No. 1 Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Beats Cleveland State 15-11 In Final Non-Conference Game
No. 1 Penn State men’s lacrosse (7-1, 0-0 Big Ten) wrapped up its non-conference slate by beating Cleveland State 15-11 on Saturday.
Fresh off recently being named to the Tewaaraton Award watchlist, junior Mac O’Keefe led the way for the top-ranked Nittany Lions with five goals and one assist in Ament’s absence. Three Penn State players — Nick Cardile, Joe White, and Matt Donnelly — scored their first goal of the season and served as a nice depth outlet while star attacker Grant Ament did not play.
Goalkeeper Colby Kneese made 10 saves in the victory.
How It Happened
Penn State came out firing in the first quarter, something that’s becoming a bit of a trend for this team. O’Keefe started the scoring spree with two unassisted goals in the first five minutes of the game.
Junior Gerard Arceri, senior Matt Donnelly, redshirt junior Dylan Foulds, and senior Nick Spillane scored after Cleveland State found a way past Colby Kneese. Those four unanswered goals opened up a 6-1 lead before the Vikings trimmed their deficit to four at the end of the first.
The Nittany Lions countered three goals from Cleveland State’s Nick Wendel with two goals of their own in the second quarter. Attackman TJ Malone scored his 18th goal of the season, while fellow freshman Joe White scored his first career goal midway through the second. Head coach Jeff Tambroni’s squad led by three goals entering halftime.
Cleveland State’s Tristan Hanna struck first in the third quarter to bring his team within two goals, but O’Keefe answered with another goal for the record books. The sniper moved past TJ Sanders to claim the No. 2 spot on Penn State’s all-time goal-scoring list and completed his hat trick for good measure.
Goals from Spillane and Foulds along with another from junior defenseman Nick Cardile gave Penn State a 12-7 lead after three quarters of play.
Cleveland State came out firing in the final quarter and scored three unanswered goals in the first five-and-a-half minutes to make the score 12-10. However, the Nittany Lions would quickly squash the Vikings’ comeback bid with three unanswered of their own — Nick Spillane completed his hat trick while O’Keefe tacked on two more to extend the lead to five goals.
The result of the game was sealed after O’Keefe’s fifth of the game and 36th of the year found the net with 4:10 to play. Cleveland State scored a consolation goal, but it wasn’t enough to stop the top-ranked Nittany Lions from improving to 7-1 this year.
- No Grant Ament, no problem. The Nittany Lions found a way to produce without their star playmaker in the lineup on Saturday. While it definitely missed Ament’s passing abilities, the offense made up for his absence by scoring nine unassisted goals.
- Junior attackman Mac O’Keefe moved to No. 2 on the Penn State career scoring list. O’Keefe came into today’s contest with 117 goals, but he only needs six more goals to become the program’s all-time leader in goals in program history after scoring five on Saturday.
- Penn State wrapped up its non-conference schedule with a 7-1 record, but things won’t get any easier from here. The Nittany Lions will take on No. 4 Maryland, No. 7 Ohio State, and No. 16 Johns Hopkins in three of their next four games. If it’s any consolation, the matchups against the Buckeyes and Blue Jays will be played in the friendly confines of Panzer Stadium.
Penn State will take the road for a contest against No. 4 Maryland next week. The game is slated to begin at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 31, and you can watch the action on the Big Ten Network.
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About the Author
Penn State earned a ranking in the preseason AP Top 25 poll for the third consecutive season.
The past five No. 15s in the preseason AP Top 25 poll have been a mixed bag of seven-loss mediocrity and 9-4 records, but the 2017 Georgia Bulldogs proved that starting at No. 15 isn’t all bad.
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