Saturday’s season-opening win was supposed to mark the beginning of first-year Penn State men’s lacrosse coach Jeff Tambroni’s time in Happy Valley.
But though one may think Tambroni would garner most of the attention, when all was said and done, the Nittany Lions dedicated the game to someone else.
The Lions (1-0) used a four-goal fourth quarter to defeat Binghamton, 9-7, Saturday at Bigler Field. But that win was put into perspective by a teammate’s hardship.
In the days prior to Penn State’s opener, sophomore midfielder Eric Davidheiser’s mother, Laura, passed away. With Davidheiser back home in Vashon, Wash., the Lions took the field with their teammate’s family in mind.
Tambroni said the Lions dedicated the game to the Davidheiser family. The coach said Penn State wasn’t focusing on the result, instead playing with a determined demeanor for their teammate.
“I was thankful we came away with a win. I’m sure that will put a smile on Eric’s face,” Tambroni said. “But at the end of the day, I think when we all walk out of here we all still mourn the Davidheiser family’s loss and the Penn State lacrosse family’s loss.”
As the final whistle blew, the players on the Lions’ bench all sprinted onto the field and gathered around goalie Austin Kaut to celebrate the win.
The Penn State players then made their way to the sideline and shook hands with the Bearcats (0-1) before huddling for a team meeting.
Junior attacker Matt Mackrides, who scored a team-high three goals in the game, said Davidheiser was on the players’ minds during the postgame meeting.
“We wanted to come out and get that win for him and his family,” Mackrides said. “We talked about that. We gave that win to his mom, and we’ll say our prayers for the Davidheiser family.”
Though the Lions came away with a victory in Tambroni’s first game, the head coach said Saturday’s situation reinforced the idea he discussed with the team his first day on campus.
Tambroni said when he arrived at Penn State he told his players to focus on the experiences they gain while on the team rather than the result of each contest.
“We try not to put too much pressure on our guys in the column of wins or the column of losses,” Tambroni said. “At the end of the day, we’re just trying to create a meaningful journey for all these guys. This week was just another one of those examples of what’s important.”