How Penn State Can Take the Next Step

Penn State was right on the cusp of an NCAA tournament appearance last season. The Nittany Lions had some impressive wins on their resume including Notre Dame and Villanova. Now, they lose their leading scorer Matthew Mackrides and top a top midfielder in Ryan Link, but bring back goalie Austin Kaut and  D-middie Jack Donnelly. Here are three things PSU can do to make that next step to the NCAA tournament in 2013.

1) Ride the Defense – Once again, the Nittany Lions will be led by their D. Kaut was fantastic in goal in his sophomore season. He allowed less than eight goals-per-game, which was better than guys like Rob Fortunato at Virginia and Dan Wigrizer at Duke. Donnelly was also a pain for opposing offenses in 2012. He had 13 caused turnovers and looks to be one of the leaders of the unit in his sophomore season.

2) Play Better at Home – Penn State was undefeated on the road in 2012 (5-0), but at home it wasn't so good. The Nittany Lions went just 4-5 and this season have less games in University Park, so they need to make them count. Out of their six home games, four should be wins. That means if PSU can pull of the W against either Notre Dame or Lehigh, it should be in good position to reach the NCAA Tournament.

3) Better Shot % – This team could not put the ball in the back of the net in 2012. It coverted just 25.8% of it's shots and averaged only 8.73 GPG. With how well the defense played, the Nittany Lions still won 9 games. However, this offensive unit has some veterns like Jack Forster and Shane Sturgis returning and with those veteren's can turn the offensive woes around.