No. 1 Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Dominates UMBC 25-10 In First Round Of NCAA Tournament
No. 1 Penn State men’s lacrosse (15-1, 7-0 Big Ten) secured its first-ever NCAA tournament victory on Sunday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions beat UMBC (7-9, 2-4 America East) by a final score of 25-10 at Panzer Stadium. Jack Kelly and Mac O’Keefe led the charge offensively with six goals each while Grant Ament pulled the strings with five helpers and three goals of his own.
Junior goalkeeper Colby Kneese made five saves in the win.
How It Happened
UMBC opened the scoring with 13:11 left in the opening quarter of today’s game. However, Penn State’s offense responded in its trademark deadly fashion to take a 4-1 advantage.
Cole Willard knotted the game at 1-1 with his 11th of the year, and senior Nick Spillane gave Penn State its first lead of the afternoon 70 seconds later. Gerard Arceri won the ensuing faceoff after Spillane’s 25th of the year and set up Mac O’Keefe, who made no mistake and increased the Penn State advantage to 3-1.
Dylan Foulds fired a powerful wrist shot beyond UMBC’s keeper to extend his team’s lead to 4-1 exactly one minute after O’Keefe’s score. The Retrievers’ Ryan Frawley answered with his 42nd of the year, but Jack Kelly canceled that one out and restored the Nittany Lions’ three-goal advantage.
The teams continued to trade goals for the remainder of the first, and Penn State took a 7-4 lead into the second quarter.
Sunday’s contest truly got out of hand in the second quarter. The Nittany Lions scored eight unanswered goals to take a 15-4 lead. Depth has been one of this team’s strengths all season long, but Mac O’Keefe and Jack Kelly ran the show offensively throughout the quarter.
Kelly scored four times — including three consecutive goals — and O’Keefe added three of his own to push his goal total to 64 this season. Jack Traynor got in on the fun with his 13th of the year before UMBC finally stopped the bleeding with 3:06 to play in the first half.
The Retrievers got another one before the second quarter ended, so Penn State took a 15-6 lead into halftime. Grant Ament led all attackmen with four assists at the break.
Penn State’s offense continued firing on all cylinders throughout the second half. Ament scored a hat trick, O’Keefe added his fifth and sixth goals of the game, and Dylan Foulds scored two more to keep UMBC at bay. Penn State took a 23-7 lead into the final 15 minutes of the game thanks to those goals and one from Jake Glatz immediately following a faceoff win.
TJ Malone joined the goal-scoring party with his 30th of the year early in the fourth quarter before UMBC finally found the back of the net again. The Retrievers got two more consolation goals before Dan Reaume capped off the afternoon with his 10th goal of the year for Penn State.
- Jack Kelly, take a bow. The sophomore was dominant offensively on Sunday with six(!!) goals in the first half. Kelly backed up his 30-goal regular season with a monstrous performance against UMBC, which took a bit of pressure off Mac O’Keefe, who also found the back of the net six times.
- Calling the second and third quarters a turning point in Sunday’s game is a huge understatement. Despite the clear gap in talent between the sides, UMBC played well in the first quarter. However, the Retrievers were completely overwhelmed throughout the middle quarters and got buried as a result.
- As its first-ever win in NCAA tournament play, this victory is a big stepping stone for Penn State’s lacrosse program. However, the Nittany Lions work is far from done — they’re still three wins away from claiming the national championship.
Penn State will take on No. 8 Loyola Maryland, which beat Syracuse 15-13 in the first round of the tournament, in the next round. The game will be played at either noon or 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 19 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut.
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As THON weekend approaches, a fundraising year like no other in THON history wraps up.
“Whether this team is a No. 3 seed or or a No. 4 seed, they’re going to have a real opportunity to be in the Sweet Sixteen. If you’re a Penn State basketball fan, that’s like the Final Four. That week of hype and attention gives a team a brand.”
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