Nittany Lion Lacrosse Team Ready for 2010 Season -- Season Primer
Jan. 26, 2010
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lion lacrosse team heads into the 2010 season looking to make an impact during its first year in the Colonial Athletic Association. Head coach Glenn Thiel's squad enters the new campaign with a new conference to play in and fresh post-season goals.
Penn State will open up the regular season at home, facing Robert Morris in Holuba Hall on Saturday, Feb. 20. But before that opener, the Nittany Lions will take part in two scrimmages. Penn State will scrimmage Hobart on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 1 p.m. in Holuba Hall and then welcome the Iroquois Nationals to Holuba on Sunday, Feb. 14.
Thiel's Lions are coming off a solid 9-5 season that saw them end the year on a six game win streak and end the campaign ranked No. 16 in the final Coaches Poll. But gone for Penn State is All-ECAC goalie Drew Adams and leading scorer Rob Forster. Anchoring the returning Nittany Lion veterans will be a trio of midfielders serving as tri-captains this year.
Joe Britt (Fairfax, Va.), Chris Hogan (Wyckoff, N.J.) and Brian Shea (Gaithersburg, Md.) will look to lead a young Penn State squad into action this year and hold firm as a talented Penn State defense looks to stand firm while the Nittany Lions gain experience in the net. "We have goalies that are working hard and will continue to do so as they grow into that position," Thiel said. "While we may give up some goals early in the season that we've gotten accustomed to Drew Adams stopping, I'm confident that our defense will do everything it can to take the pressure of the net while our goalkeeping matures."
Junior John Nichols (Myersville, Md.) leads a trio of keepers that includes freshman Dave Baker (Havertown, Pa.) and Conor Baucum (Chevy Chase, Md.). Nichols has played in four games during his first two seasons, sporting a 9.0 goals against average in just under 14:00 of playing time.
Penn State's defense will be led by three returning starters. Junior Matt Bernier (Drexel Hill, Pa.), senior Kevin Etter (Severna Park, Md.) and sophomore Billy Davis (Paoli, Pa.) all return and will lead a charge that features a veteran line-up of players who Thiel will rely on to hold firm against the opponent's attack.
"We feel like we can play solid defense, keeping things a little tighter or sliding a little later to give us the presence we need in front of the goal to succeed," Thiel said. "We won't change our style too much, but we will definitely play tighter to the cage to help out where we can."
The Nittany Lion midfield defense will be led by senior Earl Ross (Shoreham, Vt.), freshman Tyler Travis (Geneva, N.Y.), junior Greg Brown (Doylestown, Pa.), senior J.J. Elmer (West Chester, Pa.) and senior Kevin Joyce (Montclair, N.J.). The short sticks will feature captain Shea and junior Matt Shankoff (Flemington, N.J.) as well as freshman Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) and junior Billy Lloyd (West Chester, Pa.). Pushing the ball from the midfield will be captain Britt, sophomore Ryan Link (Englewood, Colo.), sophomore Conrad Ridgway (Audubon, Pa.) and a strong cadre of experienced players. Senior Charley Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Pa.) will get his turns on the face-off but will also see more time in more game situations outside face-offs.
"Our midfielders are experienced and will really help us set the tempo and try to control the pace of the game," Thiel said. "We have the ability to play a couple different styles, depending on the opponent, and having a core of middies who have been around the game for a while will be a plus for us in that measure."
Leading the charge for the Penn State offense will be sophomore Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.), who looks to return from off-season surgery, Hogan from the midfield spot, and sophomore Matthew Mackrides (Newtown Square, Pa.). Between the three of them, they comprise -- along with Vosburgh and Shea -- five of last year's top six scorers. Hogan ended the year with 34 points off 29 goals and five assists while Forster had 34 off 22 and 12. Mackrides hit for 28 points off 15 goals and a team-best 13 assists while Vosburgh and Shea contributed 17 and 15 points respectively. Add to that freshmen Nick Dolic (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) and Billy Gribbin (Rockville, Md.) and Penn State's attack appears ready to roll.
"Offensively, I feel like we've got the piece here to put together a potent attack," Thiel said. "One Jack comes back in full, we will be able to pressure our opponents and play with the poise and composure we will need to be successful."
Penn State's first year in the Colonial Athletic Association will feature a seven game home schedule and road trips to Notre Dame, Rutgers and Duke in March. The CAA, featuring Penn State, UMass, Drexel, Hofstra, Towson and Delaware, has a post-season conference championship that puts the top four teams in the regular season standings into a four-team tournament to determine the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
"Joining the CAA is a big plus for our guys because they know that no one game is going to decide their chances early on," Thiel said. "We can control our own destiny by playing consistent ball during the year and working to finish in the top four in the conference. If we can do that, we give ourselves a shot at earning an automatic bid by winning the conference tournament. It's exciting and it gives you something to play for."