Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Pulls Away Late Over Ohio State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State men’s lacrosse defeated Ohio State 13-8 on a rainy Sunday night at Panzer Stadium in their annual whiteout game.
“To be honest, it’s only like slipping on the turf,” Penn State junior Mac O’Keefe said about the weather. “Everything else, it is like you practice on it all the time, so I think we adjusted pretty well.”
It was an incredible atmosphere as well, and one that played into the energy Penn State had on the night.
“This was an electric atmosphere,” Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said. “There was a great crowd Sunday night and there was a great student section. I could tell [Penn State] was probably overamped to come out and play.”
Due to the weather, the game turned sloppy, and both teams were forced to change their game plans throughout.
Ohio State came out of the gate fast, dominating possession for the early part of the game. Penn State, however, was able to find themselves in a transition opportunity and Brian Townsend finished it off with the Nittany Lions first goal of the night to put them up 1-0 early on.
Penn State was able to survive Ohio State’s early flurry of shots thanks to the stellar play of goalie Colby Kneese. The Nittany Lions offense helped reward their goalies stellar work, going up 2-0 on a Cole Willard goal.
“I enjoy the grittiness,” Penn State sophomore Cole Willard said. "I’m more of a bump into people kind of guy [as opposed to] doing anything fancy. It’s just how I like to play and how our team likes to play.”
The 2-0 lead did not last long for Penn State, as Ohio State’s Tre Leclaire took matters into his own hands, adding two goals to tie the game up at two, but that did not last long as TJ Malone quickly responded with a Penn State goal to put it up 3-2.
As the first quarter was winding down, Penn State took a timeout to try and slow down an Ohio State flurry of shots. Ohio State was able to strike quickly out of the timeout as Jack Jasinski scored his 18th goal of the season to tie things up at three, which would hold through the end of the first quarter.
The Nittany Lions came out quickly in the second quarter, as O’Keefe scored his 32nd and 33rd goals of the season to put Penn State up 5-3. Dan Reaume continued the Penn State flurry with his seventh goal of the season to extend the Nittany Lions’ lead to 6-3.
As the second quarter began to wind down, the skies opened up and the rain continued to intensify. There were no goals scored for much of the second quarter and sloppy play can be attributed to the weather.
Following that scoring drought, Ohio State’s Lukas Buckley found the back of the net to cut the Penn State lead to 6-4, but O’Keefe quickly responded and capped off a first half hat trick to put Penn State back up by three, 7-4. That score would hold at halftime.
As the second half got underway, Penn State looked to stop any Ohio State rally, and they got off to a good start thanks to a goal by Dylan Foulds to put the Nittany Lions up 8-4. Jack Myers and Tre Leclaire combined to quickly respond for Ohio State to cut the lead to 8-6.
There was a noticeable difference in Penn State's energy in the second half compared to the first, with the results quickly matching their higher level of execution.
“I think we got more possessions,” O’Keefe said on the second half performance. “We got a flow, we were moving the ball well.”
Nick Spillane netted a goal for Penn State to put the Nittany Lions up 9-6. Ohio State would not go away quite yet, as Jackson Reid scored to make it 9-7, but Willard quickly responded to put Penn State back up three.
Between the first half and second half, Tambroni recognized the adjustments his team made.
“I thought we weathered the storm early, then just continued to keep grinding," Tambroni said. "I thought for the most part we were disciplined.”
Penn State began to pull away as Grant Ament and Willard scored to put the Nittany Lions up 12-7 with just under 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Leclaire netted one to cut the score to 12-8, but it was too little too late.
Grant Ament scored an empty net goal to put Penn State up 13-8 and that score would hold until the final whistle.
With the win, Penn State will remain the number-one ranked team in the nation and there is a different level of maturity this time around, as opposed to the last time the Nittany Lions were on this stage.
“Humility,” Tambroni said. “These guys have done a much better job of staying more-humble and coming out to practice everyday and we talk to our guys about the actions versus their words and I thought that’s been a big piece. Then maturity, I think these guys have managed it very well.”
Penn State will look to remain atop the rankings when they return to action Saturday at Michigan. That game is set to begin at 12 p.m.
Jake Starr is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.