Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Claims Big Ten Regular Season Title With Wild 14-13 Win Against Rutgers
No. 1 Penn State men’s lacrosse (12-1, 5-0 Big Ten) locked up the regular season Big Ten title with a thrilling 14-13 victory against No. 20 Rutgers (7-7, 2-3 Big Ten).
Redshirt junior Grant Ament and junior Mac O’Keefe led the way for Penn State, each tallying seven points in the game. O’Keefe scored five goals in the game, but he got help in some key situations from sophomore Jack Kelly, who scored the game-winner with 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Goalkeeper Colby Kneese also had 11 saves against the Scarlet Knights.
How It Happened
Sophomore Cole Willard put the Nittany Lions on the board first, scoring the game’s first two goals. A score from redshirt junior Dylan Foulds gave Penn State a 3-0 lead, but Rutgers proceeded to score the next four goals to end the first quarter.
O’Keefe had scored two goals to put the Nittany Lions back on top within the first few minutes of the second quarter. The Scarlet Knights scored the next two goals to again go ahead. O’Keefe wasn’t finished yet though as he scored another goal to knot the game up at 6-6. He then assisted freshman TJ Malone to give Penn State the lead, and Kelly added a diving goal of his own to put the Nittany Lions up 8-6 at halftime.
Rutgers came out firing in the third quarter. The Scarlet Knights scored four of the game’s next five goals to take a lead on the top-ranked team in the nation.
With momentum swinging in Rutgers’ favor, two young Nittany Lions came up big. Freshman Jack Traynor scored his ninth goal of the season, and Kelly added another late-quarter goal to give Penn State the lead heading into the final quarter of action.
Rutgers sophomore Tommy Coyne showed no quit against the Nittany Lions. The attackman scored two more goals at the start of the fourth quarter to give Rutgers the lead again. However, the back-and-forth battle would continue as O’Keefe added his fifth goal of the game to level things at 12-12. Another goal from Rutgers was followed by a score from Foulds with less than six minutes remaining.
With no scoring for the next five minutes, the game stayed level at 13-13. Kelly changed that as he netted the game-winner off Ament’s seventh assist of the game with 40 seconds left. Malone came up big on the play as well — he scrambled to push a loose ball towards Ament so he could find Kelly for the game-winner.
- Grant Ament was back to his charitable self on Saturday. He dished out seven assists after serving more as more of a goal-scorer in the team’s game last week against Johns Hopkins. Ament finished the regular season by setting the Penn State single-season points and assists records.
- Jack Kelly was clutch in this one. The sophomore scored goals within the final minute of the second, third and fourth quarters of the game. The Nittany Lions will need that type of production from their young offensive players to help lighten the scoring load of Ament, O’Keefe and senior Spillane in the Big Ten tournament and beyond.
- With former Penn State men’s lacrosse player and two-time Super Bowl champion Chris Hogan in attendance, Penn State claimed the regular season Big Ten title with this win and also stays a perfect 5-0 in conference play in the process. The Nittany Lions’ one-goal loss on the road to the defending national champion Yale Bulldogs remains their only loss on the season.
Penn State will again take on Rutgers on Thursday in Piscataway, N.J. in the Big Ten tournament. The winner will then play either Maryland or Johns Hopkins in the Big Ten Championship on Saturday.
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