For the first time in program history, the Penn State men’s lacrosse team is No. 1 — across every major poll.
The Nittany Lions received 24 of 34 first-place votes in the Inside Lacrosse poll and, in the USILA Coaches poll, they received 14 of 16 such votes. In the Nike/USL poll, Penn State also remained No. 1.
The rankings were released Monday. The Nittany Lions were previously No. 2 in the first two polls.
Penn State (10-0) has already made history with its perfect start. Before this season, its best-ever beginning came in 1992 when it started 7-0.
In a lot of ways, this dream season has shocked many in the lacrosse world.
The Nittany Lions were 20-22 over the last three seasons and missed the NCAA tournament each time. Now, they’ve already cranked out wins against No. 6 Army, No. 9 Ohio State, No. 18 Villanova — and two other teams, Navy and Penn, receiving votes in the polls.
One of the key reasons for the turnaround has been Penn State’s underclassmen. Freshman Mac O’Keefe is second nationally in scoring (3.5 goals per game), while sophomore Grant Ament — who’s second on the team in scoring — is 15th nationally in shot percentage. He’s finding the back of the net on 46.8 percent of his attempts.
The Nittany Lions have just four games left in the regular season. Their next test, against No. 8 Maryland, will take place on the road at 1 p.m. Saturday.
OTHER PSU NOTE
Wrestling team sweeps InterMat's awards: The Penn State wrestling might be running out of room in its trophy case about now.
The Nittany Lions again swept InterMat’s season-ending awards, the university announced Tuesday. The team captured the following honors: Freshman of the Year (Mark Hall), Wrestler of the Year (Zain Retherford) and Coach of the Year (Cael Sanderson).
The clean sweep is a repeat of last season, when Retherford and Sanderson won their two respective awards and Jason Nolf picked up the Freshman of the Year trophy.
This season’s honors came on top of the Nittany Lions’ sixth national championship in the past seven years and Retherford’s Hodge Trophy, the wrestling world’s equivalent to college football’s Heisman.
Retherford (149 pounds) finished the season at 28-0, with 17 pins, and was also named the 2017 NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler. Hall (174) was 31-3 with 12 pins and became one of Penn State’s first freshman national champions.
The Lions’ Vincenzo Joseph (165) was the runner-up to Hall. Fellow freshman Nick Suriano (125) also finished seventh in the voting.
Penn State returns nine starters next season, including eight of nine NCAA qualifiers and six All-Americans.