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Men's Lacrosse Faces First Big Ten Road Test

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April 2, 2015


3-6, 0-1 Big Ten

8-1, 1-0 Big Ten
Saturday, April 4 (3 p.m.)
Byrd Stadium | College Park, Md.


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


9.33 Goals per Game 10.56
41 Assists 39
32.7 Shots per Game 42.1
.286 Shot Percentage .251
10.00 Goals Against Average 4.78
259 Ground Balls 258
44 Caused Turnovers 51
.250 Man-Up % .381
.714 Man-Down % .739
.861 Clearing % .847
.556 Faceoff % .582

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; April 2, 2015 - Penn State travels to Maryland for its first Big Ten road contest on Sat., April 4 at 3 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network with Pete Medhurst and Mark Dixon on the call.

Penn State scored half of its goals in the fourth quarter of the program's first Big Ten lacrosse game but was unable to get past No. 16/15 Ohio State and fell to the Buckeyes 10-8 on March 29. TJ Sanders helped out on the two goals that kicked off the fourth quarter run, and Mike Sutton had his sixth multi-goal game of the year.

No. 3 Maryland (8-1) kicked off the new era of Big Ten Lacrosse in convincing fashion, topping Michigan 13-4. Matt Rambo, who leads the Terrapins in points (24) and goals (18), led Maryland's offensive effort, posting his fourth hat trick of the season. Overall, the Terrapins' success is a result of their defensive play, arguably the best in Division I. The Terrapins lead the country with a 4.78 goals against average, due in large part to Kyle Bernlohr's play in the cage. His 0.697 save percentage and 4.49 goals against average top the NCAA field, made better by his performance last week after allowing three goals in 84:45. Time of possession can be attributed to Maryland's stout defense, led by Charlie Raffa's 63.5 percent win percentage at the face-off `X'. In the 100th season of the teams' rivalry, Maryland leads the all-time series, 35-2. The last meeting in 2005 saw Maryland win 14-10 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

In the midst of Penn State's fourth quarter four-goal run against Ohio State on March 29, Dan Craig scored a goal that had jaws dropping and the commentators in shock. TJ Sanders put a shot on net and after a Buckeye attempted to pick up the rebound, Craig scooped up the ball behind his back and whipped a horizontal shot behind him into the top right corner of the net. The play was outstanding enough to garner No. 7 on that night's ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 plays. It wasn't the first time this season the Shelburne, Ontario native scored a highlight reel goal. At UMass, Craig retrieved a pass from Sanders in front of the crease, spun around and got off the shot through traffic.

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 saves per game, which ranks ninth 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 seven games since his debut in the Blue and White, scoring multiple goals in 24 games. Sanders is currently fourth in the Big Ten with 2.11 goals per game and sixth with 3.11 points per game.

To start the season, 16 Nittany Lions have scored at least one goal. TJ Sanders leads the team with 19 goals. Mike Sutton has 14, and fellow middies Matt Florence and Nick Aponte have 11 and 10 goals respectively. Pat Manley has six goals and Dan Craig has seven, Matt Sexton, Brian Prestreau and Drake Kreinz have a trio of tallies a piece, Kyle Baier has recorded a pair of goals and Michael Richards, 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 1.57 goals per game and recorded 2.43 points per game, which put him ninth and 10th 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.

Associate head coach Peter Toner was tabbed as an assistant coach for the 2016 U.S. Men's National Under-19 team. Toner will work under the head coach Nick Myers, who currently serves at the helm of Ohio State's men's lacrosse program. With the announcement, Penn State's three coaches have all served on the coaching staffs of a national team. Head coach Jeff Tambroni was an assistant for the 2014 U.S. men's senior team, and assistant coach Chris Doctor served in the same capacity for the Iroquois Nationals at the 2014 FIL World Championship.

Penn State Lacrosse's expansive 101-year alumni base is bound to produce a few connections among current Nittany Lions, and this year's team is no exception. Matt Florence's father Tom was a goalie at Penn State from 1982-85. J.J. Pearl, who ranks fifth in career saves (557 from 1989-92), is freshman goalie Hunter Pearl's father.

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, an Eden, N.Y. native, 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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