive end, working the ball around and slowing the tempo. The Tigers average 8.94 goals per game while allowing 8.81. Senior goalkeeper Andrew Wascavage played spectacular against Drexel and posted a .612 save percentage for the season. Wascavage and Penn State keeper Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) will make for a goaltending battle on Friday.

Penn State has won three straight games against Towson dating back to 2011.

Lions Aim to Dethrone Reigning CAA Champ, UMass

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By Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Senior Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) put it short and sweet. "Right now we are focused on winning a championship."

Forster and the No. 9 Nittany Lions (11-3, 6-0 CAA) prepare for their first-round, home matchup in the CAA Championship against fourth-seeded UMass (7-7, 2-4 CAA) at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

8701570.jpegPenn State closed out a perfect 6-0 CAA regular season last Saturday in a 16-7 win at Hofstra. Forster was named Co-CAA Player of the Week after notching five goals and an assist to up his point total to 52 on the season. His 99 career goals are fourth all time and his 143 points rank seventh on Penn State's all-time list.

Head coach Jeff Tambroni said that Forster has come up big in the last few games coming down the stretch. He called his performance "signature Jack Forster."

"He has played terrific for us all year long," Tambroni said. "When we've needed a goal, or some energy, or something coming out of halftime or needed a play on the field...he has been there, as you would expect from a senior leader and captain. He has provided everything and then some on and off the field."

However, Forster isn't ready to celebrate his statistical accolades just yet. He wants to save that for after his career is over. Right now, his sights are set advancing past the first round of the CAA Championship for the first time in program history.

"That is all great and it's going to be a great thing to look back on when I'm done here," Forster said about climbing in the record books. "But right now we are just focused on winning a Championship, a CAA Championship here and focusing on UMass tomorrow."

The Nittany Lions were losers of three straight games before knocking off the reigning CAA Champion UMass 7-5 on March 16. It was the start of the current nine game winning streak that Penn State is riding heading into the CAA Championship. Senior Nick Dolik (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) scored his first goal of the season in the win, and now ranks fifth on the team with nine goals and five assists.

The victory was a turning point in Dolik and the Nittany Lions' season. Dolik said the team learned a lot down the stretch to get to the point they are now. 

"As the year goes on, it's good to have a steady incline of how you're improving," Dolik said. "Just learning from earlier in the season from what good and bad things could have happened."

Dolik said that both teams know each other well and that the game will feature the same intensity as any other CAA contest.

"We know it's going to be a battle in the CAA, especially us and UMass," Dolik said. "Every little play counts and it's going to be a fight out there."

Tambroni said that preparation will be more challenging with the short week of practice leading up to the game.  Tambroni said the familiarity for both teams is helpful in game planning, but that Penn State still has to compete on the field. He is preparing for an offense that is effectively simple, but still averages 9.36 goals per game with a man-up unit working at 37.5 percent.

"They do what they do, and they do it very well," Tambroni said. "They play so hard and compete up and down the field and believe in themselves. You have to prepare for the intangibles and get the guys to compete as hard, if not harder."

UMass' senior attacker Will Manny is the facilitator of the offense with 31 points in just nine games. Kyle Smith leads the team with 29 goals and 47 points. Grant Whiteway and Connor Mooney added 23 and 20 goals respectively.

In order to keep the Minutemen offense in check, Penn State will lean on junior goalie and Tewaaraton Award nominee for the best player in college lacrosse, Austin Kaut (Morton Pa.). The Penn State defense has been a major component in the nine game winning streak the team is riding. The unit has allowed just 5.66 goals per game over the streak, helping Kaut lower his goals against average to 6.95. He has been the backbone of the team and will play a major factor if Penn State is to advance.

Tamboni said the team is motivated to get out of the first round of the CAA Championship for the first time during his tenor. Being ousted on their home field is something that Tambroni doesn't want to happen again.

"We've been the host last three years," Tambroni said. "We've lost two of these games, one at the hands of UMass. We want to keep this momentum going and understand the opportunity we have here at home and take advantage of that."

In the beginning of the season Tambroni said that he wanted his team to build confidence over a long period of time. The confidence level is high within the locker room, but Tambroni knows that being overconfident against a talented UMass team can be costly.

"As long as you utilize that confidence appropriately, place it on the field and help you play at your potential than it can be a good thing," Tambroni said. "If we become complacent and don't prepare the same way...it can be a very dangerous thing."

