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No. 5 Nittany Lions Welcome No. 14 UMass Saturday

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Kyle Zittel

March 14, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The fifth-ranked Nittany Lion men's lacrosse team is set to host No. 14 Massachusetts Saturday at Penn State Lacrosse Field. PSU's final CAA opener is set for a Noon faceoff. Admission and parking for the contest is free.

Game 6: March 15, 2014 • Noon • Penn State Lacrosse Stadium • University Park, Pa.
VENUEPenn State Lacrosse Field (Turf; 1,000)
COVERAGENo video | Live Stats
SERIES RECORDUMass leads 10-6
LAST MEETING5/1/13, PSU 10-7 (University Park, Pa.) | RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS
NEXT TIME OUTTuesday, March 18 vs. Dartmouth, 5 p.m.
Penn State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Fans attending Saturday's game and sitting in the bleachers next to the Multi-Sport Complex will need to comply with Penn State's Limited Bag Policy. Contents in a clear, gallon-sized bag will be permitted in addition to coats and blankets. All bags and items will not be allowed. For exact permitted items: LIMITED BAG POLICY.

• Penn State faces its fifth straight ranked opponent in No. 14 UMass Saturday
• The Nittany Lions and Minutemen face off for the 17th time overall
• UMass owns a 10-6 lead in the series; PSU won both meetings last season
• Penn State opens its final CAA season with 11-game regular-season league win streak
• Nittany Lions coming off tough 15-11 loss at Denver, first road loss in 1,045 days
• UMass defeated Providence 16-11 on Tuesday in non-conference action
Shane Sturgis tallied game-high 6 points on 3 goals and 3 assists
• Sturgis is in the top 3 nationally for goals per game, points per game and shot pct.
• Sturgis sits one point back of 10th all-time at Penn State with 137
Austin Kaut is second in school history in saves (594), 100 behind Drew Adams (694)
• Nittany Lions' 3-2 record this year featured multiple statistical improvements in scoring, shooting percentage and faceoff ability vs. last year's 2-3 start
• Penn State is looking for its 70th all-time win against a ranked foe.
• Nittany Lions earned highest ranking (5th) in program history on March 10
• Penn State's four-game home stand continues Tuesday when Dartmouth visits at 5 p.m.

The resurgent Massachusetts Minutemen (5-1) have risen to No. 14 in the rankings on the strength of a 4-0 start. The lone blemish was a 25-10 setback to the high-powered Albany Great Danes this past Saturday. On Tuesday, UMass bounced back to down Providence 16-11 in a shootout that saw seven goals from Grant Whiteway, who is second on the team in goals (12) and points (16). Nick Mariano leads the way with 15 goals and 18 points, while Connor Mooney has seven goals and nine assists for 16 points this season. Matt Whippen (seven goals), Andrew Sokol (6) and Jeff George (5) have also contributed to a UMass attack that averages 11.17 goals per game.

Aside from the Albany game, the UMass defense, anchored by sophomore goaltender Zach Oliveri (5-1), has allowed 6.6 goals per game in the five victories. Oliveri has a 9.73 GAA and .533 save percentage in the first six games of the year. At the faceoff X, Joe Calvello has won 63 percent of the draws with a team-high 62 ground balls. Calvello chipped in with a goal against the Friars on Tuesday to complement his 21 faceoff wins and 18 ground balls. He is a Preseason All-CAA selection following his All-CAA Second Team honor last year.

All-Time Series: 6-10
PSU Streak: 2 win
First Meeting: 4/1/00, PSU 11-8
Last Meeting: 5/1/13, PSU 10-7
Last PSU Win: 3/16/13, 7-5
Last MASS Win: 3/17/12, 9-8 (OT)
Largest PSU Win: 11-8, 4/1/00; 10-7, 5/1/13
Largest MASS Win: 18-8, 4/2/05
PSU Goals vs. MASS: 134-151

5/1/13: W, 10-7 - H
3/16/13: W, 7-5 - A
3/17/12: L, 8-9 OT - H
5/4/11: L, 9-10 OT - H
3/19/11: W, 8-7 - A
Penn State won two meetings against the Minutemen in 2013 for the first time in series history. Last year, Shane Sturgis scored four times in the CAA Semifinals as a 5-0 run late in the third and fourth quarters provided Penn State the boost in a 10-7 win. In the regular-season matchup, PSU scored the final three goals from Jack Forster and Kyle VanThof for a 7-5 victory, the final two goals coming in the last six minutes.

The fifth-ranked Nittany Lions couldn't keep pace with the offense of No. 9 Denver in a 15-11 loss at Barton Stadium on Monday night. The loss ended Penn State's 14-game winning streak in true road games, a stretch that dated to the beginning of the 2012 season. Penn State's last road loss came April 30, 2011 at Hofstra, which game 1,045 days ago.

Shane Sturgis led Penn State (3-2) with a six-point game on three goals and three assists. Joining Sturgis in the scoring ledger were Tom LaCrosse, Pat Manley and Kyle Baier with two goals apiece. Kyle VanThof and Brian Prestreau chipped in with a goal each.

Sturgis's six points moves him into 11th all-time at Penn State with 137 career points. Sturgis has 21 goals and eight assists this season for 29 points as he is well on his way to eclipsing his career-best season of 27 goals, 17 assists and 44 points from last year.

