In the next coming days and weeks College Crosse will be putting together some previews of Inside Lacrosse's 2012 Face-Off Yearbook top 20 rankings. Today we focus in on #20 on the list, Jeff Tamrboni's Nittany Lions of Penn State.
In his first season as head coach of the Nittany Lions, Tambroni led his team to a .500 record (7-7) eventually ending in a 10-9 loss to UMass in the Colonial Athletic Association (C.A.A.) semifinal. Returning its top five scorers from 2011, Tambroni has a steady crop of talent and experience to work with in 2012. Also returning will be sophomore goalie Austin Kaut, who stopped 63 percent of the shots he faced during his freshman campaign and was the backbone of a defense that gave up eight goals per game.
After a disappointing 2010 season that saw Penn State win just two games (2-11) and ended with the retirement of Glenn Thiel, the Penn State coach for over 30 years, Penn State took a giant step in the right direction in 2011, giving up almost four goals per game less than the previous season and playing the type of game Tambroni's Cornell Big Red team played for so many seasons.
We came in last year as a coaching staff, and we were all basically freshman," Tambroni said. "We knew what we wanted to do as a coaching staff, and we tried to establish what we wanted to do. This year, they seem to be much more experienced and there seems to be much more chemistry (via Inside Lacrosse)
Qualifying for the C.A.A. tournament and making playoff action for the first time since 2005, Penn State will look to improve on their impressive 2011 season, that saw them go 4-2 in the conference and emerge with a freshman attackman who can be relied upon with the game on the line.
Not just a finisher, Shane Sturgis put up 18 goals and 16 assists in 2011, and was named to the C.A.A all-rookie team. In a conference that saw offensive weapons Scott Perri, Jamie Lincoln and Jay Card graduate, Sturgis could become one of the stars of the conference. Joining him on attack will be senior captain Matthew Mackrides, whose 30 points were good for second on the team. Mackrides had a stretch in April where he put up at least three points a game against three C.A.A. opponents, putting up a four goal, one assist performance against Drexel on April 23rd.
The C.A.A. has four teams ranked in I.L.'s top 20 (Hofstra, UMass and Drexel respectively) so it looks to be another strong year for the conference. The one weak point for the Nittany Lions could be their unit in front of Kaut, as they graduated two starting defensemen and lost top long pole's Matt Bernier (39 groundballs, 14 caused turnovers) and Bill Davis (18 groundballs, 13 caused turnovers). They will rely heavily on senior's Ryan McGarvey and sophomore Steven Bogert. Bogert's 31 groundball's were good for second on the team among defensemen.
As mentioned earlier, Mackrides will be one of three captains for Tamrboni's squad in 2012. Joining him will be fellow seniors Ryan Link and McGarvey.
All three seniors lead by example and are selfless in their daily approach, and our staff is excited for our newly appointed leaders and our team. Their maturity and poise under pressure will be essential this year. We are confident that they will be up to the task and their leadership will make our alumni, family and friends of Penn State Lacrosse very proud.
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Above is a look at the top five scorers from 2011, all of whom will return in 2012.