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Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview: Penn State

We’re breaking down each and every NCAA D1 team one by one to get prepped for the rapidly approaching season. Welcome back to the Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Previews! We move another spot down the list and the Penn State Nittany Lions, located in University Park, PA, are up for Preview!

We already got a look at Penn State’s Nike gloves. Now let’s look at the team itself.

2012 was a real season of difference for Penn State. In 2005, 2006, and 2009, PSU had winning seasons, but last year, at 9-6, the Nittany Lions looked especially promising. They looked like the potential behemoth many have thought they could be, even though they dropped most of their Top 20 games, and the season provided a great turning point for the program.

PSU was competitive in losses to UNC, UMass, Lehigh, Bucknell, and Drexel, and lost to Denver big, by a 14-6 margin. A 4-3 win over Notre Dame early in the season was their best of the year, but wins over Villanova, Drexel, Hofstra and Ohio State also showed the Lions’ promise.

2013 sees Penn State take on a relatively winnable Colonial conference, and outside of UMass, I like them as the #2 or 3 team, possibly pushing for the top spot. They also play Michigan, Lehigh, Ohio State, Denver, Notre Dame, Binghamton, Bucknell, and Villanova. Whew. That’s a jam packed schedule. Outside of Michigan and Binghamton, every game will be a stiff test.

Jack Forster and Shane Sturgis return to lead the attack for Penn State, and they make for a dangerous duo. Gavin Ahearn was also a solid option last year, and if he can put in a higher percentage of the shots he takes, his scoring could take off. Nick Dolik and Tom Lacrosse should lead the midfield. Jack Donnelly is a player to watch in 2013. He seems versatile and could adjust to the new rules well. Danny Henneghan could also possibly emerge as a go to guy.

Austin Kaut returns in goal for PSU, and this kid is an absolute stud. He could definitely be a difference maker this season in some close games, and if PSU does well, prepare to hear a lot more about their Junior keeper. Kessler Brown and Steven Bogert will need to lead the long pole corps, as a lot of more experienced players have graduated. Guys like Ryne Sternberg can help fill those holes, and PSU has a bevy of freshman poles with potential.

Penn State doesn’t blow you away with depth, but they do have some serious athletes, and are playing better team lacrosse than they have in years. Add in a stellar goalie and you have a team with definite Top 10 potential. Penn State needs to avoid injuries, and plug a couple of holes, but they have momentum and the pieces required to make 2013 a banner year.

Click HERE to see Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview posts for Air Force, Albany, Army, Bellarmine, Binghamton, Brown, Bryant, Bucknell, Canisius, Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Denver, Detroit, Drexel, Duke, Fairfield, Hartford, Harvard, High Point, Hobart, Hofstra, Holy Cross, Jacksonville, Johns Hopkins, Lafayette, Lehigh, Loyola, Manhattan, Marist, Marquette, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mercer, Michigan, Mount St. Mary’s, Navy, UNC, Notre Dame, and Ohio State!