With Blue-White weekend in the rearview mirror and with Fall practice still a few months away, the stage is set for one of the Spring sports teams to try and steal the spotlight in Happy Valley: Enter Penn State Men’s Lacrosse.
The number-one ranked Nittany Lions clinched the Big Ten regular season with a dramatic 14-13 win at home against Rutgers, this past weekend. They will face a re-match with the Scarlet Knights in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament this Thursday at 5 PM ET. At 12-1 and 5-0 in conference play, PSU is currently sporting a nine-game winning streak and the recently-dedicated, brand spankin’ new Panzer Stadium has swiftly become a nice home-field advantage for PSU, with its aptly-nicknamed student section Panzemonium leading the charge.
Guaranteed home field for the first round of the 16-team NCAA Tournament, the Nittany Lions have a solid chance at not only netting their first-ever tournament win, but also earning their first-ever appearance in the Final Four, which would require them to win their first couple rounds of games. The Final Four will be held in Philly’s Lincoln Financial Field on the Saturday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend, and will be nationally televised on ESPN. Such exposure would be huge for a program that has long been seeking to break out amongst the country’s best.
Leading the way for the team on the field are Grant Ament, with 88 total points as the team’s “point guard” netting 71 assists (a Big Ten single-season record) and 17 goals, and Mac O’Keefe, with a team-high 51 goals and 14 assists to give him 65 total points (second-highest on the team). I’m sure there are a few of you fellow readers who are actually well-versed in lacrosse, unlike myself and my zero playing experience, so feel free to chime in the comments below and tell us who else we should be paying attention to.
Currently in his ninth season with the program, head coach Jeff Tambroni was seen as a home-run hire when PSU lured him away from Cornell, a school that Tambroni had led to three Final Four appearances and an NCAA runner-up. Progress was slower than anticipated, as PSU had only managed two trips to the NCAA Tournament coming into 2019.
With the right amount of talent, experience, and money being thrown into having top-notch facilities, Penn State men’s lacrosse is set to announce their presence amongst lacrosse’s big boys. It’s time you start paying attention.