Forster said the team will come out with swagger and focus leading up to the matchup with the Minutemen. He has been here through good and bad times with the program, and is excited to hopefully share more success with the home fans.

"It's great for our fans here at Penn State and it's what we set out for in the beginning of the year," Forster said. "We have achieved that goal and now have to actually win the next game against UMass."

Penn State and UMass are set to face off at 3 p.m. today at the Penn State Lacrosse Field for the semifinal of the CAA Championship.

Midfield Consistency Key in Final Game vs. Hofstra

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By Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State men's lacrosse team (10-3, 5-0 CAA) looks to close out a perfect record in CAA play on Saturday when it faces a dangerous Hofstra team (7-6, 2-3 CAA) on the road.

8875832.jpegIt is easy to point at the usual suspects on the Nittany Lions roster that have led to the current eight-game winning streak. Freshman TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) and senior Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) have been stellar leading a Penn State offense that is averaging 10.38 goals per game. Junior goalie Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) has shown why he is regarded as one of the top net-minders in college lacrosse, leading a defense that surrenders 7.23 goals per contest.

Aside from the stars on the team, it has been the roles of the emerging midfielders and defense that have pushed Penn State to a level they weren't at in the beginning of the season.

In the 13-7 win against Delaware last Saturday, head coach Jeff Tambroni said that the second midfield line of juniors Kyle VanThof (Penfield, N.Y.) and Kyle Zittel (Eden, N.Y.) and senior Drew Roper (Columbus, Ohio) stepped up and asserted themselves in a big way. The trio combined for three goals and three assists in the victory.

"We were extremely pleased with the second midfield of Kyle VanThof, Drew Roper and Kyle Zittel," Tambroni said. "I thought they provided a much needed spark in our offensive end. They also provided balance and a lot of punch."

Offensive production from the midfield was a concern for the Nittany Lions through the first six games of the season. The attack carried a heavy load of the scoring, and Tambroni wanted to see more balance.

Penn State looks as dangerous as ever after capturing the No. 1 seed in next week's CAA Championship being held in Happy Valley, due in large part to the emergence of the midfield.

"I think guys are just working harder on the field," Roper said. "Certain midfielders are getting better and playing off of each other. Finally all the hard work is paying off on the field."

Roper's work, especially, has been a bright spot for the Nittany Lions. He struggled to see playing time in the beginning of the season. Tambroni said that the senior approached the coaching staff and asked what he needed to do to get on the field.

Tambroni said that it takes longer than a week to earn playing time. The tryout begins during fall practice and continues on through the season. His challenge to Roper was to change little things and work hard for a month.

"To Drew's credit he went to work every day for about a month," Tambroni said. "His true colors really shined during that time being a senior, being a leader. Drew has continued to be consistent in his efforts. This is his doing and deserves the playing minutes that he gets."

Roper said he took the challenge and ran with it. He worked hard to get on the field and his confidence playing with Zittel and VanThof has provided another weapon at Tambroni's disposal.

"The opportunity finally arose," Roper said. "I have great chemistry with Kyle VanThof and Kyle Zittel and we are working well together."

The efforts of the midfield are not unnoticed by the team. Sophomore defensive midfielder Michael Richards (Skaneateles, N.Y.) said that he has seen the growth of the midfield unit as the season has progressed.

"You can definitely see the chemistry is starting to build with our midfield," Richards said. "They know where passes are going to go and what the next guy is going to do so the ball is moving."

Despite the success coming down the home stretch of the season, the Nittany Lions know that there is still work to be done and cannot get complacent.

Penn State faces a dangerous Hofstra team that is much better than its 7-6 record would indicate. They have wins against No. 2 Notre Dame and then-No. 13 Fairfield, both on the road.

It is also a must-win game for Hofstra in order to make the CAA Championship next week and possibly face Penn State in the opening round. Saturday's game is Hofstra's senior night, providing an extra spark for the Pride.

"The situation that presents itself to Hofstra makes them a dangerous team," Tambroni said. "Knowing that either their season or career could end or to move on and secure their place in the CAA makes them an extremely urgent team."

Hofstra's offense is led by junior attacker Torin Varn, who has upped his point production from nine points in 2012 to 34 this season, tallying 32 goals. Sophomore goalie Chris Selva has been stellar between the pipes, yielding 7.10 goals per game.

