A season opener is the start of another marathon season.
But this beginning symbolizes the blood, sweat and tears poured into an offseason.
Maybe no player reflected that hard work better than junior attacker Shane Sturgis in Penn State’s season opener against Michigan.
The Downingtown East alum scored four goals to help the Nittany Lions defeat Wolverines, 11-6, on Saturday.
After the game, coach Jeff Tambroni said that Sturgis has kept an extra focus on shooting recently in practice.
“He was one of the last guys to leave everyday from practice this past week,” Tambroni said via telephone. “He sensed the urgency of the season and it was nice to see him get some rewards this season.”
“He has been working hard all year and you can see out on the field, he’s shooting the ball well and he’s becoming a leader out there,” senior Nick Dolik added.
Sturgis has continued to show consistency in offensive output, producing in the team’s two scrimmages with Army and Johns Hopkins, Tambroni said.
However, the same cannot be said for all members of the team.
While Tambroni highlighted the play of sophomore Michael Richards and freshman T.J. Sanders, who also scored four goals, he said that Sturgis hasn’t received much complimentary production on the offensive end.
Out of 57 shots taken, the Lions only scored 11 times, a 19 percent success rate.
Tambroni credited the play of Michigan’s goaltender Gerald Logan, but Tambroni said his team still should have success.
Dolik, who finished the game with one assist and five shots, agreed with that statement.
The 5-foot-11 midfielder said that the shots he took, all had the capability of scoring if he executed properly.
The Bloomfield Hills, Mich. native will now look to take page out of Sturgis’ playbook and concentrate on shooting in practice in preparation for No. 8 Denver.
It’s a hard-working mindset that Tambroni and his coaching staff expects from his team.
“You tend to look at the longevity of the season and you put certain things off until tomorrow,” Tambroni said. “But this team really needs to go back to work, mentally as soon as [Sunday] and physically when we get back on Monday.”
No. 15 Penn State will now enter the stretch of its schedule that Tambroni considers the “gauntlet.”
With Denver, Lehigh, UMass, Notre Dame and Ohio State highlighting their schedule, the urgency to succeed will be crucial, the third-year coach said.
“We got a long way to go and it’s a good thing because this season is going to be a long journey,” Tambroni said.