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No. 11 Penn State Men’s Lacrosse Dominates No. 8 Cornell 20-9

No. 11 Penn State men’s lacrosse (5-1) dominated No. 8 Cornell (3-2) 20-9 on Saturday in Panzer Stadium. 

The Nittany Lions came flying out of the gates to take a 6-1 lead in the first quarter. Jack Fracyon’s stone-wall performance was the reason for the quick start, boasting almost an 87% save percentage in the first quarter. Matt Traynor also started hot with a hat trick before the second quarter. Penn State rode its early lead for the rest of the game, dominating throughout.  

How It Happened

Similar to the game last week against Yale, the Nittany Lions lost the opening draw to Cornell. The Big Red found their matchup with Penn State, putting a shorty on Micheal Long, but Fracyon made his first save of the game.  

Penn State opened the scoring with 11 minutes to go in the first quarter when Will Peden rounded the crease and found Luke Mercer for a rocket of a step-down shot. The Nittany Lions followed the first goal with three more to make the score 4-0 just six minutes into the game. Cornell’s head coach Connor Buczek called his first time out to slow the Penn State momentum.  

Out of the timeout, the Big Red found their first goal of the game through Hugh Kelleher. Following the goal, the game’s first penalty was called on Alex Ross for tripping CJ Kirst. The Big Red couldn’t take advantage of the one-minute man-up opportunity.  

As the Nittany Lions got their sixth man back, Will Peden caught his defender up on the goal before he found Traynor for his second of the game, pushing the score to 5-1. As the first quarter ended, Traynor completed the hat trick with an excellent shot. TJ Malone assisted the goal, which pushed him to 200 career points.  

The second quarter started eerily like the first, and Fracyon made a nice save on the crease followed by a Costin goal from a spin move. The Nittany Lion bench exploded as they took the six-goal lead early in the second. Malone made it 8-1 through a beautiful pick-and-roll play with 11 minutes left in the half.

As the quarter progressed, Penn State continued its strong presence on the ride, creating multiple turnovers for the Nittany Lions. Eventually, Traynor and Peden made the Big Red pay for their sloppy clearances with two more goals.

Cornell finally found a way through Fracyon off a fortunate bounce. Kirst found space and took a low-to-low shot that hit off a Nittany Lion foot before rolling into the net. Five seconds later, Kirst scored again off a takeaway directly after the face-off. With the score closing to 10-3, Jeff Tambroni took a timeout to talk things over for the end of the half.

The Big Red and the Nittany Lions traded blows with under a minute in the half, making the score 11-4 going into the break.

It only took 27 seconds for Traynor to continue Penn State’s dominant play. Even with two poles closing in on him, he found enough space to get a shot between the legs of the Big Red goaltender. Jake Morin added to the lead shortly after.

Cornell responded shortly after, scoring its fifth goal of the game. The Big Red also started to show a 10-man ride which was much more aggressive than its first half ride. Once Penn State recognized and communicated the change in forecheck, its dominance continued.

Traynor scored his sixth goal of the game, and Luke Walstrum added to the score before the Big Red got one off a man-up play. With eight minutes remaining in the third quarter, Penn State led 15-6.

The goal of the game came two minutes later from Traynor. Finding himself losing space, he took a wild behind-the-back shot that found the bottom corner. Walstrum also added to the highlight reel for Penn State’s 17th goal of the game, diving from behind the goal and burying a backhand shot.

The rest of the quarter, both teams scored only once, ending the third block with an 18-7 score.

To start the fourth quarter, Cornell’s rough day continued with a two-minute nonreleasable penalty called just 20 seconds in. Penn State capitalized on its long-man advantage with a quick goal. The Nittany Lions lost possession following the goal, though, and Cornell held the ball for the rest of the two minutes.  

Long finally found his first goal of the game for Cornell with nine minutes left. At this point, the Big Red were mentally defeated and had little energy or hope for a comeback.  

At the six-minute mark, both teams brought on less proven faces, effectively slowing play down. At this time, Cornell found the back of the net twice and Penn State once, ending the game at 20-9.  

Takeaways

  • All the Nittany Lions looked excellent today, but one of them stuck out more than the rest: Fracyon. He was pulled halfway through the fourth quarter but recorded 14 saves during his 54 minutes. Cornell and Penn State had similar shots for most of the game, but Fracyon held strong.
  • Another standout was Traynor who scored seven times before also being pulled. His confidence looked to be high after a great game against Yale. Traynor was pulling the trigger from everywhere and scoring at a clip of almost 50%.
  • The one point of weakness was still the face-off. Penn State still hasn’t found its true number one and loses possessions because of it. In this game, they made up for their lost possessions through the ride, but this could prove to be unsustainable later in the season.

What’s Next?

Penn State will travel to Springfield, Pennsylvania, to take on Marquette on Saturday, March 16. The game starts at 2 p.m. 

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About the Author

Collin Ward

Collin is a first-year majoring in digital/print journalism. Born in Hartford, he now lives in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. As a die-hard Chelsea FC fan you can normally find him yelling at his TV screen each weekend. To reach him, follow him on Instagram: @cward829, or email him at [email protected].

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