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No. 15 Penn State Women’s Lacrosse Falls To No. 1 Northwestern 14-12 In Big Ten Tournament Final

Penn State women’s lacrosse (11-7, 4-3 Big Ten) lost to Northwestern (15-2, 6-1 Big Ten) 14-12 in the Big Ten Tournament final on Saturday night.

The Nittany Lions took an early lead with a strong showing in the first quarter, leading the Wildcats 4-1 after the first 15 minutes. But coming back, the Wildcats proved why they are the No. 1 team in the nation and outscored Penn State 11-2 over the next two quarters.

There were hopes of a last-minute comeback by Penn State in the fourth as it scored four goals to decrease its lead. However, Northwestern never gave too much away and secured its win and fourth Big Ten Championship.

How It Happened

Penn State was forced to play defense to start the game but quickly won the ball back, switching fields. It got off a strong shot but was foiled by goalkeeper Molly Laliberty.

After multiple saves from Laliberty, Penn State drew first blood. Gretchen Gilmore cut through Northwestern’s defense, receiving the ball right in front of the net and scoring off a quick stick. Kristin O’Neill followed suit, streaking towards the goal and pushing the ball low into the back of the net.

The Wildcats got on board just a minute later through Izzy Scane.

The Nittany Lions wasted no time in changing the momentum back for them. They won the draw and Brooke Hoss got the ball on the top of the eight-meter arc, dodging past her defenders and smashing the ball in the top corner.

After a few minutes of back-and-forth, Penn State extended its lead to three. Kara Nealon sent the ball from behind the goal to Kelly MacKinney running in, who scored off a quick-stick.

The first quarter ended with Penn State in control of the tempo and leading 4-1.

Penn State had a slew of shots to start the second quarter, but the Wildcat defense and Laliberty stepped up big. Northwestern won a free-position shot three minutes into the quarter. Scane took the ball high-to-low and smashed the ball in near side past netminder Sydney Manning.

Northwestern caused a turnover, sprinting off downfield and smashing the ball past Manning to close its gap to only one goal, 4-3. Scane scored immediately after to extend its scoring streak to three and tie the game. Penn State called a timeout.

Coming back from the break, the Wildcats won another free-position shot but Manning came up with a huge save. After a scramble, the Wildcats scooped up the ball and continued their attack, winning a free-position shot. Manning saved it again, successfully clearing the ball this time.

The Nittany Lions ended their scoring drought halfway through the quarter through Gilmore. She was left unguarded on the crease, getting the ball and burying it on Laliberty’s near side.

Madison Taylor equalized the game for the Wildcats with a high shot. Erin Coykendall followed with a free-position goal to take the lead.

The first half ended with Northwestern leading by one, 6-5.

Northwestern continued its scoring streak to start the second half, with Lindsey Frank getting space from her defender and whipping the ball around. It scored two more goals before Penn State called a timeout with 8:34 left in the quarter.

Penn State could not break Northwestern’s dominance as it scored three more after the break, making it eight unanswered.

Penn State finally grabbed its first goal of the quarter as Gilmore cut through and scored high-to-low. It could not find the momentum to propel it any further and ended the third quarter trailing 12-6.

The Nittany Lions grabbed the first goal of the fourth quarter with Lauren Saltz spinning past her defender and whipping the ball around Laliberty. Gilmore did her classic run in front of the net, scoring off a quick shot to get the momentum rising.

Kayla Abernathy won a free-position shot, bouncing it in to decrease Penn State’s deficit to three.

The Wildcats pulled a goal back less than a minute later.

Halfway through the fourth, Penn State was trailing by four and went a woman-up for one minute. Meghan Murray won and converted a free-position shot, smashing it in with no chance of being saved.

Scane then scored again for Northwestern.

Penn State won a free-position shot but Erika Ho’s shot went wide. Saltz grabbed the rebound and drew another free-position shot and a card to put Penn State a woman-up for two minutes. Her shot went wide as well and Penn State searched for its breakthrough.

A scramble for the ball occurred at midfield and Northwestern called a timeout with 2:56 left in the game. Coming back, lightning was seen and the game had to go into a 30-minute lightning delay with only 1:36 to play.

Saltz scored immediately after play resumed. Gilmore followed up with her fifth goal of the night to cut the deficit to two with 41 seconds to go.

There wasn’t enough time for Penn State to find two more goals and it lost 14-12 in the final.

Takeaways

  • Ellie Hollin had an amazing game today. She caused three turnovers, grabbed two ground balls, and was such a strong presence in the defense. Any time there was a fight for the ball, Hollin was there and never gave the Northwestern attackers room to work with.
  • Penn State had a strong showing in the first quarter, scoring four goals to Northwestern’s one, forcing mistakes from the Wildcats but making none of its own. Coming back from the break though, the Wildcats took over, scoring 13 goals the rest of the game to Penn State’s six. They were able to control the tempo and their defense continued to step up huge to block Penn State’s best efforts.
  • Manning had a standout performance with eight immense saves. As only a freshman playing against the best team in the country, Manning held her own the whole night and held Scane, one of the best players in NCAA history, to five goals. There is only room for Manning to grow over the next three years from a great goalie to the best goalie in the Big Ten.

What’s Next?

Penn State will hope to continue its postseason play in the NCAA tournament. The selection show is set for Sunday, May 5.

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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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