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No. 17 Penn State Lacrosse Falls To Michigan 14-12, Drops Second Straight

No. 17 Penn State lacrosse (1-4) dropped it’s fourth game of the season to Michigan (1-4) 14-12 Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor.

Mac O’Keefe had three goals for the Nittany Lions, including career goal No. 200, while Jackson Reynolds also had a hat-trick. Colby Kneese had 11 saves in the loss.

Bryce Clay and Josh Zawada tore the Nittany Lions apart, both putting up five points in the game. Nick Rowlett won 17 draws at the faceoff X while John Kiracofe played big with 17 saves in the victory.

How It Happened

A minute and a half into the game, Mac O’Keefe found twine to give the Nittany Lions the early 1-0 lead. It was O’Keefe’s 200th goal of his illustrious college career. He is now only the third player in NCAA history to reach that milestone and is 12 goals off Justin Guterding’s record for the most goals in NCAA history.

Shortly after the goal, Jack Kelly found the back of the net for the Nittany Lions, making it a 2-0 affair. Michigan would answer with three quick goals of its own, making it a 3-2 game in favor of the Wolverines with 9:17 left in the first quarter.

Michigan won five of the first seven draws in the game and it allowed the Wolverines to keep the Nittany Lions under pressure. Michigan’s Jake Bonomi would put another shot past Colby Kneese to make it a 4-2 game. Jackson Reynolds stopped the bleeding for Penn State, scoring back-to-back goals to end the quarter with the game tied 4-4. Both teams had 10 shots after one.

Two seconds in the second quarter, the Wolverines would have their third man-up advantage of the game, but Penn State was able to kill it off. The shaky start to the second quarter forced Jeff Tambroni to use his first timeout of the game.

John Kiracofe made a couple of big saves in the cage for the Wolverines, most notably denying Dylan Foulds on a wide-open attempt early on in the second frame. Shortly after though, Foulds would find a way past Kiracofe on the man-up advantage, giving Penn State a 5-4 lead with 10:26 left in the quarter.

The second quarter had a slower goal-scoring pace than the previous frame, but O’Keefe and Jake Morin found the back of the cage to make it a 7-4 game with 6:36 left in the half. Josh Zawada stopped the Penn State scoring run making it a 7-5 game with 2:30 left in the frame. Bryce Clay then made it a 7-6 game on the man-up advantage with 43 seconds left in the half. That would be the final action of the half, with Penn State holding a slim 7-6 lead. Penn State also led in shots 26-18.

Both teams started the second half sloppy, but Zawada was able to score the first goal of the half, making it a 7-7 game. Foulds would respond with a nice dodge and diving shot in front of the crease to extend the Nittany Lions lead back to one goal. Zawada continued to stay hot as he tied the game back up, tying the game back up, this time at 8-8.

Michigan started to catch fire. Clay scored his third goal of the game and immediately after, Nick Rowlett took the ball right off the draw and put another shot past Kneese. In the blink of an eye, the Wolverines took a 10-8 lead with 6:14 left in the third period. Michigan’s scoring run forced Tambroni to take his second time out of the game.

Penn State’s horrid third quarter continued when a shot from Tyler Papa squeaked in under Kneese to make it an 11-8 game in favor of Michigan. O’Keefe would give the Nittany Lions some life, putting his third goal of the game past Kiracofe to make it an 11-9 game. Entering the game, the Wolverines had been outscored 22-4 in third quarters this season, but Michigan outscored Penn State 5-2 in the third quarter and held an 11-9 advantage entering the final quarter.

Penn State stared the final quarter on the man-up advantage, but a sloppy Nittany Lions’ turnover helped Michigan kill it off. The opening minutes of the final quarter were relatively uneventful until Reynolds and Clay traded goals, making it a 12-10 Michigan advantage with nine minutes left in the game.

Penn State tried to make the comeback, as TJ Malone buried a sidearm shot past Kiracofe to make it 12-11 with 6:56 left in the game. Shortly after, it would be Zawada again causing problems for the Nittany Lions, as the sophomore buried his fourth goal of the game to make it 13-11. Immediately after Zawada’s tally, Penn State came right down off the draw and Mark Sickler made it a 13-12 game with 4:34 left in the game.

Penn State pushed hard to try and find the equalizer as the clock winded down. It would be Clay for Michigan who buried his fifth goal of the game to make it 14-12 Michigan with only two minutes remaining in the game. That would be the dagger as the Wolverines defeated the Nittany Lions 14-12.

Key Takeaways

  • When it rains it pours for the Nittany Lions this season. There were three runs of three or more goals for Michigan in this game. Penn State has been sucker punched of late and it takes too long for it to respond. Statistically, it was a relatively even affair, except for the third quarter. Penn State trailed in shots, faceoffs, and ground balls by relatively large margins. The Nittany Lions can’t have stretches like they did in this game and expect to win.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate greatness in the moment, but everyone needs to sit back and enjoy Mac O’Keefe while he’s still in a Penn State uniform. O’Keefe scored three goals in this one and eclipsed 200 career goals. With the NCAA record for career goals only ten goals away, it’s safe to assume O’Keefe will become the greatest goal scorer in NCAA history. It was also the first game this season we can truly say he was Penn State’s most effective players on the field. After a slower start to the season, O’Keefe is starting to pick it up, which is a good sign for Penn State.
  • It’s time for Tambroni to really sit back and figure out what’s wrong with this team. Injuries and coronavirus have played a factor, but Penn State just dropped a game to the worst team in the conference. A 1-4 start to the season is not good and it’s only going to get worst with three straight games against ranked opponents coming up.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions start the second half of the season with a home game against No. 15 Johns Hopkins. That game will take place at Panzer Stadium at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 28 and will be broadcast on ESPNU.

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About the Author

Connor Donohue

Connor is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He hails from the great state of New Jersey and is proud of it. Lover of the greatest city in the world, New York City, he strongly dislikes the city of Philadelphia and will not hesitate to tell you that. He's also been cursed as a Penn State fan since birth. If you want to call him a bum or maybe go out on a date with him, follow him on twitter @ConnorDonohue00 or email him at [email protected]

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