Penn State men’s lacrosse is the real deal, ascending to No. 1 in all major polls for the first time in program history thanks to a record 10-0 start.
Having such a highly ranked team as Big Ten play gets rolling can be something of a nerve-wracking experience for fans. Just look at the performance of the hockey team over the course of the season for an example of the pressure that a No. 1 ranking can bring. Gadowsky’s squad came out of the gate looking untouchable, but hit a rough patch midway through a loaded conference slate. However, a historic Big Ten Tournament performance propelled the Nittany Lions to an eventual berth in the Elite Eight.
If the lacrosse team’s convincing 9-4 home victory over No. 5 Ohio State on Sunday evening is any indication, Jeff Tambroni’s bunch is just getting started. Here are a few takeaways for the casual lacrosse observer:
Tough Wins Have Translated Into Confidence
There have been times this season when the lacrosse squad didn’t start the game perhaps as briskly as Tambroni would’ve liked. The Nittany Lions faced early deficits against the likes of a very strong Penn team and a decent Fairfield team. But in both cases, Penn State stormed back for hard-fought victories.
These tooth-and-nail type of wins will pay dividends, giving Tambroni’s team the confidence it needs to know that no deficit is too steep to overcome. This confidence translated into an absolute clinic in the second half of its matchup against the Buckeyes. Penn State outscored the scarlet and gray 5-1 following halftime, controlling seemingly every aspect of play. The Nittany Lions are a dangerous bunch right now and their high ranking hasn’t had any adverse effects on the field thus far.
This Team Is Just Getting Started
This team has a scary amount of talent, and a lot of that talent is young.
Mac O’Keefe may be the most sterling example of this youth infusion in Happy Valley. O’Keefe trails only Albany’s Connor Fields for the most goals per game in the NCAA with 3.5 – and he’s only a freshman. When you pair that kind of talent with the likes of freshman goalie Colby Kneese, freshman face-off specialist Gerard Arceri, sophomore attacker Grant Ament, and others, this team looks like it will be a powerhouse for years to come.
There’s A Whole Lot Of Support
The Nittany Lions opened their conference schedule at home in front of a massive crowd at the Penn State Lacrosse Field. The famous hill was packed full of spectators on a beautiful Sunday night, and those fans let the players know they were there.
— Matt Fleischacker (@CoachFly_) April 2, 2017
As Penn State put the finishing touches on its 9-4 victory, the excitement was palpable as “We Are” chants rung throughout the crowd. The Nittany Lions certainly deserve the No. 1 spot at this point in the season, but forthcoming matchups against No. 8 Maryland, No 11 Johns Hopkins, and No. 13 Rutgers will paint the fuller picture of their season.