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Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Holding Strong Defensively Despite Key Absences

Penn State men’s lacrosse has won five straight games since falling in its season opener to Colgate. A large part of its success has been the ability to lean on one of the most stout defenses in the country. Through six games, the Nittany Lions have allowed just 59 goals against, giving them the nation’s 14th-best 9.83 goals against average.  

The Nittany Lions’ defensive success has come despite the absence of two of its standout players, Kevin Parnham and Jack Posey. Stalwart sophomore Alex Ross has been a large reason for the success. The defender has had three tough tests over the past three weeks and passed each of them.  

Arguably the most impressive was his performance on Saturday in Penn State’s 20-9 victory over No. 15 Cornell. Ross was tasked with a Tewaaraton Award front-runner in CJ Kirst and held him to a season-low two goals.  

“I’m not sure Alex Ross is getting enough credit for what he has done over the last couple of weeks,” head coach Jeff Tambroni said.  

With Posey still not back from his ACL tear that ended his season in 2023 and Parnham battling an arm injury from this year, Ross has stepped up big-time for the Nittany Lions. On top of Ross’ excellent play, Tambroni has had to find other players to step up in areas they typically wouldn’t be expected to.  

Another player who stepped up is sophomore Will Costin. The defender only played in seven games last year, a number he will eclipse in next weekend’s game against Marquette if he remains healthy.  

“Will has played really well over the last couple of games,” Tambroni said. “Will is one of our best communicators on the team.” 

Costin has been more than just a communicator, causing six turnovers and picking up nine groundballs through the first six games.  

The defense has also received help from St. Lawrence transfer Joe Scarfi who has switched between guarding teams’ second and third options for most of the year. Scarfi has 11 groundballs and four caused turnovers on the season.  

Still, even with great performances from less experienced Penn State defenders so far this season, Tambroni recognizes the importance of being healthy for the upcoming Big Ten schedule.  

“There is going to come a time when you’re going to need a few more bodies, a little bit more depth, and your very best players on the field for the majority of each game if you’re going to be expected week in, a week out to compete in the gauntlet that lies ahead,” Tambroni said.  

The good news for the Nittany Lion defense is that defensive midfielder Mark Sickler has a chance to be back to 100% health for the next game. Sickler brings much-needed depth and tenacity on the wings.  

Returns for Parnham and Posey are still unknown, but with both players dressed and warming up on Saturday, a healthy Penn State unit could hit the field sooner rather than later.  

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About the Author

Collin Ward

Collin is a first-year majoring in digital/print journalism. Born in Hartford, he now lives in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. As a die-hard Chelsea FC fan you can normally find him yelling at his TV screen each weekend. To reach him, follow him on Instagram: @cward829, or email him at [email protected].

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