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2018 Men’s Lacrosse Year in Review: #29 Penn State Nittany Lions

After a big 2017, the Nittany Lions regressed in 2018 without one of their top offensive stars.

Penn State Athletics

With the 2018 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to start looking back at how all 71 teams did during the season, as well as what to expect from each squad for 2019. These are not end of season rankings, as some people might think.

We’ve already begun looking back to 2018 with some team recaps thus far and continued our series this week with Jacksonville and Boston University.

So with that, let’s continue the recaps!

#29 Penn State Nittany Lions

Conference: Big Ten
2018 Record: 8-6 (2-3 in Big Ten play)
Head coach: Jeff Tambroni (8th Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Mac O’Keefe (35)
Assists: Nick Spillane (26)
Points: Mac O’Keefe (46)
Faceoffs: Gerard Arceri (216-of-317; 68.1%)
Ground balls: Gerard Arceri (145)
Caused turnovers: Chris Sabia (19)
Goals against average: Colby Kneese (8.91 GAA)
Save percentage: Colby Kneese (54.9%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: M Ryan Keenan (21 Gs, 10 As, 22 GBs), SSDM Tripp Traynor (33 GBs, 8 CTs, 1 G, 1 A), M Tanner Peck (4 Gs, 3 As)
Senior scoring departing: 40 of 271 points (14.8%)
Senior starts lost: 14 of 140 (10%)

Season Summary

It was a difficult season for the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley. And it all started before their first game when attackman Grant Ament suffered a foot injury that lasted the entire season. Without their top assister, a lot of the offense depended on Mac O’Keefe to step up in a larger role than he did a year ago.

The season opener against Villanova looked like it would start with a Penn State win. The Lions led by five at the end of the fourth, but the Wildcats scored eight of the final 10 goals for the overtime win. After 15-8 victories over Hobart and Stony Brook, the Nittany Lions suffered another loss at home, this time to eventual NEC champion Robert Morris. In that game, Penn State led by just one, but the Colonials exploded on offense in the final frame.

The same thing happened again after wins over Penn and Furman with a loss to Cornell. The Nittany Lions led by three goals entering the fourth quarter, but the Big Red scored six of the final seven goals to win. Even with wins over Fairfield and Cleveland State, it looked as if Penn State had to win the Big Ten in order to make it to the NCAA Tournament. And the Nittany Lions made a statement in their 12-4 Big Ten opener against Ohio State. They also played strong against Maryland, despite losing by a goal. They did earn their first ever win over Johns Hopkins the following week and just needed one more win to get into the Big Ten Tournament. They lost to Rutgers and lost to Michigan in overtime to end their season.

O’Keefe became a more balanced player without Ament. He still led the team in goals with 35, but dished out 11 assists for a team-high 46 points. Junior Nick Spillane and redshirt-sophomore Dylan Foulds also joined him. Spillane was a point behind O’Keefe and led Penn State with 26 assists. At midfield, junior Kevin Hill, senior Ryan Keenan, and freshman Brian Townsend made up the top midfield unit late into the season. Juniors Matt Donnelly and Robby Black, along with senior Tanner Peck and freshman John Nostrant also got some runs at the midfield.

On defense, Chris Sabia, redshirt junior Mike Aronow, and freshman Brayden Peck started nearly all the games at close defense for the entire season. Sophomore Nick Cardile was the primary LSM, with junior Kevin Fox and sophomore T.J. Connellan as other notable long poles. Senior Tripp Traynor and sophomore Nick McEvoy were the shorties, with freshman Bobby Burns getting time as well. Gerard Arceri and Colby Kneese returned as the top FOGO and starting goalie respectively.

Looking Ahead

Three main contributors are gone and that’s about it. Add getting Grant Ament back in the fold and the Nittany Lions adding former BU defenseman Malcolm Glendinning to the fold and Penn State could be a team that contends in 2019.

There’s no excuse for the Nittany Lions to miss out on the NCAA Tournament. One big question is Arceri’s health. Injured during the Maryland game, the sophomore toughened it out with a ton of support on his leg for the rest of the year. We saw what a healthy Arceri and Ament can do for Penn State.

Here’s who the Nittany Lions will be adding to their roster for next year.

Penn State’s Official Class of 2018

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Tommy Baker Defense/LSM West Genesee (NY)
C.J. Battaglia Defense/LSM Webster Thomas (NY)
Nate Buller Attack Landon (MD)
Jordan Donaghy Midfield Malvern Prep (PA)
James Funk Defense Shawnee (NJ)
Aleric Fyock Goalie St. Mary's Annapolis (MD)
Michael Giaquinto Midfield/FO Ward Melville (NY)
Seamus Glynn Attack Malvern Prep (PA)
Brett Hobbs Midfield Salesianum (DE)
T.J. Malone Attack Haverford School (PA)
Jack Traynor Attack Malvern Prep (PA)
Joe White Attack Collegiate (VA)


How many wins will Penn State get in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    (4 votes)
  • 18%
    (9 votes)
  • 41%
    (20 votes)
  • 31%
    (15 votes)
48 votes total Vote Now