WLAX: Penn State Edges Northwestern on Senior Day
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The No. 14 Penn State Nittany Lions scored a thrilling 17-13 victory over the Northwestern Wildcats for the seniors who were recognized on Saturday at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.
“The senior class has really helped us turn a corner for our program and you could really see that physically out on the field today so those guys coming up big was certainly not a surprise to me because they have done it for four years” said Penn State head coach Missy Doherty.
Spectators expected an exciting matchup between the two conference foes who fall similarly within the rankings; the Nittany Lions are 10-4 on the season (2-1 Big Ten), while the Wildcats are 7-7 (2-1 Big Ten). Although the two teams have not faced each other this season, the Nittany Lions have won the past two matchups, but the Wildcats historically have the edge winning 19 of their 25 showdowns.
The first half of the matchup was a draw for Penn State and Northwestern at 7-7. Sloppy ball handling and an excessive amount of fouls due to high emotions and urgency didn’t allow for much flow to develop early on.
Northwestern held a two goal lead for a majority of the first half because of the impressive showing by their freshman goalie, Mallory Weisse. Weisse had six saves on 12 shots, while Penn State’s senior goalie, Emi Smith, had four saves against 18 total shots. Penn State was able to eliminate the deficit with Madison Carter’s second goal of the game with four minutes left in the half.
Seconds after tying the game at 6-6, Emi Smith managed a great save against a laser shot to the bottom left of the net and then, junior Steph Lazo put Penn State ahead by a goal for the first time since the 16th minute of the first half. The half ended with a quick tying goal by Northwestern’s Christina Esposito just before the final minute.
The second half was very similar to the first with tensions boiling over into the play for both teams. The Wildcats’ Sanders Spring, Selena Lasota, and Lauren Murray caused man-up advantages for the Nittany Lions with yellow cards because of obvious frustration and anger.
The Wildcats aggression ultimately led to their downfall in the second half because the Nittany Lions capitalized late in the game with the combined efforts from Katie O’Donnell and Madison Cyr. The duo each had four goals, while Cyr had three assists and two of three aided in O’Donnell’s success at the net.
“We talk a lot on the field…and we kind of tell each other to go and we always have each other’s back. I mean its year two together so we kind of got some chemistry going,” said O’Donnell.
After Jenna Mosketti’s tying goal at 13-13 and Cyr’s lead capturing shot with less than five minutes left to play, the Nittany Lions gained the final momentum swing and ran with it. They had five unattested goals at the end of the second half to seal their exciting victory.
“We got some momentum. We hadn’t necessarily got momentum in some of our games. We didn’t have bad momentum but we just didn’t get it,” said Doherty. “Today we got it; from Emi making some big saves and then we got it from putting our shots away at the end of the game. So it was good to see us capture that kind of momentum and make some big plays when it counted.”
The Penn State Nittany Lions conclude their regular season on April 28 at home against the top-ranked Maryland Terrapins at 7 p.m.
Madeleine Balestrier is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.