Freshman Drake Kreinz finished the game with a career-high 21 faceoff wins on 28 attempts. Kreinz also picked up a game-high 11 ground balls, one off his career high set against Michigan (Feb. 8), while pitching in with an assist.

Both teams shot the ball well with Denver connecting on 44.1 percent of its shots and Penn State shooting 37.9 percent. For Denver, it was their second win over a top 10 team in three days following its two-goal win over Notre Dame on Saturday. Penn State received its highest ranking in program history earlier on Monday, rising to fifth from its previous high of seventh.

Denver (5-2) used a 5-0 run spanning the second and third quarters, while holding Penn State scoreless for nearly 22 minutes to earn a 9-7 lead. Ultimately, the Pioneers used a 3-0 run in the final 8:41 of the game to make a one-goal game into a four-goal victory.

Most teams fare better at home, but not the Nittany Lions. Penn State excels on the road, especially in true road games. Until Monday's loss at No. 9 Denver, Penn State had ticked off a school-record 14 straight true road wins and hadn't lost a road contest in 1,045 days. In 2013, Penn State went 7-0 on the road after going 5-0 in 2012. This season Penn State went 2-0 before Monday and the Lions' last road loss was Apr. 30, 2011 at Hofstra. Also snapped was Penn State's six-game road winning streak over ranked foes.

Saturday's game against UMass marks the final Colonial Athletic Association opener for the Nittany Lions. Penn State will be included in the inaugural Big Ten season in 2015 with Michigan, Ohio State, Maryland, Rutgers and sport-affiliate Johns Hopkins. The Nittany Lions enter the 2014 CAA season on an 11-game regular-season winning streak. The last team to defeat Penn State in CAA regular-season play was UMass March 17, 2012. PSU's final CAA contest is set for April 26 against Hofstra in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions were deemed ineligible for the conference tournament by the CAA due to the Big Ten's inclusion for lacrosse.

Shane Sturgis has vaulted to the top of the NCAA charts with his outstanding early season play. Through Tuesday's games, Sturgis ranks second in goals per game (4.2) and third in points per game (5.8) nationally. Moreover, Sturgis has been amazingly accurate with his shooting (.618), which ranks third in the country. He has produced five games with five or more points, registering a hat trick in all games en route to 21 goals, eight assists and 29 points. To put his fast start in perspective, Sturgis is just six goals off his career-high of 27 from last season as a junior, which came in 17 games. He as accounted for exactly one-third PSU's goals (21-of-63) and one point shy of one-third team's points (29-of-90). 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.

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, and eight to Ohio State. However, PSU is 0-2 after allowing 11 goals to Loyola and 15 to Denver. PSU is 1-12 under Jeff Tambroni when allowing 10 or more goals.

Penn State once again features one of the toughest schedules in Division I lacrosse. The Nittany Lions have six scheduled teams ranked in the USILA Coaches Poll. In the current polls, No. 2 Loyola, No. 9 Denver, No. 11 Notre Dame, No. 13 Albany and this week's opponent, No. 14 Massachusetts are five Nittany Lion foes in the top 15. Saturday's game against UMass is the fifth straight week against a ranked opponent as Ohio State was No. 19 on March 1. Also on the schedule is Drexel, who is ranked 20th this week.

Last season, the Nittany Lions dropped three straight to fall to 2-3 after three games heading into the UMass game. This season, Penn State is 3-2 and set to face the Minutemen after five games. The main places of improvement for the Nittany Lions in those five-game stretches are in goals (63 in 2014, 54 in 2013), faceoff win percentages (.623-.593) and shot percentage (.354-.280). Goals allowed (49-50) and penalty numbers (19-18). Last season, Penn State's two-goal win at UMass kicked off a 2013 NCAA best 10-game winning streak.

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 594, matching Kevin Keenan (1996-99). He needs 100 saves to catch Drew Adams (2006-09), who is the all-time saves leader with 694. Offensively, Shane Sturgis moved into sole possession of 11th all-time at Penn State in points scored with 137 following Monday's five-point display. Sturgis is one point behind Jim Laverty (1988-91), four points back of Nate Whitaker (2002-06), six points behind Chris Lehman (1990-93) and seven points back of former teammate Matthew Mackrides (2009-12). Last year's running mate Jack Forster is 11 points ahead fo Sturgis.

Penn State will play its 212th game against a ranked opponent Saturday vs. No. 14 UMass. PSU is 69-142 all-time against ranked teams. During Jeff Tambroni's tenure at Penn State the Nittany Lions have gone 9-11 with a 3-5 campaign in 2012, 4-4 showing in 2013 and 2-2 thus far in 2014. PSU has gone 5-2 against ranked teams since a win over No. 19 UMass March 16, 2013.

Shane Sturgis has registered a hat trick or more in every game this season, bringing his career total to 11 to pass previous team-leader TJ Sanders. Joining Sturgis in the goal party two weeks ago 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 (11), Tom LaCrosse (3), VanThof (2), Gavin Ahern (2), Kyle Baier (1) and Steve Aitken (1).

Shane Sturgis 11
TJ Sanders 10
Tom LaCrosse 3
Gavin Ahern 2
Kyle VanThof 2
Kyle Baier 1
Steve Aitken 1

Penn State's four-game home stand continues Tuesday when the Dartmouth Big Green visit Happy Valley. Penn State and Dartmouth meet for the first time since 2006 for a 5 p.m. clash at Penn State Lacrosse Field.




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