Penn State Takes Big Ten Outright on Senior Day in Win Over Rutgers
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Nittany Lions won its program’s first regular-season Big Ten title on Senior Day, defeating Rutgers 14-13. Today’s win kept the Nittany Lions undefeated in the Big Ten and undefeated at Panzer Stadium for the season.
Despite the outcome, the win wasn’t pretty.
“I’m hoping this will go a long way in the overall resilience of this team," said Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni. "I think we’ll learn a lot of lessons from this, probably more so than we have the past couple of weeks, and it’s going to be needed."
The last regular season outing for the 12-1 Nittany Lions, who have been a strong No. 1 seed for some time now, wasn’t an easy win. Rutgers, ranked 20th, came to Panzer Stadium fired up to play a conference rival.
The game was neck-and-neck between the Nittany Lions and the Scarlet Knights for its entire duration. The game had eight total lead changes throughout, and neither team allowed the other to hold the lead for long.
Penn State got on the board early with back-to-back goals from sophomore Cole Willard.
Redshirt junior Dylan Foulds tacked on another for Penn State before Rutgers answered with three uninterrupted goals. The first of which coming from Adam Charalambides, followed by Tommy Coyne and Ryan Gallagher.
Mac O’Keefe was huge offensively for the Nittany Lions. The junior put up three goals in the first half, and then tacked on two more as well as a key assist at the end of the game.
Jack Kelly also had a huge day of scoring. The sophomore ended up tallying three goals, one of which was the game-ending dagger that won the game for the Nittany Lions, which came off of an assist by redshirt junior Grant Ament.
On the other side of the field, Colby Kneese came up huge in the clutch for Penn State. Allowing 13 goals with 11 saves, it wasn’t the junior goalies best game. None of that ended up mattering, however, as a huge save at the end of the game kept the score tied and set up the game winning play by Kelly.
“The only way to make up for that, if you’re playing poorly or something, is to finish strong and make sure you have the teams back," said Kneese. "I couldn’t care less if my save percentage goes down… as long as I did what was best for the team in the end.”
Penn State will now be preparing for the Big Ten tournament this Thursday, and there is a very strong chance the Nittany Lions could face off against the Scarlett Knights again in the semifinals next week. Rutgers’ physicality was tough to beat this time, so expect another meeting between the two to be just has close and aggressive.
Francesco de Falco is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.