Lions Will Look to Leadership to End Losing Streak
March 21, 2012
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Emotionally drained from a heart-breaking loss to UMass, the Nittany Lions appeared to have rallied at the beginning of this contest, only to run into scoring difficulties in the second half.
"After the loss to UMASS I thought the guys did a good job of rallying," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "They came out here with a lot of energy...we got a little selfish and Lehigh exposed us."
After the energetic outing in the first quarter, an abundance of penalties and failed extra-man opportunities plagued the team.
"We came out strong and fast, firing on all cylinders," said junior midfielder Danny Henneghan (Beverly Hills, Mich.). "I'm not sure what happened at the end of the game...we just couldn't consistently push a play through."
Six Nittany Lion penalties resulted in three extra-man goals for Lehigh in the second half alone, widening the lead too far for a Penn State comeback.
"We just need to be under more control and stay out of the penalty box," said senior defenseman Ryan McGarvey (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.).
What began as a close, competitive contest was then dominated by the Mountain Hawks after a scoreless third period from the Nittany Lions.
"We didn't do the little things tonight," said Tambroni. "We provided Lehigh with too many opportunities versus having them earn the opportunities."
The loss, which dropped the team below a .500 record, marked the fourth loss of the season to a ranked opponent.
For Coach Tambroni, an increase in confidence and leadership could help get the team back on track.
"Confidence could be an issue moving forward," said Tambroni. "We have to execute every day if we want to be confident."
The Nittany Lions are now entering the bulk of their conference play, in which five of the final seven games will be against CAA opponents.
Second year assistant coach Peter Toner feels that it is important for the team to not underestimate upcoming opponents, as the remaining teams on the schedule aren't currently ranked.
"The season certainly isn't going to get any easier," said Toner. "Every conference game is always tough and physical."
For the players, losing three straight has signaled that they need some improvement, and practice is how they can achieve it.
"We play how we practice," said Henneghan. "At our next practice we need to hit the ground running and try to turn this season into the way we want it to go."
For coaches and players alike, improvement will come through an increase in the team's confidence.
"We need to stay confident, believe in ourselves, and try to get better every day," said sophomore Shane Sturgis (Downingtown, Pa.).
The Nittany Lions will take the field again on March 24 when they take on Saint Joseph's for a CAA matchup. Faceoff time is set for 1 p.m.