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Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Focusing ‘Between The Lines’ In Empty Venues

Last Saturday, Penn State men’s lacrosse took the field for the first time in nearly a year in the empty confines of SHI Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. It was no secret that the lack of a hostile crowd that usually occupies the stands at Rutgers gave the game a different feel.

The lack of fans in the stands across all sports over the past year has undoubtedly given games a different atmosphere. For the average viewer, it changes the viewing experience of the game. For some athletes, it gives games more of a lackadaisical feel and puts less pressure on them to perform without thousands of eyes bearing down on them.

In the eyes of the Nittany Lions, the lack of fans in the stands is a barrier that they feel they can overcome. This comes from an already-established mentality of making sure their focus is solely on what going on on the field.

“Our focus has always been in between the lines,” head coach Jeff Tambroni said.

Tambroni has always made it a point of emphasis in his time at Penn State to make sure his teams’ focus always remains “in between the lines.” Saying one thing and executing it are two different things, but leadership has helped Penn State stay focused in these new game environments.

“I think our captains, Mac O’Keefe and Nick Cardile, continue to lead with great conviction,” Tambroni said. “They help the guys stay focused.”

The Nittany Lions also worked in the off-season during intrasquad scrimmages to keep up the intensity and focus in simulated game environments. The game at Rutgers was the Nittany Lions’ first crack at the actual showdown in the new, fanless environment. Tambroni hopes his team learns from those experiences to be successful in the future.

The ability to stay focused and motivated also comes with experience. Graduate student Dylan Foulds has experienced a lot during his time in the Penn State program. As time has gone on, he has become a player that’s used to playing in any environment.

“I can say personally with fans or not you don’t really notice anything going on outside of the game,” Foulds said.

Foulds acknowledged that this ability to play anywhere changes on a player-by-player basis, but most Nittany Lions in the program are programmed the same way he is.

However, that doesn’t mean that the fans won’t be missed. Despite being built only two years ago, Panzer Stadium has become one of the best atmospheres in college lacrosse. Panzemonium, the team’s student section, is located directly behind the visitors’ benches and has been known to rattle opposition players.

“I don’t know about the pandemic, but we all hope fans can come back to the stands as the season goes on,” junior TJ Malone said.

Through all of this, fans or not, Tambroni wants to make sure his team cherishes the opportunity given to them this season.

“I just hope the guys recognize the blessing to be playing right now and be playing at Panzer,” Tambroni said.

The Nittany Lions open a two-game homestand against No. 4 Maryland on Friday, February 26. That series will begin at 5:30 p.m and be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Connor Donohue

Connor is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He hails from the great state of New Jersey and is proud of it. Lover of the greatest city in the world, New York City, he strongly dislikes the city of Philadelphia and will not hesitate to tell you that. He's also been cursed as a Penn State fan since birth. If you want to call him a bum or maybe go out on a date with him, follow him on twitter @ConnorDonohue00 or email him at [email protected]

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