Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Falls To Maryland In Big Ten Semifinal Round 8-6
No. 9 Penn State (12-3, 3-2 Big Ten) took on No. 1 Maryland (11-3, 4-1 Big Ten) in the semifinal round of the Big Ten Championship held in Columbus, Ohio. The Nittany Lions fell to the Terrapins 8-6 as they struggled to generate consistent offense against a tough defensive team in Maryland.
How It Happened
Maryland took down Penn State earlier this season in College Park. Just like earlier in the season, Penn State went down big early. Within only a few minutes the Nittany Lions were down 2-0 and by the end of the first half the score was 4-1.
Penn State needed to come out strong at the start of the second half, but were not able to generate any momentum. The team allowed the Terrapins to come out and score a goal within a minute of the start of the second half with junior Connor Kelly’s first goal of the day.
The Nittany Lions came roaring back though as they proceeded to score three straight goals on shots by Kevin Hill, Mac O’Keefe and Dan Craig. O’Keefe made an incredible one-handed catch, followed by a quick pivot and a nasty rip past Maryland’s net-minder Dan Morris for his second goal of the game. The three straight goals from Penn State brought Maryland’s lead down to only one with about nine minutes left in the third quarter.
However, the Nittany Lions allowed Connor Kelly to then score the next three goals of the game which brought the Terrapins’ lead back up to four goals. Late goals from Nick Aponte and Kevin Hill were not enough to bring Penn State back into the thick of things.
In an uncharacteristicly low-scoring game for the two top-scoring teams in the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions lost 8-6. Just as the Nittany Lions were able to shut down senior Matt Rambo, whose 233 career points are the most points for a single player in Maryland lacrosse history, the Terrapins were able to also shut down senior captain Nick Aponte for the majority of the game as well. Aponte’s game was a stark difference from his five-goal, four-assist performance in Penn State’s win against Michigan this past Sunday.
Player of the Game
Connor Kelly | Junior | Midfielder
The Nittany Lions just could not contain him in this game. Kelly was able to get four goals past goalie Colby Kneese on the day. An honorable mention here is Maryland goalie Dan Morris, who also had a great day denying a bulk of the Lions’ attempts on goal.
The Nittany Lions will have to bounce back after their second loss to Maryland this season. Penn State will discover its NCAA tournament fate on Sunday with the NCAA selection show slotted to take place at 9 p.m.