Keys To Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Ending Season Strong
With No. 5 Penn State men’s lacrosse halfway through its season, it’s on track for a huge bounce-back year. Last season, the team went 3-11, fell in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, and failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
The Nittany Lions currently boast a 5-1 record and jumped high in the rankings after their third consecutive victory over a top-10 team.
With six games left in the season, five of which are Big Ten games, Penn State needs to finish its season strong by winning face-offs, sharing the wealth on offense, and staying strong on defense.
Penn State’s Face-Off Game Must Dominate
Penn State thrives when it wins face-offs and starts with an offensive advantage. When their opponents win face-offs, the Nittany Lions struggle to find their footing and are slow to transition back and forth from offense to defense. Too many goals have been scored against Penn State straight from face-offs this season, which harms its momentum.
Penn State has the fifth-lowest face-off win percentage in the Big Ten at .538, and if it falls below .500 in its upcoming games, it might kill its title charge. Dominating the face-off game means controlling momentum, which will be key in the upcoming games.
Continue To Share On Offense
The Nittany Lions’ offense has been on fire, averaging 14.67 goals per game totaling 88 goals. They’re leading the Big Ten in assists and points per game, with 8.67 assists and 23.33 points on average.
The veteran players and leadership seem to lead the charge, with four of the five players leading in points being graduate students. But, this offense shares the wealth, as sophomore Matt Traynor has had a standout season thus far with 22 points.
No matter who’s on offense, Penn State is destined to score, and its opponents can’t focus on shutting down only one player. Taking advantage of its talent and sharing points among its players will be key for Penn State to find victories in the next six games.
The Defense Must Stay Strong
Penn State’s defense has stepped up big this season, especially compared to last season when it allowed the most goals in the Big Ten.
The defense has dominated ground balls and turnovers, with an average of 8.50 caused turnovers per game. The Nittany Lions have allowed the second-lowest number of goals against this season, shutting down high-scoring teams. In their last game, they held No. 3 Cornell to six goals.
Goalie Jack Fracyon was named the starter after starting only two games last season. He has the highest save percentage in the Big Ten (.568) and 88 saves. Fracyon’s dominance led him to earning D1 Player of the Week honors after his single-game low of six goals allowed.
As head coach Jeff Tambroni said after the first game, the team focused on resilience and building a winning mentality in the offseason, and it has worked so far. Even when its down, this team never stops fighting and continues to shock the nation. If they keep this up, the Nittany Lions have the potential to see a repeat of their 2019 season as the Big Ten champions.
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“If they make a mistake, it’s not a failure unless you don’t try again.”
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