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NCAA D1 Game of the Week
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Game Of The Week: UNC vs. Penn State + Highlights

Editor’s Note: Each week, Ryan Connors will preview a D1 NCAA Lacrosse Game of the Week on

Since Connor was in New Orleans working and playing at the Mardi Gras Tourney, we weren’t able to publish the post before the game. However, we thought it would be fun to put our relatively new writer on the spot here, by publishing his writeup post-game and including our analysis of his pre-game commentary! The UNC vs. PSU game was a good one, so it’s definitely worth a second look!

UNC took home the 14-10 win over Penn State, and now we find out if Ryan knows what he’s talking about!!!

NCAA D1 Game of the Week

When I started working on this piece, I quickly realized how difficult it will be to choose just one game a week to write about.  There are a handful of good match ups to follow this week, but I only get to choose one.  Connor Wilson and I spent a while figuring out what the best game would be.  Some of the notable match ups were Bucknell vs. Delaware and Michigan vs. Detroit.

EN: The Bucknell vs. Delaware highlights (at the bottom of the page) are pretty phenomenal, so we included them.

My Game of the Week is:

Penn State vs. UNC

I decided UNC vs. Penn State University will be the best game to watch and here are my 5 reasons why:

Location Location Location

The location of this match up is going to take play in KSU soccer stadium in Kennesaw, Georgia.  There are two sub-reasons why this is important.  1) Playing a high level D1 game down in Georgia does a great job for spreading the sport to areas that are new to lacrosse.  2) Heat and humidity.  Even though it is only February, heat and humidity will play a huge factor.  These factors will play into the favor of UNC.  They are used to the warm temperature, and have been likely practicing outside in the elements.  PSU is stuck up north in the frozen tundra of central Pennsylvania and will not be used to the warm weather.  This will be a tough adjustment for the PSU players.  I expect Penn State to slow the ball down, and not try to get in a running match against a strong UNC team.

EN: Ok, RC definitely nails it with the GTG point.  No question there.  Great to see a D1 game like this at Kennesaw.  As to his second point, it looks pretty accurate too!  PSU put up 10 goals, 3 on man up and only lost by 4 goals, even though they were dominated in GBs and face offs.  PSU scored 7 goals at even strength, but struggled in the 3rd quarter when they only notched 2 goals on 12 shots.  PSU started slow as well.  Pretty close, RC!

A Bitter Loss (Terrible pun, I know)

Players like Billy Bitter are a rarity.  Not only does UNC lose their leading scorer from last year but they lose a dynamic offensive threat.  Bitter could create, draw the double and move the ball to his teammates.  He was a major offensive factor last year.  Teams would spend days putting together defensive strategies, and figuring out match ups to stop Bitter.  PSU does not have to worry about Bitter anymore, which is great…but they still have to worry about the #3 rated midfield in the country.

EN: That WAS a terrible pun!  And unfortunately, it turned out to somehow be false.  PSU did have to worry about a Bitter, but it wasn’t Billy.  Jimmy Bitter, Billy’s younger brother, put up 3 goals.  Lose one Bitter, gain another.  Must be nice to be UNC.  An impressive start for the freshman on a pretty talented team.

Out with the old in the with McBride

UNC loses their main offensive weapon in Billy Bitter, however, they bring in Jack McBride who can be equally if not more dangerous on offense.  McBride who red shirted his senior season at Princeton enrolled in UNC’s MBA program this summer and joined the lacrosse team this fall.  McBride put up monster numbers (35,16) his junior year at Princeton leading his team in points and gaining an All-American nod.  McBride will elevate UNC’s offense this year, and will look to be the quarter back of this offense.  The team will look for McBride to fill that void that Bitter left.  I expect McBride to have a huge final season.

McBride will cause match up problems for PSU.  Tambroni will have to figure out who will get the task of guarding Jack McBride.  It will be interesting to see who will have to guard him.  Whoever gets that undaunting task, I expect McBride to come away with at least 3 points.  If McBride gets at least three, UNC should get the W here.

EN: McBride definitely factored into the game as he dropped 2 goals and played the majority of 2 quarters at attack, but a bigger difference maker seems to have been Georgetown transfer Davey Emala, who scored 4 goals for UNC.  If Galasso comes back from that foot injury, this group will be seriously dangerous.

Jeff Tambroni

Coach Jeff Tambroni enters his second season at the helm of the Penn State lacrosse team.  He finished 7-7 in his first season at PSU.  Now with a year under his belt a group of new freshman on the scene he is looking to bring the Nittay lions to the top.  I think PSU and Tambroni have what it takes to get over .500 and they should make a run at the CAA title.  I expect a coaching duel between Tambroni and Breschi in this match up.

EN: On paper UNC looks much better than PSU.  That’s just reality.  And even though PSU was beaten handily in face offs and GBs, they still kept it close by converting on man up opportunities and limiting their own penalties.  That’s good coaching right there.  Has to be.  So Breschi won, and he gets all the credit here.  But Tambroni is proving PSU will be more dangerous each year.  Good call, Connors!

PSU Midfield

I think the Penn State midfield will be the x-factor in this match up.  If PSU wants to be successful this season their midfield has to get consistent production.  With the warm weather and short bench, it will be interesting to see if Penn State’s midfield can be threat all four quarters.  I watched them play a few times last year, and PSU has some middies that can straight up ball.  As I said earlier, I half expect Tambroni to slow it down in the hot temp and play the half field game.  It will be interesting to watch PSU midfield go up against a battled hardened UNC D-mid squad.  I’m leaning towards UNC D-mid squad winning this match up.  The heat and strength of UNC D-mid squad will be too much for PSU midfield.

EN: This was definitely the difference maker in the game.  UNC won the GB battle, the face off battle, and got more points from their midfielders.  PSU relied on their attack for scoring, but didn’t get quite enough support from their middies to win this one.  Ryan Connors knows his lax as he hits the biggest point on the head.  Well done, sir.

Well there you have it.  My top five reasons on why to watch this game.  Both of these teams are slated to have huge years.  UNC should be a Final Four contender, and PSU is looking to get a NCAA berth.  These are two powerhouse teams ready to rumble, its early in the season and teams are virtually injury free (if you can look past Galasso).  This will be a great lacrosse game to watch.

If you want to nominate a Game of the Week, leave a comment or tweet me @connors36!

EN: Ryan did REALLY well!  We’re beyond impressed with his calls.  So if you’ve got a game you think is worthy, make sure to hit him up!