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Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Rising To The Occasion Defensively In Midst Of NCAA Tournament Run

Penn State men’s lacrosse defeated Army 10-9 in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinal on May 21 but not without losing one of its key defenders, Jack Posey, to an injury.

Posey has been a leader on defense all season, and the senior recorded 25 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers up until his injury.

“You could tell it took the wind out of our sails. He is an emotional leader, a leader by example, he is just a terrific young man. That was a challenge,” head coach Jeff Tambroni said after the game. “It was a challenge to see a teammate and a friend go down like that. You could see we lacked emotion. It was big time. You could feel it on the sideline.”

Penn State was strong in the first half but after Posey got hurt, the defense returned weakened and in need of adjustment in the second half. Army capitalized on this change and threatened a comeback.

After some time, the defense found its stride again largely in part to Kevin Parnham and Sam Sweeney rising to the occasion.

Losing one leader to injury before the semifinals is a big blow but Penn State’s versatility allowed more leaders to emerge, proving resilience is key to its postseason fight.

“When Jack went down, you could see him on the sideline he still was commanding the defense on crutches, cheering on and talking about slides,” goalkeeper Jack Fracyon said. “Another veteran at [long stick middie], Sam Sweeney, came down and took the role in stride and he did pretty well, I would say.”

Parnham fought to change the tide back in Penn State’s favor, while Sweeney tallied a season-high nine ground balls and caused one turnover.

Fracyon has also cemented himself as a leader all season long but had a stellar game from the net and only allowed nine goals. He set a program record for the fewest goals allowed by an individual in an NCAA Tournament game against Army.

Following an adjustment period in the third quarter without Posey, Tambroni switched back to a zone for the last 15 minutes of play.

“We shifted back into our zone in the fourth quarter and I think it gave the defense the chance to rest,” Tambroni said. “They weren’t chasing Army all over. I thought both teams, regardless of possession times, were just wearing down from the heat in the fourth quarter. It was a test of will.”

The shift back to the zone defense allowed the Nittany Lions more time to think, transition, and keep the game in its favor. The back-and-forth game meant sloppy, rushed play at times but the zone forced both teams to slow down and focus on the mental game as well.

Penn State’s defense was crucial in the final minutes and ultimately stopped Army from securing a late win. The group with likely be without Posey in the semifinal but should the defense continue to perform well, No. 1 Duke will have a serious challenge ahead of it.

Tambroni and Co. will meet Duke at noon on Saturday, May 27, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Folks can watch the game on ESPN2.

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About the Author

Ashley Connington

Ashley is a freshman studying journalism from New Jersey. She has the misfortune of rooting for the New York Giants, but at least they have Saquon! You can send ways for her to meet Saquon to her instagram @aconnington26 or watch her obsess over Harry Styles and Chelsea FC on twitter @ashconnington.

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