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No. 2 Penn State Lacrosse Rallies, Ultimately Falls Short In 18-17 Loss To No. 5 Cornell

No. 2 Penn State lacrosse (4-2) couldn’t complete a ferocious comeback and fell short on a buzzer beater from No. 5 Cornell (5-0) in the annual midseason Crown Classic in North Carolina.

After trailing by eight goals, the Nittany Lions took a one-goal lead with less than a minute to play in the game thanks to a third-quarter rally. Two goals in the final 18 seconds, however, completed the win for the Big Red.

How It Happened

Penn State got off to a good start after Cornell’s Dom Doria got a two-minute penalty in the early going. Tyler Hill and Jack Kelly capitalized to put the Nittany Lions up 2-0 before Jonathan Donville and Matt Licciardi brought the Big Red level.

Cornell continued an early barrage due to winning six of the eight early face-offs. Three more goals stretched the Ivy League side’s lead to 5-2 in the early going. The ball seemingly couldn’t get out of Penn State’s defensive end, and Jeff Tambroni was forced to call timeout with five minutes left in the first.

Things didn’t get better for Penn State following the break. Cornell continued the trend of winning face-offs and converting, ending the first quarter on a 8-0 run. The first quarter was nearly an exact inverse of last season’s matchup with Cornell. Penn State led the Big Red 9-2 after last year’s Crown Classic first quarter.

While Tambroni’s squad stymied the initial storm in the second quarter, Penn State couldn’t do much to cut into the lead. TJ Malone finally got the Lions back to scoring ways with 9:07 left in the half, but a few more Cornell goals maintained the comfortable lead.

Penn State found some life at the end of the half: A beautiful behind the back pass from Grant Ament found Kevin Hill for a goal. After another goals scored by Malone, the Nittany Lions trailed 12-5 at the half.

It seemed as though Cornell wouldn’t let up in the second half. One minute in, Donville recorded his second of the afternoon, but two quick Nittany Lion goals gave something for the blue and white to get excited about.

During Penn State’s possession with nine minutes left, four flags were shown: two Cornell players recorded two penalties each, and both were sidelined for 1:30.

Mac O’Keefe capitalized, scoring his first of the afternoon to close the gap to five. Cornell won the ensuing face-off, but it threw the ball away to give Penn State possession as time expired on the penalties.

Penn State continued to heat up, bursting out to a seven goal unanswered run in the third quarter. With 15 minutes remaining, Penn State trailed by just 13-12.

Ament found Dylan Foulds at the start of the second half to equalize– the goal marked the first time since 7:36 in the first quarter that Cornell wasn’t leading the contest.

The bleeding stopped for the Big Red with nine minutes left in the match. Billy Coyle struck twice for Cornell, snapping nearly 20 minutes without a goal for the Big Red. Penn State didn’t panic, and it chipped away through Kelly and TJ Connellan goals that tied the game at 16-16.

Moments later, O’Keefe completed the comeback on a man advantage; a long range effort from the senior put the Lions ahead, 17-16. Cornell received possession with 50 seconds to go. The Big Red called timeout, setting up a grandstand finish with the Lions up one.

Cornell star Jeff Teat was put on an island, and out-dueled Brian Townsend to tie the game with 18 seconds left. A scramble on the ensuing face-off gave Cornell a fast break, and Angelo Petrakis struck the devastating blow with just eight seconds to play.

Cornell won the game by scoring as time expired.

Takeaways

  • One defining moment of the first half happened towards the end of the first quarter. Cornell’s JJ Lombardi dove towards the sideline to prove his stick was closer than the opposing player. That hustle play resulted in Cornell’s eighth straight goal. The Big Red lost nearly all their mojo in the second half, but their hustle was just enough to come back and eventually win against the Nittany Lions.
  • Cornell did a good job of sharing the ball throughout the game. Penn State finished with seven different scorers, which was equal to the amount of players that put Cornell on the board in the first quarter alone. Some fans may be wondering whether this team relies too much on Ament and O’Keefe for production.
  • The face-offs mirrored which team had momentum throughout Sunday’s contest. Penn State won 20 of the 39 total face-offs, however only five were won by the Nittany Lions in the first 25 minutes of the contest. The lack of possession in the first half wound up the difference maker in the end, despite the comeback.

What’s Next

Penn State will stay in the Carolinas on Tuesday, when it takes on Furman. First face-off is set for 7 p.m.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He lives just north of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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