No. 1 Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Outlasts Loyola Maryland 21-14 In Second Round Of NCAA Tournament
No. 1 Penn State men’s lacrosse (16-1, 7-0 Big Ten) earned yet another NCAA tournament victory on Sunday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions beat No. 8 Loyola Maryland (12-5, 7-1 Patriot League) by a score of 21-14 in a barnburner at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. Penn State’s offense was impossible to stop throughout the day thanks to big time performances from several players. Mac O’Keefe finished with nine goals while Jack Kelly had four of his own. Grant Ament continued to be the provider for the offense as the junior had eight assists on the day.
Junior goalie Colby Kneese made 12 saves in the victory.
How It Happened
Penn State got off to a quick start in this one, as the Nittany Lions scored two unanswered goals to open up the first quarter. Mac O’Keefe scored with 13:15 remaining in the first quarter on a beautiful assist from Grant Ament. The junior attack scored again under a minute later on another laser and gave Penn State a 2-0 lead.
The Greyhounds followed that up with five unanswered goals of their own in about five minutes, taking a 6-3 lead towards the final few minutes of the quarter.
Mac O’Keefe settled things down for Penn State, as he scored his third goal of the game with 1:46 remaining in the first quarter. Penn State finished the period trailing the Greyhounds by a score of 6-5.
Penn State quickly went on a scoring run that gave them a 10-6 lead with 7:35 remaining in the second quarter. Grant Ament made sure to join in on the action, scoring a pretty diving goal for his 27th of the season.
Loyola didn’t even get a shot on net for about ten minutes in the quarter, but they finally scored thanks to Pat Spencer with 5:28 remaining. This was the Greyhounds’ only score of the quarter, as they could do virtually nothing to stop Penn State.
Goals from O’Keefe, Nick Spillane, Cole Willard, and Brian Townsend were all part of an 11-1 Penn State run that gave the Nittany Lions a 14-7 lead heading to halftime.
Loyola Maryland’s offense started to wake up in the second half, as four goals from Pat Spencer and scores from Kevin Lindley and Dan Wigley narrowed the gap to a Penn State lead of 17-14 to end the third quarter. Spencer kept the Greyhounds alive in this one, as he finished with six goals and five assists on the day.
Mac O’Keefe continued to lead the Nittany Lion offense in the third quarter, as he had two goals in the period. Brian Townsend also tacked on his second goal of the day to help Penn State hang on to their lead. O’Keefe scored his eighth of the day to open up the fourth quarter on a bullet of a shot that gave the Nittany Lions an 18-14 lead.
Goals from Jack Kelly and Cole Willard gave Penn State a 20-14 lead about halfway through the final period. O’Keefe scored his ninth of the day with 5:11 remaining, tying the single-game goal record in the NCAA tournament and stretching the Nittany Lions lead to 21-14. This was Penn State’s final score of the day, as they ran out the clock the rest of the way to punch their ticket to Championship Weekend.
- Mac O’Keefe has done nothing but score at will against any defense the Nittany Lions have faced. After putting six in the back of net against UMBC last weekend, the nation’s leading scorer finished with nine goals on the day, including five in the first half.
- Although O’Keefe had a big day, he was certainly not the sole provider for Penn State. On the Nittany Lion’s astonishing 11-1 scoring run from the end of the first quarter to halftime, seven different players scored goals. Penn State’s fantastic ball movement made it possible for everyone to join in on the fun and extremely difficult for the Greyhounds to slow them down throughout the day.
- Penn State’s huge offensive day made them the first team to have back-to-back 20 or more goal games in the postseason since the 1990 Syracuse team. This puts Penn State in the company of one of the greatest college lacrosse offenses of all time.
- There were plenty of “We Are” chants heard around Rentschler Field this afternoon. Considering the fact that the Nittany Lion faithful can make the trek to Connecticut, it’s hard to imagine anything but a massive showing in Philadelphia next weekend.
Penn State will take on the winner of this afternoon’s game of Yale and the University of Pennsylvania in the Semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. The game will be played on Saturday, May 25 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
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