Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/11/12
From Press Release
The No. 17/18 Penn State men’s lacrosse team will open its 99th season against sixth-ranked North Carolina at KSU Soccer Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga., today. The contest is the season opener for both teams with opening faceoff slated at 1 p.m.
The Nittany Lions, who finished the 2011 campaign at 7-7, will begin head coach Jeff Tambroni’s second season against their first of nine ranked preseason opponents. Penn State will face five ranked non-conference foes, including North Carolina, in the USILA preseason top 20.
Penn State boasts a veteran squad that returns 10 starters from a season ago. Among the returnees include six players who received 2011 end-of-year conference laurels, including senior attackman Matthew Mackrides (Malvern Prep) and sophomore goalkeeper Austin Kaut (Springfield-Delco), both of whom earned Inside Lacrosse preseason Honorable Mention All-America and preseason All-CAA recognition.
A Morton, Pa., native, Kaut, who last year earned USILA Honorable Mention All-America accolades, was the only sophomore named a preseason All-CAA member and was also tabbed CAA Preseason Co-Player of the Year. In 2011, Kaut led the NCAA in save percentage (.635) and ranked 10th in goals-against average (.635).
Senior defender Ryan McGarvey (Penn Charter) also earned preseason All-CAA honors, and sophomore attackman Shane Sturgis (Downingtown East), who last year led the Nittany Lions with 34 points (18g, 16a), was tabbed an honorable mention All-American.
The Tar Heels, who advanced to the NCAA tournament a year ago, have been one of the most consistent teams in the country during the past four seasons. During that span, North Carolina’s winning percentage ranks ninth in the country (.672), while its 43 wins ties for eighth.
Six Tar Heels earned Inside Lacrosse preseason All-America status, including sophomore Nicky Galasso, who tallied 56 points (24g, 32a) last season. Galasso and defender Charlie McComas, who collected 30 ground balls and nine caused turnovers in 2011, were also named preseason All-ACC members by Inside Lacrosse and Face-Off Magazine.
Penn State is 0-9 all-time against the Tar Heels with their last matchup coming in the 1996 season. At Chapel Hill, the Nittany Lions dropped an 18-9 contest on March 6. The Nittany Lions, who were tabbed to finish fourth in the conference, will look for its second straight season-opening win since 2004-05. Penn State opened to the 2011 campaign with a 9-7 victory over Binghamton.