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No. 7 Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Squeezes Past No. 11 Army 10-9, Moves On To NCAA Tournament Semifinal

Penn State men’s lacrosse (11-4, 4-1 Big Ten) outlasted Army (13-4, 7-1 Patriot League) 10-9 in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinal on Sunday afternoon in Annapolis, Maryland.

Penn State came out strong and scored six unanswered goals after an initial deficit. TJ Malone led the comeback charge with Jack Fracyon holding down the defense from goal.

How It Happened

Army won the opening face-off and wasted no time in striking first. Gunnar Fellows curled around the circle and pushed one past goalie Jack Fracyon.

Penn State won the next face-off and searched for a breakthrough but Matt Traynor’s shot was easily saved by Knox Dent. Fracyon came up strong with two saves to switch the play back to offense before Jack Traynor’s shot hit TJ Malone’s back instead of the back of the net.

Army capitalized on this turnover as Jacob Morin secured Army’s second goal of the day.

The teams switched possession before Malone picked up a ground ball and took it down himself, spinning past his defenders and faking out Dent to put the Nittany Lions on the board trailing 2-1 with 7:44 to play. Malone’s goal gave the team a spark and Luke Mercer followed up with his own solo goal with a stutter-step and blasted it in low to tie the game.

The half featured constant back-and-forth play, and neither side could find true control. Penn State called a timeout with 1:17 to go and Army’s defense switched to a zone strategy.

Penn State scored through Mac Costin fresh off the timeout with a low sling. Matt Traynor followed up with just nine seconds left in the game. He ran down and took on half of the defense, fighting through stick checks to hit it just over the goal line as the second quarter ended 4-2.

The goals kept coming for the Nittany Lions and Mark Sickler started the second quarter with a long shot rocket. Morin pulled a double team from the Black Knights and left Malone open in front of the goal. He easily scored from the crease to make it 6-2 in favor of the Nittany Lions.

Army started to get frustrated with the play and the game turned physical. Matt Traynor and Pup Bouno each picked up fouls. Army went an extra man-up for 30 seconds but Kevin Parnham foiled its hopes and grabbed up the ball to zig-zag through nearly the entire Army team.

After six unanswered goals by Penn State and a 28-minute drought for the Black Knights, Army found its third goal of the night with 3:16 left. Fracyon saved an initial shot from Evan Plunkett but Reese Burek picked up the rebound and scored.

Penn State came out on top after a scramble for the ball and searched for a last-minute goal to end the half. Malone ran around the circle and took a big hit but was given too much space by the defense. He stared down the goal and took it right down himself to secure his hat trick for the day and end the first half 7-3.

Penn State won the first face-off of the second half and quickly transitioned to offense. Morin found Malone at the side of the net and Malone sprinted behind the net, circling the crease for a slight jump shot into the net with 13:40 left.

The ball continued to switch hands by way of scrappy turnovers and ground balls. Both sides struggled to find a breakthrough with Fracyon and Penn State’s defenders foiling any chances for the Black Knights.

Halfway through the quarter, Army found its breakthrough through Fellows. He beat his defender and ran along the crease to push it into the near side to cut the deficit to four.

The Nittany Lions offense continuously applied pressure and drew a penalty against the Black Knights to go a man-up. Matt Traynor received the ball right in front of the goal and blasted a shot past Dent.

Will Coletti won the next face-off for Army and took it straight downfield himself with a sniper shot past Fracyon only five seconds later.

Penn State received a shot clock violation with one minute left in the third quarter and Army quickly transitioned. Bailey O’Connor played scrappy and found some space to bounce the ball into the net to end the third quarter lagging 9-6.

Army struck first in the fourth quarter after winning the face-off as Morin was found on the side of the net and managed to smash it in the top corner.

The Black Knights and Nittany Lions traded shots with both goalies. Penn State forced a shot clock violation against Army and switched fields, feeding Kevin Winkoff for a sniper shot to make it 10-7 with 7:38 left.

Army responded fast and won the face-off to find Fellows who reached a hat trick of his own for the day. It kept control of the game, pressured Penn State defensively, and ultimately found another goal through Finn McCullough to trail by one with 3:41 left.

The Nittany Lions stayed huge on defense and won the ball back with two minutes to play. They ran the ball around on offense but struggled to find a shot. Penn State shot as the shot clock winded down but Dent easily stopped it.

Army cleared the ball and found itself on offense with a minute left and called a timeout with 41 seconds to play.

Penn State returned to play in a man-on-man defense, playing hard to prevent any offensive momentum. Sickler caused a turnover but it soon got cancelled out as Penn State was called for cross-checking and Army went a man-up.

Penn State’s defense smothered the attack and came out on top even with a dog pile at the end. It secured its 10-9 win and will move on to the NCAA Tournament semifinals.

Takeaways:

  • Fracyon led the defense today and posted immense saves and rattled Army all game long. Fracyon ended the game with 11 saves and is primed for another strong game against Duke.
  • TJ Malone led Penn State’s offense today while securing Player of the Game honors. His four solo goals helped change the tide in Penn State’s favor and kept the momentum up for the entire 60 minutes of play.
  • Star senior defenseman Jack Posey went down in the first half and had to leave the game. His injury harmed Penn State and it lost some shape on defense and allowed Army its 4-1 scoring streak. The loss of Posey could be a big blow to Penn State in the semifinal and it will need to work on strengthening its defense in the coming days to make up for his potential absence from the lineup.

What’s Next?

Penn State will move on to the NCAA Tournament semifinal where it will face No. 1 Duke. The game will take place on Saturday, May 27, in Philadelphia. Folks can tune into the game on ESPN2.

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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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