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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish hope new Penn State coaching staff will not pose threat

Joseph Monardo | Friday, February 25, 2011

Notre Dame will look to follow up on its dominant performance against defending champion Duke as it travels to Penn State to face a team that posted an abysmal 2-11 record last year.

With a new coach and a large amount of young talent, however, Penn State (1-0) promises to challenge the No. 3 Irish (1-0) as they vie for a big upset.

Coming off one of the worst seasons in program history, the Nittany Lions are led by first year coach Jeff Tambroni, who earned his first win with his new team against Binghamton in their opener. Under the direction of Tambroni, Penn State looks to leave last year’s disappointment behind.

“[A 2-11 record] was an anomaly for them,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “They are a talented team and they’ve got a new coaching staff and I know there is a lot of excitement in their program about where they are and where they are going.”

An impressive performance against the Irish would be a huge step for Penn State, one which they will undoubtedly try especially hard to achieve.

“This is a great chance for them,” Corrigan said. “They have a highly ranked team coming onto their campus, and we are going to see their best, there’s no question about that, and I think their best is very, very good.”

Following their coach’s example, the Irish players are careful to ensure that they don’t overlook the Nittany Lions.

“We need to make sure that we don’t come in too overconfident,” sophomore goalie John Kemp said. “Certainly you want to go in with confidence, but not too much, because they are a good team and they are capable of beating us.”

Kemp anchored the Irish defense with a 10-save performance in the first game of the season but played an equally important role in clearing the ball, leading to several quick offensive pushes.

“I’m kind of more of a goalie that is willing to take chances to try to start transitions and fast breaks,” Kemp said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to provide some nice outlets.”

Kemp’s ability to get the ball out of his stick quickly will continue to be important this weekend, as Corrigan says one of his team’s keys to winning the game is a strong transition game.

“We have a very good defensive group, and we are going to get stops with our goalie play and our defensive group that we have,” he said. “We have to clear the ball and turn those into offensive possessions.”

If the Irish can duplicate last weekend’s performance against Duke, they should be very successful against Penn State, as Corrigan said he sees many similarities between the two teams.

“They both have kind of an aggressive, physical, challenging defensive style, and they both have a variety of different guys offensively that can hurt you if you don’t play good defense against them,” he said. “[The keys are] going to be largely the things that helped us get through last week.”

The teams will face off at 1 p.m. Sunday in University Park, Penn.