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Win Over Michigan Serves as Milestone for Nittany Lions

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By Jackson Thibodeau, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- A halftime spark propelled the Penn State men's lacrosse team to a victory over Michigan on Saturday.

Following a slow start, the Nittany Lions came out of the locker room after halftime with a flurry of shot attempts and goals.


The slow start was characterized by turnovers and missed shots but was quickly turned around when Penn State scored nine times in the third quarter.

"In the first half we were playing as a group of individuals when we needed to play like a team," said freshman attack Pat Manley (Arnold, Md.).

Manley tallied a goal and an assist during the contest, making it the second-straight game with a score for the freshman.

For second-year coach Jeff Tambroni, the slow start could be attributed to the team's focus.

"I was hoping we would come out and establish a tone earlier in the game," Tambroni said. "Maybe our guys were a little too amped up and excited about playing for the first time on our new field."

The victory served as a milestone for the Nittany Lions, as it was their first ever win on the new Penn State Lacrosse Field and the first win of the Creator's Trophy series.

The Creator's Trophy is an award that was established by Coach Tambroni, Michigan head coach John Paul, and Ohio State head coach Nick Myers.

The trophy signifies the up-and-coming presence of lacrosse in the Big Ten Conference. One of the three Big Ten Conference lacrosse teams will be awarded the trophy each season if they can earn a perfect 2-0 record against their conference counterparts.

"This win was awesome for us," said senior attack Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.). "It was great to get a win in our first game on our new field and move one win closer to the Creator's Trophy."

Forster was one of nine Nittany Lions scoring in the game, as he tallied five total goals and three assists.

Along with his coaches and teammates, Forster was disappointed in his team's first half struggles.

"I thought we could have played a lot better in the first half," Forster said. "I was glad to see us get back to the basics, move the ball around and get everyone involved in the second half."

The win over the Wolverines does not only serve as the first of the season for the team, but also the first of what Tambroni describes as "phase one".

The team's first phase is described as the first five games of the season...two of which have already been played.

"Our goal is to win phase one," Tambroni said. "If we can go 3-2 or 4-1 in our first five games, we will feel like we have accomplished that goal and it would have been against some pretty good competition."

Penn State's 16-9 victory over Michigan evens the season record up at 1-1 in non-conference play.

The Nittany Lions will be in action again on Sunday, Feb. 26 when they travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame at 1 p.m.

Henneghan's Specialties Provide Team with Momentum

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By Jackson Thibodeau, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- As junior Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) steps up to the midfield line for an opening faceoff, he knows that he is not alone out there.

"We approach a faceoff in a very team-oriented aspect," said Henneghan. "When I head out to the midfield line, I know it's not just a battle between myself and my faceoff opponent. It is a combination of me, my teammates lined up on the wing, and our opponents."


The midfielder is entering his second season as the Nittany Lions' faceoff specialist and has won over half of the 300 faceoffs he has taken in games since suiting up in a Penn State uniform.

Faceoffs run in the family for the Henneghans, as Danny's brother Charley was also a faceoff specialist at Penn State from 2006-'09.

Faceoff successes appear as a single-man effort on the stat sheet, but the junior attributes his achievements to his teammates.

"I have to give the most credit to my teammate Tim Golder," said Henneghan. "I wouldn't be where I am today without him. He pushes me and makes me a lot better and I try to do the same for him."

Henneghan and sophomore attack Tim Golder (Cochranville, Pa.) compete in faceoff drills against one another in nearly every practice. While both players gain experience and knowledge from the drills, the loser of the drills is subject to pushups.

Henneghan is not the only Nittany Lion that attributes his faceoff success to teamwork, but coaches do as well.

"We are hoping that possession by committee is more of what we will become as a team as we work through the season," said Jeff Tambroni, who is entering his second season as Penn State's head coach.

Although the team plays a crucial role in improving Henneghan's chances of winning a faceoff, the entire squad gets a boost when the junior is playing well as an individual.

"When Danny plays well, we get an enormous advantage on the field in possession time and momentum," Tambroni said. "It is nice to have the luxury of a specialist like Danny with that mentality and capability."

The opening faceoff in Saturday's game against Michigan will be more than a routine start to a contest for Henneghan and the Nittany Lions. It will be the beginning of a new legacy that Penn State lacrosse is striving to create.