Tambroni said that his team must bring the same intensity into the game that they have had all season. He said that both teams are treating it like a must-win simply because it is the next game.

"We talked to our guys about playing at their best level every game," Tambroni said. "The key is to control what you can control, which is how hard we play and how well we know our opponent. I do think at this level you need to study the tendencies of the [other] team...to give yourself the best chance to win."

Although Penn State has already clinched a share of the top seed in the CAA Championship, Richards said there is no looking forward to next week and the focus is on beating Hofstra.

"The No. 1 seed means nothing with one more road game to play," Richards said. "If they win, they turn around and play us again [in the CAA Championship]. Being 6-0 is a lot better than being 5-1."

Tambroni praised the way his team looks forward to the next game and not at the success of the current winning streak.

"They're on each other on a daily basis in terms of what's next," Tambroni said. "Any time you can have a chance to gain momentum, you gain confidence... I hope that is the way we prepare all week and I hope that is how we play on the weekend."

Penn State and Hofstra will face off at 7 p.m. on Saturday at James A. Shuart Stadium.

Nittany Lions Head to Princeton

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By Michael Renahan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions look to wrap up the 2013 regular season with a win on the road against the Princeton Tigers, Saturday in New Jersey.

The Nittany Lions enter the game riding a four-game winning streak, outs-coring their opponents 64-39. The team has been on a tear since starting the season 4-3. In their last eight games, the Nittany Lions have gone 7-1, and they now have their highest ranking of the season at No. 6.

8515759 (1).jpeg"Well I mean I think we're just continuing to try to get better," said head coach Missy Doherty. "There are certain aspects of our game, seeing in the Hopkins game that we had to improve on. We've been working hard to do that this week. There comes a point where the season is in the player's hands and we try to prepare them as best we can and make game adjustment if we need to, but, you know, it comes to a point where our success right now is all on how the player's intensity and how they come out to play."

Although the Tigers have been struggling, dropping two of their last four, the Nittany Lions know to not overlook Princeton. The Tigers welcome the Nittany Lions in dire need of a win to help their NCAA hopes. The two teams have battled it out in Doherty's first two years. Princeton won both games, including an overtime heartbreaker in Happy Valley last season.

"Princeton has been sort of a thorn in our side the past two years," Doherty said. "We've had some good seasons and, you know, we come off an emotional ALC conference regular season and, you know, we have to be ready for this game. This game means a lot to us as far as closing out the season the way we should. We've fought in a lot of hard games this year and I think that really prepares us for a game like Princeton, because it will be really similar to a lot of our close contested games."

Penn State and Princeton match up well. Both teams have been undefeated at home and played very well against conference foes. Penn State went 4-1 in ALC conference play, while Princeton went 6-1 in Ivy League play. The Nittany Lions have a slight edge in goals per game, but the Tigers have the edge in goals allowed.

The teams have played common opponents this season in Virginia, Maryland, Johns Hopkins, Cornell and Penn (Exhibition). The Nittany Lions went 3-2 against those opponents, while the Tigers went 2-3. Both teams also have seven players on the roster with 15 goals or more in 2013.

The Penn State offense has been superb, scoring 15 goals against Johns Hopkins on Sunday. Mackenzie Cyr, who continued her 22 game point streak with four points on Sunday, along with the rest of the Penn State offensive have their work cut out for them against the Tigers.

Princeton has allowed just 52 goals to their opponents on their home turf, including limiting Johns Hopkins to just seven goals in a 10-7 win.

Much like the Nittany Lions, the Princeton Tigers are led by a sophomore attacker from Maryland. Erin McMunn has 54 points for the Tigers in 2013, including 34 goals on 76 shots. On the other end of the field is Penn State's own sophomore attacker Maggie McCormick, who paces the team with 69 points.

This is Penn State's final game before opening up their ALC conference tournament schedule. Luckily for the Nittany Lions, Princeton plays a very similar style to ALC teams and should help prepare Penn State for tournament play.

"I think pretty much every game has been preparing us to play the best teams. Princeton is one of the best teams out there. It's going to be a challenge to win this game, it's a game Princeton really needs, and for us it's really important for us to close out our season on a high note," Doherty said.

Penn State spent the week preparing for the showdown by focusing on their defense. The NIttany Lions got another stellar performance from senior defenders Katie Guy and Colleen Shea against Johns Hopkins earlier this week.

