No. 7 Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Bested By No. 1 Duke 16-15 In Overtime, Eliminated From NCAA Tournament

No. 7 Penn State men’s lacrosse (10-4, 4-1 Big Ten) was defeated by No. 1 Duke (16-2, 5-1 ACC) in the NCAA Tournament semifinal Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

The game opened with both teams finding a trio of goals within the first 10 minutes. The Blue Devils overpowered a Penn State defense that was missing star defender Jack Posey, however, the Nittany Lions found an answer on offense through a series of goals from TJ Malone and Company.

Penn State powered through the entire game and went goal for goal with the Blue Devils and ultimately fell to a heartbreaking overtime decision.

How It Happened

The Blue Devils started the game on offense after winning the opening face-off. The Nittany Lions regained possession and had an early look on offense. Duke survived an early offensive drive by TJ Malone and cleared the ball. Following a successful transition upfield, Dyson Williams scored the first goal of the game off an assist from Andrew McAdorey.

With Penn State trailing, Jack Fracyon came up with a massive save to deny Duke’s Jadon Kerry. Penn State struck next following a shot from Ethan Long to tie the score at 1-1.

With 10:08 remaining in the first quarter, Charles Balsamo dodged past two Penn State defenders and finished the ball past Fracyon. The Nittany Lions gained possession on offense following another face-off loss. Kevin Winkoff found space to dodge and found an open Malone, who fired the ball in the back of the net and set the score to 2-2.

The Nittany Lions earned their first lead of the game from a man-up opportunity, and Jeb Brenfleck found an opening to give Penn State the lead. Following another face-off win, Brennan O’Neill fired a shot past Fracyon to tie the game at 3-3.

Penn State’s Mac Costin dodged past a Duke defender and fired a left-handed shot to regift the Nittany Lions the lead. Following the subsequent face-off, O’Neill launched a shot low and beat Fracyon to tie the game at 4-4.

Duke found another scoring opportunity after Garrett Leadmon scored a mid-range side-armed shot. The Blue Devils maintained momentum as Tommy Schelling found another goal off a feed behind the cage from O’Neill to end the quarter with a score of 6-4.

The second quarter began with both teams having spurts of possession on offense that yielded saves by both goalies. Duke found the first goal of the period after Penn State’s Fracyon made an incredible save that was recovered and finished by Williams.

With Penn State trailing by three, the Nittany Lions increased the intensity on offense. Jack Traynor got on the board after sliding the ball past Duke’s goalie off a feed from Costin to make the score 7-5.

Just under 45 seconds later, Matt Traynor mimicked his brother and scored a similar goal to decrease the Penn State deficit to one goal. Duke’s Leadmon dodged past a Penn State defender and finished the ball with a left-handed shot past Fracyon to set the score to 8-6.

With 4:54 remaining in the half, O’Neill earned his hattrick after rifling a shot through the legs of Fracyon. Penn State’s Malone answered on transition and slotted a shot into the top right corner to make the score 9-7.

The second half began with Penn State gaining an early period of possession from a face-off win. Luke Mercer fired a bounce shot that tested Duke’s William Helm but was saved with ease.

Duke found the first goal of the half with Balsamo finding his second goal of the afternoon after dodging and beating a Nittany Lion defender.

Penn State’s Malone earned his hattrick off a pass from Costin and decreased the deficit to two goals. Duke regained the three-goal lead following a shot from Schelling to make the score 11-8 in favor of the Blue Devils.

Malone provided the much-needed answer again and found another opportunity to hit the back of the net. Under a minute later, Mercer launched an underhand shot that ripped past Duke’s Helm to set the score to 11-10.

With 5:46 remaining in the third quarter, Duke’s Aidan Danenza found his first goal of the night after scoring from the wing. Matt Traynor provided a response after receiving a pass from his brother and sneaking the ball through Helm’s legs.

From the following faceoff, Jake Naso took the ball to the cage and scored on Fracyon to earn a faceoff goal and make the score 13-11.

Penn State’s Malone found his fifth goal of the afternoon after receiving an inbounding pass from Morin which sealed the score at 13-12 heading into the final quarter of the semifinal matchup.

The Nittany Lions moved into the fourth quarter in search of an equalizing goal. Duke began to slow the tempo of the game down in order to prevent any opportunities for Penn State on offense.

Following a successful transition downfield, Malone provided another answer and tied the game for the Nittany Lions at 13-13. Just a minute later, Duke’s Jadon Kerry found his second goal of the season to give the Blue Devils the advantage yet again.

With another face-off win, Duke regained the ball on offense. Duke’s Williams slotted the ball past Fracyon but the goal was disallowed due to a crease violation giving the Nittany Lions hope with the deficit remaining at one goal.

After a Blue Devil turnover, Penn State transitioned the ball successfully down the field where Winkoff found space to fire a shot past Helm to tie the game at 14-14.

From the following face-off, Duke’s Naso found open space after winning the ball and shot the ball past Fracyon to regift the advantage back to the Blue Devils. The Nittany Lions won the next faceoff and fed the ball to a lethal Malone who found his sixth goal of the game to tie the matchup at 15-15.

The Penn State defense held the Blue Devils, which allowed the Nittany Lions’ offense to regain possession. With 1:31 remaining in the game, Penn State earned its second man-up opportunity of the day. Duke killed the penalty successfully and found a final chance to transition the ball downfield.

Duke’s Leadmon put the final chance in regulation wide following excellent defensive positioning by the Nittany Lions. The score remained set at 15-15 with the next goal sending either team to the championship game.

The Blue Devils earned the first period of offensive possession in overtime following a face-off win. Duke passed the ball through its offense and find Leadmon who sealed the victory for the Blue Devils at 16-15 with a shot on the crease.


  • TJ Malone posted six goals and two assists to match Duke’s offensive pressure and keep the Nittany Lions in the game. Malone was Penn State’s point man and ultimately allowed the Nittany Lions to move to overtime.
  • Penn State’s defense responded well without Jack Posey but couldn’t deny offensive heat from Brennan O’Neill and Garrett Leadmon, who had the game-winner.
  • Jack Fracyon posted 12 saves on the day and denied Duke on several point-blank opportunities. Fracyon stepped up and provided the stability that allowed the defense to gain momentum in the second half.

What’s Next?

That’s the end of Penn State’s season and NCAA Tournament run. The Nittany Lions will return next spring ready to push forward and build from this impressive comeback season.

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About the Author

Ryan Banks

Ryan is a junior from Latrobe, Pennsylvania majoring in Finance. He is a Pittsburgh sports fan and believes Kenny Pickett is 'the guy.' In his free time, he can be found running pickup soccer games or losing money day trading in his apartment. Any inquiries (or stock tips) can be sent via email to [email protected].

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