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Men's Lacrosse Makes History on ESPNU Sunday

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March 27, 2015


3-5-0, 0-0-0 Big Ten

7-3-0, 0-0-0 Big Ten
Sunday, March 29 (3 p.m.)
Penn State Lacrosse Field | University Park, Pa.


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


9.50 Goals Per Game 8.90
37 Assists 52
33.4 Shots Per Game 33.4
.285 Shot Percentage .266
10.00 Goals Against Average 7.40
239 Ground Balls 295
39 Caused Turnovers 50
.267 Man-Up % .333
.666 Man-Down % .923
.851 Clearing % .893
.557 Faceoff % .643

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; March 27, 2015 - The Nittany Lions (3-5) host the first Big Ten game in program history against No. 16/15 Ohio State (7-3) on Sun., March 29. The contest, which starts at 3 p.m., will be broadcasted on ESPNU and WatchESPN with Eamon McAnaney and Paul Carcaterra on the call.

The quest for the Creator's Trophy begins on Sunday, as Penn State and Ohio State open the competition among the three Big Ten lacrosse schools in 2012, when Michigan added the sport. The Nittany Lions have captured two of three titles.

Admission and parking for all men's lacrosse contests is free of charge at the Orange-C lot beside the former Greenberg Ice Pavilion, Jordan East beside the Bryce Jordan Center and Penn State Lacrosse Field, or Stadium West next to Beaver Stadium. Inform the parking attendant that you are attending the lacrosse game to park for free. The Eisenhower and East Deck parking garages are also available for $1 per hour.

Ohio State (7-3) has pieced together an impressive start to the season, stringing together four- and three-game win streaks. But in their non-conference finale against No. 3 Notre Dame on March 21, the Buckeyes were shut out by the Irish, 9-0, the conclusion in a three-game stretch against ranked opponents. Overall, Ohio State's signature this season is shutting down its opponents. The team is near perfect on the man-down, leading the nation at 92.3 percent and is fifth in scoring defense, allowing 7.40 goals per game. The Buckeyes are also strong at the `X', winning 64.3 percent of their face-offs, the seventh highest mark nationally. Like Penn State, Ohio State employs a first-year starter in the cage, Tom Carey. The redshirt-sophomore has a 7.47 goals against average and 56.5 save percentage, both good for second in the Big Ten. Penn State has a 13-5 series advantage over Ohio State. Last season, the Nittany Lions used a six-goal run spanning two quarters to capture its second Creator's Trophy with an 11-8 win.

Penn State led No. 5/6 Denver for nearly half of the contest, but couldn't overcome a high-powered Pioneer offense and fell to Denver 10-8 on Saturday at Hofstra University. Dan Craig and Mike Sutton each had three points and Connor Darcey's 14 saves make him the first goalie since 2011 to make 10-or-more saves in seven of the season's first eight games.

Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State compete for the Creator's Trophy, which is a competition between the three schools. The trophy was created to honor the rivalries among the three Big Ten lacrosse schools at the time Michigan added the sport in 2012. 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 rivalries of the Big Ten schools. PSU won the 2012 and 2014 titles, while Ohio State earned the 2013 trophy.

Being the home team comes with perks, and the Nittany Lions have taken advantage. This season, Penn State is 3-0 when acting as the host, with wins against Vermont (15-8), No. 16/11 Penn (14-11) and Marist (9-8) at Babson College. As the home team, the Nittany Lions have out-scored their opponents 38-27, versus being out-scored 53-38 as the visitor.

With their smallest senior class since 2012, the younger members of the 2015 Nittany Lions are stepping up. TJ Sanders' assist total is a personal best. In his first year as a starter, Connor Darcey has set career marks in all goalie categories. Nick Aponte has career highs in goals, assists, points, shots on goal and ground balls. James Chakey and Tyler Chambers have both recorded career best marks in ground balls and caused turnovers. Ryan Guittare's goal, point, ground ball and caused turnover marks are career highs. Drake Kreinz has career bests in shots and caused turnovers. Matt Sexton's goals, shots and ground balls totals are the best of his career, as are Mike Sutton's ground ball, assist and shot marks. Peter Triolo and Dan Craig also have bests in caused turnovers.

Connor Darcey has been a stalwart in the cage this season, his first as a starter. The redshirt sophomore is the first goalie since 2011 to make double-digit saves in seven of the season's first eight games.
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 ranks second in the Big Ten with 12.50 saves per game, which ranks eighth nationally.

Since joining the Nittany Lions as a freshman in 2013, a Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year campaign, TJ Sanders has been one of Penn State's most reliable attackmen. He has scored in all but six games since his debut in the Blue and White, scoring multiple goals in 24 games. Sanders is currently second in the Big Ten with 2.38 goals per game and fifth with 3.25 points per game.

To start the season, 15 Nittany Lions have scored at least one goal. TJ Sanders leads the team with 19 goals. Mike Sutton has 12, and fellow middies Matt Florence and Nick Aponte have 10 and nine goals respectively. Pat Manley has five goals and Dan Craig six, Matt Sexton and Drake Kreinz have a trio of tallies a piece, Kyle Baier and Brian Prestreau have recorded a pair of goals and Ryan Guittare, Tripp Traynor, Billy Lombardi, Tanner Peck 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.

Matt Florence has made an immediate impact since transferring to Penn State this year. He has scored 1.67 goals per game and recorded 2.50 points per game, which put him seventh and ninth in the Big Ten. 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.

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's men's lacrosse team captain, the program's first solo team captain since 1978. 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. After graduation, he intends to enroll in medical school.

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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