PLAYER BLOG: Penn State Grinds Out Win Over Binghamton
Feb. 21, 2011
By Will Donley, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
There was nothing pretty about Penn State's win Saturday against Binghamton on Bigler Field. Still, a win is a win, and there were flashes of brilliance that showcased the potential of the Nittany Lions this season.
Nittany Lion lacrosse fans did not have to wait long to celebrate Saturday. Following a face off violation by Binghamton's Jeff Donigan (Skaneateles, N.Y.), Penn State's Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.) dished the ball off to sophomore Nick Dolik (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) who scored nine seconds into the game. Junior attackman Matt Mackrides (Newtown Square, Pa.) scored on the Nittany Lions' next possession to make the score 2-0 in less than a minute of play.
The Bearcats would not be denied, however. Sophomore attackman Matt Springer (Hamburg, N.Y.) netted back-to-back goals to tie the game 2-2 at the end of the first quarter. Springer finished the day with four goals on seven shots to lead Binghamton.
With what proved to be a lethal combination, Penn State relied on a young but potent offense, strong face off play and great team defense for the rest of the game to grind out the win.
Freshmen Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.) and Tommy LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.) each netted a goal for the Nittany Lions. Sophomore Kyle Van Thof (Penfield, N.Y.) added an extra-man goal in the fourth quarter.
Henneghan proved that he would have no trouble filling in for his older brother, Charley, at the face off this spring. The sophomore face off midfielder went 16-19 on Saturday with a .842 winning percentage. Henneghan also finished the game with four ground balls.
The Penn State defense shined on Saturday despite giving up a handful of goals on the crease. The Nittany Lions held the Bearcats to only 20 shots and seven goals. Freshman goalie Austin Kaut (Morton, Pa.) finished the day with 10 saves.
Proficient Division I lacrosse defenses strive to give up only six to eight goals per game. The Penn State defense stayed within that range by playing strong one-on-one defense. Short stick defensive midfielders Matt Shankoff (Flemington, N.J.), Ryan Link (Englewood, Colo.) and Joe Celano (Farmingdale, N.Y.) all excelled Saturday, each consistently winning their one-on-one battles.
The Nittany Lion defense also drastically improved on its goals per game average from last season. Last spring, Penn State gave up 12.5 goals per game. Under new defensive coordinator Peter Toner, the Nittany Lion defense improved upon that number by more than five goals.
Penn State is back in action Saturday against Notre Dame. The game will take place at 1 p.m. on Bigler Field.
Will Donley, Senior Attackman, Penn State Men's Lacrosse Team, GoPSUsports.com