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Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Upset By Michigan 17-15, Falls Out Of Big Ten Tournament

No. 1-seeded Penn State (9-4, 4-2 Big Ten) fell to No. 4-seeded Michigan (8-6, 2-3 Big Ten) in the semifinal match of the Big Ten Tournament Thursday afternoon in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Nittany Lions and the Wolverines traded goals for much of the first half, though Penn State maintained an edge. However, the Nittany Lions’ downfall came in the third quarter when Michigan outscored Penn State 6-1.

Jeff Tambroni’s crew sparked hope of a comeback, but it was fleeting as the Wolverines secured their win in the final minutes of the game.

How It Happened

Penn State lost the opening face-off, but Kevin Parnham soon won a ground ball to get the ball back for the blue and white.

The Traynor brothers quickly connected for Jack Traynor to speed past the defense and smash the ball past netminder Shane Carr. Three minutes later, Matt Traynor joined his brother on the score sheet and hit the top corner of the net from a hip-sling shot.

The Wolverines got their first goal of the net with 8:28 left in the first quarter. Michael Boehm slipped past Parnham and rolled along the circle, shooting it in on the short side. Josh Zawada followed suit just 14 seconds later to hit the back of the net past Jack Fracyon and tie the game 2-2.

After a share of wide shots, Kevin Winkoff found another breakthrough for the Nittany Lions. He took on his defender and ran along the circle to smash a shot into the top outside corner.

Following a media timeout, Michigan ran straight downfield and immediately scored through Michael Cosgrove.

Penn State didn’t panic and continued to build off its play. Winkoff found Ethan Long on a run, who pushed in a bounce shot while mid-stride. Jake Morin increased the lead to two as his nearside shot ricocheted off Carr and found the back of the net.

Michigan fought back to eliminate Penn State’s lead in the last minute of the first quarter. It scored two quick back-to-back goals through Isaac Aronson and Emmett Houlihan to end the first quarter 5-5.

Penn State lost the face-off to start the second quarter, but again quickly caused a turnover and found itself on offense. Penn State passed the ball around, pulling Michigan’s defense out and connecting with Winkoff, who found himself open right outside the arc and slung a rocket into the goal.

The trend of goals being traded between teams continued as Houlihan scored for Michigan only 25 seconds after Winkoff’s goal.

Both goalies posted big saves and held the teams to a standstill for a few minutes before Matt Traynor broke through halfway through the second quarter. He set a pick and then stepped up for a pass, shooting a rocket past Carr. Long followed with a goal of his own, coming from behind the cage for an over-the-shoulder shot that flew past Carr’s head.

Jake Bonomi hit the back of the net for Michigan to put the game within one before Luke Mercer responded with a goal for Penn State to make it 9-7.

Zawada responded for the Wolverines before Morin came down for Penn State and blasted a shot into the top corner of the goal from outside the arc to end the first half with a two-goal lead for Penn State.

Michigan started off the second half strong as its offense drew defenders out and found Kevin Pimental open low on the arc to smash one on. It went on a five-goal-scoring streak and tore apart Penn State’s defense.

Jack Traynor stepped up to end the Nittany Lions’ 19-minute drought with a hard shot low while mid-stride with 1:32 left in the third. It did little to delay the Wolverines, and Jacob Johnson scored to end the third quarter 14-11.

Michigan came back out in the fourth quarter on fire and scored two goals from Boehm and Bonomi in the first five minutes.

Fracyon posted a huge save for the Nittany Lions and cleared it downfield. Grant Haus received the ball far outside the arc and shot a rocket in for his second goal of the season.

The goal gave Penn State some fire as TJ Malone found his first goal of the game. Morin scored a copy of Malone’s goal to put Penn State within two at 16-14.

Hope of a comeback was crushed as Michigan kept possession on offense and Zawada caught the Nittany Lions off-guard, breaking through a double team and scoring on an empty net.

Penn State tried to fight back but struggled against Michigan’s zone defense. Jack Traynor fought to find a last-second goal with nine seconds left in the game, but Penn State still lost 27-25 to Michigan.

Takeaways:

  • Penn State struggled with face-offs and went 12-35 compared to Michigan’s 23-35. The loss of face-offs meant a loss of possession and control of the game. Penn State is weak in its transition game, and Michigan took advantage to score multiple quick goals off of face-off wins.
  • Michigan’s defense posed a huge struggle for the Nittany Lions. Penn State scored some early goals through one-on-ones and far-out shots that Carr struggled to save. Michigan changed its play to control Jack Traynor and stop the far shots, and Penn State’s scoring severely declined.
  • Despite the elimination from the tournament, Penn State improved greatly this season. It is a top-five team in the nation and boasts a share of the Big Ten regular-season title. Its record means a likely call-up to the NCAA Tournament to try for another title this season. The elimination from the conference tournament might be a blessing in disguise and allow the Nittany Lions to refocus on the next goal and come back stronger.

What’s Next?

While Penn State’s conference season came to an end, the Nittany Lions will hopefully await a call-up to the NCAA Tournament. Selection Sunday is scheduled for Sunday, May 7.

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About the Author

Ashley Connington

Ashley is a sophomore studying journalism from New Jersey. She is not okay about Saquon leaving the Giants and was crying on her couch all day. She can't look at all of her Saquon merch and doesn't know when she will recover. You can email [email protected] to send her ways to meet Saquon or watch her obsess over Chelsea FC on twitter @ashconnington.

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