The Best Is Yet To Come

Entering the program’s 104th season, Penn State men’s lacrosse looks to continue a tradition of excellence on and off the field. Coming off a strong 2016 season, the team hopes to climb to new heights in 2017.

Last season, Penn State's offense was a force to be reckoned with. The team's goals per game average (11.87), shooting percentage (.343) and total assists (106) all ranked among the top 15 in the NCAA and the top three in the Big Ten. PSU's 34.3 percent shooting ranked sixth in the nation and best in the Big Ten, while their assist and scoring averages were 12th and 15th in Division 1, respectively.

With 106 total assists in 2016, Penn State earned its highest assist total in head coach Jeff Tambroni's seven-year tenure. The team's 7.20 assists per game were good for third in the Big Ten.

Penn State also boasted one of the nation's most efficient man-up units. The team converted on 51.6 percent of it's extra-man opportunities, leading the Big Ten and ranking fourth in the nation.

Statistics aside, Penn State toppled three ranked opponents. After taking down No. 18 Cornell and No. 8 Harvard, the Nittany Lions defeated a No. 1 opponent for the first time in program history on March 26, 2016, defeating reigning national champions Denver, 15-10.

The Nittany Lions saw plenty of conference and national recognition during last season's campaign.

Then-junior Nick Aponte was named a finalist for the Tewaaraton trophy, awarded to the top lacrosse player in the country each season. He also earned Penn State's first ever unanimous All-Big Ten selection.
True freshman Grant Ament found his footing early on Penn State's attack unit, earning four Freshman of the Week honors in his rookie campaign. He notched All-Big Ten honorable mention status following his first season in the Blue and White.

Mike Aronow also got a All-Big Ten honorable mention nod, while leading the team with 13 caused turnovers.

Senior TJ Sanders was named a USILA Scholar All-America selection before being drafted by the National Lacrosse League's Buffalo Bandits. Fellow classmate Tommy O'Neill was one of 66 Division I seniors invited to play in the annual USILA North-South game.

Goalie Will Schreiner started all 15 games in goal for Penn State during the 2016 season, earning three Big Ten Specialist of the Week honors.
Off the field, 13 Penn State players earned Academic All-Big Ten honors. The team also donated it's time to give back to the community, with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation and working with local elementary schools on its Lacrosse for Literacy Day.

But for Penn State men's lacrosse, it seems the best may be yet to come.

Penn State enters the 2017 season returning nine of its starters from the 2016 season, along with a host of talent coming off the bench. The Nittany Lions also added 11 new faces to the fold, with plenty of talented freshmen vying for playing time.
"There’s a great deal of chemistry coming into this season, and as coaches we’ve been able to sort of step back a little bit," head coach Jeff Tambroni told reporters on spring sports media day. "This group is very mature, especially in the offensive end. There’s just a lot of veterans... and it’s allowed them to have a lot more creativity. It’s allowed our coaching staff to maybe step back a little more and allow these guys to take the reigns as leaders and they’ve done just that."
Aponte and Ament look to continue on the team's offensive successes from the past season. Both were named preseason All-America honorable mentions by Inside Lacrosse. Freshman Mac O'Keefe will likely join the duo up top, coming off a summer as a part of Team USA's 30-man U19 roster.

Penn State returns its entire starting midfield unit, with seniors Dan Craig, Matt Florence and Mike Sutton leading the way. The trio combined for 51 goals in 2016.

Coach Tambroni has cited this team as being one of the deeper rosters the program has had as of late.

"We have a lot of depth through the midfield, especially the offensive midfield, so we’ve tried to really pick up the pace and pick up the tempo and get guys out a little bit quicker. This year it’s a little more analogous to hockey in the way that they’re in and out. It’s not going to be a 30-second shift and get guys out, but we want to see guys get in and utilize a higher tempo and a higher pace from defense to offense. We feel like we’ve got seven or eight guys at the midfield who can play at a regular clip and now four to five attackmen that can do the same thing."
The Nittany Lions defense sees no turnover this season, as all three of the teams starters from the 2016 season come back to action for the 2017 campaign. The defense rallies around senior Peter Triolo, whom Tambroni has cited as having a strong vision and presence in the Nittany Lions' defensive end.

The faceoff unit returns last season's primary midfielder in Billy Lombardi, while adding a pair of freshmen in Gerard Arceri and Nick McEvoy who will push for time at the "X". Senior Drake Kreinz also returns after sustaining an injury last season.

Familiar faces in last year's starting goalie Will Schreiner along with Hunter Pearl and Trevor Scollins all rejoin Penn State's core between the pipes. Freshmen Colby Kneese and Jack Rusbuldt join the Nittany Lions as well.

Tambroni is optimistic of the group's consistency. "The carry-over was incredible. I think the retention level and the attention to detail that our upperclassmen have has filtered down and carried over to the younger guys. We haven’t wasted time, we’ve been very efficient in practice for the most part as we’ve come into the spring. That’s allowed us to work on a lot of different things and not have to constantly go back over what we would consider the basics. It takes time to develop but I give these guys a lot of credit. They’ve really taken a different track this year. It just feels like a very professional approach and the focus seems to be very sharp."

Penn State begins the regular season on February 4 against Robert Morris, with the hopes of making this season its best yet.


Mark Selders / Penn State Athletics

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.