Guy and Shea helped slow down an aggressive Blue Jays offense ensuring the Penn State offense a last-second goal opportunity to win the game. Along with Guy and Shea, Madison Cyr and Kelly Lechner have both improved their defensive play, forcing opposing teams into bad turnovers and leading to offensive opportunities.

The Penn State defense knows it has to improve its play, prior to heading to the American Lacrosse Conference tournament. As a team, the Nittany Lions have fared well at home going undefeated and allowing just 64 goals. However, when Penn State hits the road, the team has allowed 100 goals to their opponents.

The Penn State defense, however, has much looked much improved over the last eight games. They continue to grow and showcase their aggressiveness against opponents. When teams try to slow down their offense, the Nittany Lions have responded well and contained. When teams try to speed up and out-run the Nittany Lions, the defense responds to the challenge and stays with their matchups.

A matchup with Princeton also marks the return of two current Penn State coaches to their former employers.

Prior to coming to Penn State, Doherty worked at Princeton University. She played a major role in getting the Tigers two National Championships. Assistant coach Amy Altig also coached at Princeton helping develop one of the nation's top defenses.

After Princeton, the Nittany Lions have a few days off before heading to Baltimore Maryland for their ALC tournament opening round showdown with Vanderbilt. Penn State dominated Vanderbilt in a win earlier this season in Happy Valley, 20-14.  Game-time is set for 6:30 p.m. on May 2. 

Lions Look to Continue Road Dominance

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By Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With its sights set on the No. 1 seed in the CAA Championship, the No. 9 Penn State men's lacrosse team (9-3, 4-0 CAA) prepares for a tough road matchup with Delaware (5-8, 1-3 CAA) on Saturday night.

8851744.jpegA Nittany Lion win would solidify at least a share in the programs first CAA Title. Head coach Jeff Tambroni said it would be a huge lift for the program heading toward the postseason.

"It is a compliment to the progression of the entire season knowing we have to go through the CAA, which we have a ton of respect for and for each team that competes in it," Tambroni said. "That is a compliment to our guys and their efforts."

Both teams put their respective winning streaks on the line on Saturday with Penn State winning seven-straight and Delaware riding a three-game streak.

Penn State has been dominant on the road so far this season with a record of 5-0. They have won 10 road contests in a row dating back to last season. Delaware has struggled at home this season (1-5), but is honoring their senior night.

Tambroni discards the history of the two teams and isn't gauging the game by Penn State two game winning streak against the Blue Hens. Tambroni hopes the road success continues.

"I'm hopeful when we get back on the road our guys will settle back in," Tambroni said. "It doesn't get any easier no matter what history may indicate. We have to remain urgent in our preparation and our play and that will dictate 60 minutes of our performance on game day."

Junior attacker Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) attributes the road success to a very structured schedule that makes preparation more smoothly. The road gives the team a chance to bond and stay focused as a unit.

"Coach [Tambroni] just emphasizes on preparing each week," Sturgis said. "We travel like professions so that it is like a business trip and we try to do that to our best ability."

While road games have treated the Nittany Lions well, clinching the No. 1 seed in the CAA Championship would be a huge boost for the team. Junior midfielder Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.) said getting the first seed is the primary objective right now.

"Being the first seed would definitely be nice, mainly because we would be home," LaCrosse said. "That would allow us to stay here. It's over finals week so it would be easier on the mind not having to travel and worry about finals. It would be nice to play in front of the home crowd."

Tambroni is still searching for consistency in all areas of the field as the season winds down. He stressed diligence to his team during film sessions to learn from past mistakes in preparation for Delaware. LaCrosse feels prepared with the game plan and said it's up to the players to execute on the field.

"The coaches always have so much film that it makes it easy for us," LaCrosse said. "They show us every little bit of Delaware and that helps us not have to think too much. They prepare us to come out on the field and play our best."

Tambroni knows that his team could face Delaware again in the CAA Championships and is stressing preparation, not only for Saturday, but beyond. He said that staying sharp during practice and improving every day is crucial at this point of the season.

"We have a chance now to play one of these teams knowing we are in the tournament," said Tambroni. "If we aren't getting better every day, someone else is. The key is to look back, look and learn and hopefully show that on the field."

