Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Drilling Consistency Ahead Of Big Ten Tournament
Penn State men’s lacrosse is in the midst of a hot streak, emerging from its regular season gauntlet with four consecutive wins and knocking off No. 14, No. 6, No. 15, and No. 11 ranked conference foes.
The Nittany Lions secured the top spot in the conference, earned a first-round bye, and will face the winner of Michigan and Ohio State’s Big Ten semifinal matchup.
The squad is vastly outperforming its markers from a disappointing 2022 season that saw the team go 3-11, and head coach Jeff Tambroni pointed to players on both sides of the ball for being responsible for the turnaround.
“TJ Malone and Jack Traynor, I don’t know if you would call them the most improved…Their leadership and maturity is by far the most drastic improvement from last year to this year,” Tambroni said. “Then I would say on the other side, just more of a consistent or gradual growth is Jack Fracyon with the consistency that he played with this year.”
Malone and Traynor lead the Nittany Lions in points with 54 and 40, respectively, while Fracyon leads the Big Ten with 14.17 saves per game. Individual stars aside, Penn State flexed its deep bench and exhibited an ability to produce even while running the second lines. In its final game against Rutgers, Penn State saw 10 different goal scorers, including freshman Mac Hobbs’ first collegiate goal on his first collegiate shot.
“It was really nice to see Mac Hobbs and Luke Mercer step up and contribute the way they did,” Tambroni said. “They’re all capable, we’re just going to need it all in the late stretch of the season.”
Going into the playoffs as the top dogs in the conference, the Nittany Lions have earned extra preparation time to further solidify their chemistry and winning identity from the season thus far.
“This is exactly where we want to be, we just need to keep getting better. We’re going to use this time to get healthier and get stronger going into the tournament,” Malone said. “We’re just a selfless group that wants to play together and want to win games.”
This year more than ever, the Big Ten is loaded in the lacrosse world. All six teams are a threat, so Penn State will need sharp focus and sharp tactics to continue winning against bogeymen like Maryland and Johns Hopkins.
“We want to be true to ourselves, first and foremost, and not change a whole lot from the regular season. We feel good about where we are and where we are going,” Tambroni said. “We’re in this position for a reason.”
With each of their possible opponents ranked in the top 25, the Nittany Lions have their work cut out for them. But with a two-headed monster at attack, deep production through the midfield, a stellar defense, and a brick wall in the net, the team has the chance to make serious noise at the conference level and potentially capture a national championship.
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Just how good was that Dom DeLuca pick-six against Delaware?
“I couldn’t really think of any other place to do it because everyone is the happiest there.”
Penn State fell to under .500 for the first time this season.