Penn State Lacrosse Disappointed With Early Finish, But Optimistic For Future
The sports world has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic over the past few weeks. Major sports leagues have shut down, summer soccer tournaments have been postponed to 2021, and the NCAA has closed up shop for the remainder of the semester.
Penn State’s best shot at a national championship this spring must be put on hold, after the men’s lacrosse team concluded its season prematurely.
After falling in the Final Four in 2019, this year’s squad spent a large part of the abbreviated season at the top of the polls.
While it is heartbreaking for many to see the team not be able to compete for glory at Lincoln Financial Field in May, sport must take a back seat during a time of crisis.
“We are extremely cognizant of the bigger picture,” head coach Jeff Tambroni said. “Our perspective is more global and extremely appreciative of Penn State’s athletic department. We are thankful that the university has prioritized the students’ health.”
While the coronavirus has affected everyone, Tambroni and his staff still have work to do.
Reports are circulating about an additional year of eligibility for spring athletes. According to Tambroni, many of those affected on his team would ponder the possibility of returning.
“It was a breath of fresh air for our guys,” Tambroni said. “It was the one thing that they took solace in. Over the course of the weekend, it was the one thing that put a smile back on their faces.”
While seeing the likes of Grant Ament, Mac O’Keefe, and others coming back may be an exciting prospect, there are many things to take into consideration, but as always, Tambroni is taking a calculated approach.
“We have been very careful, as a coaching staff, to make any promises or to start planning for our future, until the NCAA clearly lays out what that is going to look like logistically,” Tambroni said.
Tambroni is advising his senior class to take a step back and consider their futures with their families. If the players decide they want to return, and it’s permitted by the NCAA, then the coaches will make decisions about what’s best for the team.
On the other side of the spectrum, graduating a small amount of players could lead to consequences down the line for incoming freshmen. The dilemma is not unique to Penn State lacrosse, as a redshirt logjam, or other unforeseen ramifications may play out.
“I’m not sure I can forecast exactly the direction this is going to go,” Tambroni said. “However, we’ll be hard pressed to think that [recruiting] won’t have some form of impact.
“In the immediate term, high school seasons will be canceled. Maybe the summer tournaments will be canceled. That would have a significant impact on the [high school] junior class.”
Every spring sports coach throughout the nation has his or her hands full at the moment. Regardless of how the 2021 roster looks, Tambroni hopes that the seniors can get the send-off they deserve.
“At some point, we need to provide an opportunity for all these guys to look back at this, and hopefully reflect positively as to what they contributed to this program,” Tambroni said.
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