After receiving votes in the preseason poll and outplaying No. 5 Johns Hopkins in its only scrimmage, the Penn State men's lacrosse team was confident and excited about this season.
However, after losing to Robert Morris in last week's season opener, the mood was much different.
And now with a 1 p.m. Sunday showdown against No. 8 Notre Dame looming for the Nittany Lions' home opener in Holuba Hall?
"Ironically, the mood around practice is still very upbeat, which is amazing," senior defenseman John Stuckey said. "Despite the fact that loss was embarrassing, everyone is still determined to get out there and prove we have an excellent team that can go places this year."
While Stuckey acknowledged the team still had a lot of work to do, he said Robert Morris' unique offensive style caused the Lions problems that the team shouldn't have against a more-traditional offense like Notre Dame's.
For assistant coach Guy VanArsdale, the team's success comes down to one thing -- execution.
"Execution. Discipline and execution," he said. "We just have to go out and execute on Sunday the things we practice all week."
After Penn State outshot the Colonials 52-35 in last week's double-overtime loss, head coach Glenn Thiel said the team did not shoot the ball the way it had all preseason and that alone may have cost it the win.
VanArsdale agreed, saying the team shot the ball "horribly" and said shooting, along with playing better team defense, was the focus in practice this week.
Whether it's hitting the right spot of the net on their shots or picking up the attacker slashing to the front of the net on defense, senior goalie Drew Adams said it's more of a mental thing at this point than anything.
"Right now, we've just been going over the intensity and focus we need to come out with on Sunday," he said. "That was something we were really lacking against Robert Morris, it's not a lack of talent or skills, just that sense of urgency we need to win games."
Although it's only the second game of a long season and conference play doesn't start until next week, according to Adams, Notre Dame is a key game for two reasons.
Not only would beating the No. 8 team in the country get the team pointed back in the right direction, he said, but it would mark the only time during this senior class's time at Penn State that the Lions beat the Fighting Irish.
As for Stuckey, he said even though the loss last week is already behind the team, a win this weekend would help eliminate any leftover disappointment from the season-opener.
"There's no two ways about it," Stuckey said, "if we beat Notre Dame we can completely forget about Robert Morris."