Nittany Lions Concede Last Second Goal, Draw with Big Red

Story posted January 9, 2019 in CommRadio, Sports by Andrew Destin

The fourth-ranked Cornell Big Red (8-1-5,6-1-1) entered Pegula Ice Arena expecting an easy victory, but instead resorted to pulling their goalie to generate enough offense for a last second goal by Maddie Mills, giving Big Red a tie against the Penn State Nittany Lions (8-9-4, 2-6-0).

The first period was quiet until the 16:26 mark, when Cornell would kick off the scoring with a powerplay goal by forward Kristin O’Neill.

Assisted on the play by Maddie Mills and Jamie Bourbonnais, O’Neill dumped in a rebound off Mills’ from the blue line. Penn State’s Jenna Brenneman deflected the shot with her left pad but left the net wide open for O’Neill on the play.

The Nittany Lions would bounce right back with a penalty on Cornell’s Micah Zandee-Hart for cross-checking sparking life in the team. With the man advantage, Katie Rankin would get her fourth goal of the season, tipping in a shot from the blue line by Rene Gangarosa. Shea Nelson set up Gangarosa beautifully at the point, atoning for her penalty earlier in the period that set up Cornell’s first goal.

Penn State would emerge from the first intermission playing inspired hockey, outshooting Cornell nine to seven and notching two goals, which came from Jessica Adolfsson and Katie McMillan, respectively. When asked about any adjustments in that resilient second period, head coach Jeff Kampersal did not seem too surprised by his team’s effort.

“It was more of an emotional thing. I think our kids came in that first period, and they were just pumped up,” Kampersal said.

McMillan’s goal may have been the goal of the night for the Nittany Lions, as she caught a deflected shot by Katie Rankin in mid-air, dropped the puck in front of her and sent the shot right past Cornell’s Marlene Boissonnau.

Before the period was over, however, the Big Red would sneak one in to cut the deficit to 3-2 on another powerplay goal by Kristin O’Neill, her 11th of the season. Cornell had a two-man advantage after penalties by Anna Promersberger and Christi Vetter. Kampersal was none too happy with his team being down two players at that point in the game.

“I thought we deserved better calls on that five-on-three,” coach Kampersal said.

Nonetheless, Penn State entered the third period with a one goal lead against the fourth-ranked team in the country, and up until the 19:54 mark, it seemed that the Nittany Lions were going to get to .500 and have a marquee win. Maddie Mills had other intentions.

With a 6-4 advantage, Mills took a pass from Jamie Bourbonnais in front of the crease and sent the puck over Jenna Brenneman’s left shoulder, knotting the game up at three with six seconds to go. The goal was set up with a penalty by Rene Gangarosa at the 19:38 mark, the Nittany Lions’ sixth penalty of the game.  Coach Kampersal was visibly frustrated with the final penalty on Gangarosa, realizing the significance at that juncture in the contest.

“I’ll try to stay quiet all game, but when I feel like their [the players] effort is getting compromised, then I have to go to battle for them and try to talk to the refs,” Kampersal said.

Cornell would also finish with six penalties in what was a physical and intense game. The Nittany Lions may have been on the brink of the type of upset that can define a program, but even with the win nearly in hand, Kampersal remained optimistic.

“We gave up one at the end there, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort or heart,” Kampersal said.

The Nittany Lions may not have come away with the victory on paper, but the inspired play that was on display against Boston University appeared once more, a positive sign for a Penn State team that is trending in the right direction.



Andrew Destin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email