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No. 5 Lions Jet to No. 9 Denver for Monday Night Showdown

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Sophomore TJ Sanders

March 9, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The 5th-ranked Nittany Lion men's lacrosse team puts its 14-game road winning streak on the line at No. 9 Denver for a Monday night showdown at Barton Stadium. The action kicks-off at 9 p.m. ET from the Mile High City.

Game 5: March 10, 2014 • 9:00 p.m. ET • Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium • Denver, Colo.
VENUEBarton Lacrosse Stadium (Turf; 2,000)
COVERAGELive Video ($) | Live Stats
SERIES RECORDDenver leads 3-2
LAST MEETING2/17/13, Penn State 15-12 (in Jacksonville, Fla.)
NEXT TIME OUTSaturday, March 15 vs. UMass, 1 p.m.
Penn State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

• Penn State faces its fourth straight ranked opponent at No. 9 Denver
• The Nittany Lions and Nittany Lions face off for the 6th time overall, 3rd straight year
• Denver owns 3-2 lead in the series, PSU won last year's meeting 15-12 in Florida
• Penn State looking for 15th straight true road win; Streak started Feb. 26, 2012 at ND
• Nittany Lions coming off Creator's Trophy clinching win at Ohio State, 11-8, on Mar. 1
Kyle VanThof tallied career-high 5 points on 3 goals and 2 assists at OSU
• VanThof earned his first CAA weekly honor by being named Co-Player of the Week
Shane Sturgis tallied 5 points on 4 goals and an assist to lead vs. Ohio State
• Sturgis leads the nation in goals per game (4.50), third in points per game (5.75)
Austin Kaut made 9 saves against the Buckeyes in his 50th career start
• Kaut is second in school history in saves (586), 108 behind Drew Adams (694)
• Penn State is looking for its 70th all-time win against a ranked foe.
• Nittany Lions earned highest ranking in program history on March 3
TJ Sanders tallied a goal at OSU and has a scoring streak of 11-straight games
• Penn State's laborious schedule continues for Saturday's CAA tilt vs. UMass, the fifth-straight ranked foe for the Nittany Lions.

Denver (4-2) enters Monday's game following an impressive 10-7 victory over No. 8 Notre Dame in Costa Mesa, Calif. on Saturday. Erik Adamson could not be stopped as he scored six of Denver's 11 goals on the day, helping to overcome Notre Dame's 46-29 shot advantage. The goalie tandem of Ryan LaPlante and Jamie Faus stopped 17 Fighting Irish shots in the game.

Denver's powerful offense scores 12.2 goals per game, while holding its opponents to a shade under 9 goals per game, despite giving up nearly 39 shots a game. Opponents have won 57.9 percent of the faceoffs and consequently have picked up 19 more ground balls this season (172-153). Jack Bobzien leads the team with 24 points on 16 goals and eight assists, while Zach Miller and Wesley Berg each have 14 goals. Adamson's total went up to 13 to round out the quartet of double-digit scoring. Six goalies have played this season for the Pioneers with Faur and LaPlante earning the majority of the minutes combined. Faus (1-2) has a 8.72 GAA and saves at a 54.2 percentage rate. LaPlante (3-0) has a 9.45 GAA and .567 save percentage. Chris Hampton (41.8 percent) and Joe Bano (47.8 percent) have receive most of the reps at the faceoff X.

All-Time Series: 2-3
PSU Streak: 1 win
First Meeting: 3/8/00, DU 8-5
Last Meeting: 2/17/13, PSU 15-12
Last PSU Win: 2/17/13, 15-12
Last DU Win: 3/10/12, 14-6
Largest PSU Win: 15-12, 2/17/13
Largest DU Win: 14-6, 3/10/12
All-time at DU: 1-1
Tambroni All-Time vs. DU: 3-1

2/17/13: W, 15-12 - N*
3/10/12: L, 6-14 - H
2/17/07: L, 5-10 - H
3/21/04: W, 11-10 - A
3/8/00: L, 5-8 - A * at EverBank Field; Jacksonville, Fla.

