Men’s Lax Drops OT Thriller to Notre Dame

Story posted February 24, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Pat White

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.—In what was a rollercoaster game for No. 8 State men’s lacrosse, the Nittany Lions lost their home opener to No. 3 Notre Dame 10-9 in overtime at Holuba Hall on Sunday afternoon.

The game was highly anticipated after Penn State beat the Irish 4-3 in overtime in South Bend, Ind. last season. This game would prove to have even more excitement. No team took a lead greater than two.

The Irish came out with a 2-0 lead with two goals off the stick of Conor Doyle. Notre Dame controlled the ball early, but Penn State picked up the tempo in the latter stages of the first quarter.

The great clearing ability of Penn State goalkeeper Austin Kaut led to the first Nittany Lion goal. Kaut made a big save, followed by a bullet up field that ended with a TJ Sanders goal on the crease. Penn State gained some momentum, rattling off three straight goals.

Redshirt senior Jack Forster and junior Tom LaCrosse each registered a hat trick for the Nittany Lions, while Notre Dame’s attack was led by a Doyle hat trick and two goals from faceoff man Liam O’Connor.

O’Connor scored two big goals, both coming just six seconds following an Irish goal. He scored what looked like game-winning goal on the ensuing faceoff following the game tying goal with 24 seconds left. He sparked two comebacks for Notre Dame, one to tie the game at 7-7 and to take the 9-8 lead. But Penn State had a comeback of its own.

Head Coach Jeff Tambroni said that Notre Dame deserve credit for regaining the lead so late, but was extremely happy with his team’s mental toughness and battle back on LaCrosse’s goal.

“I give our guys a lot of credit,” Tambroni said. “To have the peace of mind to win a faceoff and to have the poise, knowing the clock is running down to get a good shot against a first team All-American goalie. That says a lot about Tommy LaCrosse and a lot about our team.”

The last 24 seconds included three lead changes. After O’Connor gained the Irish the lead, Danny Henneghan won the faceoff and took it down the field. The ball ended up on the stick of LaCrosse who buried the game-tying goal with 0.6 seconds left on the clock. LaCrosse just tired to get the ball on cage and he came through with the big goal.

“My teammates cleared through because they realized there was no time left,” LaCrosse said. “They let me get to my left and I shot it at the goal and hoped for the best.”

For the second straight year, these two teams needed overtime to decide the outcome, and the road team prevailed. Both teams hand opportunities early in overtime. With 1:34 left on the clock, impressive freshman Matt Kavanagh, who was shut down most of the night, netted the game winning goal. Ryan Foley dodged around the net and drew the slide away from Kavanagh, who beat Kaut.

Despite the loss, Tambroni was happy with his team’s play. He is gauging success on effort and not what the scoreboard says.

“There’s a difference between losing a game and failing to create an effort on the field…” Tambroni said. “Notre Dame was one goal better in overtime, but that’s high praise because Notre Dame is a very good lacrosse team.”

Tambroni hopes to rekindle the rivalry between the programs.

“I hope we get to the point where they consider us a rival,” Tambroni stated. “We haven’t been in that conversation in quite some time. They’ve been one of the nation’s best in last five or six years…If we get to that point when people put us in that conversation with Notre Dame, then we’ll take that as a compliment.”

Pat White is a senior majoring Print Journalism. To contact him, email pmw5072@psu.edu.