Nittany Lions Eager to Begin 2012 Season
Jan. 25, 2012
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
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 seniors...it 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.