NCAA Team Reviews: Penn State Nittany Lions

Photo credit to Penn State University Athletics
Photo credit to Mark Selders, Penn State Athletics

For the better part of four months, many of us watched some exciting college lacrosse, whether it was on TV, online, or in person.  There were good games, which included all of Championship Weekend, and there were bad games, such as low scoring affairs and of course, the horrendous winter weather.  I take a look back at all 69 Division I teams and how they fared this season and what to look forward to in 2016.

Check out previous recaps: NJIT Highlanders, UMass Lowell River Hawks, VMI Keydets, Manhattan Jaspers, Canisius Golden Griffins, Robert Morris Colonials, St. John’s Red Storm, Wagner Seahawks, Binghamton Bearcats, Bellarmine Knights, Jacksonville Dolphins, Furman Paladins, Lafayette Leopards, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers, Siena Saints, Delaware Blue Hens, UMBC Retrievers, Dartmouth Big Green, Providence Friars, Mercer Bears



2014 Record 7-6
2014 Conference Record 3-2 (3rd in CAA)
2014 Scoring Offense 10.31 Goals Per Game (27th in DI)
2014 Scoring Defense 8.92 Goals Against Per Game (16th in DI)
2014 Goals Leader #3 Shane Sturgis – Senior (33 Gs)
2014 Assists Leader #3 Shane Sturgis – Senior (17 As)
2014 Points Leader #3 Shane Sturgis – Senior (50 Pts)
2014 Goaltending Leader #19 Austin Kaut – Senior (.547 SV %)
2014 Face-Off Leader #38 Drake Kreinz – R-Freshman (.611 FO %)
2014 Ground Balls Leader #38 Drake Kreinz – R-Freshman (70 GBs)
2014 Caused Turnovers Leader #8 Tyler Travis – Senior (17 CTs)
2014 Quality Wins Notre Dame (8-7), Hofstra (8-7)
2014 Bad Losses Loyola (12-11), Denver (15-11)


2015 Record 5-9
2015 Conference Record 2-3 (4th in Big Ten)
2015 Scoring Offense 9.23 Goals Per Game (48th in DI)
2015 Scoring Defense 10.14 Goals Against Per Game (32nd in DI)
2015 Goals Leader #29 TJ Sanders – Junior (29 Gs)
2015 Assists Leaders #29 TJ Sanders – Junior (13 As)
#10 Nick Aponte – Sophomore (13 As)
2015 Points Leader #29 TJ Sanders – Junior (42 Pts)
2015 Goaltending Leader #16 Connor Darcey – R-Sophomore (.553 SV %)
2015 Face-Off Leader #38 Drake Kreinz – R-Sophomore (.544 FO %)
2015 Ground Balls Leader #38 Drake Kreinz – R-Sophomore (60 GBs)
2015 Caused Turnovers Leader #23 James Burke – Junior (12 CTs)
2015 Quality Wins Penn (14-11), Michigan (10-9)
2015 Bad Losses Loyola (8-6), Johns Hopkins (11-10 2OT)



With a team that is capable of producing a quality product on the field, Penn State has been a dud the past couple of seasons. Sure the team was banned from the CAA Tournament for a few seasons before moving to the Big Ten, but I would have expected the Nittany Lions to compete for an at-large bid. 2015 was not kind to the Nittany Lions either. Even with All-American Honorable Mention TJ Sanders, the team only won eight games and barely got in to the Big Ten Tournament in late April, thanks to wins against Rutgers and Michigan.

Penn State got off to a good start with a 15-8 win against Vermont, but then lost their following two games to Loyola and in-state rival Villanova. A 14-11 victory against Penn, followed by a loss at Harvard and a tight 9-8 win against Marist gave the Nittany Lions a .500 record. Then there came a month -long losing streak starting with UMass and Denver, before entering Big Ten play with Ohio State. The Buckeyes jumped out to a 7-2 halftime lead and eventually got by with a 10-8 victory. After a loss to Maryland, Penn State went to Homewood Field to take on Johns Hopkins. The Jays had a 6-3 halftime lead, but the Nittany Lions scored seven goals to force the game into overtime, followed by another overtime session, when Joel Tinney sealed the game with seven ticks left in overtime. But Penn State bounced back with an 11-6 win over Rutgers, and it became a must-win situation to get into the Big Ten Tournament against Michigan in Ann Arbor. Up 4-1 at half, Penn State kept their lead and defeated the Wolverines 10-9 and would face Johns Hopkins again in the Big Ten Semifinals, falling again to the Blue Jays, this time in a 14-9 game.

With the tragic passing of goaltender Connor Darcey earlier in June, what can we except from the Nittany Lions in 2015? They’ll have a very good recruiting class coming in and have some quality players that didn’t play much last season, and still have Drake Kreinz and TJ Sanders as well. The team started ranked in 2015, and that may be the case again in 2016.



Trevor Scollins Goalie Marshfield (MA)
Nick Spillane Attack Carey (NY)
Dean Lamela Defense Lawrenceville (NJ)
Robby Black Midfield/FO McDonogh (MD)
Kevin Fox Midfield St. Mary’s (MD)
Mike McClain Defense Canandaigua Academy (NY)
Brandon Stern Midfield Cherry Hill East (NJ)
Dylan Foulds Midfield Terry Fox (BC)
Grant Ament Attack Haverford School (PA)
Tommy Wright LSM Garden City (NY)
Drew Ryan Attack/Midfield Radnor (PA)
Drew Petkevich Midfield Bullis (MD)
Matt Donnelly Midfield Clearview Regional (NJ)

Penn State brings in 14 new recruits to replace nine players in 2015. The Nittany Lions bring in some top recruits for another season, as Tommy Wright is Ty Xanders’s #7 top recruit, while Grant Ament of Haverford School is his 12th best recruit, and Kevin Hill is #74 on his list. You’ll see Wright and Ament in the Under Armour All-American Game next Friday, and both should get some playing time next season.