Penn State defeats Army 10-9, advances to Championship Weekend
A trip to the final four was on the line on Sunday.
Penn State punched its ticket to a matchup in Philadelphia after it took down Army 10-9 in Annapolis, Maryland.
The Nittany Lions were facing one of the top defenses in the nation and they knew they needed to capitalize on almost every possession.
However, things did not start out hot against the stout Black Knight defense, as the blue and white turned the ball over numerous times in the opening minutes.
After finding itself trailing by two goals early into the first quarter, TJ Malone notched Penn State’s first score of the contest midway through the opening frame.
Malone’s goal was exactly what the Nittany Lions needed as the floodgates opened and the “Siege of Fort Knox” was underway.
The Nittany Lions tallied three more scores from Luke Mercer, Mac Costin and Matt Traynor, as after the first quarter they led 4-2.
The offensive run did not stop in the second quarter as the blue and white took a commanding four-goal lead after a juice goal from Mark Sickler and another easy tally for Malone.
After surrendering six straight tallies, Army coach Joe Alberici was forced to use a timeout to settle things down.
Immediately out of the break, Penn State’s best defender Jack Posey went down with an apparent lower-body injury to his right leg and didn’t return.
Over 20 minutes and 10 turnovers had occurred before Army scored its third goal as Reese Burek ripped a shot past goalie Jack Fracyon.
The rest of the first half turned into an absolute dogfight. Every inch of grass was met with a slash to the hands or check to the hips. Bumps and bruises will be felt for the days to come.
Malone scored for the third time in the first half with just 40 seconds remaining as the Nittany Lions led 7-3 at halftime.
The two biggest stories after the first 30 minutes of play were Malone’s trio of goals and Posey’s injury.
Malone continued to torch the Black Knight defense with his fourth goal of the contest under two minutes into the third quarter.
The two teams traded goals, with Army’s Gunnar Fellows scoring his second and Traynor doing the same for the blue and white.
Army found itself trailing 9-4 with around three minutes left in the third, but the tide began to shift in its favor.
Will Coletti and Bailey O’Connor scored in the final three minutes of the quarter to cut the deficit to three.
The most important battle in this game was between the iron that is forged and welded into a goal.
Fracyon was winning the battle through three-quarters of the play leading to a 9-6 lead after three frames.
The Black Knights continued to build on their momentum as Jacob Morin scored 46 seconds into the fourth, making it a two-goal contest.
Herb Brooks once said, “Great moments are born from great opportunity,” and in a moment of great opportunity. Kevin Winkoff stretched across the field, ripping a howitzer into the top corner, giving Penn State a 10-7 lead.
Fellows responded right away for Army, and Coletti started to turn the game into a make-it-take-it game.
McCullough scored three minutes later, cutting the deficit to one for Army with 3:41 remaining in the fourth quarter.
A final-minute stand from the Penn State defense capped off another exciting game from the “Cardiac Cats.”
Penn State will square off with a star-studded Duke Blue Devil team, who just took down Michigan on Saturday.
The Blue Devils are led by Tewaaraton Finalist Brennan O’Neill, who had six goals in the victory against the Wolverines.
Hayden Lewis is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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