"I can't wait to get out on our brand new field in front of our fans," said Henneghan. "It should be quite the experience walking out for that opening faceoff for the first game at our new home."

Henneghan and the Nittany Lions look to significantly improve their faceoff win percentage in this game compared to the last outing at the season opener against North Carolina. In 28 faceoff attempts, the team only won nine, contributing to North Carolina's control of possession and eventual victory.

"I just need to get back to basics," said Henneghan. "I need to stop worrying about what the referees and my opponents are doing and instead I need to focus on myself and what I have done in faceoffs throughout my career."

The Penn State men's lacrosse team will take their new field for the first time this Saturday at 1 p.m. against the Michigan Wolverines.

Intensity Runs High at Season-Opening Scrimmage

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By Jackson Thibodeau, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Penn State men's lacrosse team opened the exhibition season on Saturday afternoon against Army.

For head coach Jeff Tambroni, the exhibition game served as an important experience-builder for the young team.

7385219.jpeg"It is very important for our young guys to get experience this early in the season," said Tambroni. "This game had the potential to break in our freshman pretty quickly, given the athleticism and physicality that Army plays with."

Freshman Pat Manley (Arnold, Md.) wasn't phased by the speed of Division I athletics in his first collegiate game against opponents other than his own teammates.

"The pace of the game was definitely faster than high school," said Manley. "I felt prepared for the speed from our preseason and fall practices."

Manley and his teammates were pleased with the crowd drawn inside of Holuba Hall for the contest.

"We tried to get the word out about our scrimmage," said senior Matt Mackrides (Newtown Square, Pa.). "It was really nice to look over and see our fans cheering us on and giving us a good show."

The Nittany Lions are hoping that they can continue to draw big crowds, especially with the addition of a new lacrosse-only facility to call home.

"We understand that we are in the middle of a building process," said Tambroni. "We have to put a product on the field that people will want to come out and support."

Coaches and players hope that intensity and execution can assist in creating the crowd-drawing product that they strive for.

"The intensity on our sideline is awesome," said Mackrides. "I love playing for these guys and this team because when you make a play out there, they scream for you. The intensity was high and that's the way it should be."

The Nittany Lions will face Johns Hopkins next Saturday in Baltimore, Md., and will look to bring that same intensity against a perennial power in college lacrosse.

The game will be the second and final exhibition game of the preseason before the Nittany Lions open the regular season against North Carolina in Kennesaw, Ga.

"This is a huge week for us because it is really our last week of preparation before we start playing for real," said assistant coach Peter Toner. "We have to play with intensity for 60 straight minutes when we face Johns Hopkins next Saturday."

Some players suggest that they have to bring more than just intensity into next weekend's contest.

"We need to bring heart," said sophomore goalkeeper Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.), "We have to come out flying around and execute all of the small details. We have to make sure we do everything right."

Executing and focusing on the small details was something that the team did well in Saturday's first scrimmage against Army.

Coaches and players saw an upside to their game, but scrimmages are used as building blocks for the regular season.

"I am hopeful that we will learn a lot from this game," said Tambroni. "We had some highs in the first half but some real lows in the second half. We have to do a better job of tightening up."

The Nittany Lions will play away games the next two weekends, before returning to University Park for their regular season home opener against Michigan on Sat., Feb. 18.

Nittany Lions Eager to Begin 2012 Season

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By Jackson Thibodeau, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- As the opening faceoff inches closer for the Penn State men's lacrosse team, coaches and captains stress the importance of focus and detail to the team.

Less than one year ago, the Nittany Lions were ousted from the playoffs in an overtime loss to UMass in the Colonial Athletic Association semifinals. With the heartbreaking loss still fresh in their minds, coaches and players look to learn from last year's mistakes.


"The game last year against UMass is something that gets us motivated," said senior captain Ryan McGarvey (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.). "We are going to bring a lot of focus to every single play and detail this year, which could have helped us avoid that loss last season."

The goal that abruptly ended the Nittany Lions' season came just 1:37 into the overtime period, effectively ending Jeff Tambroni's inaugural season as head coach of Penn State (7-7, 4-2 CAA).

This season, the coaching staff has expectations of the team to exceed last year's win total.

