STATE COLLEGE -- Penn State men's lacrosse is celebrating the program's 100th anniversary in groundbreaking fashion.
The Nittany Lions (12-4) will host their first NCAA tournament game in school history when Yale (11-4) visits on Saturday.
And that's just the second half of a big lacrosse weekend in Happy Valley.
The women's team (12-6) gets the party going Friday by hosting Canisius (14-4) in an NCAA first-round matchup.
Two lacrosse programs on the rise, led by third-year coaches, playing in the postseason on the same home turf on the same weekend. That's a first, too.
"It's been fun for both programs. There's a great family atmosphere," women's coach Missy Doherty said. "To be able to go into the postseason with our brother program, the men's lacrosse team, has been fantastic."
There's a pedigree for the women's program, which has been to the NCAAs 18 times and won two NCAA titles, most recently in 1989. Penn State also three national championships from 1978-80 in the U.S. Women's Lacrosse Association.
But the visits to the postseason haven't been quite as prolific this century. The women's team hasn't made the NCAAs since 2005, the last time it also hosted a first-round game -- a 7-6 loss in triple overtime to North Carolina.
Doherty was hired in 2011, and now the women's program has made the NCAAs two straight years. Her Nittany Lions played on the road in 2012, losing at Florida in the quarterfinals 15-2. So hosting an NCAA game at home was seen as the next step, especially since the women's team finished unbeaten (7-0) in Happy Valley for the first time since 1991.
The future seems bright with freshmen and sophomores accounting for 77 percent of the team's 185 goals.
"When Missy came in, she just brought in a new philosophy," said sophomore Maggie McCormick, who has a team-high 43 goals and 76 points. "Just coming in with the philosophy that we are one of the top teams in the country and we're going to work hard to be one of those teams."
By contrast, the men's team can't draw from an extensive postseason history despite being around for a century. In fact, Penn State is still looking for its first NCAA men's lacrosse tournament win.
The Nittany Lions have made the NCAAs just twice, with first-round losses in 2003 and 2005. The Division I championship began in 1971.
Penn State fell to 2-11 in 2010. Jeff Tamborini took over the following year after a successful 10-year stint at Cornell, leading the Big Red to three trips to the national semifinals including a loss in the 2009 championship game to Syracuse.
The NIttany Lions finished 7-7 in Tamborini's first year at Penn State in 2011 before improving to 9-6 last year and just missing the NCAAs. Tamborini still remembers the team's gut-wrenching experience of watching Penn State get shut out during the televised selection show.
"The time frame last year was to be in this position one year later," he said.
Not only are they in, but they're home.
"It's come a long way. A transfer of coaches. New players in and out, we're finally here," said sixth-year senior Jack Forster, the team's leading scorer with 56 points. Granted an extra year of eligibility because of two knee injuries, Forster is relishing a chance to finish his college career on a high note.
"Absolutely, 100 percent," he said without hesitation when asked if his long collegiate journey was worth an NCAA home date.
Lacrosse can get lost in the vast Penn State sports portfolio. Even the teams' home venue was moved in 2012 to help make way for the construction of the new, modern ice arena that will house Penn State's Division I hockey programs.
Penn State Lacrosse Field is set down a hill from a main road, overshadowed by the nearby Jordan Center basketball arena and the cavernous indoor football facility. But starting Friday, lacrosse will be in the spotlight. And it starts with the women's team's quest for a title.
"She's done a wonderful job of turning the corner in her tenure," Tamborini said of Doherty. "Her consistency has been the biggest difference."
The men's program is still learning.
"We understand we've still got a long way to go," Tamborini said. "All our kids understand that."