No. 8 Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Wins Double-Overtime Thriller 12-11 Over No. 6 Johns Hopkins
No. 8 Penn State men’s lacrosse (7-3, 2-1 Big Ten) took on Big Ten rival No 6 Johns Hopkins (9-4, 2-1 Big Ten) Saturday night at Panzer Stadium, besting the Blue Jays 12-11 in overtime.
After going down 5-0, the Nittany Lions righted the ship by halftime off the backs of net-minder Jack Fracyon and goal scorers TJ Malone and Matt Traynor. A back-and-forth second half wasn’t enough to settle the contest, as the game went to overtime 11-11. Kevin Winkoff made sure Penn State came out on top, calling game with a sidearm snipe to snap Hopkins’ five-game win streak.
How It Happened
The Nittany Lions controlled a chaotic opening face-off to start the matchup but were ultimately unsuccessful on the opening attack, coming up short on a crease violation.
The Blue Jays were awarded an early man-up opportunity when Alex Ross was called for an illegal body check. Hopkins utilized long skip passes to soften up the blue and white defense and set up Russell Melendez for a crease-crank opening goal. The Blue Jays won the following face-off and fed Melendez again, who buried a long-distance bounce shot to make the game 2-0 Johns Hopkins with 11:07 to go in the first.
The Nittany Lions went on the penalty kill again with 5:58 to play in the frame as Jack Posey, went to the sin bin for cross-checking. Shot-stopper Jack Fracyon came up big, saving a stick-side-high rocket to give his team a chance to run out the penalty.
Following a defensive stand that saw Penn State take a shot clock violation, Hopkins attacker Melendez finished his natural hat trick on a shifty dodge down the right side to push the score to 3-0 in favor of the Blue Jays.
The Nittany Lions came up short again at the goal mouth when Malone found himself wide open with time for a shot fake, but Tim Marcille committed larceny and kept Penn State off the board. His Blue Jays took a time out to draw up a play for the quarter’s final minute and schemed Melendez open for his fourth goal of the game with just 4.7 seconds on the clock. The first quarter expired with a 4-0 advantage for Johns Hopkins.
Penn State’s Alex Ross got called for interference at the beginning of the second quarter, but the Nittany Lions killed the 30-second foul on the back of Fracyon, relying on the sophomore for three clutch saves.
Marcille continued to stand on his head through the Nittany Lions’ next possession, stonewalling the blue and white on two quick shots. The Blue Jays’ Johnathan Peshko took the ball following the clear and ran his defender into a heavy pick, creating space for a step-down shot to extend Johns Hopkins’ lead to five.
Penn State set up the following play in a spread-out formation, pulling the attackmen up top to create space near the net. Matt Traynor saw separation with his defender following Will Peden’s feed and pulled the trigger, netting Penn State’s first goal and cutting the score to 5-1.
Matt Traynor found himself in control of the rock again following a turbulent face-off and carried his defender down the perimeter of the field, shooting on the run and burying a second Nittany Lion goal. Penn State retained possession with a Blue Jay violation on the draw, quickly settling the ball with Malone behind the cage. An overzealous Hopkins double team opened up Kyle Aldridge for a side arm snipe from the wing, bringing the score to 5-3.
Chase Mullins continued his face-off dominance to hand the hot blue and white offense the ball for a fourth consecutive possession. A smart play from Mac Costin saw the ball in defensive midfielder Mark Sickler’s stick while the Blue Jays subbed. Sickler took a rare shot, executing like an attacker to bring the game within one score.
Melendez struck again with 3:11 in the half for his fifth goal of the game and 20th on the season, setting the score at 6-4 for the Blue Jays.
The Nittany Lions returned to the offensive zone unfazed, settling the ball with Malone behind the goal. After looking over the defense, he shook his defender and snuck underneath the crease to the left side, sneaking a bounce shot past Marcille to score the 6-5 goal. Mullins returned the ball to Penn State’s offense on the next draw for Aldridge to feed Malone to the right side of the net. Malone scored again, just 15 seconds after his last strike, to tie the game up at 6-6 with 2:10 left in the half.
Rattled, the Blue Jay defense took an unnecessary roughness penalty on the following possession. Jack Traynor joined his brother on the score sheet to give the Nittany Lions the 7-6 edge at halftime.
Returning to the field following intermission, Mullins won his 13th face-off for Penn State. Both sides took the first five minutes of the half to feel out their opponent’s strategic changes and ran the game clock down on their possessions. Hopkins attacker Garrett Degnon finally broke the ice with a step-down bomb to knot the game up at 7-7.
Penn State’s riding game upped the pressure in the tie game, causing a turnover before the Blue Jays could settle their offense and create a rush the other direction. Malone snagged the ball as he cut inside and shot over his back shoulder for his hat trick score, giving the Nittany Lions a one-goal lead. Johns Hopkins won the following draw, but defenseman Kevin Parnham picked off an early pass and forced an odd-man rush that Jake Morin converted, extending the score to 9-7 in favor of Penn State.
The score would hold at 9-7 as the third quarter expired, but sophomore Matt Traynor took a nasty hit as he crashed the crease. Coach Jeff Tambroni gave the officials an earful, but no foul was issued.
TJ Malone picked up where he left off at the top of the fourth quarter, scoring once more on a dodge from behind the cage and giving the Nittany Lions a three-goal buffer. Johns Hopkins would answer the bell quickly, as it pushed the tempo off the inbound from behind the cage to find Brendan Grimes. After a quick bump off his defender, Grimes slung a mid-range shot past Fracyon to cut the score to 10-8.
The Blue Jays took the next face-off and scored immediately on a Degnon face dodge from just below the restraining line to bring the game within one. The Hopkins defense stood strong for 90 seconds to force a shot clock violation and give the ball back to its offense, which after some poking and prodding, spread the Nittany Lions out enough to give Brooks English the ball at the goalmouth for the 10-10 goal.
Melendez, who had been quiet in the second half, reappeared alone in the high slot to take a heater of a bounce shot to give the Blue Jays the lead for the first time in the half. The Nittany Lions wouldn’t be down for long, though, as offseason acquisition Kevin Winkoff lost his defender on the wing to tie the game up at 11-11 with 2:07 to go in the game.
Nittany Lion Alex Ross took a one-minute penalty with 1:10 left on the clock for unnecessary roughness, but Penn State’s penalty kill put on a herculean effort to keep the game tied by the end of regulation.
The Blue Jays won a physical draw to begin the golden goal period and give their offense the ball. After a tense minute of pressure, Fracyon came up with the save at the end of the shot clock, and Penn State took over. The Nittany Lions too took the ball down to the shot clock but were unable to put a shot through traffic. Fracyon made another safe at the buzzer as the game moved to its second overtime.
Fracyon played the hero once more in the second overtime, saving a screened laser from Melendez and gobbling up the rebound. The Nittany Lions returned to the offensive half of the field and took a quick shot through traffic. After a Johns Hopkins ground ball, defenseman Beaudan Szuluk turned the ball back over to the blue and white’s Mac Costin, who fed Winkoff for the winning snipe and 12-11 final score.
- Goaltender Jack Fracyon kept the Nittany Lions in contention, making an unreal 16 saves between the pipe. Penn State relied on the sophomore during its comeback run and to keep it in the game during the golden goal overtime, and he delivered big.
- Chase Mullins was a force at center field, winning 19 of 28 face-offs. His dominant play kept the ball away from the lethal Johns Hopkins offense for long stretches of the game and gave Penn State the opportunity to play make-it-take-it lacrosse.
The Nittany Lions travel to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan on April 16. The game is set to start at 6 p.m. and will be shown on ESPNU.
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