The No.1 ranked Pennsylvania State University men’s lacrosse team continues to be the most dominant team in college lacrosse with wins over Ohio State and Michigan the last two weeks. Their 13-8 win on April 7 over previously No.7 ranked Ohio State was a complete performance from the Nittany Lions from front to back, comprised of sharp cuts from attackers and a concrete defense throughout the game. Redshirt junior attackmen Grant Ament totaled eight points with two goals and six assists, junior attackmen Mac O’Keefe scored three goals and became the all-time leading goal scorer in Penn State history, and goaltender Colby Kneese led the defense with 14 saves.
After watching that game, it’s clear to me, and many others: the Nittany Lions are extreme frontrunners to win the national championship.
They didn’t mess around early in the season when they beat Robert Morris University 27-10 in their second game. Talk about a blowout. Their only loss of the year was to the defending national champions, Yale University. But the outcome doesn’t do Penn State justice. Yale won 25 out of 31 faceoffs and still was only able to win by one.
Ever since the Yale game, the team has been on a six-game win streak and continues to get better and better each time they take the field. They came out firing on Sunday, March 31 when they played the University of Maryland Terrapins and scored 8 goals during the first quarter — yes, you read that correctly. The Terps made a solid comeback but the Nittany Lions ended up winning 13-10.
This is a team that has serious potential come May. Their attack line is head and shoulders above their competition. Their star attackman Grant Ament is one of the best lacrosse players I’ve ever seen. He broke the Penn State single-season assist record in the 7th game of the season with 44 assists. What planet is this dude from? Just look at this assist he made against Ohio State: https://twitter.com/PennStateMLAX/status/1115035519598067712
You don’t have to be a lacrosse fan to know that Ament is a disgustingly good player, and one of the toughest athletes in the country. Inside Lacrosse reporter Ty Xanders reported that Ament underwent high ankle tightrope surgery before the Nittany Lions game against Cleveland State University. Ament was expected to be out until late April but only missed one game. An outright warrior. The procedure he underwent was the same that star University of Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa had after the SEC title game.
Alongside Grant Ament is fellow attackmen Mac O’Keefe. O’Keefe is one of the most gifted shooters I’ve ever seen in college lacrosse. Do me a favor and watch his mixtape, you won’t be disappointed. O’Keefe’s game benefitted a tremendous amount when he decided to play box lacrosse in Canada this summer, greatly increasing his stick skills. Ament and O’Keefe are a lethal combo.
When it comes to their defense they’re almost as good as their offense and just as experienced. Their defense is led by four-year starter Chris Sabia. The Haverford School alumni has been the definition of consistency for the Nittany Lions. As the top on-ball defender for the Nittany Lions, he’s been giving opposing attackmen fits ever since he stepped on campus.
A great defense isn’t complete without a great goalie, but Penn State has that in junior Colby Kneese. Kneese, like many Penn State stars, has started since his freshman year. In 2018, he earned second-team All-Big Ten honors.
The one question mark for this team as they head into NCAA tournament play is their lack of playoff experience. Head Coach Jeff Tambroni has never won an NCAA tournament game during his tenure in Happy Valley. But at the end of the day, I still think that this team is too good not make a deep run in May. Penn State was a really good team last year but this time they have a great team.
That’s why I think they’re going to win the national championship.
- Jackson Parker