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Short-stick Michael Richards will be a vital cog to the Nittany Lion midfield this season.
Feb. 1, 2013
UPDATE: Doors will open earlier than previously announced.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 15th-ranked Penn State men's lacrosse team hosts No. 4 Johns Hopkins in a Saturday scrimmage at Holuba Hall at 1:00 p.m. Every fan will receive team posters.
The Nittany Lions, who return 77 percent of their scoring, seven starters and 31 letterwinners from last year, face 2012 NCAA quarterfinalist Johns Hopkins in a preseason tuneup in University Park. Penn State looks to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005, while the Blue Jays are in search of their 42nd consecutive NCAA bid.
Johns Hopkins returns eight starters, seven of its top eight scorers and 31 letterwinners from a year ago. The Blue Jays went 12-4 last season, while Penn State went 9-6.
The matchup features two former Cornell coaches in PSU's Jeff Tambroni and JHU's Dave Pietramala. Those two are among the winningest active coaches in NCAA Division I lacrosse. Entering the season, Tambroni is 125-63 overall with a .702 winning percentage ranking fifth, while Pietramala is 161-62 (.722) and ranks fourth. Tambroni headed the Big Red from 2001-10, while Pietramala headed the Cornell bunch from 1997-2000.
Leading the Penn State offense are Jack Forster (Jenkintown, Pa.), Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) and Nick Dolik (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.). Those three combined to score 64 goals and 30 assists for 94 points last season. Factor in the likes of Gavin Ahern (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) with his 13 goals and Tom Lacrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.) with his nine from a year ago, Penn State sits comfortably heading into the new season.
While the defense is young, Penn State's strength is in net with Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.), a two-time All-American. Kaut has a lifetime 8.05 goals-against average and has made over 160 saves in each of his first two seasons in Happy Valley.
In front of Kaut, Penn State will rely on Kessler Brown (Springfield, Va.), Steven Bogert (Carlsbad, Calif.), Jack Donnelly (Toronto, Ont.), Michael Richards (Skaneateles, N.Y.), Tyler Travis (Geneva, N.Y.) and JP Burnside (Garden City, N.Y.). Those six midfielders and defensemen accounted for 93 ground balls and 60 caused turnovers last season.
The Nittany Lions face a Blue Jay squad that features five 2013 preseason All-Americans as named by Inside Lacrosse. Tucker Durkin was a 2012 All-American at defense, Rob Guida scored 28 points at midfield and Zach Palmer had 53 points in attack. Another dangerous midfielder for JHU is John Ranagan, a two-time All-American and has 69 points in his career. Pierce Bassett anchors the Blue Jays in net, registering a 7.47 goals-against average last season and is in his third year as the starting goalie.
Last week, both teams took part in scrimmages with Penn State visiting Army and Ohio State at Johns Hopkins. Next week, Penn State travels to Ann Arbor, Mich. to face the Wolverines of Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 9. JHU hosts Siena at Homewood field on Friday, Feb. 8.
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