Delaware relies heavily on its offense that averages 9.23 goals per game. For Penn State to be successful, the defense has to continue its strong play of late. Penn State is allowing just 5.28 goals per game during its seven game winning streak.

The offense also must continue its success. The Nittany Lions are averaging 9.71 goals per game in their last seven games. Freshman TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) was honored as CAA Co-Player and Rookie of the Week for his five goal output against Towson last week. The impressive freshman leads the team with 33 goals and is the catalyst for the Penn State offense. Sanders and the offense look to continue that success against a Blue Hens defense that surrenders 9.31 goals per game.

Sturgis said that the offense found synergy from the start of the season and that chemistry is the key ingredient to their success.

"We just have chemistry as an offense," Sturgis said. "Everyone moves the ball well, gets open and no one is selfish."

Tambroni isn't putting too much stock in the Nittany Lions current winning streak when assessing Delaware. He said they are a dangerous team and that his team must earn a win in a hostile environment.

"Wins don't just carry over to the following week," Tambroni said. "It's going to be important to work as hard, if not harder, this week than we have in past weeks knowing what's on the line this week for both teams."

Penn State and Delaware will face off at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at Delaware Stadium.

FEATURE: Senior Leaders Monumental for Postseason Push

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By Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State men's lacrosse (9-3, 4-0 CAA) has once again cracked the top-10 rankings, coming in at No. 9 after a 10-8 win over Towson on Saturday.

While freshman TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) paced the Nittany Lions with five goals and junior goalie Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) won the battle of two terrific goaltenders, Saturday was all about the seniors.

Kaut said the team wanted to thank the seniors for all their hard work and leadership with a win on senior day.

"On a day like this, a gorgeous day, senior day, we went out and played hard for our seniors," Kaut said. "They led us the whole way and we came out with a win."

Head coach Jeff Tambroni was proud of the production he got from the seniors. He has preached all season that senior leadership is a key component coming down the stretch, and Sanders agrees with him.

"Every team that wants to do something special in a season needs great senior leadership," Sanders said. "That's what we have so we have to keep working away."

Let's meet the seniors that have contributed to the success and growth of Penn State lacrosse.

8840700.jpegJack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.)
The redshirt senior has racked up the points during his six years at Penn State and has been one of the most prolific scorers in Penn State history. Forster has tallied 41 points this season to lead the Nittany Lions and has now amassed 132 points in 50 games career games. He is four goals from tying John Hollerbach for 10th all-time with 94 goals and two points from tying Bill Hess for 10th in points with 134.

The wily veteran played a big role in the second half against Towson, scoring an incredible no-look goal in the fourth quarter. He also got his teammates involved with three helpers, all in the third quarter.

Forster extended his point streak to 24, dating back to March 3, 2012 and has 11 career hat tricks. Tambroni lauded Forster's scoring ability, but is even more impressed with his leadership qualities.

"His leadership, poise is about as good as I've been around," Tambroni said. "He never gets rattled. Even in tighter situations he plays with the same poise as if we were up five goals or if it was a summer league game. Our guys feed off that."

Forster has had to persevere through an injury-plagued career at Penn State, but he believes it has made him an even stronger leader.

"It's been a long journey and its sad it's coming to an end with the last home game here," Forster said. "It means a lot and it should be very memorable."

Majoring in business, he still isn't sure what he will do after leaving Penn State, but remains focused on the rest of the season. Forster couldn't pinpoint one special memory, but highlighted the time he spent with his teammates.

"I'm thankful for all the friendships I made through all the years I've been here," Forster said. "I met a lot of good guys and made a lot of great friendship here. Hopefully this game will be my favorite memory."

8840704.jpegTravis Crane (Parkville, Md.)
Sharing captaincy duties with Forster, Crane has made a big impact for the Nittany Lions both on the field and in the locker room. Tambroni is proud of the way he and Forster lead the team and presented themselves as players and people.

"As a worker, very few guys are at his level," Tambroni said of Crane. "He comes to practice and comes to weights every day and gives absolutely everything he has."

Crane said he was honored to be named captain and that it was a great way to end his Penn State career.

"Knowing that the players and coaches have a lot of respect and trust in you to lead the team in the right direction, it's an absolute honor to be in this position," Crane said.

A transfer after his sophomore year, Crane has been one of Penn State's most consistent midfielders on the defensive end. Before his last home game, Crane said he was excited for the opportunity to wrap up his career playing in Happy Valley against a Towson school that is only five minutes away from his hometown.

