Men’s Lacrosse To Meet Johns Hopkins In Thursday Semifinal
Penn State men’s lacrosse, seeded No. 4 in the inaugural Big Ten tournament, will meet No. 1 seed Johns Hopkins in the semifinal game on Thursday, April 30 at 5:30 p.m. in College Park.
The Nittany Lions cinched a bid to the inaugural Big Ten Tournament last week in a thrilling 10-9 victory against Michigan. The win gave the Lions a final 5-8 overall regular season record and a 2-3 record in Big Ten play.
Despite the losing records, Penn State has made impressive strides late in the season and is coming into Thursday night on a two-win streak. In the past two wins, the difference for the Lions has been improvement on fundamentals and starting strong. They dominated the first half in their senior night win against Rutgers, going on a five-goal run and refusing complacency. Last week’s game against Michigan featured defensive dominance in the first period, with crucial saves and great management of possession time.
Penn State is looking for revenge against Johns Hopkins in light of the heartbreaking double overtime loss suffered just three weeks ago. This game showcased Penn State strengths, like goalie Connor Darcey’s prowess in net, and a four-goal performance by Pat Manley.
A Penn State victory will be a difficult feat, considering Johns Hopkins (7-6, 4-1 Big Ten) has weapons like Ryan Brown, 2015 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, and Joel Tinney, 2015 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Johns Hopkins currently sits at No. 16 in the USILA coaches poll, while Penn State is unranked.
Penn State goalie Connor Darcey will need to have another one of his highlight-reel games to keep the scoreboard in Penn State’s favor. Darcey, a redshirt sophomore, is currently second in the Big Ten goalie rankings and eighth nationally with a 12.23 saves per game average. On the offensive end, Mike Sutton will need to keep producing as he looks to improve his 17-game point streak.
Although numbers never tell the whole story, Johns Hopkins is dominant. The Blue Jays boast an average of 12.38 goals per game to Penn State’s 9.23. Regarding assists, an area on which Penn State has recently greatly improved, Johns Hopkins tallies 99 while Penn State has 60. Johns Hopkins takes more shots and the team finds the back of the net more often, with a 39.1 shots per game average and a .317 shot percentage, to Penn State’s respective 33.1 and .279. Johns Hopkins has a .544 face-off percentage on the season, while Penn State sits at .517.
The game will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 30.
Photo: Mark Selders/GoPSUSports