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Know Your Enemy: No. 7 Penn State Men’s Lacrosse vs. No. 11 Army Black Knights

No. 7 Penn State men’s lacrosse will make its second all-time appearance in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament at noon on Sunday.

The Nittany Lions will square off against No. 11 Army for a chance to win a trip to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. The Black Knights are hot off a victory over defending national champion Maryland in the first round of the tournament in a game that was decided in an entertaining fourth-quarter brawl.

Both the Nittany Lions and the Black Knights battled stout opponents in the tournament’s first round and showed grit to survive and earn a bid to the quarterfinals. Army leads the series 29-3, and the two last met in 1999 when Penn State was bested by a score of 19-12. The Nittany Lions are poised to enact sweet revenge and power past the Black Knights with a win on the horizon for Jeff Tambroni’s team.

Army Overview

Army comes into the matchup boasting a 13-3 overall record and the 2023 Patriot League Tournament Champion. Army also is an excellent team away from home and displays an 8-1 record in games on the road.

During its first-round win over Maryland, Army goalie Knox Dent made an impressive 16 saves to keep the game to a one-goal margin through the second half. The Black Knights have upset offensively superior teams by relying on a strong performance by their defense.

On offense, junior Reese Burek leads the team in points with 34 goals and 26 assists. Burek stacked three assists with a goal against Maryland and was a pivotal player on attack throughout the season. The Black Knights also boast an impressive 61% face-off win percentage, which has allowed the team to dominate against teams who have struggled to win face-offs.

Keys To The Game

The Nittany Lions must plan to start the game off strong and deliver a first-quarter performance that sets the stage for a win. In its first-round matchup against Princeton, Penn State trailed the Tigers by a scoreline of 7-1 in the first half due to a lethargic start by both the Nittany Lions’ offense and defense. If Penn State comes out with all cylinders firing in the first quarter, the Black Knights will quickly fall behind.

The Nittany Lions’ defense must also come prepared to provide a greater shield for lights-out goalie Jack Fracyon. The defense should match up well against the Black Knight offense, especially if the Nittany Lions are able to slide effectively to prevent uncontested shots.

Penn State’s offense needs to bring the heat in order to gain momentum from the first whistle. Ethan Long led the scoring against Princeton with a total of five goals, three of which were assisted by TJ Malone. The Traynor brothers, who provided a considerable amount of firepower during the regular season, were absent for most of the game against Princeton. If Jack and Matt Traynor show up ready to play, the Black Knight defense will be no match for a full-force Penn State offense.

One final key for a Nittany Lion victory resides in the team’s ability to win possession from the face-off. The Nittany Lions have struggled this season with face-offs and exhibit a 47% win percentage. Against the Black Knights, the Nittany Lions will be challenged and will have to rely on successful transition play to gain possession on offense.

Prediction

Penn State is in a prime position to advance to the next round of the tournament and make a convincing statement following a tightly fought first-round win. We expect the Nittany Lion offense to find momentum early on and bury the Black Knights with a series of goals from Malone and contributions from the Traynor brothers. Long will also continue his scoring run and take advantage of a short-stick matchup that will hurt Army.

On defense, the Nittany Lions will take control of the game early on and protect Fracyon from any offensive chances by Army. We predict that Penn State will move on to its second NCAA Tournament semifinal appearance after beating the Black Knights by a margin of 16-10.

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About the Author

Ryan Banks

Ryan is a junior from Latrobe, Pennsylvania majoring in Finance. He is a Pittsburgh sports fan and believes Kenny Pickett is 'the guy.' In his free time, he can be found running pickup soccer games or losing money day trading in his apartment. Any inquiries (or stock tips) can be sent via email to [email protected].

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