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Penn State Women’s Lacrosse Defeats No. 17 Rutgers 9-7 In Big Ten Opener  

Penn State women’s lacrosse (5-2) opened Big Ten play with a 9-7 win over No. 17 Rutgers (3-3) on Saturday. The game was the second and final game that was hosted at a neutral site in Nashville, Tennessee.  

Although the Nittany Lions trailed heading into the second quarter, the team shut down the Scarlet Knights and remained on top for the rest of the game. Kristin O’Neill led the Nittany Lions with five goals in the game, giving her 23 goals this season. Gretchen Gilmore had a career-high 3 assists.

This game ended the team’s two-game losing streak after losses to Loyola and Drexel. 

How It Happened

With Ashley Bowan in the cage for Penn State and Sophia Cardello in the cage for the Scarlet Knights, Rutgers started off the game strong. The team won possession and scored a quick goal at 13:53. 

Penn State was then unsuccessful in its subsequent two goal attempts with a saved shot by O’Neill and Gilmore’s attempt hitting the goal post. However, Gilmore then went on to assist O’Neill for the Nittany Lions’ first goal of the game at 8:57.  

After winning possession, Penn State was granted a free-position shot for Meghan Murray that was unsuccessful. Rutgers was unable to clear the ball from its territory, and O’Neill recovered the ball. However, she was unable to find the back of the cage, and this eventually led to a goal for Ava Kane of the Scarlet Knights.  

The ball then went back and forth between the teams for the rest of the period. Unsuccessful shots were taken by Murray and O’Neill for the Nittany Lions, and Kane, Marin Hartshorn, and Janey Galski for Rutgers.  

The period concluded with a yellow card on Penn State’s Kayla Abernathy, and Rutgers took a 2-1 lead into the second period.

The second period started with a man-up situation for Rutgers after a yellow card was given to Ellie Hollin. However, the advantage didn’t last long after a red card was given to Rutgers’ Meghan Ball.  

Penn State’s Gilmore then had an unsuccessful wide shot on net, and Rutgers cleared the ball. This led to a goal by Rutgers’ Kate Carolonza. The Nittany Lions trailed 3-1 and called for a timeout after the goal.  

After the timeout, Penn State’s Lauren Saltz won the draw. This then led to a yellow card on Rutgers’ Ashley Campo. O’Neill made a free-position shot to cut Rutgers’ lead to 3-2.

Kayla Abernathy then had an unsuccessful shot after it was saved by Cardello. However, O’Neill earned a hat trick when she tied the game for the Nittany Lions.  

Kara Nealon followed up O’Neill’s goal with one of her own to give the Nittany Lions a 4-3 lead.

After some back-and-forth action, Penn State entered the third period with its 4-3 lead.

Although the first draw control of the third period was won by Rutgers, the Nittany Lions were able to regain possession. This led to an unsuccessful free-position shot by Murray. However, she recovered her own shot, which led to another goal by O’Neill, assisted by Gilmore.  

After a shot attempt by Penn State’s Brooke Barger, Cardello cleared the ball. The ball then remained in Penn State’s territory, with the defense unable to regain possession. After two missed shot attempts, Ashley Campo scored for Rutgers to briefly halt Penn State’s momentum.

However, the Nittany Lions dominated the rest of the third quarter. In less than a minute and a half, the Nittany Lions scored three goals. Ellie Hollin, O’Neill, and Regan Nealon each earned a goal to make it 8-4 with 3:15 remaining in the third.

Although the Scarlet Knights had several shots on the cage, Bowan stopped all the attempts. Rutgers didn’t score for the rest of the period.  

Abernathy continued Penn State’s streak with the first goal of the fourth quarter, which would end up being the last of the game for the Nittany Lions. The Scarlet Knights then went on to score the remainder of the goals in the game, with goals from Hartshorn, Kane, and Mikayla Dever to end the game with a 9-7 Penn State advantage.


  • Kristin O’Neill continues to be a clutch player for Penn State. When the team is trailing its opponents, O’Neill always seems to show up at the right time to bring her squad back into the game.  
  • Gretchen Gilmore shouldn’t be overlooked as one of the top players for Penn State and in the Big Ten. Gilmore has a good read on the field and can find her open teammates even in congestion.  
  • If Penn State wants to be a tough competitor against other Big Ten opponents, it has to cut down on turnovers. The Nittany Lions turned the ball over 22 times today.

What’s Next

Penn State will face Towson at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14, at Panzer Stadium.

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About the Author

Shannon Smith

Shannon is a sophomore majoring in advertising and minoring in DMTA and sports studies. She is a part of the Onward State visual staff and a contributor for Onward States's podcast, Podward State. She is from Long Island, New York and is a die-hard New York Giants fan. To send her your favorite TikTok dance, follow @shann_smith31 on Twitter or @shannon_smith31 on Instagram.

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