Look out Philadelphia, the Nittany Lions are coming.
When Penn State’s men’s lacrosse team takes the field this weekend in the national semifinals for the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse championship, a hoard of students will be coming to the City of Brotherly Love to cheer them on.
And because of a group of alumni that includes a two-time Super Bowl champion, those tickets didn’t cost a dime for the students.
Thanks to an alumni donation effort led by Ashley and Chris Hogan — a former Penn State lacrosse player turned NFL wide receiver — more than 300 Penn State students received free tickets to this weekend’s championship games in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field.
Chris and Ashley initially donated 100 tickets, but more alumni joined in to expand the efforts, eventually being able to donate more than 300 tickets.
Chris played lacrosse at Penn State from 2007 through 2010. As a junior, he led the team in scoring with 29 goals and five assists, and was also a First Team All-ECAC selection. For his final year of eligibility in collegiate sports, Hogan transferred to Monmouth, where the 6-foot-3 Wyckoff, New Jersey native played wide receiver and defensive back for the Hawks football team.
Although he wasn’t selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, Hogan found homes on the practice squads of the 49ers, Giants and Dolphins. His breakout season came in 2016 with the New England Patriots, where he led the league in yards-per-reception with a 17.9 mark, hauling in 38 catches for 680 yards and four touchdowns. Hogan helped the Patriots reach the Super Bowl in each of his three seasons in New England, catching 34 postseason passes for 542 yards and four touchdowns over three playoff campaigns. This offseason, Hogan signed with the Carolina Panthers.
Hogan eventually picked a career in pro football, but it's clear that lacrosse was his first love. In the midst of offseason training, he’ll turn his focus back to his first sport for at least a few hours this weekend to root on his Nittany Lions.
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Penn State, who had never won an NCAA tournament game before this season, entered the 2019 tournament as the No. 1 seed. They have the top offense in the nation, scoring 18 goals per-game.
The Nittany Lions face defending champs Yale at 2:30 p.m. EST on Saturday. The winner of the contest, broadcast by ESPN2, will compete for the national championship on Monday.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.