No. 1 Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Falls to No. 8 Maryland 15-11
The Nittany Lions (10-1, 1-1 Big Ten) traveled to College Park and ran into an extremely talented team that they have never beaten before in program history.
No. 8 Maryland (7-2, 2-0 Big Ten) was just too much for Penn State and walked away with a 15-11 victory behind a team-high four goals from senior attacker Matt Rambo.
How It Happened
Maryland took control of the game in the early going, winning the first two face-offs and capitalized on both offensive possesions with goals from Connor Kelly just 43 seconds into the first quarter Rambo after he sniped a shot top corner as he was running away from the net.
Nick Aponte cut the deficit to 2-1 with 11:40 remaining in the quarter after he split dogged a defender and slotted one home. Shortly following the Nittany Lions tally, Rambo notched his second goal of the evening after beating a triple team to give Maryland a 3-1 lead. Penn State won the ensuing face-off; however, it lost possession in the offensive zone and the Terrapins were able to score in transition with another one from Rambo.
Nittany Lion attacker Mike Sutton displayed terrific individual skill and ripped a shot past Maryland’s goalie with 5:58 left in the opening quarter. The Nittany Lions tallied again as Grant Ament went top cheddar, but Maryland scored after winning the next face-off to push the lead to 5-3. Tim Rotanz stepped into a shot from 20 yards out and Kneese was not equal to the task, giving Maryland a comfortable 6-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Penn State started off the second quarter with a strong opening possession. Aponte swam right out of the pool and ethered a defender on his way to cutting the lead to 6-4 with his second goal just 1:19 in. Maryland answered right back with a goal of its own, as Kelly beat Kneese with 13:06 reaming in the first half. Colin Heacock spun passed a defender and sent a lefty heat-seeking missile past Kneese to double up the Nittany Lions 8-4.
Penn State made it 8-5 with 7:51 left in the quarter, as Sutton tallied after being left wide open in front of goal. Right on cue, Maryland’s Heacock countered to push the lead back to 9-5. Penn State’s freshman phenom Mac O’Keefe joined in on the scoring festivities and ripped a side-armed shot into the top corner to cut the lead to 9-6. With 21 seconds left Dylan Maltz got on the scoresheet to give Maryland a four-goal lead. At the end of the second quarter, Maryland led 10-6; however it could have been much worse with the poor play from the Nittany Lions.
The start of the second half was much of the same from both teams. Maryland won the opening face-off and Rambo tallied his fourth goal to make it 11-6 with 13:20 remaining in the quarter. Ben Chisolm added another goal as Penn State fell into a daunting 12-6 hole.
The Nittany Lions stopped the bleeding midway through the quarter and went on a scoring stretch of their own. Ryan Keenan started the run by netting a goal to cut the deficit to 12-7. Ament made it back-to-back for the Nittany Lions to make in 12-8 with 8:02 left in the third quarter. O’Keefe tallied Penn State’s third unanswered goal and the lead was cut to 12-9. Maryland got things rolling again after several key saves and Kelly was able to notch another goal at the other end. At the end of the third quarter, Maryland led 13-9.
The Nittany Lions didn’t get the off to a hot start in the fourth quarter and surrendered two early goals. Heacock was left all alone on the side of the net and unloaded a howitzer of a shot to make it 14-9. One minute late, Kelly swung in front of goal and snuck a shot between the post and Kneese, extending the lead to 15-9. Nick Spillane got Penn State into double figures with a nice goal to make it 15-10 with just over ten minutes remaining in the game. There was a long scoreless stretch of time in the latter part of the quarter until O’Keefe completed his hat trick with three minutes left. At the end of regulation, the final score read 15-11 in Maryland’s favor.
- Penn State needs to spend the entirety of its next practice solely practicing face-offs. The Terrapins absolutely dominated the Nittany Lions all day in face-offs and it gave them too much momentum.
- Maryland dominated the opening quarter due in large part to winning the majority of face-offs and putting constant pressure on the Penn State defense. The Nittany Lions played in a similar fashion during the Ohio State game; however, they were able to survive because the Buckeyes aren’t as quality a team as the Terrapins. If Penn State wants to succeed, it needs to get off to faster starts especially because the teams they will be playing in the post season will all be of the quality of Maryland.
- Maryland’s Colin Heacock has some serious lettuce. Have to give credit where credit is do.
- The fact that the Big Ten Network had the audacity to televise Purdue’s spring football game over this matchup of two of the nations best lacrosse teams is lunacy. How many people do you think woke up on this beautiful Saturday morning and were craving to watch Purdue football take the field in a meaningless game? Zero. Zilch. Nada. None. Figure it out Big Ten.
Penn State will head to Baltimore next Saturday to take on No. 11 Johns Hopkins at 2 p.m. on ESPNU.