"Everyone being a year older is going to help us out this season," said Peter Toner, entering his second season as assistant coach. "We played a tough schedule, got a playoff opportunity against UMass, and hopefully it lights a little fire in their belly with the way it ended last year."

The Nittany Lions have only four seniors on the roster entering this new season. The team may not consist of many veterans, but they insist that leadership and success are found in other forms.

"We come together very closely as a group," McGarvey said. "The leadership on our team comes from the whole collective group, not just a few is a collective effort."

Leading a team that consists mainly of freshmen and sophomores presents a very important role for the team captains.

"We need to bring the young guys on board and make them realize how important every season is," said senior captain Matt Mackrides (Newtown Square, Pa.). "We want to get as far as possible. Our goal is always that National Championship, but we are just going to move one day at a time."

Surrounding the lacrosse program is the hype of the newly constructed lacrosse field near the Bryce Jordan Center. The new field, constructed of a synthetic FieldTurf, lays lower in the ground for better sight lines and improved visibility of the ball.

The major construction finished recently, allowing for the men and women's teams to begin using the field for practice and games if the weather permits.

"The new field is very exciting for us as players," said senior captain Ryan Link (Englewood, Co.). "We will be the first to get out there and cement our legacy on that field. Penn State lacrosse is starting to generate a lot of excitement across campus."

The field is intended for lacrosse only activities, and provides a home to the lacrosse program after years of playing on numerous fields around campus. Not only does it benefit the current program, but also has meaning for recruiting.

"Our recruits will get to see the level of commitment that the athletic department has in Penn State lacrosse," Toner said. "Now it is up to the team to work hard every day to make sure that we are taking this program in the right direction."

The Nittany Lions hope to host their first game on the new field on March 10 against Denver.

Before the season officially gets under way, Penn State will play in two exhibition games. The Nittany Lions will host their first exhibition game on Sat., Jan. 28 at 1 p.m. against Army in Holuba Hall. The next exhibition game will be played on Sat., Feb. 4 vs. Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Md.

"While we love scrimmaging against each other, it is great to get another opponent out there on the field," Mackrides said. "It motivates us in practice to know that Army is coming in just a few days or that Johns Hopkins, one of the best teams in the country, is just in a couple of weeks."

The Nittany Lions will open the regular season on the road on Sat., Feb. 11 against North Carolina in Kennesaw, Ga.

Men's Lacrosse Traveling to Play for Parkinson's Series

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By Cassie Speno, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The men's lacrosse team will travel to Alexandria, Va. this weekend to participate in the Parkinson's Lacrosse Series. The tournament will take place at Episcopal High School and feature 12 outstanding men's and women's teams from across the country.


The series, in an effort to benefit the ProjectSpark foundation, will help in raising money toward finding a cure for Parkinson's disease. The teams and coaches are looking forward to an exciting weekend and helping contribute toward a great cause.

The six-featured men's teams are set to play on Saturday.  Penn State will kick the tournament off against Army at 9 a.m and close the tournament against Johns Hopkins at 1 p.m.

Head coach Jeff Tambroni says the team is looking forward to the tough competition and being a part of the fight against Parkinson's.

"We are excited to play teams like Army and Johns Hopkins," said Tambroni. "These teams have been in the playoffs over the last couple of years and will be considered some of the nation's top 10-to-20 teams. It will be great in helping us measure our guys up. It allows us to build a depth chart as we move out of the fall and into the spring.  Our number one priority is going to the tournament and playing hard, but not putting too much stock on the score."

While competition is important for the squad, it is not the only focus during the fall season for the Nittany Lions.

"We have tried not to put too much emphasis on this particular competition or our scrimmages in the fall," said Tambroni. "While competition is important, we put more emphasis in the off season on our physical conditioning and the chemistry of our team. Going out there we hope we are going to play hard and play together."

This is the first year the Penn State men's lacrosse team will take part in the tournament. Christian Cook, a former Princeton lacrosse player, established the tournament last year. The idea behind ProjectSpark sponsoring the Parkinson's Lacrosse Series is to highlight young male and female athletes who are fortunate enough to be able to play "the fastest game on two feet" in order to help those whose own mobility suffers from this disease.

Tambroni says the team and coaching staff are honored to not only participate in the tournament, but also contribute toward to the cause.

