MLAX: Freshmen Step Up in Season Debut

Story posted February 5, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Joe Esquivel-Murphy

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - The freshman class at Penn State was supposed to play well this season, but not this well. The freshman class was vital in the season-opening 15-11 win against Robert Morris.

It all started with the play of midfielder Gerard Arceri, who won the opening face-off and went down the field and scored nine seconds into the game. Penn State head coach Jeff Tramboni praised Arceri for his performance throughout the day.

“He got us off to a great start today, but more importantly, I just thought he was just consistent over the course of the day,” Tramboni said.

He was a menace for Robert Morris as he won 21 face-offs in the game, and the extra possessions gave the Penn State offense multiple opportunities that they would not have had if Arceri was not in control. Though Penn State was able to score 15 goals, the offense stalled during points in the game as the Nittany Lions became impatient with the looks they were getting.

Robert Morris goalkeeper Alex Heger was the main reason that the Penn State offense was unable to score more goals as he stopped 12 Penn State shots on 27 attempts on goal. His play kept the Colonials in the game as they tried to drain the clock on offense to create fewer chances for the Nittany Lions.

The Penn State defense was up and down as starting goalkeeper Will Schreiner was pulled five minutes into the second quarter when he allowed his sixth goal of the game. Freshman Colby Kneese filled in for Schreiner and did admirably as he stopped more shots than he let in.

While the team might have struggled offensively, freshman Mac O’Keefe was on fire as he opened his Penn State career with seven of the team’s 15 goals. O’Keefe said the key to his performance was getting good shots off on net.

“I wanted to stay loose, get a few shots off in the beginning and just get confidence,” O’Keefe said. “We really let them dictate the tempo a little bit, but once we started shooting it was good.”

Coming into the season, the attack duo of Nick Aponte and Grant Ament were the players to watch, but O’Keefe outshined both of them as he was able to consistently create good shots for himself. Ament led the team in points last season with 54 and continued his scoring ways with a goal and five assists in the opener.

Aponte only scored once during the game, but his lack of goals opened the door for Mike Sutton to explode onto the scene. The senior midfielder from New Jersey scored four times, proving that he is capable of being a reliable scorer for Penn State this season.

With players other than Ament and Aponte lighting up the net, the Penn State offense looks potent with the ability to score goals in bunches. The passing ability of Ament coupled with numerous scoring options provides opposing defenses with a nightmare matchup.

Penn State will look to improve their record next Saturday as they travel to New York to take on Hobart at 2 p.m.


Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email