Men’s Lacrosse Defeats Rutgers 11-6 For First Big Ten Win
Tallying more assists than usual, moving the ball, and improving on the basics proved successful for men’s lacrosse as they defeated Rutgers 11-6 on Sunday evening. A five-point performance from Pat Manley didn’t hurt either, as the Lions earned their first Big Ten conference win and a chance to qualify for the tournament.
How It Happened
In a crucial game that was Penn State’s first conference win and the first step into the Big Ten tournament, Penn State kept it simple.
The first quarter was marked by ball movement that just hasn’t been utilized enough this season. Despite Rutgers striking first, Penn State dominated the quarter. They showcased both man-on-man and zone skills. After Rutgers got up 2-0, Mike Sutton responded by thwarting two defenders for the low post goal with 7:14 to go in the first quarter, lessening the scoring gap to 2-1. Rugters’ Jules Heningburg scored to make it 3-1 Rutgers with 4:45 to play, but it was clear Penn State was ruling the field with ball-handling.
The Lions refused to let their senior night efforts go unrewarded, and they proceeded to go on a five-goal run. TJ Sanders, Sutton, and Matt Florence did the scoring, giving Penn State a 6-3 lead with 7:41 left in the second quarter. Before the half ended, Rugters’ Heningburg scored his second to make it 6-4 Penn State.
The third quarter saw some unreal zone offense and a few crucial saves by Connor Darcey. Rutgers scored a goal four minutes into the quarter to make it 6-5, but Florence responded with a goal 46 seconds after. Sanders completed his hat trick with under a minute left in the quarter. In one of the most beautiful plays of the season, Mike Sutton forced a turnover near the Rutgers restraining line and passed the ball to Nick Aponte. He found Sanders who then scored a behind-the-back goal, making it 8-5 Penn State.
Dan Craig’s overhand gave Penn State a 9-5 lead early in the final quarter. Rutgers got another goal, but less than a minute later Florence completed his hat trick with a left-handed shot that hit the post then bounced into the net for the final 11-6 score.
Player of the Game
Pat Manley’s five points were clutch for the Penn State victory. The four assists and late-game goal instilled a sense of optimism for the rest of the season. Penn State has struggled offensively all year with basic skills including passing, but assists were abundant and players — especially Manley — were creating opportunities.
Goal of the Game
This Sports Center Top 10 back-hander from TJ Sanders:
ICYMI: Do yourself a favor and check out this TJ Sanders crazy behind-the-back @PennStateMLAX goal. #BTNStandout http://t.co/r4WZeEGcld
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) April 20, 2015
Penn State takes on Michigan (4-8-0) in the Big House for the last game of the inaugural Big Ten Lacrosse season. It is a chance for the Lions to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament, and you can catch the game on Big Ten Network at 6 p.m. on Sat., April 26.
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