Tempo and Possession Set Tone in Nittany Lions’ Win Over Syracuse

Story posted December 6, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Matthew McLaughlin

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After back-to-back wins over Lindenwood, the rolling Penn State Nittany Lions faced one of their toughest challenges in Syracuse on Saturday afternoon in the first game of a two-game series.

Despite their win over RIT, the Orange were swept by Colgate in their opening series, which had them at 1-2 on the season going into this game. Despite the record, goalie Allison Small had been marvelous between the pipes for the Orange, which forced the Nittany Lions to pressure the puck and get shots on net. They did that exactly.

In total, Penn State outshot Syracuse 41-22 and won 10 more faceoffs than Syracuse in a 2-1 win. The lopsided shot totals and faceoff wins opened up offensive opportunities and kept the pressure on Syracuse’s defense.

As head coach Jeff Kampersal alluded to in the postgame press conference, the Nittany Lions thrive on tempo and pressure.

“Both us and Syracuse are good transition teams,” Kampersal said. “Those four or five players break the puck and do a good job of hinging, and our forwards have speed, so when they have the puck on the stick, they’re off to the races.”

Although the Nittany Lions were down by a goal early in the first period, they maintained their composure and demeanor during the early deficit.

“When we went down one, there was no panic, and we knew we were playing well,” Kampersal said. “It’s an even-keeled group.”

Indeed, that attitude was on full display, as the Nittany Lions retaliated with a game-tying score from Olivia Wallin in the last few minutes of the first period and a dazzling snipe from Kiera Zanon with eight seconds remaining in the second period.

While the end result was great, there are still plenty of areas for this Penn State squad to improve.

“Going forward, we have to change the way we set up certain shots,” Kampersal said. “Secondly, we have to do a better job of screening their goalies tomorrow.”

A big talking point after this game was specifically special teams. In total, Penn State did not score on any of its three power plays, which included a two-person advantage at one point. But this offense loves to fly up and down the ice, so it’s a very high-risk, high-reward strategy that pays off dividends when it does work.

Now, Syracuse will be looking to leave Pegula Ice Arena with a tied series, which will set up some fireworks for the Sunday night rematch. Penn State, meanwhile, will look to keep rolling through the early season.

 

Matthew McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, emailmem6936@psu.edu.