The ninth-ranked Penn State squad used a six-goal run spanning two quarters to capture its second Creator's Trophy in an 11-8 victory over No. 19 Ohio State at Ohio Stadium Saturday afternoon. Penn State (3-1) won its 14th straight true road game. The Nittany Lions received four goals and an assist from the NCAA Division I leading scorer Shane Sturgis along with a five-point outing from Kyle VanThof to pace the PSU attack.

Sturgis, who came into the game averaging a nation-leading 6.0 points a game and 4.67 goals per game continued his torrid pace with his fourth game of five or more points. He was 4-for-6 shooting and picked up a ground ball for good measure. Sturgis has twice been named Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week for his outstanding play. Sturgis has 18 goals and 23 points through four games with an outstanding shooting percentage of .643.

As for VanThof, he earned his second game with four or more points following a two-goal, two-assist game against Loyola (Feb. 15). VanThof is third on the team with 11 points on six goals and five points. Joining Sturgis and VanThof in the scoring ledger were Brian Prestreau, TJ Sanders, Tom LaCrosse and Dan Craig with one goal each.

Penn State went on a 6-0 run over a span of 10:13 in the second and third quarters, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 7-2 advantage. Penn State's stifling attack held Ohio State (1-3) to just 28 shots on the afternoon and didn't allow the Buckeyes to score for over 19 minutes to open the wide margin. Austin Kaut made nine saves, including six second-half stops. Kaut also picked up seven ground balls in the winning effort.

Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State compete annually for the Creator's Trophy, which is a competition between the three current Big Ten lacrosse schools. Penn State claimed its second Creator's Trophy title, taking the trophy back to Happy Valley after the Buckeyes earned the title in 2013. The trophy was created to honor the rivalries between the three current Big Ten schools that play North America's first sport. Today, Native Americans still refer to lacrosse as "The Creator's Game" as the trophy is intended to pay homage to the sports heritage and budding rivalries of the Big Ten schools.

Redshirt-senior midfielder Kyle VanThof was named Colonial Athletic Association Co-Player of the Week Monday afternoon (March 9) following a career-high five-point performance at Ohio State.

VanThof was instrumental in Penn State's 14th consecutive true road victory with three goals and two assists to help the Nittany Lions claim their second Creator's Trophy over the Buckeyes. Ohio State was ranked 19th coming into the contest, held at Ohio Stadium. The midfielder out of the greater Rochester area shares the honor with Delaware goalkeeper Conor Peaks.

VanThof played a pivotal role in Saturday's game by scoring two of his three goals in the fourth-quarter including the eventual game-winning goal. Additionally, VanThof also assisted on two goals and is tied for the team lead in the category with 5. He now ranks third on the team in goals (6) and points (11).

Most teams fare better at home, but not the Nittany Lions. Penn State excels on the road, especially in true road games. With last week's win at Ohio State, Penn State has ticked off a school-record 14 straight true road wins. In 2013, Penn State went 7-0 on the road after going 5-0 in 2012. This season Penn State is 2-0 in the early going. The Lions' last road loss was Apr. 30, 2011 at Hofstra. Penn State has won 16 of its last 17 true road games. Included in that 14-game winning streak is an upset win over then-No. 2 Notre Dame Feb. 26, 2012, which kicked off the streak while ND became the first two-time victim during the streak. Ohio State joined that company last week. Penn State has also defeated six straight ranked foes on the road dating back to that win over the Fighting Irish in 2012.

Shane Sturgis has vaulted to the top of the NCAA charts with his outstanding early season play. Through four weeks of the season, Sturgis leads the nation in goals per game (4.50) and is third in points per game (5.75). His five-goal, six-point performance against Notre Dame earned himself a second CAA Player of the Week honor on Monday, Feb. 24 as well as Inside Lacrosse's Brine National Player of the Week. To put his fast start in perspective, Sturgis (18 goals) is already two-thirds of the way to his career-high 27 goals scored last season as a junior, which came in 17 games. He as accounted for 34.6 percent of PSU's goals (18-of-52) and 31.9 percent of the team's points (23-of-72).

