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No. 14 Men’s Lacrosse Begins Inaugural Big Ten Season With Win Over Vermont

The No. 14 Penn State men’s lacrosse team kicked off its inaugural season in the Big Ten on Saturday with a 15-8 win over Vermont in Holuba Hall. Two Nittany Lions scored hat tricks, while sophomore goalie Connor Darcey made 15 saves to earn the victory in the first start of his collegiate career.

How It Happened

Penn State wasted no time establishing offense in its first game of the season, scoring the first four goals to take an early 4-0 lead. Sophomore Matt Florence scored the game’s first goal 2:22 into the contest, and added a second goal just over three minutes later to give the Nittany Lions a 3-0 lead. Junior T.J. Sanders would add the first of his three tallies with 6:32 to go, and senior Kyle Baier would beat the horn with four seconds left to give the Lions a 5-1 first period lead.

The Catamounts opened the second period with a goal to cut the lead to three, but Penn State would answer with goals from freshman Tripp Traynor, the first of his college career, and Sanders to take a 7-2 lead. Vermont would tack on two goals in the final 40 seconds to cut Penn State’s lead back to three, 7-4, at halftime.

Sanders would complete his hat trick just 46 seconds into the third period, and senior Pat Manley would add a goal with 11:53 to play to give Penn State a 9-4 lead. But Vermont refused to lay down, scoring twice in the next three minutes to cut the lead to three. Sophomore Mike Sutton answered with a goal 11 seconds later, and Florence added his third with 2:34 remaining as Penn State took an 11-6 lead into the final period.

Sophomore Nick Aponte and Sutton would score the first two goals of the fourth period to give the Nittany Lions a seven-goal lead. Vermont stopped the bleeding with a goal with 6:27 to play, but Penn State again had an answer, as Baier and junior Mike Sexton each tallied a goal to make it 15-7, the largest lead of the day with just 2:07 to play. The Catamounts would beat Darcey one final time with 1:12 remaining, but it wasn’t enough as Penn State claimed a 15-8 victory.

Player of the Game

Connor Darcey. Thrust into the spotlight for his first collegiate start, the sophomore stood tall, making 15 saves. Playing with a soar throat, the Wellesley, Massachusetts native no doubt earned the confidence of his teammates, picking up his first career win in three appearances. Darcey has big shoes to fill replacing four-year starter Austin Kaut, a first-team All-American drafted 19th overall by the Boston Cannons in the 2014 MLL Draft.

 Tweet of the Game

Game Notes

  • Eight different Nittany Lions tallied a goal (Florence, Manley, Sanders, Baier, Traynor, Sutton, Aponte, and Sexton).
  • Penn State went 2-for-4 on man-up opportunities and Vermont was 0-for-3.
  • The Nittany Lions edged the Catamounts in faceoffs, 14-13, and led the ground ball race, 33-26, but trailed Vermont in shots, 45-40.
  • Penn State moves to 4-1 in season debuts under head coach Jeff Tambroni.

What’s Next?

Penn State begins their first road trip this season when they head to Loyola for a noon game on Sat., Feb. 14.

Photo: Mark Selders/GoPSUSports

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About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.

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