"I'm really looking forward to playing them and a CAA opponent and we want to continue being undefeated in the CAA," Crane said before the win against Towson. "I'm looking forward to playing with all these [seniors] in our last home game."

Crane said that spending time with his teammates was something he will never forget. His favorite memories from his career were wins against two top-10 opponents.

"Beating Notre Dame my junior year was my favorite moment," Crane said. "Then probably this year beating Denver in the Moe's Southwest Classic was a big win as well."

Crane just finished a graduate school program in education leadership and said he will be working in New York City as a corporate stockbroker starting this summer.

8840706.jpegDanny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.)
While not playing the flashiest position on the team, Henneghan has been crucial to Penn State's success during his four years as the main faceoff man. He finds his name in the Penn State record books, ranking sixth all-time in faceoff percentage and is two ground balls away from 10th in Penn State history with 202.

Henneghan said that looking back as a freshman, he never thought his last game would come. He was excited about the senior day festivities, but also knew that the team still has a job to do.

"Now that it's here, it's cool to be here with all these guys, my fellow seniors," Henneghan said. "At the end of the day we want to make sure we're prepared first as a class, and as a whole team. We just want to take care of business on the field."

Henneghan's mindset since he was a freshman has completely changed, and he said he is much more invested as a lacrosse player and a student of Penn State. He said the past four years are something he will always remember.

"It's becoming an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life," Henneghan said. "Where I am now as a senior, it was everything that I hoped it would be. It's something I will be able to cherish and look back on in years to come."

There have been many high points in Henneghan's career, but his favorite has family ties dating back to practicing faceoffs in his backyard with the person who introduced him to lacrosse.

"My freshman year getting to play with my older brother was very special," Henneghan said. "I think having an opportunity to play with him because it is something I was never able to do. Getting to come here and play on a Division I college team was something I will remember for the rest of my life."

Henneghan, a business major, has no set plan for after school, but joked saying, "My goal is to make a lot of money."

8840718.jpegNick Dolik (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)
After struggling in the beginning of his senior season, Dolik has become an offensive force during Penn State's seven-game winning streak, scoring six goals and dishing out five assists. Tambroni admires the way Dolik never got discouraged and continued to work his way into the offense.

"Instead of going in a different direction and feeling sorry for himself as a senior, he got right back to work and has never looked back," Tambroni said. "I think the correlation between Nick's success and our team's success is very fair."

Dolik kept a business-like attitude heading into his last home game with Penn State. He finished the game with a goal and an assist. Dolik noted that there has been a major transformation in fan support throughout his four years.

"I feel like this year we have our home team fans and it's really exciting," Dolik said. "Everyone comes out and when we get a good day...it's exciting. I think it's growing a lot from my freshman year to now. There are so many more fans so it's fun and it's on the rise."

While it has been a successful season for the senior last hoorah, Dolik said there is still a higher potential that the team can reach. The team is expecting more from one another and Dolik said that relationship with his teammates is something he will always remember.

"Hopefully we have more good experiences coming up," Dolik said. "Just getting to know the guys and becoming that tight group has been awesome. All the little experiences in the locker room and games and whatnot. You remember scoring goals and games, but I'll just remember being with the team and those experiences."

Dolik described his Penn State experience as a growing process and one that he is very fortunate to have had. He wants to finish out the year strong before graduating and moving on to life after lacrosse.

"I'm trying to worry about the season," Dolik said. I'm looking to work out east somewhere. Hopefully I find a job and might work up in New York City maybe in insurance or something like that."

8840723.jpegDrew Roper (Columbus, Ohio)
Roper has enjoyed his career at Penn State. Although scoring just two goals, they both came in pivotal games for the Nittany Lions. He scored a game-tying goal in the Nittany Lion's 4-3 overtime win at Notre Dame last season and the eventual winning goal in a 8-3 victory at Towson. This season, Roper has one assist in two games played.

Roper was excited for his last home game and to wind down an eventful Penn State career. He said that through the coaching changes and the 100th year of Penn State lacrosse that he has enjoyed the ride.

"We never thought this moment was going to come, and it won't hit us until after it happens," Roper said. "I'm happy I'm with this group of guys for the last home game together."

