It will be an unusual upcoming season for Penn State given its extensive travel history to play marquee non-conference matches.
Coach Mark Pavlik said in a recent interview with Off the Block that Penn State has scheduled home non-conference matches in 2016 against Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State and the defending-MPSF champions UC Irvine.
This will be the third consecutive year that Penn State and Long Beach State have played each other but the first time since 2006 that the 49ers have traveled to University Park, Pennsylvania. In addition, UC Irvine last played a road non-conference match against Penn State in 2011.
Both Penn State and UC Irvine were among the four teams to reach the NCAA Tournament semifinals last season.
Penn State closed out the 2015 regular season on a 14-match winning streak and won the EIVA Tournament to qualify for its 17th consecutive NCAA Tournament. The Nittany Lions, though, will have to replace multiple all-conference starters from last year’s team, including EIVA Player of the Year and outside attacker Aaron Russell.
Penn State will also be playing host to the 2016 NCAA Tournament in May.
UC Irvine similar to Penn State lost several All-American starters from its team last year that won a conference championship and earned the No. 2 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament. Among the returning starters for the Anteaters includes outside attacker Kyle Russell who represented the United States at the recent World University Games.
Long Beach State ended last season reaching the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals. In addition, the 49ers have one of the top-rated incoming returning classes that features U.S. Boys’ Youth National Team outside attacker TJ DeFalco.
Long Beach State and UC Irvine are two of five MPSF teams traveling to Penn State during the upcoming regular season season.
Penn State will open its season with home non-conference matches against UCLA and USC. Cal State Northridge will travel to the East Coast in March along with Long Beach State and UC Irvine for a non-conference match against Penn State.
This is the first time that MPSF teams have traveled to Penn State since 2011, which was the last time Penn State played host to the NCAA Tournament.
The Nittany Lions traditionally have made multiple road trips to the West Coast each season for non-conference matches. It also traveled the second-most miles of any team in the nation last season, according to a preseason projection study of team travel conducted by Off the Block.
The farthest Penn State will travel in 2016 will be to the Midwest for non-conference matches against Lewis, Ohio State and the two-time defending NCAA champions Loyola.