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Gameday Observations: Penn State Men’s Lacrosse At The Final Four In Philly

Penn State men’s lacrosse made its first appearance at the Final Four over the weekend, but fell to No. 5 Yale 21-17 in the national semifinal.

Although the end result was obviously not what anybody in Happy Valley wanted to see, the Nittany Lions arrived on college lacrosse’s biggest stage for the first time in program history. This weekend’s slate of lacrosse championships took place at Lincoln Financial Field, which is the home of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Here are some observations from our staff’s road trip to Philly.

  • I had no idea that the respective homes of the Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers were all in the same complex, so seeing all three stadiums within walking distance of each other was a cool surprise. The South Philadelphia Sports Complex’s sheer size allowed for tons of tailgating — way more than I expected, to be honest. I wasn’t sure how many people would come out to this weekend’s games, but all the cornhole, grilling, and Penn State flags made Philly feel like Beaver Stadium East.
  • Kudos to the Penn State Alumni Association for picking Xfinity Live as the host for its pregame mixer. The venue was awesome because it wasn’t all that big, so the atmosphere felt more intimate than the football team’s pre-Citrus Bowl pep rally at the Pointe Shopping Center in Orlando. Regardless, Nittany Lion fans invaded this place and set the tone for White Out conditions inside the Linc. Men’s basketball head coach Pat Chambers’ cameo was awesome, too.
  • Walking into Lincoln Financial Field is on par with Penn State’s “just outside Philly” crowd yelling “GO BIRDS” all night after watching a big Eagles win at Champs. The first thing I saw upon entering the stadium was, of course, a huge picture of Nick Foles’ famous touchdown catch in Super Bowl LII. I don’t necessarily love the Eagles, but it was hard not to appreciate all the team’s history imprinted on the stadium’s walls.
  • Saturday’s announced attendance was 32,612, and it’s safe to say the vast majority of that total was wearing white to support the Nittany Lions — even during Duke and Virginia’s semifinal. Penn State’s cluster of fans looked at least twice as large as Yale’s did, and it was easily the loudest of the afternoon among all four competing squads. Lacrosse is far from the most-followed or most-understood sport, but it was awesome to see how this team drew and held the attention of so many fans all season. In spite of the outcome, this weekend’s big showing was the culmination of that — which was cool to see. Penn Staters can rally behind anything blue and white.
  • As far as the on-field action is concerned, lacrosse truly is one of the most unique sports out there. Lacrosse faceoffs are among the most captivating single events in all of sports. Yale’s TD Ierlan dominated the X throughout the afternoon, but he and Penn State’s Gerard Arceri had a few lengthy battles that were so much fun to watch.
  • The end result was obviously not the one Penn State wanted, but Jeff Tambroni’s team flexed its muscles and showed why it belonged on the big stage throughout the contest. The Nittany Lions nearly came all the way back from a 10-1 first-quarter deficit by swarming the Bulldogs’ defense in the second quarter. If the program continues to take strides like it did this season, don’t be surprised if Penn State solidifies itself among college lacrosse’s blue-bloods in the near future.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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