Roper played extended minutes on senior day and deservingly so. Roper made a key pass on freshman TJ Sanders' (Orillia, Ont.) fifth goal. He also caused a turnover in the final seconds to seal the win for Penn State, earning praise from his coach.

"There's a guy (Roper) who was on the bench for seven or eight games," Tambroni said, "and he makes a big play there at the end of the game. We were thankful to come away with a win in the last regular season home game."

Roper is proud of the way the team has prepared and displayed hard work throughout the season, and attributes the team's success to Tambroni and the coaching staff.

"Coach came in two and half years ago and we've been working up to this point," Roper said. "We have to attribute it to all the hard work that we've done in the past few years coming from a different coaching staff. It's all paying off this year and hopefully we keep improving."

Roper said that beating Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. was his favorite memory. He is a finance major and still figuring out his plans for after graduation.

8840727.jpegEric Davidheiser (Vashon, Wash.)
The senior midfielder has dressed in 11 games, taking five shots and scooping up two ground balls. Davidheiser said that while others may be taking the last home game as the end, he is looking forward to continuing to be part of the Penn State family and is proud of his teammates.

"Obviously we still have games left this season, but even after this season we will still be part of the Penn State Lacrosse family," Davidheiser said. "We talk about leaving the place better than we found and I think this senior class has done that. This team has fought through adversity and showed what the Penn State way is."

Davidheiser admitted that it is sad that he won't see his teammates every day, but looking back at his experience, he is proud of the way his team always raised to the occasion.

"Each one of us has our own story and our own path that got us here," Davidheiser said. "That has made us so much stronger because we have these outside stories to draw from and think on how we can do things differently. As a whole, this class with the experience that we've had has the opportunity to turn bad experience to good."

Davidheiser, like many of his other teammates, said that he will always remember the upset over No. 2 Notre Dame last season. He said he was proud to see one of his best friends, Drew Roper, score such a big goal in the game.

Davidheiser is an Economics major and is moving west to Seattle, Wash. to take a job as a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual.

8840731.jpegConor Baucum (Chevy Chase, Md.)
Baucum has appeared in five career games for the Nittany Lions, including two this season against Binghamton and Saint Joseph's.

Growing up 30 minutes away from Towson, Baucum said that it was special having the Tigers be the team he ends his home career against. He knows that it is not the end and hopes that the team can keep winning this season.

"It's huge to have this be the celebration of our four years," Baucum said. "Even when I'm gone from here, I know I'll be coming back for games and I'm excited to be part of this family."

Baucum said that the relationships he made throughout his career are something he will remember for the rest of his life. He said that the win at Notre Dame was special to him, but for other reasons than his teammates.

"For me, the Notre Dame win was different," Baucum said. "My best friend was on Notre Dame and that was the only time we ever faced each other since high school.  Both of us being goalies, it was special and that was the only time I've ever beaten him."

Baucum is a Communications Arts and Sciences major and hopes to go into advertising after graduation.

8840734.jpegDavid Spadacene (Bethel Park, Pa.)
Spadacene transferred to Penn State after spending two years at Presbyterian College. He has not suited up for Nittany Lions in his two seasons, but is still a major contributor in the locker room. 

He said it is a sad experience going into the last game, but will cherish the time he had with his teammates.

"Being in the locker room at 5 a.m. on Friday mornings with the boys," Spadacene recalled as his favorite memory. "That anticipation going into workouts or practice and being with everyone and knowing it's that early in the morning and everyone is working hard is something I will always remember."

Spadacene is a Labor Studies Employment major and still has no plans for after graduation.

8840737.jpegJohn Cugini (Springfield, Pa.)
Another transfer, Cugini spent two years at Denver University before coming to Penn State. Cugini has not seen playing time during his two years at Penn State, but recalled being accepted with open arms by his teammates as his most memorable moment.

"My favorite memory is becoming a member of the team," Cugini. "It was really exciting to finally be able to play with all these guys. Just finally joining the group and being accepted at first was very memorable."

Cugini is proud of what he and the team have accomplished during his brief time at Penn State.

"It's sad, but exciting to know that we made it to this point of senior day because as a freshman you think it so far away," Cugini said. "It's sad, but it's an accomplishment that I made it this far."

Majoring in Biology, Cugini hopes to get his degree and enter a helping profession.

