No. 15 Penn State Women’s Lacrosse Dominates No. 25 Rutgers 17-8, Moves On To Big Ten Tournament Championship

No. 15 Penn State women’s lacrosse (11-6) advanced to the Big Ten Tournament Championship game after bullying No. 25 Rutgers (8-10) 17-8 on Thursday. The game was delayed an hour and a half because of lightning, and spurts of thunder throughout the matchup made it quite the odd game.  

The Nittany Lions have been the team of runs and started the game on a three-goal streak. This was quickly followed by Rutgers knotting the game up, but it was all Penn State from there, and the Nittany Lions went on an 8-2 run in the third quarter and never looked back.  

How It Happened

Rutgers won the opening draw, but the defenses stole the show early. Penn State caused two early turnovers while face-guarding Rutgers midfielder Cassidy Spilis. On the other end, Kristin O’Neill opened the scoring for the Nittany Lions.  

The next few minutes were back and forth, and a goal wasn’t notched until the eight-minute mark via Brooke Hoss. This was followed, two minutes later, by another Nittany Lion goal. All three of Penn State’s goals to start the game came from caused turnovers on the defensive end.  

The Penn State defense held strong until six seconds remained in the first quarter. A transition goal for Rutgers made it 3-1 and ended the quarter.  

Penn State won the opening draw of the second quarter but couldn’t convert on the first possession. Rutgers, on the other hand, found the back of the net quickly and cut the Penn State lead to one.  

Now with the momentum, Rutgers followed its first goal with two more in the next three minutes. The Scarlet Knights led 4-3 with 11 minutes to play after four unanswered conversions. 

With 10 minutes left in the half, Rutgers went into a zone defense, but Penn State had the answer. Kayla Abernathy tied the game back up with her 20th goal of the season and followed this with another goal to put the Nittany Lions back in the lead. Abernathy seemed to know exactly where space was in the Scarlet Knight zone.  

With seven minutes left in the half, there was lightning in the area, so the game was postponed for 30 minutes.  

Rutgers was the first to score after the break by way of a transition goal placed perfectly in the top-left corner to knot the game at five.  

Penn State responded three minutes later to retake the lead off of an O’Neill free-position shot. Kelly MacKinney then doubled the lead shortly after, and this was the last goal of the half as Penn State went into the break up 7-5.  

After just a five-minute halftime break, Penn State kept possession of the ball due to a Rutgers penalty. The Nittany Lions couldn’t convert, though, and Rutgers scored the first of the half. Penn State took no time to respond and scored three quick free-position goals. Penn State was having trouble getting the ball past Sophia Cardello, but it was 4-4 on free positions at this point.  

Between the next four minutes, many turnovers kept either team from finding a goal. With six minutes left, though, Erika Ho scored her second rocket of the game. The sophomore had just three goals this season before the start of the game. Subsequently, MacKinney, Lauren Saltz, and Gretchen Gilmore also scored to make it 14-6 in favor of Penn State. The Nittany Lions were on a 7-0 run in the third quarter.  

The rest of the quarter was more domination from Penn State. Both teams scored once more to end the third in the lead 15-7.  

Rutgers opened the scoring in the fourth. Spilis beat Sydney Manning while falling to the floor to cut the Nittany Lion lead to seven. Gilmore responded after three minutes for Penn State, though.  

Penn State won the next draw and started to run down the clock. The offense passed the ball around while the shot clock ticked down before taking a shot. The Nittany Lions did this a few times before they were awarded a green card. After another Rutgers foul, Gilmore completed her hat trick to take a nine-goal lead.  

The rest of the game was scoreless, resulting in a 17-8 Penn State victory. 


  • There really wasn’t one person that stuck out in this matchup because the whole team played so well. The defense was locked in from the start and caused nine turnovers because of it. The offense was also elite, scoring the most it has since its week-one win against Bucknell.  
  • The Nittany Lions have relied on runs all year and believe they can come back in any game because of it. Fortunately, there was no need for a comeback in this one as an 8-2 third-quarter run was more than enough for Penn State.  

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will remain in Evanston, Illinois, to take on No. 1 Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament Championship. The game is set for 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, and can be streamed on the Big Ten Network.

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

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].

Retired Marine To Professor: How Colonel Jake Graham Has Immersed Himself In Penn State Community

After 26 years of service with the Marines, Graham works as a professor, lab director, and coach at Penn State.

OS Drafts: The Best Buildings On Penn State’s Campus

Old Main or Beaver Stadium, what’s the best building on campus?

Former Penn State Football Quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson Transfers To Kansas State

Roberson transferred after two years with UConn.