"We talk to our guys a lot about doing something far greater than just themselves," said Tambroni. "Being a part of not just the program, but also the event and the sport of lacrosse itself to create notoriety not just for Penn State or the sport, but something outside of those things. So this couldn't be a better lineup for us. Aside from playing great competition, being a part of something that's going to help Parkinson's is just a wonderful thing and hopefully it will be a great turn out and experience for all of us."

The Nittany Lions will begin their travel by bus to Alexandria, Va. on Friday.  With two days of travel the squad is looking forward to building team chemistry and preparing for road games in the future.

"We have some really important away games early on in the spring," said Tambroni. "Traveling to play UNC, Notre Dame and Ohio State. So this is an opportunity to get our guys on the bus and give them an opportunity to find a routine. This is great way for the freshman to get a feel for how we get into the locker room, how we dress, how we get on the bus, the expectations of how we travel and what we expect the evening before we compete. It's a great way for the team to learn how to prepare themselves mentally from the hotel, to the locker room, to the field. Those are things that can't be replicated unless you actually go out and do them. "

After the Nittany Lions scrimmage Johns Hopkins on Saturday at 1 p.m. the team's fall season culminates and the squad will look ahead to the spring season.

Nittany Lions Fall to UMass, Reflect On Season

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By Will Donley, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One year removed from a 2-11 season, the Penn State men's lacrosse team battled UMass Wednesday for a bid to the CAA Conference Championship game.  With a win against the Minutemen, the Nittany Lions would have hosted the championship game Saturday night against the Delaware Blue Hens.


After leading 4-1 at halftime, the Nittany Lions gave up seven goals in the third quarter.  UMass capitalized on Penn State's violations at the face off and failed clearing attempts to secure an 8-6 lead heading in the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, junior attackman Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.) scored a man-up goal to bring Penn State within one goal of Umass.  Less than a minute later, Minuteman Art Kell scored his fourth goal of the game to extend the lead back to two goals.

Sophomore midfielder Kyle Van Thof (Penfield, N.Y.) and Forster each tallied their second goals of the game to tie the score 9-9.  Despite last minute efforts by UMass's Anthony Biscardi, the game remained tied at the end of regulation.

Penn State's Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) won the overtime draw, but the Nittany Lions generated only one shot and failed to score.

UMass' Biscardi scored the game-winning goal with 2:23 remaining in the overtime period to secure the Minutemen's bid to the CAA Conference Championship game.  UMass will return home to take on Delaware in Amherst, Mass. on Saturday.

Penn State finished the season 7-7 overall, including a win over No. 16 UMass earlier in the season.  The Nittany Lions finished 4-3 in the conference and earned a No. 2 seed in the conference tournament in only their second year competing in the CAA.

Penn State was led all season by a strong combination of veteran upperclassman and talented underclassman.  Freshman Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) finished the season with 34 points, leading all Nittany Lions.  He scored 18 goals and tallied 16 assists on the year.

Junior attackman Matthew Mackrides (Newtown Square, Pa.) led the Nittany Lions in goals with 20.  He added 10 assists for 20 points this season.

Henneghan led Penn State in ground balls, picking up 71 on the year.  Henneghan finished the season 139-266 for a .523 winning percentage at the face off.

Freshman goalie Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) finished the year with a 7.90 goals against average and a .635 save percentage.

The Nittany Lions will graduate 11 seniors this spring, but the team is poised to make another CAA Conference Championship run under the guidance of Mackrides, Ryan McGarvey (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.), Ryan Link (Englewood, Colo.) and David Baker (Havertown, Pa.).

Though this will be a small group of seniors, these players have already made significant contributions to the Penn State men's lacrosse program.

Coach Jeff Tambroni and his staff will also welcome their first recruiting class to campus next fall.  Expect the Nittany Lions to again rely on veteran upperclassman and talented underclassman as they try to earn a bid to the NCAA postseason tournament next year.

Will Donley, Senior Attackman, Penn State Men's Lacrosse Team,

Tambroni and Staff Gameplan For Hofstra's Canadian-Born Scorers

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By Will Donley, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Canadian-born lacrosse players are popping up on college lacrosse rosters all over the country.  These players are not sitting idly on the sideline, either.  They are on the field making their mark on NCAA lacrosse.


