MLAX: Explosive second half gets Penn State first win of the season
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The twelfth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions welcomed the Hobart College Statesmen to Holuba Hall for an early season, non-conference matchup. After falling to Villanova in overtime in their first game of the season last week, the Nittany Lions outscored the Statesmen 9-1 in the second half to pull away and win by a final score of 15-8.
“Possession time just completely flipped in the second half,” Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said. “Defensively, we were able to catch our breath and gain a little momentum.”
The first period started as a game of runs as Penn State was able to jump out to a three-goal lead in the first six minutes of game time. Sophomore Mac O’Keefe scored two of his team-leading five goals in that stretch, along with junior Matt Donnelly’s first of two in the game.
“It’s really helpful getting the first one really quick to just build your confidence,” O’Keefe said.
A big key to the win was sophomore Gerard Arceri’s success getting faceoffs and gaining poessesion for Penn State. Last week, Arceri was 18-34 against Villanova in the loss. Today, Arceri stepped up and won 67 percent of the faceoffs he took.
“I just stayed true to what I do,” Arceri said. “ don’t forget about my fundamentals when I’m dealing with adversity.”
Hobart responded in the first and second periods to every Penn State scoring run. After the first three for the Nittany Lions, Hobart responded with four goals of their own, then outscored Penn State in the second period to take a 7-6 lead into the half.
“Last game, in the fourth quarter I kept giving the other team possessions, and that really kept the defense on their heels,” Arceri said. “Me being able to give the defense a rest [today] I think really helped them out.”
In the second half, it was all Nittany Lions as they churned out eight unanswered goals coming out of the break. In total, Penn State scored nine goals with their 19 shots on goal in the second half.
“The good thing is this team can definitely run and play very fast,” Tambroni said. “We’re going to have to learn to play a little bit slower in the offensive end.”
Hobart’s lone goal in the second half came from junior Chris Aslanian, who had four goals and two assists in the game for the Statesmen. Penn State got goals from senior Ryan Keenan, Donnelly, junior Nick Spillane, redshirt sophomore Dylan Foulds, junior Robby Black, junior Kevin Hill, O’Keefe, and junior Chris Sabia.
“When the ball comes in the offensive end, you just have so many more options,” Tambroni said. “You’re not just tied to ‘we need a goal,’ you can take care of possessions.”
The win pushes Penn State to 1-1 on the season as they get into their non-conference slate. Hobart falls to 0-1 in their opening game.
“We were able to play very loose in the second half because of the amount of playing time that was showing on the scoreboard,” Tambroni said.
Penn State is back with their third of four straight home games next week as they take on Stony Brook. Hobart hits the road to take on Sienna College in search of their first win of the 2018 season.
Joe Skinner is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.