Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Set For Rebound Season With Grant Ament’s Return
Last season didn’t quite go to plan for Penn State men’s lacrosse.
A season-ending foot injury to star attacker Grant Ament before the regular season even started set the tone for a disappointing year for the Nittany Lions. The team finished with an 8-6 record and a 2-3 mark in Big Ten play before watching the NCAA tournament from home.
Penn State’s Big Ten opponents should be just as tough this season, so the Nittany Lions must step up to the challenge and find ways to win the tight games they couldn’t finish in 2018.
But Ament is back, and he’s back for another two years. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining after using his redshirt while sitting out due to injury last year. The Nittany Lions can only hope Ament can return to the 30-goal, 30-assist form that earned him First Team All-Big Ten honors two seasons ago.
In Ament’s absence, players like senior Nick Spillane stepped up on offense. Spillane was thrust into an attacking role he hadn’t played in since high school, but he made the most of it by finishing the year tied for the Nittany Lion lead in points with junior Mac O’Keefe.
Though Spillane shined in the role he took on, he should feel even more comfortable moving back to his natural midfield role. As good as Spillane was last season, being able to bring Ament back as an attacker and play Spillane at midfield should only help the Nittany Lions.
Speaking of O’Keefe, he has another season of experience under his belt. The junior star is just two seasons removed from breaking the Penn State record for goals scored in a season with 51, and he’s primed for another productive year. Ament’s return should open up even more opportunities for O’Keefe to find the back of the net.
Key contributors from a season ago like senior Kevin Hill, redshirt junior Dylan Foulds, and senior captain Matt Donnelly also return to help anchor a strong offensive unit.
Perhaps Penn State’s 2017-2018 season MVP was junior faceoff man Gerard Arceri. The 2018 Big Ten Specialist of the Year finished last season with an impressive 68.1 winning percentage on draws. Arceri not only produced for his team, but also displayed remarkable toughness.
Arceri was playing through a nagging hamstring injury he sustained in a game against Maryland late in the season. Despite the injury, Arceri helped the Nittany Lions to their first victory against Johns Hopkins by winning 16 of 23 faceoffs. With Arceri healthy again, the Nittany Lions should like their chances for a rebound season.
Anchored by senior Chris Sabia and redshirt senior captain Mike Aronow, the defense has the potential to anchor Penn State to an improvement this season. Junior Colby Kneese returns as the team’s goalkeeper after posting an 8-5 record, 8.91 goals-against average, and a .549 save percentage in 2018.
Experience will definitely be on the Nittany Lions’ side this season. There’s also a renewed buzz surrounding the team, which will play at Panzer Stadium for the first time since renovations were completed over the summer.
Penn State will open the regular season in its new home at noon on Saturday, February 2 against Villanova.
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