Courtesy of Rich Barnes/Yale Athletics

The No. 6 Yale men’s lacrosse team (1–0, 0–0 Ivy) will play its first road game of the season against Penn State University (1–3, 0–0 Big Ten) at noon on Saturday. The team will look to carry the momentum from a season-opening win against nationally-ranked Villanova University into the second game of the season.

The Bulldogs rose one spot to No. 6 in the most recent Inside Lacrosse poll and will hope to continue climbing up the rankings after this weekend.

Since the two teams met in the 2019 national semifinals, the Yale and Penn State programs have gone in opposite directions. Yale, despite the partial and whole season cancellations, remains at the top of the lacrosse world as a force to be reckoned with on the national stage year after year. Meanwhile, Penn State has struggled since reaching the 2019 semifinals, including a 4–7 record in the 2021 season. The program has been hit hard as its best players have graduated and the incoming recruits have failed to live up to expectations.

On the other hand, the Bulldogs, led by head coach Andy Shay, have excelled on the recruiting trail by taking a different tactic than many other programs.

“The way Coach Shay recruits is something I’ve never seen before. He’s not going to beg you to come play for him,” standout long stick midfielder Jack Stuzin ’24 said to Inside Lacrosse.  “He wants guys that want to be there. I don’t think you see that a lot, especially now. He tells recruits, ‘I wouldn’t be talking to you if you weren’t a great player, but the reason you’re being recruited here is the drive and mental aspect.’”

Against Villanova, Shay’s past two highest recruits made important contributions and will hope to repeat their big performances against Penn State. Stuzin, No. 6 recruit in the 2020 high school class rankings, and 2021 No. 3 recruit attackman Leo Johnson ’25 both started against Villanova and put the nation on notice that they can live up to their high billing.

Stuzin posted five ground balls, five forced turnovers and a goal while Johnson had a hat-trick in their first career game.

Penn State will be led by senior Jack Traynor, one of the few bright spots for the team this year, who leads the team with 21 points. Traynor comes off of a seven-point outing in Penn State’s last game, a two goal loss to Saint Joseph’s. 

Heading into the upcoming matchup, the Bulldogs will certainly be hoping for better weather after the snow squall last weekend.

“I mean, I got home last night, and my wife asked me if I’d heard about the snow squall coming and I didn’t know,” Shay said following the Villanova game. “I didn’t know how it would affect us.”

While there should not be any snow this Saturday, the weather report does show temperatures in the mid to low thirties which both teams will have to contend with. 

Two of the players most likely to be affected by the low temperatures will be the two goaltenders. For the Bulldogs, Jared Paquette ’24 made his first career start against Villanova and made nine saves, including several timely ones to stop Villanova runs. 

It is unclear who the Bulldogs’ offense will be taking aim at in the Penn State goal. Aleric Fyock has started every game so far but has struggled, allowing more than 10 goals in every game. Whether Fyock or one of their backups on the roster starts, the Bulldog shooters should look to have a field day on Saturday.

“Defensively, we have to do a better job of tightening up early in games, which seems to be a trend of ours,” Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said to the Daily Collegian. “We can do a better job in the first half of giving ourselves more momentum.”

The Bulldogs are undefeated all-time against Penn State, having won all four of the matchups between the two squads.

Spencer King is an Editor for the Sports desk. He has covered the Yale football and women's ice hockey teams. He has also previously covered the Yale men's lacrosse team and most things Bulldogs sports. Spencer is a junior in Davenport College and is majoring in Political Science.