Spillane, Arceri Lead Penn State Men’s Lacrosse To Upset Victory Over Johns Hopkins
No. 15 Penn State men’s lacrosse (8-4) defeated red-hot No. 5 Johns Hopkins (8-3) on a sunny day at Panzer Stadium to end the Blue Jays’ seven-game winning streak.
Although Johns Hopkins struck first, Penn State was able to bounce back quickly to take control later in the first quarter. The team kept control for the remainder of the game behind remarkable performances from junior Nick Spillane and sophomore Gerard Arceri to win the game 14-12.
How It Happened
Johns Hopkins scored right off the bat to put the Nittany Lions in a hole early. However, a goal from senior Ryan Keenan knotted the game up at 1-1. After the Blue Jays scored another goal to put them up 2-1, sophomore Mac O’Keefe put one past the goalkeeper on a diving attempt in response. O’Keefe would score again soon after, along with two goals from junior Kevin Hill courtesy of Spillane, and that would bring Penn State’s lead up to three goals with the score at 5-2. After Johns Hopkins scored one more time before the first quarter ended, the score was 5-3.
In this second quarter, freshman Cole Willard would start things off right for the Nittany Lions as he scored off of an O’Keefe assist. O’Keefe was not done scoring on the day though as he would net his hat trick soon after to make the score 7-3. O’Keefe’s latest score would not have been possible without a great takeaway by junior defenseman Chris Sabia.
Two more assists from Spillane and strong face-off play from a Arceri, who played through a leg injury, allowed the Nittany Lions to go up 10-4 with just under five minutes to play in the first half. Again, however, Hopkins was able to net a late quarter goal to make the score 10-5 heading into halftime.
Two early goals in the second half by the Blue Jays made the score 10-7 with about 10 minutes to play in the third quarter. In addition, Penn State’s already-injured star face-off man, Arceri, got banged up on a recent hit to keep him out of third quarter action. Spillane was all over the place on this day though as he got Penn State back on track with his first goal of the game.
When the resilient Hopkins’ team responded with a goal of its own, Spillane got himself another to make it 12-8 in favor of Penn State with only a few seconds remaining in the third quarter. With Arceri out for the moment, coach Jeff Tambroni called on Nick McEvoy for face-off duty. McEvoy proceeded to win the face-off and scurry for a last second third quarter goal. Spillane’s and McEvoy’s goals both came within the last 10 seconds of the third quarter and put the Nittany Lions up 13-8 going into the final quarter of action.
Johns Hopkins would not let up though. The Blue Jays were able to make this game interesting after two goals to start the fourth quarter brought the Penn State lead down to three goals. Later in the fourth, Johns Hopkins was able to get a rebound off of sophomore goalkeeper Colby Kneese to make the score 14-12 with just under five minutes remaining.
With this late push by the fifth-ranked team in the country, Penn State was now in survival mode. Well, the Nittany Lions were able to do just that thanks to two timely saves by Kneese towards the end of regulation. Kneese’s fourteenth and final save allowed Penn State to regain possession and run out the clock to seal the 14-12 victory.
Player of the Game
Nick Spillane | Junior | Midfielder
The junior has shown serious growth in his time filling in for junior Grant Ament. On this day, Spillane had his hands all over this win as he netted two goals to go along with five assists. His seven-point performance paced the Nittany Lions as they got a win against the No. 5 team in the country.
Next up for the Nittany Lions is an away game against Rutgers. Penn State will take on the Scarlet Knights next Sunday at 7 p.m.