MLAX: ‘Nova Hands Penn State Their First Loss
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.--The Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1) welcomed the Villanova Wildcats (1-1) to Happy Valley Saturday afternoon for their fourth game of the season. A strong and fast Villanova team came out and shut down the Nittany Lions, securing a dominating 19-9 victory.
Coming into the game, Penn State had three wins under its belt, establishing themselves as a tough team to beat. For Penn State’s first loss of the season, it was clear the Nittany Lions needs to focus on their weaknesses as the season progresses.
A main area of focus for Penn State for the remainder of the season is the face-off circle. Villanova dominated on face-offs, winning 26 out of 32 face-offs throughout the game. For Villanova, dictating the face-offs gave the Wildcats more offensive possessions in Penn State’s zone. Penn State, as a result, didn’t get as many offensive chances.
“Our number one guy is injured, that’s fact. The other side of it is we have capable guys that are working hard and it’s going to take them a little bit more time,” coach Jeff Tambroni said. “In addition, we need collaboration from the wings and the outside guys. We need to do a better job of not putting so much pressure on just the faceoff, but more emphasis on the three guys that come in on every faceoff.”
Throughout the game Penn State could not sustain any kind of rhythm and whenever the Nittany Lions found the back of the net, Villanova had an answer. Going into the third quarter, the Wildcats' lead over Penn State was only 8-3. However, Penn State struggled defensively and did not communicate well on the offensive end.
Villanova's Jake Froccaro scored three straight to open a 5-0 run that put the Nittany Lions behind by 10, 15-5, with 7:18 remaining in the third quarter.
The Nittany Lions made another attempt to close the gap with a goal from Ament, 16-7, with 12:11 left to play. Villanova responded with a 3-0 streak to take their largest lead of the game, 19-7, with just under five minutes remaining and shut down the Nittany Lions offensively to end the game.
Junior, Nick Aponte commented on his team’s lack of communication and team play saying, “They did really well on the face-offs and their goalie played really well. We have to come together, see what we did wrong, and start playing together.”
Penn State will look to move forward from the tough loss and will focus their efforts on weaknesses the Villanova Wildcats capitalized on.
“It’s one loss and I think we have to pinpoint where our issues and do a better job of refocusing our strengths in those areas,” Tambroni said. “I still believe in those guys that are in that group and I still believe that we have a lot of opportunities left in the season. Hopefully we can minimize panic and just create a new and improved team from this.”
The Freshman class has proven to make a big impact on this Penn State team and will brush off their first loss going into next weekend. The upperclassman and leaders of the team recognize the freshman and their positive impact on the season thus far.
“They came in with a big class at 16. They’re all great kids, hard workers, and exactly what we want at Penn State. It’s a foundation that we’re bringing up,” Aponte said.
Look for the freshman to come out even stronger next week as Penn State will take on the UPenn Quakers Saturday, March 5 at noon.
Alissa Devine is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her email, email@example.com.