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Nittany Lions Take On No. 5/6 Denver Saturday

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March 20, 2015


3-4-0, 0-0-0 Big Ten

5-2-0, 0-0-0 Big East
Saturday, March 21 (2:30 p.m.)
James M. Shuart Stadium | Hempstead, N.Y.


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Season Statistics: Penn State | Denver
Game Notes: Penn State | Denver


9.71 Goals per Game 12.14
33 Assists 57
33.7 Shots per Game 37.7
.288 Shot Percentage .322
10.01 Goals Against Average 8.99
216 Ground Balls 207
36 Caused Turnovers 32
.259 Man-Up % .640
.666 Man-Down % .480
.866 Clearing % .848
.584 Faceoff % .675

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; March 9, 2015 - The Nittany Lions play their only mid-week game of the season on Tues., March 10 with a 7 p.m. contest against Marist at Babson College.

On March 7, Connor Darcey made 18 saves, the most for a Nittany Lion since 2012, but the Nittany Lions fell to No. 13/16 Harvard, 12-9. Junior Ryan Guittare scored the first goal of his career, and Drake Kreinz posted his first multi-goal game in the Blue and White.

Marist (3-1) comes to Babson Park with one of the top extra man and man-down units in the country, ranking second with a .714 man-up percentage and fourth with a .833 man-down defense. Most recently, the Red Foxes earned a tight 10-9 victory over High Point on March 7. Drew Nesmith and Michael Begley each recorded hat tricks, and Dave Scarcello made a career-high 19 saves. Begley and Colin Joka top the offensive stats for the Red Foxes, posting 14 and 12 points respectively and helping Marist score 10 goals in all but one of its games. Dominic Montemurro is Marist's top face-off man with a 49-86 record at the `X' for a .570 win percentage. Dave Scarcello has been in the cage for every minute of the Red Foxes' season, maintaining a 9.50 goals against average and .591 save percentage. This is the first meeting all-time between the Red Foxes and Nittany Lions.

Connor Darcey has been a stalwart in the cage this season, his first season as a starter. In Penn State's game at Harvard, Darcey made 18 saves, the most for a Nittany Lion since 2012 and the highest number on the day for a Big Ten goalie. In his first collegiate start, against Vermont, Darcey made 15 saves, the most of any Big Ten goalie in action during the day en route to his first collegiate win. His efforts earned him the first-ever Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award. Currently, Darcey leads the Big Ten with 13.40 saves per game, which ranks eighth nationally.

To start the season, 13-or-more Nittany Lions have scored at least one goal. TJ Sanders leads the team with 10 goals. Matt Florence has netted nine and fellow middies Nick Aponte and Mike Sutton have six and eight goals respectively. Pat Manley and Dan Craig each have four markers, Drake Kreinz, Kyle Baier, and Brian Prestreau have recorded a pair of goals and Ryan Guittare, Tripp Traynor, Matt Sexton and James Burke each scored a goal.

Following a six-point performance in a 14-11 home victory over then-No. 16/11 Penn, TJ Sanders captured Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week accolades. This is the first-ever Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honor for a Nittany Lion. Sanders scored four goals and assisted on the eventual game-winner late in the second quarter and a fourth quarter tally, helping Penn State to its first win over a ranked team this season. The contest marked the junior's 20th multi-goal game, and tied his career high for points, goals and assists. Additionally, Sanders took 12 shots, a single-game high for a Nittany Lion this season and a personal best, and picked up three ground balls against the Quakers. He is currently fifth in the Big Ten with 2.00 goals per game, 3.20 points per game and 7.80 shots per game.

The Nittany Lions' 14-11 win over then-No. 16/11 Penn was more than just the team's first win over a ranked opponent this year. Sophomore Nick Aponte surpassed his career high in ground balls (7), James Burke scored the first goal of his three-year Nittany Lion career, also recording his first career point, junior James Chakey had career performances for ground balls (4) and caused turnovers (1), sophomores Tyler Chambers and Dan Craig both caused his first turnovers while wearing the Blue and White, junior TJ Sanders took a career-best 12 shots and sophomore Mike Sutton's five ground balls was a career showing.

