Last Season’s Struggles Set Men’s Lacrosse Up For 2016 Success
2015’s inaugural season of Big Ten lacrosse was an uncharted endeavor for coach Jeff Tambroni and his Nittany Lions.
Penn State’s final 5-9 record might seem like a failure on the surface, but it’s a reflection of a schedule packed with powerhouses and a young, eager-to-learn team.
“It was the first year for Big Ten lacrosse and we were certainly excited to enter that level of competition…but we felt like maybe we just left a lot of opportunities on the table. I think it was important for our coaching staff and team to realize the mistakes we made…but also the potential we still had. We were so young,” Tambroni reflected at Monday afternoon’s spring media day.
With nationally-touted programs like Cornell, Harvard, Maryland, and Johns Hopkins all slated for 2016’s season, it’s not going to be much easier. But that doesn’t matter — Penn State is stronger.
Tambroni affirmed this notion. “We had an extremely productive offseason and preseason. We were motivated coming back this fall because of a disappointing year in a lot of regards. We have a young group eager to represent Penn State with heavy hearts and high expectations,” he said. “It’s not going to be perfect, but that’s not what we signed up for.”
The team lived up to those high expectations in its season-opening 20-7 victory over Robert Morris. Senior defenseman James Chakey credited the win to “emotion and energy,” and the freshman class stepping up.
Tambroni, Chakey, and senior attacker TJ Sanders praised the overall rookie performance in Saturday’s win and their preseason hustle in general. “It’s always good seeing younger guys really compete, work hard, score goals, and run the whole field…Kevin Fox has been pushing, guys like that really push the older guys and make everybody better,” Chakey said.
Although Penn State learned from last season’s struggles, it isn’t looking back in a negative light. The team hopes to use tough memories as fuel for a more consistent season this year.
“We’ve talked a great deal about the importance of the process. In any great success there’s always going to be a moment or several moments of struggle that make that triumph important or real,” Tambroni said.