Tyler Schmitt
Schmitt is the team manager for the Nittany Lions and is bittersweet about the last home game. Although he will miss being around the team, he feels that the senior class is leaving Penn State a better place than when the class came in.

Schmitt said that the standards of Penn State lacrosse have drastically changed from when he came in as a freshman. He credits the coaching staff for continuing to raise the bar and that the sky is the limit for the program moving forward.

"I think it's amazing to see from a strategic management point of view," Schmitt said. "The goals that this program has set for itself and being able to achieve some of those things and still set higher and lofty goals have been phenomenal."

While playing the last home game last weekend was special, Schmitt will always remember all the fun and success the team had on the road.

"Just being on the road and bonding with the guys," Schmitt said. "Our record on the road is incredible. The time and comradery having meals and being on a set schedule with everyone together, we have had a lot of success. It's attested to the togetherness of the program and how we hold ourselves when we leave campus."

Schmitt will get his degree in Hotel Restaurant Institutional Management. After graduation, he will be working for a fast-casual restaurant group called the Taco Truck in the New York City area. Schmitt will be starting out in a management position of a brand new restaurant and hopes to grow with the young company.

Lions Stay Hot Behind Sanders, Seniors

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By Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- No. 11 Penn State men's lacrosse (9-3, 4-0 CAA) sent its seniors off in style with a 10-8 victory against Towson on Saturday at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

8833837.jpegThe senior day celebrations concluded with Penn State extending its winning streak to seven. The Nittany Lions now sit alone atop the very competitive CAA going into their final two conference games.

Freshman attacker TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) lead the way for the Nittany Lions with five goals, upping his total to 33 on the season.  Sanders was dangerous around the crease and also showed off his laser of a shot from range. Head coach Jeff Tambroni said that Sanders was very opportunistic in getting to scoring areas and making plays.

"I thought our guys did a good job of keeping their head up and locating him," Tambroni said. "Against a very good goalie I think he made the most of his chances. We talked a lot this week about making sure we were in a good shooting range to capitalize against this good goalie."

Senior midfielder Nick Dolik (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) celebrated his senior day with a goal and an assist on Sanders first goal just two minutes into the game. Dolik applauded the freshman's poise and preparation every day.

"He tries to improve his game every day even though he has been having success," Dolik said. "It's good to see a freshman like that stepping up. He's really grown up a lot this year."

Sanders hat trick gives him seven on the season. Tambroni said that he "can make bad offense look good" and that he has carried the offense on many occasions. But Sanders credits his teammates for his offensive success.

"I [have to] credit my teammates," Sanders said. "They are the ones who were finding me in those spots. Without them I wouldn't be able to do it."

Senior attacker Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) complemented Sanders with a goal and three assists in his last home game. Forster scored a highlight-reel, no-look goal in the fourth that Sanders had a perfect view of.

"I saw [Forster] back the guy down and I thought he was going to shoot it lefty," Sanders said, "but he spun and ripped it righty and it went under the goalie's arm. He placed it nice even though he wasn't looking."

Forster and Sanders have combined for 49 percent of Penn State's goals this season. Sanders said that he has learned a lot from Forster's experience.

"He has been right there for me from the first day," Sanders said. "He is a veteran, he's been here a while so he definitely helps me out a lot."

While Sanders performance propelled the Nittany Lions offense, the game was all about the seniors. Tamboni said that he is proud of this senior class that has been through a lot with coaching changes, transfers and injuries. He was pleased with the output from everyone in the win against Towson.

"Drew Roper (Columbus, Ohio) makes a play in this game to get TJ the ball to get us to 10 [goals] is symbolic with where these seniors are," Tambroni said. "There's a guy (Roper) who was on the bench for seven or eight games...and he makes a big play there at the end of the game."

Junior goalie Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) said that the seniors set the tone for the game and their leadership was critical in the win. Sanders echoed Kaut and sees senior leadership as a major ingredient for future success.

"Every team that wants to do something special in a season needs great senior leadership," Sanders said. "That's what we have so we have to keep working away."

Dolik said there weren't any added butterflies heading into his last home game. He was happy with the way the team performed to send the seniors off.

"As a senior I'm comfortable playing at our field," Dolik said. "It's crazy that [my senior day] is already here. I couldn't really believe it, but it was a fun one and I'm glad we came out with the win."

The Nittany Lions get back to work this week to prepare for a trip to Delaware to take on the Blue Hens Saturday.