Every lacrosse fan is aware of the impact that Canadian-born lacrosse players are having on college lacrosse.  It seems that every team has a Canadian-born player - generally a pure goal scorer - leading the way.  This trend is not new to the 21st century.  These players have been scoring goals for college lacrosse teams for years.

The most famous Canadian-born duo must be Gary and Paul Gait.  This set of twins exploded onto the college lacrosse scene in 1897.  With confidence, bravado and a flair for the dramatic, the Gaits won three championships at Syracuse.  They continued their successes after college, winning championships - indoors and outdoors - and earning Hall of Fame inductions in 2005.

Delaware's John Grant, Jr. was not far behind the Gaits.  Entering NCAA lacrosse in 1998, Grant, Jr. only played two years for the Blue Hens.  He is, perhaps, the most decorated lacrosse player of all time.  With indoor and outdoor championships, as well as world championships, and individual player of the year awards, Grant, Jr. is one of the most recognizable Canadian-born lacrosse players.

There have been contemporary Canadian-born lacrosse players that have made their mark, as well.  Virginia's A.J. Shannon helped lead the Cavaliers to the NCAA Championship in 2003.  After spending time at Duke and Bryant, Zack Greer finished his college lacrosse career in 2009 as the NCAA's all-time leader in goals and in points.

Coach Tambroni and his staff are well aware of the potent scoring abilities of players with names like the Gait, Grant, Jr., Shannon and Greer.  This week, though, they are much more concerned about players with names like Card and Lincoln.

Jay Card (Caledon, Ontario) and Jamie Lincoln (St. Catharines, Ontario) are first and second, respectively, in scoring for Hofstra.  They are dynamic Canadian-born finishers that can score from anywhere on the field.

Card, a senior attackman, leads the Pride with 40 points.  He has tallied 27 goals and added 13 assists.  Card is a two-time honorable mention All American.

Lincoln, also a senior attackman, has scored 27 goals and added eight assists for 35 points this spring.  He also earned honorable mention All American laurels last year.  Lincoln transferred to Hofstra last year after playing two seasons for Denver.  There, he scored 53 goals and added six assists in only 26 games.

In the fashion of most Canadian-born players, Card and Lincoln only play with their dominant hands.  Because Card is right-handed and Lincoln is left-handed, however, they provide a balance to Hofstra's offense.

Defenses must content with Card on the right-handed wing and Lincoln on the left-handed wing.  If either player is neglected, he is savvy enough to get himself open to catch the ball and score.

When given the opportunity to work together, either on or off the ball, they are as deadly a combination as any in NCAA lacrosse.  Five of Lincoln's eight assists have come on Card goals.  Card has assisted Lincoln three times this season, as well.


The Nittany Lion defense must smother this potent duo must with tough on-ball defense and team-defense fundamentals.  If Penn State's short stick defensive midfielders can stifle Hofstra's initiators, then the Nittany Lion defense will not have to slide and will be able to cover the Pride's off-ball players like Card and Lincoln.  When they do have to slide to Hofstra's initiators, the Penn State defense will have to rotate quickly to cover Card and Lincoln, who both have the ability to find shooting space.

Card and Lincoln are crafty players, though.  Regardless of how well the Nittany Lions play on defense, these two Canadian-born players will get open for scoring opportunities.  When that happens, Penn State's freshman goalie Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) will have to contend with their quick releases.  Kaut will have to anticipate their shots.  Otherwise, the ball may be in the back of the net before he has the chance to react.

Penn State has its own Canadian-born player to compete with Hofstra.  This Nittany Lion does not score goals like Card and Lincoln, though.  He defends them.

Freshman defenseman Ryne Sternberg (Toronto, Ontario) has started four games for the Nittany Lions.  He has seen significant time in all of Penn State's games this spring, either at close defense or as a long stick defensive midfielder.  Sternberg is a tremendous athlete that can run with any player in the country.

Sternberg and the rest of the Nittany Lions take on the Pride this Saturday at 7 p.m. in Hempstead, N.Y.  With a No. 1 seed for the CAA tournament on the line, expect added physicality and intensity throughout the game.  Too, Hofstra will be looking for revenge after Penn State defeated the pride last season in overtime.

