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Jan. 22, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's lacrosse team is set to host Lehigh Thursday evening at Holuba Hall in the first exhibition contest of the 2014 season. Action starts at 5:45 p.m. to the open scrimmage as fans will receive schedule posters, while supplies last.
The Nittany Lions, who feature a stout defense that ranked second in the nation a year ago (7.59 goals against per game) with everyone returning this season, host a like-minded defensive Mountain Hawk side. Lehigh made its second trip to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Patriot League by allowing just 7.94 goals per game, tied for sixth in the nation.
Inside Lacrosse and Lacrosse Magazine have each tabbed Penn State eighth in its preseason polls, while Lehigh comes in at No. 16 in the Lacrosse Magazine poll.
Penn State, led by fourth-year head coach Jeff Tambroni, led the Nittany Lions to one of its finest seasons in school history in 2013. Penn State amassed a school-record 12 victories, an undefeated regular season CAA title and its third NCAA Tournament appearance, which happened to be Penn State's first home NCAA game.
The Nittany Lions return 2013 USILA All-America First-Team and Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Jr. Award winner Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.). Also returning is 2013 leading scorer and CAA Rookie of the Year, sophomore TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.), who tallied 44 goals last season along with senior attackman Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) with his 27 goals. Senior midfielder Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.) rounds out the attacking presence following his career season of 23 goals, which earned him an All-CAA First Team honor.
Earlier this month, Kaut and LaCrosse were drafted by Major League Lacrosse's Boston Cannons and the Rochester Rattlers, respectively. Kaut was the 19th overall pick, while LaCrosse was the 60th selection. It was the first time in school history two Nittany Lions went in the same collegiate draft.
Everyone on defense is back for the Nittany Lions including starting close defenders: junior Jack Donnelly (Toronto, Ont.), redshirt-senior Tyler Travis (Geneva, N.Y.), junior JP Burnside (Garden City, N.Y.). The dynamic trio of long-stick midfielders is also set for another season in Happy Valley: senior Kessler Brown (Springfield, Va.), senior Steven Bogert (Carlsbad, Calif.) and sophomore James Burke (Duxbury, Mass.). Travis and Bogert were All-CAA First Team honorees last season, while Burke was an All-CAA Freshman Team mention.
As for Lehigh, the Hawks went 12-5 with a perfect 6-0 mark in Patriot League play. LU lost two of its top three scorers in David DiMaria (33 goals, 40 assists) and Dante Fantone (27 goals, 20 assists), but return Dan Taylor (29 goals, 21 assists) and Patrick Corbett (23 goals, 3 assists). In net is shot blocker Matt Poillon, a two-time USILA honorable mention All-American. Poillon stopped nearly 60 percent of the shots he saw on frame and posted a GAA of 7.92 in 14 games.
This is the first tuneup for the Nittany Lions before traveling to future Big Ten rival Johns Hopkins Feb. 1 for its second and final exhibition game. Penn State's 2014 regular-season campaign kicks off with a home game on Feb. 8 against Michigan at 1 p.m. at Holuba Hall.