No. 5 Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Comes Back To Defeat No. 16 Michigan 11-9
No. 5 Penn State men’s lacrosse (8-3, 3-1 Big Ten) bested No. 16 Michigan (5-6, 1-3 Big Ten) on the road this Sunday in a comeback 11-9 win.
Going down 2-0 early, the Nittany Lions had to claw their way back into the game. Standout performances by goalie Jack Fracyon and Jack Traynor helped Penn State secure the win and stay tied with Maryland at the top of the Big Ten.
How It Happened
Starting strong, Penn State’s Chase Mullins scooped the opening faceoff to hand his offense possession, but after a minute of poking around the perimeter, Jack Whitney pick-pocketed Jack Traynor for the Wolverines. Michigan didn’t wait long to get on the board, as Jack Jacob buried the 1-0 goal. Michigan got possession back on a face-off violation and just 20 seconds after the opening strike, Bryce Clay snuck open at the goal mouth to put the Wolverines up by two with 12:18 to go in the first quarter.
Penn State didn’t panic when it finally returned to the offensive half, patiently cycling the ball until Michigan’s Michael Cosgrove was caught slashing and handed the Nittany Lions a minute of man-up play. Jack Traynor got Penn State in the goal column after his unit was able to draw the defense out of position, allowing the grad student to rip a step-down bomb.
Michigan answered quickly, though, as Josh Zawada fed Ryan Cohen to stretch the Wolverine lead back to two with 6:34 left in the first quarter.
After a turbulent stretch of physical play in which possession swung back and forth for a little under five minutes, the Nittany Lions had time and space to reset their offense and settle the ball in the stick of Jake Morin. Morin commanded two defenders to leave their posts to guard him down the side but saw Ethan Long and set up the 3-2 goal.
Penn State almost tied the game up at the end of the first quarter, coming up just short in a “mom goal” that got the crowd cheering, but the ball only clipped the side-netting. The Wolverines flipped the script in the final minute. After a quick timeout, bench boss Kevin Conry schemed open Jake Bonomi who snuck the ball under Jack Fracyon to set the score at 4-2 as the quarter expired.
Mullins was called on another face-off violation so the Michigan offense started the second quarter in control. Fracyon and the Nittany Lion defense outlasted a lengthy barrage of seven shots over four minutes before controlling the ball again. Alex Ross took a slashing penalty during the sequence though, so Penn State had to return possession to the Wolverines. Fracyon took it upon himself to jump out of the crease to intercept an errant Michigan pass and gave his team an opportunity to kill the penalty. Overtime hero Kevin Winkoff carried the ball in from midfield and not seeing any resistance, charged in take a rip that cut the score back to 4-3 with 10:06 in the half.
Michigan’s Nick Rowlett took the following face-off, slinging the ball to Zawada in a hurry. After a shot-fake, Zawada had space in prime position to re-extend the Wolverine lead to two.
The Wolverines won the next draw and continued to make the Nittany Lions sweat, but Ross dispossessed Cohen to return the ball to the Traynor brothers, who were both denied by net-minder Shane Carr. Ethan Long wouldn’t take no for an answer, though, and brought the score to 5-4.
Michigan continued to keep Penn State at arm’s length, scoring in the following minute off the sticks of Clay and Zawada. The score would hold 6-4 in favor of the Wolverines at halftime.
Michigan elected to make a change in net for the start of the second half, replacing Carr with freshman Hunter Taylor. The Nittany Lions started slow out of the locker room, kicking off the third frame with two straight offensive turnovers. Cohen took advantage of the misfires from the blue and white, pushing the Wolverines’ lead to three on an unassisted cut to the crease. Two minutes later, Bryce Clay finished his hat trick while walking his defender around the crease, setting the score 8-4 with 9:49 to go in the third quarter.
Captain Traynor went for the big play to get his team back on track on the following possession, pulling off serious sorcery to find his way to the crease and diving out to score a critical goal to cut the score back to 8-5.
Matt Traynor kept the rally going two and a half minutes later, face dodging his defender into last week and opening up the middle of the field for a step-down snipe to put the Nittany Lions back within two goals of the Wolverines.
The Nittany Lions were millimeters away from scoring a third unanswered goal when their opponent gifted Matt Traynor the ball on a botched clear with Taylor out of the net. Taylor was able to scramble back to his cage though and make a larcenous kick save and give Michigan the ball back. The Wolverines capitalized on this missed opportunity with Zawada cashing in at the buzzer to set the score at 9-6 at the end of the third quarter.
Penn State found its footing quickly in the fourth quarter on the back of Mullins, winning the opening face-off and creating a fast break. Penn State played tic-tac-toe to set up Jack Traynor for his third goal of the game. Mullins returned the ball to his offense on the next draw and fed Traynor again who drew an unnecessary roughness penalty to give his team its second-man advantage of the contest. Penn State stayed perfect on the advantage and scored in a hurry when Ethan Long found Jack Traynor low on the left shoulder for a side-arm bomb to pull within one goal of Michigan.
Jack Whitney took another slashing penalty for Michigan, but TJ Malone handed the ball back to the Wolverines and allowed the maize and blue to kill their first penalty of the matchup. Fracyon continued his brick wall impression, shutting the door on Michael Boehm and keeping him goalless on his seventh shot. Penn State finally knotted the game up at 9-9 on Jack Traynor’s fifth goal, this one from up close and once again assisted by Long.
The unusually quiet TJ Malone, who leads the Big Ten in points per game, entered the game in style and scored from the center of the offense after a nasty no-look pass from Morin to give Penn State its first lead of the game with 5:57 to play. On the following possession, Jack Traynor continued his unreal level of play, painting the top corner with a basketball-type fade-away jumper, extending the Nittany Lion lead to two and converting his sixth goal of the game for his first career “sock-trick”.
Michigan would go man-up for a minute with 2:07 to play when Sam Sweeney was caught slashing on transition. The Wolverines drew Boehm open on the crease with time for a shot fake in Fracyon’s face, but the Nittany Lion wouldn’t concede the goal and snapped his stick into place to keep the two-goal lead intact and kill Sweeney’s penalty. A chaotic clearance saw multiple players from both sides hit the deck to chase a bounding ball upfield, but Ryan Schriber was handed a slashing penalty with 32 seconds to play, sealing the deal and setting the final score at 11-9 in favor of Penn State.
- Michigan started hot and stayed out of reach of the Nittany Lions through three quarters off the stick of FOGO Matt Rowlett who controlled 10-of-16 draws. Michigan also won the ground ball battle early, taking 24 through the first three quarters, but an emphasis on physical play through the fourth quarter saw Penn State shift momentum and grab nearly every ground ball in the final frame.
- Jack Traynor put the team on his back to complete the comeback win, scoring a rare sock trick against the Wolverines. Reliable support from wingmen Ethan Long and Jake Morin kept the ball in his stick while he was hot.
- The Nittany Lions turned it on down the stretch and scored five unanswered goals in the fourth quarter. This shutout quarter was due in part to goalie Jack Fracyon who came up with three massive saves in the fourth frame.
The Nittany Lions return home to play their final regular season game against Big Ten rival Rutgers on Friday, April 21. The opening draw is set for 6 p.m., and the matchup will be streamed on Big Ten Plus.
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