Will Donley, Senior Attackman, Penn State Men's Lacrosse Team,

Nittany Lions Put Together Complete Game, Defeat Delaware

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By Will Donley, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It is easy to tell when a lacrosse ball hits one of the three posts of the lacrosse goal.  That gut-wrenching sound pangs the hearts of the offensive team that barely missed a goal.  But as the sound resonates throughout the stadium, it sends a wave of relief over the team on defense.


The Delaware Blue Hens hit six posts Saturday night.  Even though these six shots, if scored, would not have changed to final outcome of the game as it stands - Penn State defeating Delaware 13-3 - even one goal may have changed the dynamics of the game as it was being played.

The Nittany Lions used a little luck and a little momentum to get out to a three-goal lead at the end of the first quarter.

Junior attackman Matthew Mackrides (Newtown Square, Pa.) scored two of his four goals in the first quarter.  He added a third-quarter assist to lead all scorers with five points on the night.

Freshman attackman Gavin Ahern (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) recorded his first career hat trick against the Blue Hens.

The Nittany Lion extra-man unit improved upon its meager numbers.  Going into the game against Delaware, Penn State was 8-40 on man-up opportunities this spring.  Against the Blue Hens, the Nittany Lions were 2-4 on man-up chances.

Sophomore attackman Billy Gribbin (Rockville, Md.) scored a man-up goal off of a Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) assist in the third quarter.  Sturgis' assist extended his point-scoring streak to 10 games.  He leads all Nittany Lion scorers with 32 points off of 16 goals and 16 assists.

Mackrides tallied a man-up goal in the fourth quarter to extend Penn State's lead to 13-3.

Defensively, the Nittany Lions put up their best numbers of the season.  The defensive unit gave up 39 shots, many of which were contested and off target.  Freshman goalie Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) recorded 11 saves and only three goals against.  He continues to lead all Division I goalies with a .642 save percentage.

Penn State's success on defense transitioned into the offensive end of the field.  Senior defensive midfielder Matt Shankoff (Flemington, N.J.) scored his first goal of the season against the Blue Hens.  The third quarter goal was Shankoff's third career goal.

After their win over the Blue Hens, the Nittany Lions have moved into the top 20 of the USILA Division I Coaches Poll.  They take on the 8th-ranked Hofstra Pride this Saturday in Hempstead, N.Y.  The Pride are 12-1 on the season, including their a recent 14-5 win over UMass.

The winner of next weekend's game will earn a No. 1 seed in the CAA conference tournament.  In order to defeat the Pride, the Nittany Lions will have to put together another complete game on Saturday night.  Expect Penn State's upperclassman to continue to step up and lead the team into the CAA tournament.

Will Donley, Senior Attackman, Penn State Men's Lacrosse Team,

Nittany Lions Look To Improve Their Luck In Conference Play

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By Will Donley, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the Nittany Lions, the road to the NCAA postseason tournament first makes a pit stop at the CAA championship.  Wouldn't it be nice if that road also travelled through Happy Valley?


The Colonial Athletic Association conference championship is held at the home venue of the highest seeded team.  Tied for second in the CAA, Penn State is in position to take over the CAA standings with a win against Delaware this Saturday.  The Nittany Lions can then control their fate with one game remaining on the regular season schedule - a conference showdown against Hofstra that may decide the location of the conference championship.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet.  Let's take it one game at a time.  Without a win Saturday night against Delaware, none of this is possible.

The Nittany Lions do not exactly have a great history of conference success.  Last spring, in the team's first season competing in the CAA, Penn State was 1-4 in the conference.  The Nittany Lions' only win came in overtime against Hofstra.

Prior to joining the CAA, Penn State competed in the East Coast Athletic Association (ECAC).  The ECAC consisted of talented teams like Loyola, Georgetown, UMass and Rutgers.

A founding member of the ECAC lacrosse league in 2000, the Nittany Lions experienced mixed success in 10 years of competition.  Penn State finished 28-31 all time in ECAC conference play.  The Nittany Lions only topped the league once in 2005 when it shared the title with UMass.

But, this is the CAA we are talking about.  The game is a little bit faster.  The players are a little bit more athletic.  The game plans are a little bit savvier.

The winner of the CAA receives an automatic bid to the NCAA postseason tournament.  Last season's champion, Delaware, played North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  The Blue Hens lost 14-13.