Matt Florence has made an immediate impact since transferring to Penn State this year. He has scored 1.8 goals per game and recorded 3.25 points per game, which put him eighth and ninth in the Big Ten, and his 0.409 shot percentage ranks third in the conference. He had a four-goal outing against Penn and scored a hat trick and added two assists in the season opener against Vermont, the first three-goal performance in a Penn State debut since 2002. He also scored the game's first goal at Loyola and added additional assists against the Greyhounds and at Villanova.

For the first year of Big Ten Lacrosse, the Nittany Lions will be available to more people than ever before. All of Penn State's Big Ten games will be broadcast live on television. The Ohio State and Johns Hopkins games will air on ESPNU, and the Maryland, Rutgers and Michigan games are slated for the Big Ten Network. The Big Ten Network will also show every contest of the Big Ten Men's Lacrosse Tournament.

For the inaugural season of Big Ten Lacrosse, the Nittany Lions will be faced with a huge test. Just four of Penn State's games will be played in Happy Valley, the fewest of any Big Ten team. Penn State also plays a pair of neutral site games against Marist (at Babson College) and Denver (at Hofstra), alongside seven true road games.

Two Nittany Lions recorded hat tricks and Connor Darcey earned the first win in the first start of his collegiate career, leading the No. 14/17 Penn State men's lacrosse team to a season-opening 15-8 win over Vermont on Feb. 7. Penn State's offensive output was evenly distributed throughout the game. In both the third and fourth quarters, the Blue and White scored four goals, and put five past the Catamounts in the opening 15 minutes.

Penn State has been picked to finish third in the inaugural season of Big Ten Lacrosse by the conference's coaches, as announced in the preseason poll. Additionally, 2014 Academic All-Big Ten honorees JP Burnside, Drake Kreinz and TJ Sanders were named Penn State's Players to Watch. Sitting atop the preseason list was preseason No. 5 Johns Hopkins, which made its record 42nd NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014. Earning berths to the second-most NCAA postseasons at 37, preseason No. 8 Maryland came in second. Ohio State, Rutgers and Michigan rounded out the poll.

Senior Michael Richards was tabbed 45th overall in the 2015 Major League Lacrosse (MLL) Collegiate Draft by the Denver Outlaws on Jan. 23 in Baltimore. Richards joins Shane Sturgis (New York Lizards) and Tom LaCrosse (Ohio Machine), both of whom exhausted eligibility in 2014 and were picked in the 2015 Supplemental Draft, as selections by one of the MLL's eight teams in the U.S.A. and Canada. Richards appeared in all of the Nittany Lions' contests last season, making 10 starts in the midfield. The 2014 Academic All-Big Ten honoree recorded six points, collected 20 ground balls and caused four turnovers.

Senior Kyle Zittel was named the 2015 Penn State men's lacrosse team captain, the program's first solo team captain since 1978. "He has assumed the lead role immediately after the season ended last spring and has, in doing so, earned the respect of his teammates and our staff," head coach Jeff Tambroni said. "Kyle's effort, selflessness, integrity and character made him an obvious choice." A defensive midfielder, Zittel played in all 13 games for the Nittany Lions, picking up a career-best 11 ground balls and causing four turnovers. Zittel also excels in the classroom. The science major has a cumulative 3.5 grade point average and earned a 4.0 grade point average during the fall 2013 semester.

Guiding the Nittany Lions through the inaugural season of Big Ten Lacrosse, Jeff Tambroni is in his fifth season as Penn State's head coach in 2015. With a 35-24 record, Tambroni has guided his Nittany Lion teams to .500-or-better records in each of his four seasons at the helm.




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