In its last road matchup, the Penn State men’s lacrosse team failed to live up to expectations.
After playing in close games all season, the Villanova Wildcats ripped through the Nittany Lion defense to the tune of a 17-5 loss.
Penn State now faces its second road test of the season, as the Lions (2-5) take on the No. 5 University of Massachusetts (5-1) at noon Saturday in Amherst, Mass.
“Villanova kind of caught us by surprise a little bit,” freshman goalie Austin Kaut said. “I think we underestimated them, and they came out and beat us dead.”
But Kaut said the Wildcat game is past them, and the Lions’ sights are set on the Minutemen.
“We’re looking forward to going to UMass this week and playing hard,” Kaut said. “You just have to forget about surroundings and play lacrosse.”
Coach Jeff Tambroni said traditionally UMass is one of the toughest places to play in the country. He described the Minutemen student section as extremely excitable and one that backs its team as well as any in the country.
Not only is this game against a top-10 team, but it’s also the first game for the Lions against a Colonial Athletic Association league opponent. Penn State went 1-4 in the CAA last season and Tambroni said he is excited to get started on a better record.
“For our coaching staff, this will be our first opportunity to play in this league,” Tambroni said. “There isn’t a lot of carry over of teams from where I was at Cornell to any of the teams on our schedule. It’s a whole new territory for us.”
Tambroni said when playing UMass, his team can expect to face a very energetic squad. He said a typical Minutemen team likes to push the pace both offensively and defensively, capitalizing on their strong transition game.
At the end of he day though, Tambroni said it is all about handling the adversity traveling on the road brings.
“I take a little bit of blame here,” Tambroni said. “We never traveled in the fall, and our first two scrimmages were at home and our first three regular season contests were at home. Looking back, we have a lot of young guys playing and a lot of distractions, and I think a mature team handles those distractions better than a younger, inexperienced team.”
Following the Villanova loss, Penn State beat No. 18 Rutgers and is hoping to start a trend.
“We’re going to go out there and put our best foot forward and build off that win against Rutgers and see if we can tie another win together,” Tambroni said.