UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's lacrosse game faces its fourth straight USILA Top 20 opponent in No. 19 Lehigh on Saturday at Chester's PPL Park in the Whitman's Sampler Independence Classic. The 5 p.m. game is part of a tripleheader that will be aired on ESPN3.com with a same day tape-delay broadcast on Comcast SportsNet (8:30 p.m.).
Tickets starting at $25 for the tripleheader are available on PhiladelphiaUnion.com or by calling 1-800-298-4200. St. John's faces Syracuse at Noon, while Villanova squares off with Penn at 2:30 p.m. PPL Park is located off I-95 and the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester.
#13 PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (2-2) vs. #19 LEHIGH (3-3)
Game 5: March 9, 2013 // 5:00 p.m. // PPL Park // Chester, Pa.
EVENT: Whitman's Sampler Indepdence Classic
TV COVERAGE: ESPN3.com; Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia (tape delay)
TALENT: Mark Dixon (pxp), Quint Kessenich (color)
VENUE: PPL Park (grass; 18,500)
SERIES RECORD: 32-8
LAST MEETING: Mar. 20, 2012; Lehigh 9-5 (University Park, Pa.)
NEXT GAME: Mar. 16 at Massachusetts, Noon
Penn State faces Lehigh in Whitman's Sampler Independence Classic
Nittany Lions and Mountain Hawks appear live on ESPN3.com
PSU fell to Lehigh last season in University Park, 9-5
Penn State dropped a heartbreaking overtime game to No. 16 Ohio State, 10-9
TJ Sanders picked up his second CAA Rookie of the Week award on Monday
Sanders scored five goals vs. OSU and Jack Forster had four points
Sanders had three hat tricks in four appearances. Forster has 11 career hat tricks
Shane Sturgis and Forster are riding 10- and 16-game point streaks, respectively
Lehigh will be PSU's fourth ranked foe in a row of five
The Lions have seen an uptick in offensive prowess this season from last year
PSU has scored more goals, assists and points per game than last season
Next week Penn State travels to Amherst, Mass. to face CAA rival Massachusetts
WHITMAN'S SAMPLER INDEPENDENCE CLASSIC PREVIEW
Penn State takes part in this weekend's Whitman's Sampler Independence Classic at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. The tripleheader features St. John's and Syracuse at Noon, Penn and Villanova at 2:30 p.m. before Penn State takes on Lehigh at 5 p.m. All three games will be aired on ESPN3.com from the home of Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union. Also, the games will be aired on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia on tape delay. This is the second special event PSU has been a part of this season after the Moe's Southwest Grill Lacrosse Classic at Jacksonville's EverBank Field. Penn State defeated Denver, 15-12, in front of a national television audience on NBC Sports Network.
SCOUTING THE MOUNTAIN HAWKS
No. 19 Lehigh (3-3) is coming off a tough 6-4 loss to No. 18 Penn on Tuesday night in Bethlehem. Lehigh's wins have come over Saint Joseph's (14-1), Villanova (11-9) and VMI (18-2), while falling at No. 11 Denver (18-10) and Air Force (15-10).
David DiMaria is Lehigh's most potent attacking option with team highs in goals (14), assists (16) and points (30). Dan Taylor (12g, 7a) and Dante Fantoni (11g, 7a) also have scoring prowess. In net, Lehigh has split starts beween three goalkeepers. Griffin Farha (1-1) has a 5.82 GAA and .641 save percentage in 144 minutes, while Matt Poillon (2-1) boasts a 8.93 GAA and .545 save percentage. Steve Brodeur (0-1) has the other start, giving up 12 goals in 37 minutes this year.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. LEHIGH
All-Time Series: 32-8
PSU Streak: 1 loss
First Meeting: 1915, Lehigh 7-2
Last Meeting: 3/20/12, Lehigh 9-5
Last PSU Win: 4/2/11, 8-7 (OT)
Last LU Win: 3/20/12, 7-2
Largest PSU Win: 22-4, 3/19/83
Largest LU Win: 15-1,1917
PSU Goals vs. LU: 465-253
LAST TIME VS. LU (Mar. 3, 2012)
Penn State team dropped its third straight game with a 9-5 loss to Lehigh at the Penn State Lacrosse Field. Jack Forster (two goals) and Matthew Mackrides (one goal, one assist) led Penn State with two points each. Both Nick Dolik and Shane Sturgis added a goal, while freshman midfielder Kyle Zittel recorded an assist. Lehigh's Dante Fantoni, Roman Lao-Gosney and Adam Johnston recorded two goals each.
BUCKEYES STORM PAST PENN STATE
A game of runs went the way of Ohio State as No. 8 Penn State fell, 10-9, in overtime. OSU's Jesse King scored with no time on the clock in overtime to win it. Penn State's TJ Sanders scored five first-half goals to help the Lions stake an 8-2 halftime lead. Ohio State closed the game on an 8-1 run. Jack Forster pitched in with a four point day behind a goal and three assists. Shane Sturgis netted two points, scoring the game-tying goal in the fourth quarter.
SANDERS AGAIN NAMED CAA TOP ROOKIE
Freshman TJ Sanders was named Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week on Monday, March 4. Sanders has been named CAA Rookie of the Week in two of the four award cycles this season. The five goals scored were a career high, topping his four-goal effort against Michigan in his first collegiate game on Feb. 9.
DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
Penn State's offense has improved mightily in 2013 with the emergence of its attacking trio of TJ Sanders (15 points), Jack Forster (15) and Shane Sturgis (11). Penn State is averaging 11 goals per game this season with a shooting percentage of .273. Last season, the Nittany Lions scored just 8.73 goals per game and post a percentage of .258. Also, assists, points, shots and ground balls per game are up from 2012.
HAT TRICK HEROS TJ Sanders scored five goals in Saturday's loss to Ohio State, giving him his third hat trick in four games. Jack Forster leads the way with nine career high tricks, while Shane Sturgis has five.
Penn State's attack has a pair of Nittany Lions riding point streaks from last season. Leading the way is Jack Forster whose 16-game streak started on March 3, 2012 against Ohio State, while Shane Sturgis is at 10 games.
RUNNING THE GAUNTLET
Penn State is currently in a stretch of five games against USILA ranked opponents. So far, PSU is 1-2. Two more games await PSU: No. 19 Lehigh and No. 9 Massachusetts.
Two other Penn State opponents, No. 14 Drexel (Apr. 6) and No. 15 Hofstra (Apr. 27) are also ranked. Bucknell (March 26) received votes in this week's poll.
Of the 14 regular-season contests, Penn State will be home for just five of them, making the Nittany Lions one of the most road tested teams in the country. In total, seven games are true road contests along with two neutral site games. Penn State looks to improve to 3-0 away from Happy Valley on Saturday vs. Lehigh.
NEXT TIME OUT
Penn State hits the road once more against No. 9 Massachusetts for a battle of the CAA's top contenders. Last season, UMass won the CAA regular season and tournament. Penn State's only CAA regular season loss last season was a heartbreaking 9-8 overtime loss in Happy Valley. Game time in Amherst on Saturday is slated for Noon.