MLAX: No. 2 Penn State Stifles No. 5 Ohio State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – In a battle between the No. 2 and No. 5 teams in the country, emotions were high and the expectations for a great game were inevitable on Sunday night. Penn State men’s lacrosse welcomed Ohio State to the lions’ den for the 2017 Big Ten opener.
It was one of the toughest and most physical matches for No. 2 Penn State, but the Nittany Lions were victorious, and defeated the Buckeyes decisively by a final score of 9-4.
The defense turned in a performance to remember, as the defensemen and freshman goalie Colby Kneese shut down an offensive attack that produces 11 goals per game regularly.
“I thought they really stood up and stood the test of a really good offensive team,” Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said. “We had a lot of heart to hearts with Colby this past week and I thought he responded extremely well. He was surrounded by a group of defenders that really just contended with a ton of heart.”
The Nittany Lions struggled, though, early on to garner some momentum against a pumped up Buckeye team. The first quarter was nothing short of a close one, as the powerhouses were tied at two.
Immediately after the whistle blew to commence the second quarter, freshman midfielder Ryan Terefenko won the face off and sprinted from the midline all the way to the front of goal to find the back of the net.
Penn State responded and tied it up behind freshman Mac O’Keefe, who is second in the NCAA in goals per game at 3.5, with his 35th goal of the season.
Later in the game, Ohio State set up its offense in Penn State territory, looking for a goal before halftime. The Buckeyes scheme allowed freshman defenseman Jeff Henrick a wide open shot at Knesse, but a spectacular save by Kneese prevented Ohio State from regaining the lead.
Penn State would walk off the field for the break with a narrow 4-3 lead. Sophomore midfielder Nick Spillane snuck one past Ohio State goalie Tom Carey to put his team ahead.
Halftime ended, and Penn State opened up its arsenal and buried Ohio State from the start of the third quarter until the final siren blew to signal the end of the game. Tambroni admired his team’s third quarter efforts, and knew how crucial it was for the victory.
“I thought everyone played really well and stepped up,” Tambroni said. “We needed to. We have a lot respect for what Ohio State has done thus far.”
Eight seconds into the third period, senior midfielder Drake Kreinz picked the perfect time to score his first goal of the season, as Penn State extended its lead to 5-3. Moments later, fellow senior midfielder Mike Sutton would register another Penn State goal.
The Nittany Lions would go on to net two more goals, while the defense put a stranglehold on the Buckeyes’ offense. Kneese and his defense shut out Ohio State for the entire third quarter, and did not allow them to score until the middle of the fourth when the game was out of hand.
Sophomore attacker Grant Ament hit the dagger shot with 5:26 remaining in the fourth, as the 9-4 margin was too much for the Buckeyes to overcome.
With No. 3 Syracuse knocking off No. 1 Notre Dame on Saturday, the Nittany Lions have a chance to own the top ranking when the new polls are released.
Penn State will travel to College Park to face Maryland next weekend.
Zach Seyko is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in communication arts & sciences. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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