Villanova won the CAA in 2009.  The Wildcats lost to the Virginia Cavaliers 18-6 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The last CAA champion to make it past the first round of the NCAA tournament was Delaware in 2007.  That year, the Blue Hens made it all the way to the NCAA semifinals before losing to Johns Hopkins.  Along the way, Delaware upset teams like UMBC and Virginia.

This season, there are two CAA teams ranked in the USILA Division I Coaches Poll. Delaware is ranked No. 19, and Hofstra is sitting at No. 8 in the poll. 

Hofstra is in position to make the NCAA tournament without winning the conference title.  The Pride are 11-1 on the season.

Delaware, like Penn State, needs a conference title in order to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament.  That makes Saturday's game even more important.  The Blue Hens are playing at home, under the lights, on senior night and in the university's football stadium.  They should have no trouble getting excited for this one.

The Nittany Lions must weather the storm early.  If Penn State can withstand Delaware's fury through the first 10 minutes of play, the Nittany Lions will be in position to defeat the Blue Hens late in the game.

Will Donley, Senior Attackman, Penn State Men's Lacrosse Team,

Penn State Must Capitalize On Delaware's Over-aggressiveness

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By Will Donley, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The biggest.  The strongest.  The most penalized?  This is the life of a college lacrosse defensemen.  These players are generally the strongest and most athletic individuals on the field.  Sometimes, that athleticism works against them, as their size often draws the attention of the officials.

Penn State takes on Delaware this Saturday at 7 p.m. in Newark, Del.  With a rangy and aggressive defense, the Blue Hens are one of the most penalized teams in Division I college lacrosse.  Because the team gives up so many extra-man opportunities, Delaware allows 9.00 goals per game - good for 30th overall in the nation.


The Blue Hens have been penalized 66 times this spring.  Their penalty minutes amount to 53 minutes.  Delaware's opponents have been penalized only 43 times.  Combined, their penalty minutes amount to more than 37 minutes.

Senior defenseman Matt Stefurak (Smithtown, N.Y.) leads the Blue Hens with seven penalties for six minutes.

Three other Delaware defensemen have been penalized five times this season.  Redshirt-freshman Will Wojciechowski (Columbus, N.J.), junior John Bastone (Plainview, N.Y.) and sophomore Connor Fitzgerald (Mount Sinai, N.Y.) have spent more than 13 minutes in the penalty box, combined.

Senior Andrew Rohacik (Washington, D.C.) is the only Blue Hen midfielder that has been penalized five times.  A defensive midfielder with face off capabilities, Rohacik spends much of his time at the defensive end of the field.

The Blue Hen defense extends all over the field in order to put pressure on opposing offenses.  By getting these offenses out of their rhythm, Delaware strives to dictate the tempo of the game.

The Nittany Lions must maintain their composure of offense.  Penn State can use Delaware's over-aggressiveness to its advantage by protecting the ball and running by the Blue Hen defensemen.  This will create unsettled situations that - assuming the Nittany Lions can slickly handle the ball - will result in goal-scoring opportunities.

Penn State, however, will have to stay out of the penalty box Saturday night.  The Nittany Lions have peen penalized 48 times this season.  The Penn State players have spent more than 37 minutes in the penalty box.

Because of these low numbers, The Nittany Lions are ranked 18th in the nation, giving up only 8.18 goals per game.

Penn State's opponents have been penalized 41 times this season.  Combined, the Nittany Lions' opponents have racked up over 30 penalty minutes.

Senior defensemen Billy Davis leads Penn State in penalties and penalty minutes with 10 penalties and nine penalty minutes.

Junior defenseman Ryan McGarvey (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.) and senior defensive midfielder Matt Shankoff (Flemington, N.J.) each have been penalized five times.  They combine for eight penalty minutes this spring.

Junior attackman Matthew Mackrides (Newtown Square, Pa.) has also been penalized five times.  Due to the nature of his penalties, though, Mackrides has only spent three and a half minutes in the penalty box.

Each of these players is extremely important to the success of the Penn State men's lacrosse team.  The more time they spend on the field, the better it is for the Nittany Lions.  If these key players are able to stay out of the penalty box Saturday night at Delaware, Penn State has an opportunity to overtake the Blue Hens for first place in the CAA.

Will Donley, Senior Attackman, Penn State Men's Lacrosse Team,