Penn State's success last year revolved around the number 10: as in goals scored and goals allowed. When Penn State tallied 10 or more goals the Nittany Lions were 10-2. More importantly, when PSU allowed less than 10 goals, Penn State went an unblemished 11-0. All five losses came when allowing at least 10 goals and only once did Penn State yield a victory (15-12 vs. Denver on Feb. 19). So far this year, Penn State is 3-0 after allowing just seven goals in victories over Michigan and Notre Dame, but 0-1 after allowing more than 10 goals to Loyola. PSU is 1-11 under Jeff Tambroni when allowing 10 or more goals with the lone win coming last year vs. Denver (15-12).

Penn State once again features one of the toughest non-conference schedules in Division I lacrosse. The Nittany Lions have six scheduled teams ranked in the USILA Coaches and Warrior/Inside Lacrosse Media polls this season. Using the coaches poll alone, the Nittany Lions have already faced top 10 foes in No. 5 Loyola and No. 8 Notre Dame, while facing No. 12 Denver on Monday. Denver represents Penn State's fourth straight ranked foe. Ohio State fell out of the top 20 following a loss to the Nittany Lions. Next week, the tough schedule continues with a conference tilt against UMass (March 15), who is ninth, but will fall following a loss to No. 18 Albany this past weekend. The rising Great Danes travel to Happy Valley March 22. Also on the schedule is Drexel, who was ranked 17th this week, but lost to unranked Bryant on Saturday.

Austin Kaut has made his stamp in the Penn State record books with the majority of the 2014 season remaining. In net, Kaut now ranks in second place all-time in saves with 586, matching Kevin Keenan (1996-99). He only needs 108 saves to catch Drew Adams (2006-09), who is the all-time saves leader with 694. Offensively, Shane Sturgis moved into a tie for 12th all-time at Penn State in points scored with 131 with last week's five-point display.

Penn State will play its 211th game against a ranked opponent Monday at No. 12 Denver. PSU is 69-141 all-time against ranked teams. During Jeff Tambroni's tenure at Penn State the Nittany Lions have gone 9-10 following a 3-5 campaign in 2012, 4-4 showing in 2013 and w-1 thus far in 2014. PSU has gone 5-1 against ranked teams since a win over No. 19 UMass March 16, 2013.

Penn State earned the highest ranking in program history on Monday, March 3 when the USILA Coaches Poll voted the Lions seventh. The previous high was eighth on several occasions, including last season. The Nittany Lions also come in seventh in the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll. In the preseason, the Inside Lacrosse rankings pegged Penn State seventh, while the USILA had PSU ranked ninth, tying the highest preseason ranking in school history (1992).

Shane Sturgis has registered a hat trick or more in every game this season, bringing his career total to 10 to match previous team-leader TJ Sanders. Joining Sturgis in the goal party last week in Columbus was Kyle VanThof, who earned his second hat trick in his career. His previous high was four against UMass in 2011. In all, Penn State features seven scorers who have tallied hat tricks in their careers: Sanders (10 times), Sturgis (10), Tom LaCrosse (3), VanThof (2), Gavin Ahern (2), Kyle Baier (1) and Steve Aitken (1).

TJ Sanders 10
Shane Sturgis 10
Tom LaCrosse 4
Gavin Ahern 2
Kyle VanThof 2
Kyle Baier 1
Steve Aitken 1

The Nittany Lions return home for the first time since Feb. 15 when it hosts CAA foe UMass Saturday, March 15 at Penn State Lacrosse Field. The No. 9 Minutemen fell to No. 18 Albany, 25-10, in non-conference action this past Saturday.




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