Penn State women’s lacrosse (16-3) held off a pair of furious James Madison rallies Sunday for a 19-14 victory and a berth in the program’s ninth Elite Eight.
How It Happened
Sophomore midfielder Kayla Brisolari put Penn State on the board first with a quick strike just :35 seconds into the game. Goalkeeper Cat Rainone came up huge with an impressive save on James Madison’s first free-position try of the afternoon, then Brisolari promptly tallied her second goal to give the Nittany Lions a 2-0 lead.
Hanna Haven gave the Dukes their first goal of the game off a nifty free-position shot, but Madison Carter responded with back-to-back goals of her own to extend Penn State’s lead to 4-1. Maria Auth added to the Nittany Lions’ cushion with an excellent man-down goal. Maggie Gallagher forced a James Madison timeout following her first score of the game, then Carter completed her hat trick with 17:32 left in the first half to make it 7-1. Big Ten Attacker of the Year Steph Lazo found the back of the net a few minutes later to give the Nittany Lions an 8-1 lead.
Elena Romesburg stopped the six-goal Penn State run to make it 8-2, then the Dukes tallied another thanks to Margaret Fogarty’s slick stick handling. Katie O’Donnell got the Nittany Lions back on the right track as Lazo picked up her 40th assist of the season. Haley Warden cut the Penn State lead to 9-4 with 4:09 to go before the break. Two minutes later, Kristen Gaudian notched her 50th goal of the year to make it 9-5. Romesburg scored a man-down goal for the Dukes to cut the deficit to 9-6 heading into halftime.
Less than a minute into the second half, Gaudian split the Penn State defense to make it a 9-7 game. Leah Monticello and Haven scored a pair of goals to complete the comeback and tie things up with 26:49 to play. O’Donnell finally put Missy Doherty’s Nittany Lions back on the board with a solid free-position goal to take the lead once again. She would net the game’s next goal, too, after scooping up a loose ball off her own free position and beating James Madison’s goalie Emily Poelma.
Carter’s fourth and fifth goals of the game pushed Penn State’s lead to 13-9 before Auth extended the rally to five straight for the Nittany Lions. Haven’s third of the game stopped the bleeding for James Madison, then Warden and Katie Kerrigan made it a 14-12 game. O’Donnell and Kerrigan traded goals to make it 15-13 with 8:56 left to play.
Senior Abby Smucker weaved through the defense for a fantastic unassisted goal to extend the Penn State lead, then Gaudian tallied her fourth of the game to respond. Auth’s third of the afternoon gave the Nittany Lions some needed breathing room, 17-14, before Carter drove her sixth goal into the back of the net. Lazo’s 45th goal of the season capped the scoring at 19-14.
Player Of The Game
Madison Carter | Sophomore | Attacker
The Davidsonville, Md., native finished with a game-high six goals and two assists in the victory.
Penn State will host the winner of No. 5 seed Princeton and Cornell next Sunday with a trip to the Final Four on the line.